Feeling Overwhelmed? | Year of the Caregiver

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It’s hard to get our thoughts out to others when our thoughts are a disorganized, tangled, mess - amidst caregiver chaos, so, I’m giving myself a few minutes to get it out. I think it is in these times and on these days when we need connection the most, and when sharing our experience is the most important.

I tend to wait to write until I feel moved to do so, to dance only when I feel the energy, or to wait for a bit of inspiration to express myself. I must not be the only person who puts life on hold while waiting for better opportunities.

So today I write just as I am, in an overwhelmed, disorganized, caregiver place. Because, as you caregivers know, sometimes the storm, whether real or perceived, has some serious hang time. Sometimes we watch our loved ones fall hard or deteriorate slowly before our eyes, despite all the faith, and hope, and love we can shine on the situation. Today, I am committed to living in the storm, the transitional space, the in between places, or whatever today brings, because well, here we are.

My goal this month was to write about confidence in caregiving. I could write about the things I do that bring confidence to my caregiving, and the things I have noticed that others do to alleviate the overwhelm such as;  writing questions down for doctors before appointments, and setting one day a month aside to manage all the medication and medical bills. But these things don’t seem very helpful when our day to day life is overwhelming and when we are in it. What I will offer here is what I’ve got on life as a caregiver, right here, right now.

The most overwhelming part of being a caregiver to me, is the “to do list”- whether written down or in my head. I am trying to recall a day in my life as a caregiver where I have felt at peace with where my son is at in terms of supports, and here I am, drawing a blank. The supports I am talking about are the ones he needs to experience life in a mobile, expressive, sleeping, pooping (yep he needs support with that, too), HUMAN BEING kind of way. Caregiving life is a constant shuffle of priorities. Right now my son would certainly benefit from (in no particular order); a more supportive wheelchair, a walker that he is less likely to trip over, preparing for an IEP meeting so his best school placement is clear when we move to a new school district and getting him started on a new drug to help with his tremors. I am working on these things, but I never work fast enough for him. And the structural and systemic challenges he faces will certainly not change fast enough for him. (That’s a whole other topic and has its own to do list. Revolution friends!) You caregivers know these challenges and the overwhelm so personally.

I need a time machine, don’t we all? If I could just create a few more hours in the day, then maybe....

In this moment I catch the way my boys look at me for answers, in trust and in love.

In this moment I see the way the rose and the kiwi buds are intertwined out the bathroom window, competing and sharing the sun. 

And, in this moment, I notice the way one of the hens in our backyard just wants to be a mama.

I pull her off her nest and out of the hen house. “Honey, you need to eat and drink some water”.

Confidence in caregiving comes with noticing, with asking questions; not with having all the answers.

Real confidence in caregiving comes through grace and with a lot of humility.

He needs his meds and his water, breakfast, and a dry diaper. Now I’ve got 10 minutes to get him on that bus and to blow those kisses.

We made it to the bus. I carried him halfway. We blew those kisses.

Guest Blogger - Cadie Olmsted

Cadie is a part time hospice and palliative care nurse, wife to a fisherman and full time fish biologist, and mother of two boys.

She lives in Albany, Oregon. She is grateful for our shared humanity, planet earth, poetry, free writing, moving meditation, and the radical love of Jesus.

She aims to raise awareness of the difficulties of raising a child with a complex medical condition, and the gifts and joy it brings.