I am feeling so frustrated tonight because my good sense tells me not to do something I really want to do but my heart is longing to do it. Here’s my dilemma. I want to be a caregiver to two different people (actually three) and it’s tearing me up that I can’t.
My grandson is very sick tonight. It probably won’t amount to anything but he’s only six months old and has a very bad upper respiratory tract infection. He can hardly breathe, his mucus drainage is so thick he’s choking on it, and he can’t drink (he’s only had nine ounces of milk today) so he’s becoming dehydrated. His mother (my daughter) is scared to death. Her husband’s cousin died at this same age of an upper respiratory infection and she’s afraid it will run in the family so she doesn’t plan to sleep until he can breathe.
She had him in the emergency room last night unable to breathe and she’s had him to herself all day today so I’m sure she has not slept since yesterday. That means whether she wants to sleep or not, she will at some point, and when she does she needs to make sure that little Eli is safe. I’ve coached her on some tricks-of-the-motherly trade to try to help her with the approaching night (everything from power aide for hydration to sitting in the shower steam to open up his head). I’ve suggested using the carry sling to hold him against her tonight so that when she falls asleep, the baby will not fall off her chest. I’ve offered prayers and my limited experience to her over the phone, but what I really want to do is to go over there and keep him for a while so she can rest. But, I can’t do that…
With MS, one of the big risks is contacting infections. MS is an autoimmune disease meaning that the immune system does not function properly. People with MS must avoid getting sick because it’s more difficult for them to recover. Lynn, for example, will take a month to recover from something most people are over in three days. His lung capacity is compromised due to weak diaphragm muscles. Therefore, if he gets a cold he has a more difficult time coughing up secretions and keeping from getting pneumonia. Therefore, we don’t go out much in public during cold and flu season to limit his exposure.
We were already exposed to Eli all weekend. I kept him Saturday afternoon and then again Sunday morning. At those times he wasn’t eating much but he did not appear the least bit sick. He was happy, breathing well, and sleeping without any congestion. I was very surprised when his Mom called to warn me he was sick and Lynn had been exposed. Oh well, you can’t avoid everything.
But here again, MS gets in the way of what I want and need to do. I want to help my daughter and grandson but I can’t because Lynn is my first priority and responsibility. I worry about my responsibilities getting in the way of meeting the needs of my other family members too. My parents are around eighty years old. They are very healthy still but every time the phone rings, I’m afraid I will hear that one of them is sick or injured. I will want to go to be by their side but what will I do with Lynn? If I take him with me, his wheelchair can’t go into their home. He couldn’t stay alone at a hotel because he can’t do anything for himself. I could maybe get someone to stay with him but no one in the family really knows how to care for him 24 hours a day and besides, everyone works or has other responsibilities. I could have my parents brought here but I know they would not want to leave home. It bothers me a great deal because I’m torn between who I get to help when I want to help them all if they need it.
So I deal with it by not thinking about it. (visions of Tara and Scarlet O’Hara run through my mind…”I won’t think of it today. I’ll think of it tomorrow.”) I know one day I’ll have to make a choice but that day is not today. I just pray I’ll make the right one; the one where I can do the best and the least damage.