How do you feel lately?
Are you run down? Tired? Stress getting to you? I bet you’ve gotten a check-up for your loved one? What about you? When’s the last time you saw your doctor for a physical? For an eye exam? What about the dentist? Make those doctor appointments now! I’ll wait.
It’s easy to let those things slide. When we’re busy. When we’re feeling good. It’s easy to lose track of time. It seems like you just went to the dentist last year and only skipped that last check-up.
Meanwhile, when you call to make an appointment, they let you know it’s been 5 years since you’ve been in. Whoa…how’d that happen. Life. That’s how. As caregivers, as parents and spouses, we are so busy taking care of everyone else we forget about ourselves. What are you waiting for? What will happen if you get sick?
I’ve promised you I would be letting you know how I have been adding self-care back into my life. Reporting to you what worked, what didn’t and how I feel.
If you haven’t read my previous posts on self-care, you can start with the intro here.
This week was a big deal. I made myself a doctor appointment.
I don’t really have any risk factors for heart problems. I’m probably a bit underweight though totally normal for me. Have historically low blood pressure. I don’t smoke, do drugs and I rarely drink.
I know, I’m a real fun gal. 🙄 But seriously, my anxiety was making me sick. I’m also not one to run to the doctor, but I was in panic mode. I had been having a few dizzy spells, heartburn, and some weird pinching in my chest. The more I focused on it the worse it got. Every moment I was aware of my heart beating and it was doing this not so cool flippy thing. I wasn’t happy about.
During my appointment, the doctor took the usual blood pressure. I have always had incredibly low blood pressure. As in 102/72. This week it was 128/78. I realize that’s still a very safe and normal range, but to me, it was a holy crap moment.
After listening to all my symptoms and the amount of care I provide to my grandmother, her biggest concern for her was all the stress I was under. Whether I do this to myself or not, how I am managing the stress is not working.
She said the same thing my grandmother’s doctor said.
“No one can do this alone or at least not without complete burnout.” Not good for anyone.
In fact, my grandmother’s doctor wanted my mom to call him so he could be the one to explain it. At that time he could tell her a plan was necessary. Better to adjust the plan as a need instead of to react when something finally happens, because it will.
Dementia progresses, it will get worse and there will most likely be some sort of event that requires care I simply cannot provide. That was 4 months ago. She hasn’t called him.
I was hooked up to an EKG monitor just to be sure. It was perfect. So that relieved some anxiety for me. But the real work is ahead. My “prescription” is to talk to my mother.
This is when I don’t feel 45. When I feel like a kid again. That my opinions and feelings don’t matter. When my usually over-sharing, over-talkative self turns into a mute. When a few thrown out ideas don’t get the response I am hoping for and I back off.
In the past I have tried suggesting, home health aides and adult day care. My mom counters with suggestions of how I can do what I do in a different way, rather than okaying it. My grandmother doesn’t like it either. She doesn’t want any part of any of it. Don’t rock the boat is my theme song.
I have no say over how my grandma spends her money. My mother has POA and is the health care proxy. This is rather amusing since I am the one who goes to all the doctor appointments, is in charge of her daily care, does her personal shopping and makes out all the checks for any of her bills minus a signature.
Eight months ago I suggested adult daycare, even my mom okayed it, the doctor signed off. My gram thought it was “free”. We went for a thirty-minute visit. But then wouldn’t go, told people I tried to put her in a home. Ugggh. Now, I really don’t think she could handle being gone all day, even once a week never mind more.
That means I have two options. My mother or a private pay person. Right now she has the money to afford it, though she would be very angry to have a “babysitter.” I keep putting it off wondering if the hassle will be worth the benefits of getting the hell out of here a few times a week.
My mom only lives five minutes away, yet we are lucky if she comes by once a month for 30 minutes. She will come if I ask and she is available. I have to make it a scheduled thing. She is mostly retired only working one day a week to maintain her health insurance.
When she does pop by, she asks why I am so crabby.
Apparently answering “You would be too, if you did this 24/7 for 2 years”, is not enough of a hint to offer more help.
She ended up asking my kids later if I am crabby all the time. My kids told her, “she’s not, Grandma is difficult”. Love those kids!
I don’t know if she’ll help more or continue to avoid being part of her own mother’s care. I can’t control my mom, but I can control me. I am monitoring my blood pressure with an app. I still don’t like how high it is. But knowing that I am still in a safe range, at least helps me realize I ‘m not having a heart attack.
The good news is I’m fine. But it could have been different. Make those appointments now. Don’t wait.
I’ll be letting you in on how that talk goes with my mom. I’ll be trying some other techniques I want to implement to calm down. I’m thinking along the lines of yoga and meditation apps.
Like most people this time of year, I am starting to visualize what I want 2017 to look like. I know I want more peace and more joy. Right now it feels like chaos and resentment.
BONUS DOWNLOAD: Click Here for your Free Printable Medical History Family Tree to keep track of your important health information.