A couple of easy(ish) years…

After all of the “fun” we had in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were a walk in the park in some ways, but also more challenging. Dad was in and out of the hospital for small things related to his congestive heart failure or cellulitis infections, but nothing too crazy health wise for him. Of course there were also routine appointments and tests as well.

Where things were really crazy over this two year period was with him not being able to work anymore due to his heart failure and the lymphedema in his legs. At first we thought it would just be a short term thing where he would be able to go back to work, but it ended up being a permanent thing. He applied for Social Security Disability and was denied the first two times around.

Things were tough financially over these two years because it was just my income and I was making less per hour than my dad had been. We somehow always managed to pay the bills on time. If we were ever short money, I would do donate plasma twice a week to have an extra $50 to make sure we had food to eat until payday, even if it was just bread, peanut butter, and jelly. There were times that I would also have to take out payday loans, and I don’t know how we managed those biweekly payments on top of all of the other expenses, but we managed.

Having those experiences where we pretty much had nothing makes me grateful for all I do have in life. I don’t know that people really take a step back to think about what would happen if one of their loved ones were not able to work anymore and then you suddenly have to become the sole provider. It’s really eye opening and helps you to truly know where your priorities in life are at. You no longer are concerned about the latest fashion or new shoes; you really become grateful for all that you do have.

Growing up as an only child I used to act like a spoiled brat and I’m not afraid to admit that. I would beg for something at the store and if dad said no, I knew I could always go to my mom and she would say yes. And if she didn’t say yes I would throw a tantrum and it didn’t matter where we were. As I got older of course some of that got better and some of it didn’t. At 23 after losing my mom and then having to suddenly grow up real fast to being the sole income provider and caregiver it really opened my eyes. I know there are people out there who have had it a lot worse than I have for sure, but everyone’s hardships work themselves out in different ways. This just happens to be my journey and I hope that these blogs in some way can help others to know they are not alone out there, no matter what they are facing.

 

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Taking Care of Myself

For the first time in almost 7 years I have the opportunity to focus on myself and my needs. Being a caregiver to my father who had many health issues was so hard, but I would do it all over again if I had to. My dad was my rock and I can’t believe that it has been a month today since he passed. It doesn’t feel like it has been a full 30 days. I remember vividly the week before he passed when I asked him one day how he was doing he told me he felt like he was dying. I told him he wasn’t and that his infection and other labs were getting better. By 11/28 he could tell it was his time to go. I was in the waiting room with a couple of friends because they were going to get my dad cleaned up. During that time he ended up getting sick and was really agitated, so the nurse called me and asked me to come back to his room. When I did, I could just tell he looked different than he had before and he was more alert. I walked over to his hospital bed and held his hand. He looked at me and said “Remember what we talked about last week baby, I think it’s time”. Hearing those words were heartbreaking. I gave him a big hug and then because I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to my mom, I was able to get video of my dad telling me he loved me. I’m grateful I was able to get that and I still have several voicemails from him, but something else special that I have is songs that he sang. My dad sung pretty much all his life, and loved Elvis. Once I was done taking care of his arrangements and other running around that needed to be done, I sat down at his computer and pulled up his music. I found a folder that had several songs he recorded and also found a record in the spare bedroom that he was on when his high school choir recorded a Christmas album. I’m so grateful to have these things.

Since my dad’s passing I have been having a hard time with cooking at home. Until last night I had been stopping on my way home to get something through a drive thru or a microwavable dinner. I know those aren’t good for me, so last night I went shopping and actually got some healthy stuff. Yesterday I started a 40 day challenge called ShapeGoal40 being hosted by Jen Widerstrom and Shape magazine. Back in February this year I met Jen after the release of her book Diet Right For Your Personality Type. We talked for a few minutes and she remembered me from one of her DietBet’s I did. She and I have kept in touch since then and I knew that this would be the perfect time to tackle this challenge head on. I have my goals written down and posted to my Instagram (cubbie_87). I convinced a friend to sign up and I’m super excited for these next 40 days. Life has a crazy way of timing sometimes. Part of my goal is to lose weight because I have put on at least 30 pounds since meeting Jen. But there is so much more to my goal than the weight loss, so if you are interested go check out my Instagram and while you’re at it go follow Jen on their as well (@jenwiderstrom). She’s had such an impact on my life and I love that she and I have been able to keep in touch.

As time goes on I will share more about my life as being a caregiver and more of my story, but I felt like today these are the things I really needed to share. It hit me pretty hard this afternoon and needed to get it out so it doesn’t eat away at me inside. If you are interested on doing the ShapeGoal40 with me, you can search for Shape’s page on Facebook and all the information you need is there. I also have a Planet Fitness membership that allows me to take a guest, so if you want to join me at the gym, let me know!

Welcome

Hello and welcome to my blog, titled Life of a Caregiver. I’m Sarah, and I will be sharing my life as an only child before losing my mother, after losing my mother, being a caretaker to my father, and life after losing him. At 30 it’s been a shock to have lost both of my parents. I’m sad for all of the things they won’t get to be there for, like if I get married, have children, and all of life’s other adventures.

Yes, I am 30 and have lost both of my parents. Each in their own way. I’m hoping that this blog will help someone else, as well as be an outlet for when I need to get things off of my chest. I’m also hoping that this blog will help everyone understand that everyone’s situation is different, but that at some point we all lose our parents, and whether we are an only child, like myself, or you have siblings, that it’s hard no matter the circumstances.

Everyone’s life journey is different and this is mine. Along the way I will also share things that have helped me cope. I will share pictures, memories of amazing times, and no so amazing times. I hope that if I can just help even one person than this blog is serving its purpose.

Welcome to my journey.