Knowing what I know now
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I remember when my dad came up to me and said “Patti I keep forgetting things and its scaring me.” I didn't know what to say so I said “Oh dad that’s ok we all forget some things and don't worry I am here and I will help you to remember.” He said ok. I thought that was the end of that and my dad was just getting older and he was scared. I think all of us are a little scared of getting old and forgetting things.
I was a daddy's girl and as the days went by my dad got worse. He forgot who I was, He forgot when he ate something so he always wanted more of anything so I got him a big box of cocoa puffs and he loved them and he carried those coco puffs everywhere. Then he became more confused and started using the bathroom anywhere he wanted and then came the diapers. This was the hardest thing I ever watched with my own eyes, seeing the person you love just leave in mind but not body.
His body and mind started doing strange things. The time clock in your body that tells you to sleep when you’re tired well he didn't have that time clock in his head for a long while and he would scream all night for me, so I or my husband would get up and sit up with him all night. I use to get really angry at God--I thought how could he do this to me. I would go outside and yell at God to do something, well God did.
My mother started showing the same signs as my father had so this time I knew what to expect and what we had to do. It is really hard when your parents don't know you and they don't know where they are and they don't know how to bathe themselves or use the bathroom anymore. They go thought different stages so when my mother started going though this awful disease we do what to do. We had to put sheets over all the mirrors in the house because my mother thought there was someone in her house and would start screaming. We put locks on the temperature gauge because they kept turning the temperature up so the lock box for that worked. Then at nights we had to turn the water off under the sinks in the house and put locks on the drawers and the cabinets. We had to take of the caps that turn your stove and oven on at nights we took them off too. We had to put up a baby gate going to places they might get hurt on. That helped for a little while until my mother started crawling over them.
By this time my dad had become bed ridden. I thought this would help because then I only had one wandering child to chase after, but being bedridden isn't easy either you must turn them every 2 to 3 hours so they don't get bed sores, they forget how to eat so they stopped chewing so my husband and I got a large syringe and gave them ensure and milkshakes and water at least they were getting something in them. We had decided my husband and myself that when they stopped eating or drinking we would just keep them comfortable and clean and not have any tubes put in them to force feed them. At first I thought I was terrible and how could I do this to the people I loved let them starve. Then I got to thinking what would I want done if this were me. I would want to be kept clean and talked to because I wouldn't want to live like this. I know for sure my father wouldn't; he had a lot of pride. My mother wouldn't have wanted that either--who really would.
My husband and I did the best we could for 8 yrs. 2yrs for my father and 6 more for my mother. I always did my mother’s hair every day and always put makeup on her for that too is what I would of wanted too. Hospice was a really big help without them in our lives I don't think I could of made it. Sometimes I just wanted to end my own life because I just couldn't or didn't want to do this anymore. Like I said I use to yell at God a lot.
After my father passed it was a little easier but I knew once she became bedridden she wouldn't be my little girl anymore. You watch them die a piece at a time but when it is over I felt like a hundred pounds were lifted off my shoulders. Taking care of both my parents where the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I am so glad I am married to the best man in the world for he helped me every day bathe them and change their diapers. I know for fact if my husband Kim hadn't been there for me I couldn't of done it alone. I miss both my parents so much and when I look back I am glad we took care of them instead of putting them in a nursing home. Now don't get me wrong if I didn't have my husband to help me I would of had no choice but to put them in one. When you’re a caregiver it’s the hardest thing you will ever go through but you can do it. There are people out there if you look and they will help you. Remember you must take care of yourself or you won't be able to take care of them. Hospice would take my parents for a week every few months so Kim and I had a break. I don't know if how we took care of them was wrong or right but if I had to do it over again I would and I wouldn't change a thing except for yelling at God so much.
When you think you can't handle them take a break from them. They have day care centers that will take care of your parent during the days. I wish all well who is going though this hard time and if you ever need someone to talk to about this I would be happy to talk to you or I would be willing to come over and keep you company for a little while because when you’re a caregiver all your friends disappear. My heart goes out to you for now I truly can say been there done that and when it’s all over you will look back and feel proud of yourself for what you have been though.
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