Knife Edge: In a difficult or worrying situation of which the result is very uncertain.
Six years into caregiving for my mother and we are fortunate to be in what I call “The In-Between Place.” By that I mean her health (and mine!) and her mobility issues are steady. We have a routine down that is working, and I am grateful. However, I am always watching for any changes in her health, both physical and emotional, in the vain hope I can quickly turn things around.
I’ve been concerned about her emotional health for almost a year now. Mom lost her beloved dog Bella quite unexpectedly last May. By late summer she was ready to bring a new four-legged friend into her life. Unfortunately, her age is working against us and I can see the toll not having a dog is taking on her. Without a reason to get up in the morning, she is feeling isolated and lonely, something we both work hard at limiting. This niggling worry about her emotional state is always in the back of my mind. The time it takes me to make contacts and find the right dog for her is exhausting and hard to come by.
Then, not long ago mom did not feel well. There were 24 hours when I didn’t know if her symptoms were gastro-intestinal or the start down a path that is scary to contemplate. It appears that it was a one-time incident, but I feel like I’m balanced on a knife’s edge. Hyper vigilant, I have her live-in caregiver on notice to call me if something changes.
By the same token, I don’t want to scare mom. Finding the right note to hit in our conversations about my concerns was hard. I don’t want her to worry unnecessarily, but I do want her to tell me if another incident occurs.
I try hard to stay in the now and not borrow trouble, advice I give my mother all the time. But I am my mother’s daughter and it’s easy to quickly go to the dark side and stay there. I tell myself to focus on the now. Don’t borrow trouble and stay vigilant. If I don’t, my time with her is filled with unspoken worries that spill over into how we interact during the weekends I am her caregiver.
Mom just turned 88 and I know she is not going to live forever, that at some point there will be a healthcare crisis. I also know that my worry is as much about me and how I will manage everything I am currently doing if (when) something changes or she gets sick. I am not a bad daughter or a selfish person because I worry how changes in mom will affect my life. That’s human nature, so I am learning to give myself grace.
The truth is, as caregivers we often feel balanced on a knife’s edge. How we act and react to the uncertainty is what matters. Are we passive-aggressive with our care partner? Are we negative and “woe is me?” What do we do to keep life in perspective, to find joy in every day? I’d love to hear how you keep going through these uncertain times, balanced on the knife edge of caregiving.
Leave me a comment and I will respond. Deb
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.