God has got a plan for me
(San Antonio, TX)
I am what I call the reluctant caregiver. I don't know, it seems like all a blur now, but I find myself the sole caretaker of my 87 year old mother in law who has severe Alzheimer.
My husband is the youngest of the family, he has three sisters and five brothers, none of which have come to visit my mother in law in over a year going on two or more years for some of them, they do not talk to us and have totally abandoned their mother.
I suffer from chronic pain due to severe arthritis in my neck and back, and have nerve damage so is difficult to walk at times, but I still manage to bathe my mother in law daily. I also take care of my two grandchildren, a boy 15 months and a girl 3 years old, while my daughter attends college.
And I will eventually be taking care of my husband who was diagnosed early this year with cirrhosis of the liver and may only have five years left, or so we pray, God willing we will have more years together, we have been married for 32 years, and I am only 48, my husband is only 49.
His brothers and sisters do not know of his illness and we plan not to tell them, they don't care about their mother, we doubt if they will care about him, other than to fight me for the house (we moved in with my mother in law) if something were to happen to my husband.
It was very difficult at first taking care of my mother in law by myself, as I did not want to do it, and I resented the fact that his family had put all this on me, without asking, or offering to help any. I admit there are days too many, that I still have resentment towards his family, especially for the neglect of my mother in law and for the shabby way they have always treated my husband. But as time went on taking care of my mother in law, I began to change how I felt towards her, she is difficult as she is always swearing and yelling at me and calling me names, but I guess it doesn't hurt because she is not my mother, but sometimes... but I am gentle and loving towards, her, although there have been days that I regret.
As I am starting menopause hormones don't help the patience. So I sing to her while I shower her and that helps to calm her down, I found that she can detect my mood the way babies do, and if I am in a hurry or impatient she reacts with hostility and if I am patient and singing she is calm and more cooperative, and singing calms us both down, the song I always sing while showering her is "One day at a time..." but in Spanish as she has reverted mostly back to Spanish, which has been difficult for me also as my Spanish is really bad, so sometimes it's hard to get through to her but we manage.
I also am the head of two ministries at my church and am secretary of the parish council. That part of my life really fuels me to keep doing what I am doing, if I didn't have a life of my own and my faith I could not keep going and giving, as it is there are times when I feel totally overwhelmed, but God is always there to pick me up again, faith and prayer is what has gotten me this far.
It is going on two years now that I have been my mother in law's sole caretaker, and now with my husband's diagnosis it has become harder because I want to be able to take my husband and go on vacation or at least take a weekend away but we can never go far because we always have to get back to my mother in law.
That has also been hard, so I try to get outside a little each day even if I can't go anywhere, it helps to connect and to breathe the fresh air, and look up into the sky and know that one day things will be better, God has got a plan for me, "For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope." Jeremiah 29:11