Who is Orange Sink?

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Rice Lake, WI, United States
My home town is Rice Lake, a small town in northern Wisconsin. I own Red House Wool Studio~ an in-home wool and rug hooking business. I enjoy collecting and decorating with antiques and primitives. Orange Sink Blog is a journal of my interests and ramblings about life. Cathy Greschner

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

From the Heart of a Caregiver

This morning was the breaking point for me.  I've taken care of my mother now for over seven years, ever since she had heart surgery in 2009.   There have been good times, yes.  Times I shall cherish forever and ever.  I wouldn't change a minute of times we've spent together.  Including last saturday night in the ER of Marshfield Medical Center.  All seven hours of it.  It ended with me taking her home and being told by the Dr. on call that "your mother is in the final stages of this Congestive Heart Failure.  There's nothing good at all about her situation. Nothing good at all" he stated again. Exept for the fact she has you as her daughter."  I sat stunned... perhaps because this prognosis was coming from a Dr. that had not seen either one of  us before but had taken time to read my mother's records.  I suppose each Dr. visit, hospital stay, countless waits in waiting rooms, offices, phone calls, trips to pharmacies, grocery stores, trips back and forth to her house, endless days and nights taking care of her every need and care shone through on those records.  Finally a Dr. in the system took the time to care about the caregiver.  Cared enough to spend a few minutes at 1:00 am in the quiet hall of an Emergency Care Center to recognize how it was my mother had even made it this far in life with all she's been through.

A week has past since that long evening we spent in the ER.  Hospice/ Home health care is helping us now.  Sadly my mother's conditon is deteriorating rapidly.  The past 4 days or so I've felt a kind of hopelessness and inadequacy about my role as nurse, medication dispenser, 24 hour a day presense required for her care. Not only that but I am totally physically and mentally wiped out.  I woke up this morning and the tears started flowing.  For the first time... I actually let tears flow.  Trouble is now all day they have come in torrents off and on.  The realization that this may be out of my hands and that mom may have to  be moved to a facility has pulled the rug out from beneath me.

This huge change in life at the end of her life will rip my heart out.  It has already been broken and I struggle now to keep some kind of strength about me to go through this.

Every one will say it's for the better.  That may be so.  The better for all who've not really been involved on an hourly, daily, yearly basis.  Maybe there's not the same thought process from those who've decided to show up for visits this past weekend after seven years of mom living in her own home and needing visits desperately.  I'm just saying.  Time escapes us all. It has a way of turning precious moments into years. Caregivers can tell you that.  Caregivers will tell you too that when the time eventually runs out for the one they've cared for... they will have NO regrets. That they would have done nothing different.  "For the better" perhaps in the end for some.  But the  caregiver would keep on giving.... if it were physically, mentally and emotionally possible. I bet they would all tell you that.                                                           Cathy G

34 comments:

  1. I understand so well, as you know we are caregiver to my Mom who lives in our home. Sending big hugs your way. You will have NO regrets, just some good memories of happier times and the knowledge that you did your very best. Take care my far away friend. Your will be in my thoughts and prayers.

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  2. I am so sorry Cathy. I will be praying for you and your mother during this time. I have a special needs daughter that requires 24/7 care. I have slept with a baby monitor above my bed for 28 years. Caregiving is not something you think about you just do. Caregiving becomes our life and we don't know any other life. That is why I know the days ahead when you are not caregiving will be the hardest. Again I am so sorry and will be praying for you.

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  3. bless you, your a wonderful woman and daughter.....not all children would do what you have done....hard to believe but true....I have been in your shoes as a caregiver for my mom, but the near the length of time...my mother passed from the same heart condition also...I too was an emotional and physical wreck and to be honest after I lost my last parent, which was my mother, it took me years to recover....and that was with the aid of antidepressants...hang on, cherish every moment....hugs

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  4. Sorry to hear about your mom.I took care of my mom the last few weeks of her life.I have no regrets.πŸ˜”

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  5. Sorry to hear about your mom.I took care of my mom the last few weeks of her life.I have no regrets.πŸ˜”

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  6. Sorry to hear about your mom.I took care of my mom the last few weeks of her life.I have no regrets.πŸ˜”

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  7. I am a nurse, now retired. I have been on both ends of the situation you now occupy. Let the tears flow, let the pre-grief out, do not replay the difficulties in you head. You have had the opportunity to do great work in helping your Mother these last years. I used to tell my friends when my Dear Son was nearing the end that I cry in the shower. I did then and I do now, almost 5 years later. Grief is different for everyone. It is OK, it is good. Know that your readers understand many types of pain, including this one. To share it here illustrates clearly that you are wisely expressing your pain and through that pain you will eventually find some measure of peace. God Bless. *and to the Doctor who took time to talk to you, bravo. It was a very good thing.

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  8. oh Cathy, CHF is beyond terrible in the end stage...it is what took my father as I sat by his bed in the Hospice House...he was lucky enough to have constant morphine and caring nurses that would provide suction when I requested it...caring for our aging parents is such a blessing and heartache...providing love and support is such an important part of being an adult child...when my mom tells me I do too much I remind her that she would do it for me...even with her dementia she nods her head, there is no "too much" love...I feel your pain and that of your mother...we are the lucky ones who are caregivers...the hardest job I've ever had...one that fills me and empties me at the same time...there will be no regret, no feeling of time wasted...your post has brought me to tears, for you, your mom and everyone facing the end of life...somewhere I read "the minutes are long but the years are short"...stay strong,love and hugs my friend

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  9. Cathy,
    My heart breaks for you. I had siblings who could not bother to pick up the phone and call our mom because their lives were too busy. That's BS! Thankfully I have no regrets. I was there for her every day. It's just so hard to watch them go through this final stage of life. Take care of yourself. You must do that to carry on.
    Big hugs :)
    Lauren

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  10. You are an angel & make me feel so guilty. My mom lives alone w/me helping her but she would not fit in with living with us. My son is finishing chemo &is difficult to reason with. I have my hands full juggling. But my heart goes out to you. Such a difficult heartbreaking time for you.

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  11. Cathy, my heart hurts for you, as I read this post I shed tears for I cannot imagine the pain. I love my mama so much too but she is still in good health. Sending prayers for you and your mama, you are such a great daughter, Hugs Francine.

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  12. Sometimes others do not realize how hard it is on the caregiver and as a caregiver, sometimes you need to give yourself a break. I have seen where home care with the family has lengthened the life of parents, it is a blessing that you can be there for her. My prayers are with you and your mom, I know the next step will be hard.

    Debbie

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  13. I am praying for you Cathy. I have walked this road so many times. Blessing to you. May you feel the comfort of God during this time.
    Kim

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  14. Life is very hard sometimes Cathy (as you well know).... but life is still good. Let your tears flow. It's part of the healing process. May the words of all of us comfort you on this, the ending, of a long journey. God be with you.

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  15. I have been in your shoes before and there is not one easy thing about it. Let the tears flow it is good for the soul. I am sending you a very tight hug and praying for you.
    Cathy

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  16. While others have regrets, you'll have memories...that's far better. Let the tears flow when they want, they are healing your heart. And do take care of yourself along the way.

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  17. That is how many of the doctors at Marshfield are! Our daughter's pediatric oncologist is there - wonderful man. Even after 10 years in remission - when she has her annual appointment - still wonderful treatment. As one of 4 daughters and 2 of my sisters RNs - we did the same - home care until my mom's health was beyond our ability - she spent last few days in hospital. We heard that same thing..."your mother wouldn't have made it this long if it wasn't for the care you provided." The no REGRETS - oh, I understand that too. Only I was short with her at times and I have to deal with that now...but, she came to me in a dream and I feel at peace with most of it. Many in my family showed up the last few days as well...hadn't seen them when we needed snow shoveled, lawn mowed, groceries or prescriptions...they now...have regrets. The letting go of her will be hard...it took me over a year before I didn't wake at night thinking..."how is mom doing?" Truthfully, sometimes I still do. I'm praying for you - my God grant you the strength and peace you need this week and after. Philipians 4:8 has helped me in times like this..." 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Find peace in knowing that you did and will do all you have out of love for your mom.

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  18. Dear Cathy, what a big job you have been doing... I've been with both my parents at the end of their lives and it wasn't easy. I wanted to hold on to them but they had to go alone and seeing my lovely mother fade into a skeleton was the hardest thing I went through. I think what got me through was remembering that we are all spiritual being having an earthly experience and then we return to our peaceful rest in the Lord to unending joy and love because there're no evil in heaven. Her body might have been worn out but her soul was still young and looking forward to returning home with her creator.

    You have been holding on to those tears long enough, they have to come out now and let this gift flow freely, don't try to hold them back... as they are healing. You have done all you could to care for your mom and it's not like you are abandoning her. I'm sure she has been appreciative of your constant love and care.

    I'm sending you warm healing hugs and prayers.
    Julia

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  19. I'm so very very sorry, Cathy. My heart goes out to both of you. I know it's not an easy thing that you've done these past years but I know you wouldn't have had it any other way. Bless you and your mom. Keeping you both in my prayers. Big hugs, Lori

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  20. Oh Cathy, you are amazing. I have helped care for a love one as well but not so long a duration. The only thing I can say is, you don't have to "be strong" all the time. You have proven your strength through endurance. It's okay for your mind and body to "be weak" right now if need be. It doesn't mean that your love is weak. It's so very obvious that your love is as strong as ever. And I'm quite certain your mom knows and feels that love and has every day, with every errand run, with every task done, and with every kind touch or reminder. I'm sorry I'm not better with words here, but am wishing you and yours every blessing.

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  21. Cathy you are so right... we caregivers have NO REGRETS! You have been a faithful and loving daughter who has done her very best. It is incredibly difficult to leave our parent in a care facility no matter how good they are. If it's any solice, I say this from experience as a former geriatric RN and as someone who just lost my mom in March, with the help of trained staff, and maybe even hospice coming in as well, in all likelihood you will be able to provide your precious mom with better comfort and care than you can on your own. And you can still be there with her too. You and your mom will be in my thoughts and prayers!

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  22. How touching that the doctor paused to give you credit for helping your mother. That doesn't happen often, unfortunately. Your posting reminded of the years that my husband (he's a saint) and I took care of my mom. She had dementia and for the last year was not able to live with us, needing more care than we could give her. But we spent time with her every single day even after she left our house and like you, I wouldn't have missed that for anything. Unlike some folks with dementia, Mom became sweeter and sweeter as her mind left her. Truly it was all such a blessing. I had a completely unselfish mother and the woman I came to know as Mom was slowly disappearing was just as unselfish and loving. My heart still aches every day, but there are many days when I can smile and feel her presence...her love kept on giving. I was privileged to be able to help her in her final days. You will be in my prayers as you and your mom go through this final stage. Much love to you both.

    Diane in North Carolina

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  23. How touching that the doctor paused to give you credit for helping your mother. That doesn't happen often, unfortunately. Your posting reminded of the years that my husband (he's a saint) and I took care of my mom. She had dementia and for the last year was not able to live with us, needing more care than we could give her. But we spent time with her every single day even after she left our house and like you, I wouldn't have missed that for anything. Unlike some folks with dementia, Mom became sweeter and sweeter as her mind left her. Truly it was all such a blessing. I had a completely unselfish mother and the woman I came to know as Mom was slowly disappearing was just as unselfish and loving. My heart still aches every day, but there are many days when I can smile and feel her presence...her love kept on giving. I was privileged to be able to help her in her final days. You will be in my prayers as you and your mom go through this final stage. Much love to you both.

    Diane in North Carolina

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  24. My heart aches for you , all the sweet comments that have been posted are all so caring. I hope they help you thru such a difficult time .

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  25. Amen to that. My sister and I went through the same thing. If we would have to it again we would. My prayers are with you and your Mom.

    We all must carry our own cross.

    Many blessings,
    Pat

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  26. Cathy,
    My prayers go out to you and your Mom. My 93-year-old parents are both in a continuing care facility back in our hometown. My Dad is convinced he is going home, but it is not in the cards. He fractured a hip and is in a wheelchair and refuses therapy. Mom's cardiologist today said her heart is still skipping beats and he needs to get the swelling in her legs down. It was a mixture of good and bad news. My sisters and I are trying to find a place here where we can be closer and help more with their care. But we are running into problems with Medicaid. There is waiting list of 2 years for Medicaid beds. I doubt they have that long. And our city is considered one of the best places for seniors to live. Which would be true if you had a nice fat bank account instead of working all your life and raising eight kids.
    I know a day will come when Mom won't be there for our daily call. I try not to go there, but it's tough. Blessing to you, Cathy.

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  27. I am sending prayers for you and your mother. Know that you have done for your mother what many others would not or could not do. I am sure you are loved and appreciated beyond measure by her for your efforts. Let the tears flow when they come, it is natural and needed and know that it is in God's hands and he will see all of you through this. God bless you.

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  28. Cathy, thank you for your honest sharing of what is in your heart. Your Mom is so blessed to have a loving daughter to care for her, be her advocate, fight for her. My Mom died 30 years ago (younger than I am now) from metastasized breast cancer. When she died I was sad, relieved that she was no longer in pain, felt like I had a hole in my heart, and exhausted. In time I was so grateful that we had the sweet close relationship we had. Hardly a day goes by that I don't think of her in some way. You too will always have sweet memories of your Mom. Sending you a hug. Sondra

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  29. Cathy, you will at least have the comfort of knowing you did all you could on a daily and nightly basis. Your mother has been blessed to have you so close and able to help. My Mom is 89 and I understand your fear of not having her on the other end of the phone and the smile you get when you walk in her house. Bless you and your mom.

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  30. Love to you and your mom. You have walked a hard road with grace and heartache. Take care and know others have walked this road and hold you in their hearts. Becky

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  31. Heart wrenching but all true. My prayers to you and your mom. My mom died from cancer at 49 but it took me some 10, 15 years to get past the guilt of not doing enough for her. My dad passed almost 9 years ago and I felt a little guilt over his dying in a care home. He needed more help than what I could give. I was divorced with a 12 year old and a full time job. What I have learned is cry, cry, and then cry some more. Now that the constant care of your mom has been taken over by others, the remaining time can be spent enjoying each other's company without the stresses of the caregiving. It was a neighbor who said "Now everyone comes to visit!" haha. Truer words have not been spoken! Days, months, maybe years later, you will look back and realize that yes, you did the best you could and you did it good.

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  32. Oh Cathy - I feel so bad for you - you are a good daughter and your mother knows it...that is what makes it all the more special.
    My sister just passed last month form this disease so I feel for you.
    Blessings
    Karen

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