Chaos Attraction

30 Days Of Truth: What I Hope Not To Do

2010-10-04, 9:37 a.m.

30 Days of Truth Day 06: Something you hope you never have to do.

Be a caregiver. This is another slam dunk entry here. I'm terrible at it.

Back when I was in support groups for having an ill relative, they said that everyone was defined as a "caregiver," even if you weren't living in the home with them giving them 24-hour care. I disagree with this assessment very much, because if you don't live there, you don't have to do jack shit. (And really, that sure as hell didn't mean that my relatives were caregivers.) I was a crappy caregiver, but I was only doing it about one weekend a month, more or less, most of the time. Everything didn't revolve around my ability to take care of someone without a break all the time, and thank god for that.

I'm an only child. I am well aware from the stories of the folks I knew in support group that only one sibling ever does anything once a parent gets sick, and it's usually the closest living female relative to the parent. (I knew one lady whose siblings helped out, but she was in her 60's and it was a different time, I suspect. Everyone else griped all the time about how they couldn't have paid their siblings to do anything.) So technically, I would end up with the job anyway even if my parents had decided to give me a delinquent little brother or something.

I will have the job by default anyway the second that my mom gets really sick. And I have been FREAKING OUT ABOUT THIS for the last few years now. Every time she has fuzzy memory issues (this day in particular), I am terrified that the Alzheimer's/dementia is finally kicking in. Didn't it kick in on my grandmother when she was in her 60's? And Mom's sixty. And this year she got degenerative disc disease--well, at least they aren't making her get surgery for that. And a few weeks ago she told me she had to have tests on her esophagus and I thought, "OH SHIT IT'S TEH CANCER" (even though I've only had about two relatives come down with it and those were on Dad's side. Everyone else dies of degenerative diseases and dementia on both sides.) and started crying. Apparently it was just an ulcer (huh?).

But I keep waiting for the ultimate anvil to fall on me. That day will be the day when I'm forced to move home and take care of her 24-7. Some people tell me, "No, you won't have to," but I am all, with what money shall I be paying for in-home care? Back when he did in-home care, Mauricio made more than my mom and I do in salary, and insurance won't pay for it. I am well aware what insurance will and won't pay for with regards to invalids. The reason why the closest relative or live-in person gets stuck doing the job is because you can't afford to get someone who knows what the hell they are doing to do it.

And I will be trapped. And I will be awful at it and seething mad and grossed out and... oh god.

I tend to have the same thoughts about parenting too. Not that this is likely to become a problem for me in my life anyway, but dear god, I don't want to be the number one person in charge of someone else's care at all times. (Also why I think adopting older kids or having stepkids is so much better. At the very least, it skips the baby dependence years.) It fries my brains and I don't want to.

But I can avoid parenting (or more like, nowadays I don't have to argue with someone about this one any more). I can't avoid being forced to be a caregiver in the near-ish future.

My shrink gets on me for living my life in limbo and expecting that something will go bad, but I'm well aware of how illness in my family happens, and the odds of this happening are really high. Dear god.

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