Saturday, February 4, 2017

Caregiver To Caregiver

I unexpectedly ran into someone Today at a Craft Shop as Princess T and I were Enjoying a Girl's Day Out, just browsing and having Fun.  Someone absolutely Delightful, Classy and Beautiful that I usually only see at a Popular Event we both make Monthly Pilgrimages to.  I had not known, until Today, that she too was a full time Caregiver, to her aging Mother who requires high maintenance Care, so that she doesn't have to be Institutionalized. 

 I had not known until Today that she'd had the roughest six Months of her Life.  Until Caregiver to Caregiver the Sharing of Challenges and Sorrows began... as it often will once you know there is someone with a point of reference to safely confide in and be Real with and know you will be Heard.  No facades necessary and no fear of judgment or awkwardness when discussing the heavy stuff... unvarnished and not sanitized to make it easier to hear and more palatable to digest.

You see my Friends, often the Caregivers among us are indiscernible and blend right in.  You might never ever suspect just looking at them in Public, the level of strains, sacrifice and stresses of their daily lives while they are Enjoying their very Rare Respite Escapes, whenever and if they can even manage them.  They can appear quite well put together, Cheerful and give the Illusion that their Lives are quite Normal like everyone else's, even if they are SO NOT by any stretch of the Imagination! 

 Because on our Rare Respite Escapes we usually ARE quite Cheerful and thoroughly Enjoying the semblance of Normalcy and doing something for ourselves, if even for just a few hours of a single day.  Finally being able to appear well put together and not feeling and looking like a Hot Mess physically and emotionally for a change!  It is often how we manage to keep our Sanity intact and break out of the Isolation occasionally.  

Because if you've been a Caregiver long enough, there will be Isolation as people fall away... and you never really know who will fall away or when... who will walk out... who will abandon a Post along the way... be conspicuous by their absence one day... tho' it will be clear Why.  The strains of full time Caregiving upon all Relationships will take a toll, count on that.  So some just won't Survive no matter how strong you thought they would or might be. 

 This Dear Lady had the Spouse walk out... it happens quite often actually if a Couple has a profoundly Disabled Loved one(s) living under the roof, because it can become consuming at the expense of the Relationship and there is a LOT of hardship.   Each individual's saturation point for just how much they can take of the strains of Caregiving is different... and at some point they may decide they just can't go on, just can't do it anymore and abandon Post and go for themselves.

  I'm not Judging, I'm just sayin' in happens and the one left behind now carries the full weight and load along with the Heartache of a now failed Relationship and being Abandoned.   My Heart ached for her and there really are no Words, so we just hugged.   And it won't just be Spouses and we both know that too... Friends and Extended Family will often also fall away and you will be Alone with it to Deal with as best you can without present help in times of trouble.

  And the Cavalry won't come in the way of Services, they're being cut and denied all the time.  They tritely call it the 'draining of the swamp' now with this new Administration, but they weren't the first to ignore Caregivers and those they Care for.  They may be the harshest yet, but they aren't the first, it's nothing new.  The Neglect has gone on for a very long time actually, I've been a full time Caregiver for many years now, it hasn't gotten better ever in my Memory and in my Experience. 

 You Advocate and fight long and hard for any Services for the Disabled and forget about yourself, Services for Caregivers are still virtually non-existent or have so many strings attached that you will be a Puppet!   Over the years I have Cared for two ailing Elderly Parents {one who was a Disabled Veteran}, a 100% Disabled Veteran Spouse {The Man},  two Special Needs Children {now Grown but still with Lifetime Disabilities} and now two Special Needs Grandchildren {The G-Kid Force}. 

 I have also Advocated for and Assisted numerous Families and Disabled Individuals in Ministry Work to navigate the treacherous waters of applying for any Assistance, Dealing with various Agencies and Qualifying for any Help or Hospitalizations and Advanced Medical Care needed.  There have been Success Stories and Horror Stories, Caseworkers who were stellar and a Huge Blessing, God Bless em Richly... and others who couldn't find their ass with both hands.

  It's a crap shoot who you will be Assigned to, how long they'll last before being Assigned a replacement(s) since turnover is very high... or if you'll actually get any Help.  Your Odds are probably better at Winning in Vegas actually than in receiving adequate Help from The System on it's best day!  But it's better than having No System at all... which is looking like a very Real Possibility given the recent Mandates that are Scaring the crap out of most Caregivers and the most Vulnerable of our Society nowadays.  They will clearly be the ballast thrown overboard first and they know it.

When you are a Caregiver you realize you are being viewed merely as a Commodity, an underappreciated one at best.   I know that when I could no longer Care for our Mother... and my Brother couldn't either... and we had to make the difficult decision to make her a Ward of the State so she'd still receive adequate Services and Care beyond that which we could give, it cost about $11,000 per Month to replace us as her unpaid Caregivers.  So conservatively, by keeping The Man and The G-Kid Force out of Institutionalized Paid Care I'm  'worth' about the $33,000 or so Monthly the State Saves from having to find alternative placement for the extent of their Disabilities.

Now, I am an unpaid Caregiver for The Man since he's my Spouse and it's my duty to Care for him regardless that I had to give up my thriving Career to be able to do it full time.   I was also an unpaid Caregiver for raising any and all Disabled Children for two Generations, until the recent Adoption of The G-Kid Force when the Adoption Disability Rating by the State qualified me for an Adoption Subsidy for each Special Needs Child.   Which comes out to less than minimum wage but supplies most of their needs that used to be on our dime totally using The Man's Disability Fixed Income, so I'm Grateful as Hell lemme tell ya... Kids are expensive and we're Senior Citizens still raising some! 

  So I do find it Amusing at best and Irritating as Hell at worst that the Powers that be feel any compensation Creates disincentives to us getting a Real Job!   REALLY...  What part of full time Caregiving ISN'T REAL and a freakin' JOB AND A HALF I'd like to know?  How many of them have actually done it to know what kind of disincentives it allegedly Creates about shirking anything at all, especially WORK?  And BTW do they realize it comes with no time off, Vacations, Staff or Co-Workers to Share the load, few if any Breaks, never enough Sleep or Rest and certainly no Retirement Plan? 

 Hell, I'm supposed to be Retired right now, I took an early Retirement from my Corporate Life to do this Caregiving Gig and I've never worked so hard in all my Life!  And Trust and Believe I've had very demanding and Successful Careers in my Corporate Lives to compare it to!  Careers and Fancy Corporate Titles... not just a Job... it's not as if my only skill set prior to this was asking if you'd have Fries with that Shake!  I had excellent earning potential IF I COULD still have the Luxury of working outside of the Home full time... now I have no earnings to speak of because this is full time 24-7 and 365 for the most part... Caregiving usually is.  What Imbeciles don't or refuse to realize that Fact?

So, we commiserated a bit this Dear Lady and I, standing there in a Craft Store filled with Lovelies {we were at a Hobby Lobby}, where neither of us really needed Crafts or a Project and didn't buy a damned thing, just Enjoying a brief Escape from our Realities as we strolled the isles.   I allowed her to Vent and she allowed me to Vent and we both felt the better for it.   She said that just Dreaming about someone bringing her over a Hot Meal once in a Blue Moon is sometimes her Guilty Indulgence because she's just too Exhausted most days to Cook or Feed her Mother and then have any Energy to eat herself. 

  I can relate, I have the diet of an unsupervised Child most days and have learned to eat so fast I could Win some Extreme Eating Contest at a Carnival!  And Enjoying a Hot Meal, I can't remember when that ever happened at Home without an interruption or just eating it whatever temperature it was by the time I could sit down and slam it down!?  Depending upon extent of Disability it's not just as easy as providing Food for the Loved One(s), they likely have barriers to Normal daily functions of varying degrees.   I abhor Mealtimes in fact, unless I'm able to indulge in Eating Out ALONE... then it's Pure Bliss!   I might be the Happiest Party of One at the freakin' Restaurant they've ever seen!!!  *Smiles*

Yes, Caregiver to Caregiver we can Share such Truths and Anecdotes... well, that and here in The Land Of Blog.  Where this is my little Domain here at Bohemian Valhalla Blog so I can Write whatever the Hell about anything and everything my little Heart so Desires!  *Winks*   And you can Read it or just look at the Pretty Pictures, your Choice... I don't need to know and this is still Cheaper than Therapy.  *Winks* 

And to all those Politicians that don't think Caregiving is a "Real Job" and I should go out and get one... Okay... I'd be Delighted to!   God would I be Delighted to, you have no Idea!!!!!!!  So all I ask is... when are THEY coming over to take my Place so I can, that's the only Burning Question I have about that nifty Solution they've come up with to Save Money and "drain the swamp"... because this Creature from the Black Lagoon can't wait to get outta here most days!  So... make my day will ya, you smug Politician Assholes?!  *Said in my Best Dirty Harry impersonation...Winks*   Anyone wanna place bets on how long any of them could Last with my Trio?   Now THAT would make a hilarious Reality Show that would!!!  *Bwahahaha!*


Blessings and Virtual Hugs to any and ALL Caregivers out there occupying The Swamp, be Militant and be Heard... Dawn... The Bohemian


  1. Glad you were able to connect and vent. I know it helped you both greatly! The rest of us can only feel bad but not totally understand God Bless you Both!

  2. Caregiver to caregiver...I understand. How amazing is the strength and support of women.
    Your pretty pictures provide a little respite as well!
    Xo Jazzy Jack


A life touched by God always ends in touching others. - Erwin McManus

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. - Og Mandino (1923-1996)

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