Caregiver Need Care Too

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.

6 Responses to Caregiver Need Care Too

  1. Sue says:

    Sheryl, I am so glad that your daughter is now home with you. I know how difficult it can be to go through all that you have as a care giver, it is a long and difficult road to follow and our lives are never quite the same again.
    I wish you and all your family the very best that life has to offer after those difficult times. Love Sue xxx

  2. Saffier says:

    Dear Sheryl…SISTER, It’s indeed…not easy…to SHIFT out of 3d conditioning and socialbeliefsystems when we
    are caught in it deeply and all around, not getting a glimps of the “REASON” why we suffer the way we do, but indeed if you ask Spirit will tell you to surrender to the Truth that you were/are only a Portal to the soul you call your dauther

  3. Kate I says:

    Sheryl, I’m so glad your daughter is out of the hospital and well enough to laugh…as they say, it’s really the best medicine. I hope you’re able to get some home care support while she’s with you and that you can take some time for yourself too.

    When my mother was dying, I had the honour and privlege of caring for her for her last 2 months. I was physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of it all but so glad that I had that time with my mother. One of my greatest joys and memories is of lying on the bed with her in the afternoons and just listening to music and talking together. When talking became too difficult for her, I read to her every day. It was such a gift.

    Take good care of yourself and wishing you and your family love and healing comfort..

  4. What a blessing! Many blessings in fact.

    I understand very well the need for caring for the caregivers, having been ones myself several times in my life–never for the extended period you have however!

    The physical, mental and emotional exhaustion may actually still come over you as you learn to shutdown the adrenal response. If this happens, just go with it. It’s the only thing you can do🙂 !

  5. Jean says:

    Sheryl…..much love and healing comfort sent your way from my heart. Love, Jean

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m so glad that she is home now and recovering. I call on angel support daily for way less important things. I love knowing they are around all of us and supporting us. Thank you for sharing your story. All the best to you and your family. xoxo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s