One of the first things you hear in the pre-flight speil is if you are traveling with a small child or someone who is dependent on you that you need to remember to put the oxygen mask on yourself first if such is required because you can't help anyone else if you've passed out yourself. This is analogy often used when counseling caregivers... take care of yourself because if you get sick or drop dead then you aren't going to be of any use to anyone anymore. Sadly, it's one of the least heeded pieces of advice that they get. Granted, sometimes it's due to a martyr complex that the caregiver has adopted. Very often the caregiver isn't comfortable leaving anyone else to tend to their loved one, especially if they have particular needs that someone else may not be able to meet. But most often, a caregiver doesn't get a break or respite time simply because there isn't anyone available to take over for them or they don't know how to go about finding the help that they need.
I am so very blessed to have family and friends to back me up. I got away this weekend with my all-female work group from church the Tool Time Girls(TM). My sweet sister came over from Trenton, FL where she lives on five acres out in the middle of God knows where. She took over Mama-care duties at the nursing home for me. Our dear friend Steve (the bf of one of the group) offered us his lovely home on a canal in Palm Coast. He came up to Jax and stayed at her house because one rule of TTGs is no boys allowed. We had just the best time eating and sleeping and watching movies and we even got to watch the Jaguars game on a station out of Orlando. We didn't go to the beach because of the weather and the runouts but we did go see the estate of a Russian Princess out on Matanzas Bay. Even though we didn't do anything crazy this year like get tattooed or anything, it was just what we needed, me especially and a fabulous time was had by all. I did get a text Saturday morning from my sister telling me that Mama had gone back into congestive heart failure and had been moved back to the hospital but she wouldn't let me come back, she had it under control. She's such a peach. And Mama is doing much better today, she may be discharged tomorrow and we'll be bringing her home this time. I think she's had about as much rehab at the nursing home as she can tolerate and I felt like they weren't as concerned about the sodium levels in her food as I would have been. See... there's that "nobody can do it as well as I can" complex happening there just a little bit.
For folks who are not as blessed as I am to have such great support there are agencies that provide respite care. I know that the VA was very good about giving Mama respite when Daddy's care became a full-time job for her. Catholic Charities and Urban Jacksonville both have local respite programs as do several nursing homes and home care agencies. Help is out there for you and if you need my help finding it in your community just e-mail me Betsy@Feedinmama.com and I'll do what I can to point you in the right direction. But please do remember to take care of YOU. It's important.