When Family Care-Givers Become Non-Persons

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DSC01658My mother stopped eating.  My father has Alzheimer’s.  The past couple nights, he refused to eat dinner.  My mother is a picky eater, who was told, on Wednesday, by her GP, that if she does not begin to eat, she will die.  My father doesn’t like sandwiches.  My mother does.  On Friday night, I made one of my mother’s favorites.  My father ate half of it, then refused to eat anything else.  He refused to eat much of anything today.  So, I began cooking supper around 5:30.  I hate cooking.  I made the things I knew he would eat – and he did.  It was 10:30 by the time I was able to finish the last pot and pan.  It was nearly midnight before my mother was able to settle down, trying to get comfortable.  An hour later, my father was up and wandering around, trolling for junk food.

As I begin to write this piece, it is about 12:30AM.  I’m tired.  I managed to get three hours sleep last night, sitting up, with my feet propped up on a foot-stool.  I even managed to write all of 150 words in my murder mystery.  Once upon a time, just a couple months ago, I would write 3500 words a day, each and every day.  I don’t get to have time for luxuries like my writing career, these days.  I barely have time to even get a shower.  You see, I am the sacrificial family member, blessed to make a sacrifice for the family, to care for the parents.  Please, don’t get me wrong.  I don’t mind caring for my parents.  What I do mind is having to do it day in and day out, with no physical relief from other members of my family.  They have lives of their own.  I don’t.  I’m just a writer – or I once was.  Today, I am a care-giver.

When you become a family care-giver, you lose your identity.  You are no longer a person, you are a care-giver.  Forget about being a writer, an artist, an anything.  All you are is a care-giver.  Oh, there are those who consider it a great thing to do, to be able to provide comfort and care to the aging parents.  It is.  But – it has its limitations.  It isn’t the care-giving part which is bad, it is the way we are treated which makes life a living hell.

I’m tired. I’ve been at it since Thursday morning, with no end in sight.  I get a few hours sleep during the day, but that’s it.  I’m no longer a viable individual, but a care-giver.  Tonight, my legs hurt so bad, I want to sit and cry.  I can’t take anything.  I can’t even take a single Advil.  I’m so tired it will knock me out, and I don’t need that.

I am a care-giver.  I am a no-body.  I once was a writer.  Now I’m an unpaid family servant.   I’m now the sacrificial servant.  I don’t have a family.  I avoided the complications so I could concentrate on writing.  Now, I get all the shit of being in a family, with none of the benefits.  I have become socially isolated.  Heck, when I have time to be social, I’m too tired.

Tonight, I am so tired, I can’t write – again.

I am a care-giver.  I am a non-person.  I am nothing.

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