It’s been a little while since I’ve put a new post up, but I needed a little bit of advice on how to handle a fairly delicate situation.
Many of you know my Gran suffers from Motor Neurone Disease and, up until the end of June, I was her main carer from since around this time last year when her symptoms first started to really affect her mobility (with the exception of carers that started to come in to the house from March this year onwards- useless as many of them were). She has now gone into a nursing home and, though there were teething issues at the start, she’s generally having all of her care provided round the clock now. Her mobility has declined terribly, so she is now confined to her bed, except for when she needs to use the commode. Obviously, this is hugely distressing to witness, but that’s another issue for another time.
My issue is that, since her issues began, I’ve not had a break- I’ve had the odd day where I’ve not visited her, but she basically makes me feel bad if I try to take more time for myself. Of course, when she was at home, I wouldn’t have dreamt of going away because it wasn’t feasible- I was doing food shopping, cleaning, general day-to-day tasks and helping with her mobility-related issues almost every day. Now she is in a place where her care needs are met and whilst her condition seems quite stable (i.e. no breathing issues as of yet), I want to have a break away for a few days (in the UK in case something unexpected does happen and I can then rush back, if needed). Thing is, I keep mentioning how tired I am and how much I need a break, but she fobs me off with things like ‘well, I never had a holiday for 40 years’. It completely invalidates my feelings and makes me feel guilty for even bringing the subject up.
I managed to clear her house, when she moved into the nursing home, that had 50 years’ worth of belongings, in the space of 2.5 weeks (pretty much did the whole thing by myself, with the exception of my fiance loading bags into his car for tip runs). The house was council so it needed to be cleared quickly- that alone was enough to make me need a break because I only took one day off work in that whole time- the rest I cleared and sorted in between my full-time employment and constantly visiting Gran at the home to make sure she was settling in okay. Surely, that was enough to ‘allow’ me to have a break, let alone the months of stress and upset involved with the actual caring role itself?
Yesterday, she was inundated with visitors at the care home- several different family members. They all came one after the other, so she never had a break or a rest and looked quite ill by the time everyone left- I said ‘If I’d have known you’d have so many visitors, I wouldn’t have come’ to which she replied ‘I prefer it when it’s you here’. It’s a lovely compliment to have received because it obviously shows she trusts me to be able to accurately assess her current state when I visit (i.e. if her speech is really slurry, I know she’s talked too much and is getting tired) and I still do the general ‘care admin’ role so I get what she’s saying. However, it does make me feel really trapped. I thought that, once she’d moved, it’d give me a chance to step back and try to attempt some semblance of a ‘normal’ life after being away from other people that I love and care about for so long. Apparently, that’s not the case and I don’t have the heart to ‘stand up to her’ because I realise she’s done a lot for me in the past and I am basically refusing to support her when she clearly needs me to be there (emotionally).
I really don’t know how to get around this. If I carry on this way for much longer, I don’t know how my body and mind will cope. I have been pushed so far beyond burnout, I am totally lost.
Note: My fiance has recently started a new job and he can’t take time off until his new staff are trained well enough to be able to cope with the workload whilst he is away. If this were the case, I could use the excuse to my Gran of ‘he needs a break from work and wants to spend time with me’ and she’d accept it- he’s the only one she will accept my being absent from her for (I think he’s the one person she feels guilty about having ‘taken me away’ from).
Really appreciate thoughts on this situation, guys!