One of the unfortunate realities of being a caregiver is that most often it is “your fault”. And if you are the main, number 1, primary caregiver, you lucky thing you, it is ALWAYS YOUR fault!!
Early on after the hip break drama, my mother looked at me and said ” This is all your fault.” Yes, mom. The fact that your private caregiver that I had secured over your protests, was not with you when you fell – the fact that your “call me I have fallen and can’t get up” button that I had gotten for you was laying on your dresser, not around your neck , because you hated wearing it – the fact that you were now in the skilled nursing facility undergoing extensive rehab – the fact that I had been missing lots of work to attend to your needs, YEP, all that was my fault.
And so, a few years later, my mother is unhappily (and my fault) living in an assisted living near my home, it is still all my fault. Two weeks ago, as I was helping her in to her wheel chair, Mother said ” Ouch you hurt me” and grabbed her hand, specifically that area between her thumb and finger and said ” Your fingernail hurt me.” I apologized profusely. I don’t have long nails, didn’t feel anything as I had grabbed her hand, but nevertheless, I rubbed the area, looked for some sort of mark or red spot, ( which I could not find) and said, “I’m so sorry. ”
They are fragile – so very fragile. The slightest bump, pressure, or wrong move, will tear skin, create a bruise or cause pain. Yet, we as caregivers are fragile too. We endure blame, lost sleep, stress, worry, concern, and NO TIME for anything else in our lives, but those bruises and bumps are often only on the inside.
Last night I arrived back in town after being gone for two days. The very first item on my agenda was to go check on Mother. After a few moments of chat, ( although no asking about my trip, or how I am) I notice a bruise on the inner side of her forearm. It wasn’t there when I left her two days ago. So I make some inquiries. The nurse said she noticed it yesterday afternoon – AFTER she found mother out of her wheelchair and sitting in another chair in her room. In fact, mother had admitted to her being up and about in her room. Mother is quite prone to falls and is not supposed to get up without assistance. We surmised she may have dinged it during her adventures to a new chair. But my mother said ” No, I know how this happened. YOU did this to me.” and guess who she was looking at??? ” I know the exact time it happened,” she continued. ” You grabbed me by the hand and your fingernail did this to me.”
So, do I explain that the alleged ” fingernail incident” was two weeks ago? Do I explain that the alleged “hurt” was to her hand, and this bruise was on her inner forearm? Do I remind her that I have been out of town for two days and the bruise was not there when I left??
Oh, the serious and complicated decisions one has to make as a Sandwich Caregiver. The energy and effort and concern and angst with which we must weigh each decision. And so, finally, after weighing the possibilities, the concern about making the correct decision, the angst about making sure her quality of life is good, while mine is teetering on the edge of despair, a decision must be made.
So I said, ” I am sorry, Mother.”