No Longer a Daughter or a Son, But a Caretaker

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by caregiver, Hattie F. (Calhoun, GA)

My name is Hattie and in 2003 my mother had a massive stroke which left her paralyzed on her left side. It was by the grace of God that I took my three boys to see her that day―when we got there the boys ran in to see her first and came running out saying she had fallen, because she was on the floor. I ran in to the house and when I rolled her over onto her side I knew right away what had happened because her face was drawn. I called 911 and she was rushed to the hospital. That was the worst day of my life.

But I thank God that he led me to go that day and not the next because she would have died. I have been her care taker going on 11 years now; unfortunately, she was not able to regain any use back to her arm and leg and the stroke cause a lot of mental issues as far as anxiety, depression and OCD. But she is doing great and I Thank God that I am the one caring for her. She went to a nursing home for two years and she had just come back home.

It was torture having to put her in the nursing home but I'm glad I did. Sometimes when you take care of someone for so long you lose yourself; you no longer are a daughter or a son you’re a caretaker. So, with her going in for a while, it gave us both time to realize what we need to work on to make it work better. I know now that it is important for me to have "me time," to separate myself with a hobby or activity away from her and my kids for a few hours a week. You have to take care of yourself physically and mentally in order to care properly for your loved one.

When she first had her stoke, everything was left up to me. I had very little help from family and I felt like I was all alone because I didn't know of all the programs that are out there to help. It was very stressful taking care of a bedridden mother and four children (I was only 23 years old!), but now, as I look back, I wouldn't have chosen any other path for my life. I’m very thankful for the opportunity I have to spend with her everyday.

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