My daughter was discharged from the hospital on Saturday. She was there for 4 1/2 months which included 3 transfers to intensive care, 2 near death experiences, 3 heart attacks, a massive bleed in her belly, a severe infection in her blood & belly, kidney failure, respiratory failure, a hole in her bladder, and many more complications that had the doctors unsure what to do. It has been a long, intense time for all of us who love her.
She’ll be staying with us for a while so that she is closer to the hospital if she has any complications. She was discharged with tubes in her bladder, belly and kidney and she needs a walker to get around.
In spite of all of this, she is doing very well. It was so nice to hear her laughing last evening as she watched funny videos on TV. It was the sweetest sound I have heard in a long time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it has been like being a caregiver for an ill family member – the challenges, the emotional impact and what I have needed to get through this time.
It’s really hard to watch someone you love having a hard time coping with a serious illness. I found that I was often in tears, exhausted, and in need of support, but the reality is that much of the time, I felt very alone.
The focus in the hospital is on the person who is in need of care and not the needs of the caregiver – which are many. And when those needs are met, it is soooooo much easier to cope with the stresses and challenges of supporting someone you love.
I have had amazing support from family and friends and a doctor who I can call on when I start to feel overwhelmed by life. I found that just by talking about how difficult this was that I felt relief.
Talking, for me, is a very useful way of letting go of the emotional energy that challenges create in me. I often refer to this as “verbal vomit”. Once I get it out of me, I feel so much better.
And I found that once I shared the stories of my experience, I needed to focus on other things so that I would stop worrying about everything (a habit I am learning to let go of). Most days, my husband would drive me to the hospital in the morning and pick me up after work. When I got into the truck, I always told him about my day which helped me to let go of the emotional energy and kept him informed about what was happening with our daughter.
And I started to put a limit on how much time I focused on that part of my life. Our drive home is about 1/2 hour and I would give myself no more than 10 minutes for this. Then, I’d get out a novel and read for the rest of the trip. This helped me to shift from worry mode to relaxation very quickly. It also taught me the value of turning off the worry thoughts and doing something I enjoy instead.
And other people have a different perspective on the situation than I have. Often others would help me see things differently or offer suggestions that I had never thought of. For example – after a week spent in intensive care with my daughter, I was exhausted. It was my daughter who suggested that I did not have to spend every day, all day with her and that it was okay to stay home and sleep. I had not ever considered not being there as a an option, but doing this made a huge difference for me.
At the hospital I often felt so alone. Most of the interactions with other people involved staff members who were focused on the needs of my daughter, but a handful of them actually noticed that there was another person in the room with my daughter. Being acknowledged and included in discussions made a big difference.
And even better was having a staff member check in with how I was doing. Just having them ask, “How are you doing?’ or say something like “This must be really hard for you.” Or better still, to have them remind me how important it is to take care of myself and make a suggestion about how to do that – like going for lunch, making a cup of tea in the kitchen, or get outside for some fresh air.
These may sound like simple interactions, which they are, but this made a huge difference for me.
My daughter and her husband belong to a church community who were praying for her. And a big THANKS to all of you who send prayers and good thoughts our way. It really did make a difference, especially to me, just knowing that others cared enough to send messages of help and support to the divine.
There was one day when my daughter went into respiratory distress and shock and was moved to intensive care. Her blood pressure had dropped to almost nothing and the staff sent us away and quickly got to work to keep her alive. Of all of the experiences, that was the hardest to cope with.
I was having a really hard time during this episode. What kept me going was the spiritual care staff member who checked in every day to see how my daughter and I were doing. My daughter was unconscious, so we just stood beside her bed, held hands and she said a prayer.
And she always took the time to ask how I was doing, to listen to my story, and give me a hug. I don’t know if she will every really know what a difference those 10 minute visits made to me. It was so comforting.
And what helped the most, was knowing that our guides and angels were with us all of the time. When I asked for help on one very challenging day, I saw and felt 6 big angels surrounding my daughter’s hospital bed. Every time I would think about then, tears came into my eyes which happens to me when I am connected with these divine beings. And these angels seemed to stay with her after that day.
I am so happy and grateful that my daughter is doing so well. I feel so blessed to have her in my life and to have the support of so many people. And I am so comforted to know that I am never alone. Our human friends and spirit friends are always by our sides and ready to help if we only just ask.