Dad is spread too thin. I have been thinking this in the back of my mind for awhile. This weekend it became more than a thought. I drove home for the weekend because we had a family friend in town. I had heard earlier in the day Dad’s back was hurting him very badly. He had said it was hurting the day before as a result of sleeping on Sister K’s couch bed. On Friday he went to the chiropractor. By Friday evening when I saw him I could tell he was in pain but was still moving around and functioning. In a sense he doesn’t have a choice not to. He was hunched over and I was concerned. It was one thing to have the thought in the back of my mind that Dad is taking on too much with work, social obligations and caring for Mom. It was another to see what can happen because of it.
It scared me. It continues to scare me. Saturday I took Mom for a few hours and we went to run some errands with Grandpa and went to lunch. I told Dad to stay home and relax. He even admitted he felt weird doing it but at the same time when I got back he admitted how nice it felt. How he hadn’t been in any pain all morning.
Saturday afternoon we talked about how he may need to bring in some extra help in some regard with Mom. He admitted it may be time. We tried to figure out the specific needs of our family. I think the consensus is right now he needs someone to assist in managing the house in some regard. Running errands, grocery shopping, straightening the house, etc. He is working a full day, then coming home at night and running errands and managing the house. He admits it is becoming too much.
But this doesn’t change the fact that I am scared. I am also scared because in a way I have known for some time this was going to happen. I have known Dad is spread too thin. I thought something may happen. And it did. It could have been worse but it wasn’t. But the point is it could have and it could be next time. Dad is the anchor of our family right now. A family that’s being hit with new challenges and changes everyday. Changes that I am struggling with more and more everyday. This weekend I struggled a lot. As I struggled I think I misplaced my anger, fear, and frustration. They came out with Mom even though I know it isn’t her fault. It is the nature of MS. It is how they are coping with the disease. But it still makes me mad. Mad and scared. It makes me feel like coping with all of this is impossible. Like I am going to struggle permanently so I better start getting used to it.
Curious if you have MS, what kind of additional support do you have if any? As a caretaker, what kind of additional support do you have? How do you handle not misplacing your frustration with a situation? How do you keep your cool when faced with constant pressure?
Early on I discovered the only way I was going to survive spousal caregiving and basically single parenting our growing daughter was to try and follow a path of stoic indifference to my own existence. Ironically a quarter century later with my wife’s dementia like MS symptoms affecting memory it’s a good thing I never took my own existence too seriously.
Caregivingly Yours, Patrick