Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sacrifice

It's been nearly 3 months since I last blogged. Needless to say, my world hasn't stopped moving -- it's still spinning out of control.

Changes and challenges, irritations and frustrations.

Most recently, what's been hard for me is the change to that which I cling to -- my freedom.

For the last 9 years, I've not lived with my family. I've lived abroad, in dorms, with friends, with significant others... as I've mentioned on multiple occasions, as much as I love my family, being in close-proximity with them is unhealthy for me. The freedom and mobility that I didn't have when I was younger is something I value above many things now -- and I was asked at the end of December to give much of that up.

My grandmother on my dad's side, on Christmas Eve, fell. She, until then, with the exception of taking a reaaaaally long time to walk anywhere due to Arthritis-ravaged knees, was still rather sprite and active. She drove. Went to weekly water exercise classes. Cooked. Whatever.

The fall was the beginning of a significant downturn in her mobility and she is now bed-ridden. As such, she needs 24-hour care -- she needs diapers and bed-baths. She needs to care-taking. And unfortunately, our family cannot afford to have outside help significant enough to not truly disrupt our schedules... so my dad asked me to move in and help.

Give up my apartment. Give up going out. Give up freedom. In exchange for a curfew, zero privacy, and no sleep.

I didn't jump at the opportunity. I said yes because I have a sense of familial obligation... and because I knew I didn't have much choice in the matter since we're financially unable to hire the help for the number of hours I am expected to cover.

So, I moved out of my apartment of 4 years and into my grandmother's house in Manoa. And I try to be home by 10 pm, daily, so that I can take care of her evening needs. And I wake up several times throughout the night to check on her. And the only other person who is making any kind of significant sacrifice is my dad -- who, at this point, has it worse off than I do in terms of lack of freedom.

And you know what? It sucks and it isn't fair for any of us involved (dad, grandma, or me).

Grandma deserves the best care possible -- not whatever it is her tired son and selfish granddaughter can provide. Daddy deserves to SLEEP -- he works overnight and has to be awake throughout the day to give her lunch/dinner and meet with the care-people who visit. And honestly, I think I deserve to play.

I've always tried never to be jealous of my friends, but as of late, I find that I get more and more upset when I look at their lives compared to mine. Many of them have honestly had it easy (at least through my eyes) -- they are well-off or have rarely had to struggle financially for anything as their families can provide for them. Heck some of them don't work. And many haven't really had to sacrifice... ever.

And while my life isn't horrible at all -- especially when I think of all the people in the world who know nothing of the luxuries that I have -- I still get jealous that it seems like I've worked so much harder than so many people and yet, I keep struggling and keep having to sacrifice.

My dad understands that I need any possible shred of freedom I can get my claws on and he pays for someone to come in a few times a month so that I can go out with friends and forget for a bit. I wish I could give him that same courtesy.

But frankly, I'm tired and frustrated with it all.
And it's only been a month and a half.
And I keep asking myself...

How much longer do we have to do this?

My grandma is healthy, short of the lack of mobility. No eating restrictions. No mental health issues. Nothing. She'll be 90 later this year and she could live another 10 years!

But I can't last 10 years doing this.
I don't know if I could even last one.

But... with no other obvious outs...

/me.

4 comments:

Ryan said...

Monchalee,

Not to blow my own horn (or that of my profession), but a good social worker can help you folks find out options for your grandma. Sounds like keeping her at home is important to you folks, so what is now called waiver/home community based services (used to be called Nursing Home Without Walls) might be useful for you folks. Where does she go for care? I might be able to find someone to assist you folks.

Troi said...

You are doing a lot for your Grandma. You also sound very tired though. Not a lot of people would do what you have done. Hang in there, Karma owes you.

Myopic Joe said...

Why do the words "family" and "guilt" occur so often together?

Though you love your dad and grandma, I can see why you to resent them. At a time when you're trying to explore your own life, you're forced to settle down into one not of your choosing. It's not fair. It's natural for you to feel angry, and to mourn the loss of your freedom. I'm glad you have your blog as a form of release; one small mercy that I hope keeps your feelings from consuming you.

My wife is a good person, but from time to time I resent my loss of freedom (sharing a life is not easy). My children have beautiful little souls, but I resent how much time and energy they demand. Of course they were my choices; you didn't have a choice in your current situation (well I guess you chose to fulfill your duty instead of abandoning them, but when it comes to family it often doesn't feel like a choice).

Sometimes I'm bitter, because I know by the time my children are out of the house, I will have to take care of my parents. My mom's health is already going down hill. Funny how your parents turn into your children. Payback for all our youthful brattiness, I suppose.

It's too bad your friends don't have the same experiences as you. They might pat you on the back, but they don't really know what it's like. It's like war veterans who return to civilian life, surrounded by people who have no understanding about the hell they've gone through.

You might want to consider Ryan's offer, since he is a social worker. There are people out there who can give you some advice on how to manage your grandmother's care (and how to take care of yourself at the same time). Knowing you're not alone makes a world of difference. And perhaps there are peer support groups out there, where you can make friends with people who are suffering through the same thing.

Best wishes to you and your family,
MJ

Anonymous said...

Hey kitten,

I'm saddened to hear how hard things are
going for you right now. It is a noble pursuit
to honor your family like this. Know that it's
not selfish to want to live your own life, free
to do what you desire. As my man, Troi, said,
Karma owes you big. In the meantime, breathe.
Take care, love.

Love you,
Me