I was familiar with the term “sandwich generation” which refers to adults that are bouncing between caring for their aging parents while raising their own children. I felt this very briefly but at an EXTREME level when my mom was sick with her cancer. I had 3 small children (5 and under) and since I had literally just left my career and, therefore daycare/babysitters a mere 4 days before her diagnosis, I had very few options in place for immediate childcare while I scrambled (in shock) to help my dad with my mom’s care. I think back on that horrible summer and know there were so many things I could have done differently but, wow, those were tough weeks to get through.
Up until last month, my father was living very independently and although we talked or emailed often, I was not worried about him being on his own and taking care of himself. Most of my focus was on my own family. My dad was very independent and although I tried on several occasions to go to his doctor visits with him so we could get some clarity on his situation, he wanted to do things himself – and I let him. I’m not one to rock the boat, ever. Looking back, I probably should have just insisted…but at the same time I really had to let him do things his way for his ultimate happiness.
Now I am facing the reality that I am spending the last few days, maybe even hours with him. I’m sitting here by his bedside. He has not been awake all day, therefore he has not had food or water. The hospice doctor and nurses have been amazing. I’ve really struggled with wondering if I’m making the right decisions but I know, in my heart, that I am. I guess I feel like our parents devote their lives to raising us to make good decisions and so that, ultimately, when we are left to decide things for them, it is most likely a product of what we were raised with. I will admit to being relieved, at this juncture, that maybe I am done making the big decisions. I thought I was going to have to find a place to move him to again, but I was told today by the hospice doctor that I can take that off my plate…we will be here until the end. I am comforted by that because, except for maybe being at home (which wasn’t really an option in this case), I couldn’t think of a more supporting environment.
Meanwhile, I miss my husband and kids so much. There are fun and exciting things going on in their worlds that I’m missing. Being pulled away temporarily makes me appreciate them even more. When I left to come down here tonight my little one was pulling her wagon full of Girl Scout cookies in her little vest. Yesterday, after months of tears and failed attempts, she got her gymnastics pass that she has been struggling with (and had to scratch from and move down a level at her last meet). My oldest daughter had her first high school musical theaters audition today and I was barely able to focus on helping her get prepared.
This morning I started my day thinking I was going to have to take care of a few more “business” matters related to his care. Because the doctors and nursing staff seem to be more available in the later morning, I’ve been going to the gym for just a little bit first thing. Watching my dad suffer from the end results of cardiac disease is making me want to protect my health even more. I feel a bit guilty but, in some way, taking a few moments to maintain my weight loss and my health is also important. It really has set me up to handle the day better I think. Since I don’t really have time for long runs and I wanted to focus on strength training this week anyway (also still trying to earn my 12 workout per month medallion for this month), yesterday after I did some weight training at KokoFitClub, I ran quarter mile intervals on the treadmill – alternating between 6.0-6.5 and an easy walking pace. Today, I felt like kicking it up to 7.0 and running for .10 miles alternating with walking .10 miles. It was a good stretch for my legs and really got my heart going. I know I’ll have some catch-up to do with my long runs. It seems like forever since I’ve done much…that I can deal with later.