Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Caregiver Syndrome Again

I had noticed Mom was not thinking as clearly as usual, so last week I took her to the doctor to have her blood sugar checked. They also took her blood pressure and did a cholesterol panel.

Every one of her numbers was better than mine. Lower blood pressure, better fasting blood sugar, and lower cholesterol. I stared at those results, comparing them with my own, and resentment toward my mother rose like bile in my throat.

I'm so sad and frustrated and TIRED. I know it isn't easy having Alzheimer's disease and I know that Mom has trials to bear that have to do with the forbearance necessary to cope with being an invalid. For the most part, she's borne these trials with grace. BUT-- her life seems so easy by contrast to mine. She sits in her chair and reads her books and listens to music and has all of her meals delivered. If a light is in her eyes, I turn it out. If it's too cool or too warm in her apartment I adjust the temperature. If she's out of toothpaste or soap or washcloths I fetch them for her. I've taken a cat into my home for her sake--A CAT-- (and trust me, this is something I would NEVER have done otherwise) and this particular cat throws up on a regular basis. I clean it up. I could go on at great length (gory detail) about the details of caregiving that I absolutely hate and have to do on a regular basis. Bathing my mother tops the list of the chores that I dread. And here's a ridiculous little confession: I resent paying her bills so much that I usually let her phone bill go overdue. How's that for infantile behavior on my part?

I poured out these complaints to the Lord and heard, "Could it be, Child, that you are not appropriating My strength and My help?"

Well yes probably so. Oddly this did not comfort me today--it just seemed like something else I've failed to do.

I want a break and there's no end in sight. Today I feel utterly frustrated and tired, but I'll get out of bed (where I've taken refuge with my laptop and my coffee cup) and I'll put one foot in front of the other and I know that the Lord will meet me with His strength and His help. I know it because He's been faithful to me every step of the way of this caregiving journey. I praise His Name.

At times I've felt like I might not survive the pressure of taking care of Mom. I've feared that the high cholesterol and stress might cause me to have a heart attack or stroke. The thought's often occurred to me that my mother might outlive me. But when I bring these thoughts to the Lord He's reassured me: "I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done" (Psalm 118:17).

Today I very much want to escape this caregiving burden, but here's my Gethsemane prayer: Thy will be done, Lord.

If it is His will to strengthen me to bear the burden rather than to remove the burden from me, then I will accept His strength.

Scripture: "They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, 'Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.' But I prayed, 'Now strengthen my hands'" (Nehemiah 6:9).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

God's Love In, Resentment Out

The battle against resentment toward my mom is ongoing. On the days when resentment suffuses my emotions, I have to choose to move forward through my day acting upon what I know to be true rather responding to the clamor of the enemy's cries.

Truth: I am fulfilling an anointed work in caring for my mother. Truth: God has ordained this time both for my mother's blessing AND for mine. Truth: God is being very gentle with me as He prepares me for my mother's leavetaking. Truth: God is with me always; I have not been abandoned.

The negative thoughts that come into my head remind me of the naysayers who sought to discourage and frighten Nehemiah's work crews as the wall of Jerusalem was being rebuilt. Nehemiah prayed against those who spoke slander against the Israelites, because they had "thrown insults in the faces of the builders" (Nehemiah 4:5).

When I went into my mother's room today "Oh Danny Boy" was playing on the easy listening music channel. Although no lyrics accompanied the orchestral rendition of the tune, a phrase from the song came into my head and tears formed in my eyes in response: "...you must go and I must stay..." This is the basis of my resentment toward Mom; she's leaving me. My mother's slow fading leaves a hole in my heart, and I must fill this emptiness with the Lord's love. Otherwise, I'm easy prey for negative thoughts that would slander my mother's character and tempt me to sin toward her by acting out resentment rather than love.

Scripture: "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love..." (Zephaniah 3:17).