There are days when I just can’t be a caregiver.
I had one of those days recently. I have been under a lot of pressure from my transition at work. The stress of that combined with the many stresses of being a caregiver sometimes gets to be too much.
Ever since I was a kid, when I become stressed out, the first thing that happens is that I get a knot in my stomach.
As I’ve gotten older and the stress has increased, the knot (no doubt aided in part by my sometimes less-than-healthy lifestyle choices), has evolved into nausea and in extreme cases, vomiting. That was me the other day.
It was all I could do to drag myself from my bed to the bathroom and back. You know how it is…you lie in bed thinking “I will not be sick, I will not be sick” and the next thing you know you’re bolting to the bathroom in a panic, hoping not to redecorate the hallway in the process.
As I was lying there, between trips to the bathroom, my mind kept going to what I “should” be doing. I “should” make Grandma breakfast, I “should” work on my projects for work, I “should” be productive.
Nevermind that I lacked the strength to stand, let alone do anything that remotely resembled “productive”.
It took a couple of hours, but I eventually just let go of the idea that any of the things I “should” be doing were more important than simply giving myself permission to rest. While letting go did nothing for my poor stricken stomach, it did allow me to quit worrying and focus on feeling better. Lucky for me, this happened on a day when Home Health was here, so Grandma’s basic needs were taken care of. I knew she’d at least have two meals, get her meds and have some company.
In the end, I was down for an entire day. The world didn’t end. I made no progress towards any of my home or work projects, but I did make a conscious decision to let go and just care for myself. While this may sound trite, the single most important thing you can do as a caregiver is to care for yourself. If you let yourself get run down you fail not only yourself, but the person you are caring for.
Now…all I need to do is keep reminding myself of that.