Hi! My name is Su. I’m the oldest of three, and the only daughter. I am divorced and have two fabulous daughters, now in their 20s.
I didn’t plan on becoming a caregiver….at least not consciously. But, I suspect that my dad had been subliminally planting the seed in my brain over 45 years ago! However it happened, I’m here with them 24/7 … and have been for the past 4 years.
I moved to the Big Island of Hawai’i in 1999 and, most recently, had been the Human Resources Manager at a large credit union in Kailua-Kona. In May of 2015, my mom had a heart attack and needed a stent, so I volunteered to use my vacation time to go back to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to be with my dad while my mom was having the procedure, and then help my mom recover as best she could before I left.
Honestly, I don’t think I had been in the house for more than 2 hours before I recognized they (aka my mom) were having a difficult time with things, even though we spoke every week — but, she felt I had a life out in Hawai’i and she didn’t want to be a burden. I realized that the heart attack was telling my mom that she was doing way too much than her body could handle. Something inside me told me that I needed to move back to help them, pronto. So, after my 3 weeks were up, I returned to Hawaii, left my job, and within 45 days I had purchased a one-way ticket and was on my way back to Milwaukee.
I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into at the time. My strong sense of duty had kicked in, and I obeyed (like a good daughter does, right?). My parents were still fairly mobile on their own, but I took over almost everything. I cooked. I cleaned. I did laundry and grocery shopped. I took mom to her doctor appointments and for a weekly blood test to monitor her anemia. It was a relatively easy transition from corporate administrator to Family Caregiver. After all, I had to cook, clean, do laundry and grocery shop for myself, and adding a little more to accommodate my parents was no big deal.
Or so I thought.
Within a couple months, the first of many 911-type crises occurred, and over the next 4 years, I had really not been prepared to make 3 dozen calls to 911, helped my mom recuperate from at least 2 dozen hospital stays due to 3 more heart attacks, several severe UTIs, swallowing and breathing issues and stage 3 pressure sores. AND nurse my dad after a fall and then topical skin cancer removal.
Today, they both require my assistance for mobility, my mom is basically bedridden, my dad’s hearing has worsened and he has completely lost his sight due to cataracts (after being stubborn about addressing it).
But, so far, I have survived, and thankfully they continue to as well.
So, why am I here blogging? I’ve started this blog for a number of reasons. One, I haven’t seen any blogs that discuss caring for 2 loved ones simultaneously, and I know there have to be a few X2 Warriors out there with me. There are a few different pain points that we have. Parents who have infant twins may be able to relate! Ha!! Two, by sharing my experiences I hope to be able to help others as they navigate their own caregiving path. Three, it’s a place where family members can come to understand what’s really happening, if they’re interested. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And four, it is partly a Gratitude Journal as I recall the day’s small victories and silver linings.
I hope you’ll enjoy my musings, trials and tribulations as I continue Caregiving X 2! I’d love to hear from you and invite you to leave comments or email me directly. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, is I know there are countless others out there like me. Let’s get to know each other!