10:00 PM….I transfer my grandmother from wheelchair to bed via hoyer lift and begin our nightly routine. Undress, bathe, dress, dental care, administer medication, get comfy, and hope for the best. “Good night, grandmom. Try to get some sleep….morning comes early.” I turn off the lights, kiss her on the cheek, and grab any available blanket. I fall into my bed….the sofa next to my grandmother’s home hospital bed. Thoughts of tomorrow wander through my mind before finally closing my eyes.
12:00 AM….I hear the sheets rustling on my grandmother’s air mattress. She can’t sleep….the cramps in her legs are excruciating. “No problem grandmom. I will put you in your recliner.” I walk across the living room and retrieve her hoyer lift. The hoyer lift mat is strategically placed…I begin to lift her from bed. And, incontinence strikes! It isn’t her fault that bending motions cause her to urinate. “No problem grandmom. I will get you washed-up and changed into clean clothes.”
12:45 AM….Bathed, dressed, and two transfers later, she is in her beloved recliner. The leg cramps are still painful….the reclined position was no help. “No problem grandmom. Let me massage your legs and see if that relieves the pain.” She nods.
2:00 AM….The pain seems to be subsiding a little. Grandmom wants to go to bed. “Sounds good Grandmom. Let me get your hoyer lift.” Recliner to wheelchair, wheelchair to bed, the hoyer lift mat is removed….another successful transfer. And, incontinence strikes! “Ok grandmom. Let’s get you bathed, changed, and comfy.”
2:30 AM….“Goodnight grandmom. See you in the morning.” But it is already morning! I fall into bed hoping this time it will last.
6:30 AM….My alarm clocks sounds. I quietly leave the comfortable sofa and tip-toe upstairs. A quick change into workout clothes and my morning workout routine begins. These 30 minutes of freedom are frequently interrupted by my wandering mind….I better check on grandmom and make sure she’s alright. Running up and down stairs is excellent cardio!
7:00 AM….Going downstairs, I’m met with grandmom’s bright eyes….MY 30 MINUTES of the day are over. “Good morning grandmom. Ready to get dressed?” And so begins our early morning routine. Undress, bathe, dress, dental care, administer medications, transfer into wheelchair. The day has begun.
12:30 PM….By now, my grandmother has been transferred 3 times. Incontinence never fails to burden each transfer. Why so many transfers? She must be repositioned every 1-2 hours in order to prevent skin breakdown. It’s her favorite time of day….the daytime soap operas are on CBS! We sit together and watch the drama surrounding TV families and try to forget the drama here at home.
5:00 PM….Three transfers later and it’s dinner time. I eat standing up in the kitchen because I choose not to eat in front of my grandmother….she is fed through a feeding tube. Guilt surrounds me during each meal. The woman who taught me how to cook is unable to eat. Why is life so unfair?
6:30 PM….Grandmom and I retreat to our favorite room….the four season room at the front of the house. We watch nature from the surrounding windows and talk of days gone by. She laughs at my stories of younger siblings. I laugh at her facial expressions to the town gossip. I would give anything to have these moments back.
8:30 PM….Grandmom chooses her favorite record from the collection. We dance/roll around the 1st floor of our home without a care in the world. Right now nobody is sick or ailing….all is right in the world.
9:30 PM….“Welp, it’s that time again. Time to get ready for bed.” She smiles and yawns. We begin our nightly routine. “Goodnight, grandmom. Sleep tight.” I kiss her on the cheek and fall onto my welcoming sofa. I stare at the ceiling and pray she wakes up in the morning.
Caregiving never stops. It’s a physically demanding job with little rest. Your eyes may be closed but your mind is constantly working. Care for yourself so you can care for others. Thank you and GOOD LUCK!