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Fall is in the air

Posted Sep 24 2012 12:00am

Growing up, autumn was always my favorite season but that was before rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia came into my life.  With the cooler weather, I have been waking up to stiff and swollen joints in the morning. I didn’t miss this feeling over the summer months.  These are the mornings where I am reminded that my RA is here to stay. My toe healed but my foot pain has continued on leading to the conclusion that my toe infection had nothing to do with my foot pain.

This is about the time of the year when I was diagnosed four years ago.  It is not a favorite anniversary but since I am human, I acknowledge its existence.  How can I not? It is the day my life forever changed and at the time, I thought it was for the worst.  While living with RA is hard, my life didn’t change for the worst.  Having RA changed me as a person and I am grateful for that.  Living with RA isn’t easy and pain can be debilitating but living with RA has allowed me to see the world more clearly and to take the time to appreciate the beauty all around me.

I have some other things happening in my life right now. I had recently made some plans but they had to be put in the backburner for the time being. My mom has been in the hospital.  She had a couple small strokes and the doctors are warning us that it is likely she will continue to have these and there is also a good possibility for a massive stroke. I have had to take a step back and consider my options. The fact is that my career or other plans do not surpass the urgency or requisite of being there for my mother. There has never been a question about which I would choose.  I always knew that mom’s health would fail and my biggest fear was that I could not be there for her. The fact is that despite RA and fibro, I am able and I will have to make myself available. I am also going to look into other options but taking care of my mom is priority right now even if it delays other plans.

Before my brother passed away, and it will be two years in less than three months, he worried about Mom and who would take care of her when she got older. I promised him that we all would but the fact is, I made that promise and I have to be first to step up to the plate. I just don’t know where to start. I just know that I want to keep that promise I made to my brother.  My mom is going to need occupational and physical therapy and that should help her in the short term but the likelihood of a full-blown stroke is imminent. Blood thinners and lifestyle changes will reduce her risk by a third but we still have the other two-thirds to be concerned with.

I know that many of you have had to deal with the issues that face your elderly parents.  I am there now and I could really use some advice.  My mom wants to stay in her home for as long as possible but during the day, she is all alone.  My brother is a college student who also works and usually gone from 7 am to about 10 pm. He is also still a kid and the responsibility should not be his alone.  That leaves my sister, my brother and me but we all have careers and families.  How can I make sure she is safe in her home? The first small stroke my brother was home and the second time, she called a neighbor for help and the neighbor called 911. What if she is alone next time? 

As far as taking care of an elderly parent, where do I start? Do I quit my job and become her caregiver or do I find some other way to make sure she is taken care of and safe. I honestly have no idea where to start and I could really appreciate some ideas and guidance.

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