I have been a full-time caregiver for almost two months now. I feel like my entire life is a batch of mixed feelings. The hospice chaplain and social worker double as counselors, but I can't bring myself to tell them what I am really feeling. I am afraid they would think bad of me. The thing is that it really isn't so bad for me; I am doing this because I want to, Mom isn't a really difficult patient, we have a few friends who are willing to come over and sit with her occasionally, Hospice is helping, my husband has been good about not minding her dying in our home. So, why am I feeling so sorry for myself? I know I have it a lot better than a lot of caregivers.
The thing is that sometimes I do mind giving up my entire summer. Mom was given one to three months to live and she has just about made the two month mark, but sometimes I think she will just live on and on. I know she is declining, slowly and I know I will miss her terribly when she is gone and that is why I feel so guilty when I think that I wish she would just die. Sometimes, I just want life to be back to normal. Mom is living such a sad existence right now and I just can't do anything about it. For one thing, I can't connect with her. This has really been coming on for about three years, ever since her Alzheimer's started rearing it's ugly head and now that I am with her all the time, it is just worse. She can't really have a decent conversation with me and it is so incredibly boring. She doesn't like it when I read a book in front of her, so often I put in a movie because it is something we can do together, without having to talk. Isn't that awful? Even though I do have some help sometimes to get me out of the house, I am so tired of having to make these elaborate plans just to walk my dogs. My husband has gotten into sporting events with our lab and has been gone quite a few weekends and I have mixed feelings about this too. I have encouraged it and it was something we were going to do together. I want him to continue it because it is good, but at times I feel like I resent him going without me just a little and I resent Mom too at these times. My daughter told me last night that she thinks her dad should put the dog thing on hold for my sake right now, but I figure this is my mother, not his and my decision to give up my life. He has been really good, as I said, about her being here and being patient with the whole situation, but I think his patience could run out if he has to start giving up his life also. But then a little voice inside says "but it really wouldn't hurt him..." This situation actually will have an end regardless of how long my mother lives, because some time in September I will have to go back to work, and if she is still living at that time, she will need to go into a nursing home. In a way, that thought keeps me going, I mean the idea that this is not forever, that it has a definite end. On the other hand, I am going to feel like such a failure if, after all I have done, she winds up spending her last days in a nursing home anyway.
I am not at all sure that these feelings are all normal. I could justify them if my mother was a difficult person to care for. I may just be too selfish to be a successful caregiver.