Monday, July 30, 2007

Breaking the silence


I'm writing this blog more for myself than anyone else. I need to break the shroud of silence that has all but engulfed my very being and taken me to insanity's gate. I have been the sole caregiver to both my elderly and infirm parents now for going on five years. I am a single 49 year old man in relatively good health and "should" be watching my children go off to college or getting married or celebrating a silver wedding anniversary and preparing for retirement and enjoying the fruits of my labor as I approach my 50th year. At least that's the way I had envisioned it would be as a young boy dreaming of what my life as an adult would be like. I don't think anyone can describe the absolute anguish that a caregiver endures day in and day out but another caregiver. The constant internal conflift and feelings of guilt are at times debilitating beyond consolation yet the sun comes up and another day is upon you and you have to do what needs to be done. There is no calling in sick, there is no taking a day off, there is no life of your own when your a caregiver. The only solace comes in the darkest hours of the night when the bells stop ringing and the medications have finally done their job for a few hours resbit and I can drift off for a few hours and dream of summer vacations on green lawns alongside the crystal blue waters of a mountain lake with children laughing and singing in the midday sun.

The first year I slept at his feet on the floor in the family room. He was unable to lie in bed so the recliner was his bed and the floor was mine, rolled up in a down comforter like a sleeping bag. His apnea was quite pronounced these early days after his stroke and I can remember lying in my bedroll and counting one mississippi, two mississippi,three mississippi sometimes up to 150 or 160 before he made this loud gasp that made me jump and he began breathing again. Many times while counting in between gasps I would think, "What if this is it? What if no gasp comes and he's gone?" and before I could finish the thought the sound I will hear forever in my head came and made me jump and snap out of it. Back to counting, one mississippi, two mississippi and I'd cry sometimes but eventually I'd just pull the comforter over my head just about the time the sun was coming up and get some sleep.

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