exhausted caregiver, mom, and teacher

Exhaustion.  It can hit out of the blue.  You think you’re doing well and handling everything, and you have a hopeful outlook.  It’s not always physical exhaustion.  It can be mental or emotional exhaustion.  But, mental or emotional exhaustion definitely adds to the physical exhaustion.  That’s where I am this week.  I’m mentally exhausted.  I’m tired of struggling all the time.  I struggle with a busy schedule…work, managing a household, taking care of kids, being available to my husband for his dialysis or any other medical needs he has.  I struggle with worry EVERY SINGLE MONTH on how I’m going to pay everything and still be able to buy a little extra, or do something fun, or be able to pay for something my kids need or want.

Home dialysis was supposed to make things easier for “us.”  They told us the machine is the size of a suitcase, and we can take it anywhere, even on vacation.  They didn’t tell us we would need to lug 5 large bags of fluid for each day of dialysis (25 bags for a week), saline IV bags, and a gazillion medical supplies with us. They told us you do dialysis more frequently, but for less time.  We do dialysis 5 nights a week for 2 1/2 to 3 hours once he is actually hooked up and dialyzing.  It doesn’t include set-up time and clean-up time.  It ends up more like 5 hours a night.  That’s a lot.  They said he can do it on his own, but it turns out, he has to have someone here with him to help him hook up and unhook, or be here in case of an emergency.  It’s not easier at all.  It’s harder.

I’m so tired of worrying about money.  I get the summers off, but I end up a stressed out wreck because I don’t get paid when I don’t work.  I’ve been applying for other full time jobs that are year round, even though it will mean I will have to leave a job of 9 years that I love.  I considered finding something part time that I could do during the school year to supplement my income, and pick up hours in the summer to maybe enjoy them without worrying.  But, because of dialysis 5 nights a week, I don’t know how it’s possible to work part time during the school year, after work.  There just isn’t enough time in the week.

I’m tired of saying no to things that are important to my kids because I can’t afford them or I don’t have the time or ability to be both at home, and out.  People will say, “you don’t have to give them everything they ask for.”  My answer to that is that they don’t ask for much, and when they do ask, it’s very important to them, or it’s a life event that they shouldn’t have to miss.  I hate that there are times they have to miss out because I’m not available or can’t afford something.  I hate struggling to figure out where the extra money is going to come from.  I hate that I am the only one who worries about it.  It really sucks to keep disappointing your child, when you know you are struggling yourself to accept all of this.

I’m tired of having to keep it all to myself because the person that I’ve always figured this stuff out with is sick.  He’s sleepy, he’s medicated, his brain is often foggy.  And there isn’t much he can do.  He is exhausted, too.  His body is failing him, he’s in constant pain, he’s sleep deprived, he’s forgetful.  He doesn’t have a solution to any of this.  I’m tired of handling it all alone.  I have to always keep him and his illness in mind, otherwise I would be overcome by resentment and hopelessness.  I keep him in mind because he has enough to worry about.   He didn’t ask for this any more than I did.  He has it worse.  My exhaustion is nothing compared to his.

This exhaustion has come and gone many times in the last 9 years since he got sick.  We always rally, we always make it through, we always survive.  It’s a matter of plugging along and pushing through.  We have no other choice.


Read more on Renee’s blog.

Written by Renee Palumbo
Renee Palumbo is living life with a chronically ill husband, three children, a dog, and a cat. In the 10 years since her husband’s diagnosis, Renee has learned that life can change in an instant, and we all have choices in the way we handle a crisis. She holds a degree in journalism and sociology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Renee writes a blog called Running on Empty, which is about seeing the humor in life, dealing with the stress of a family member’s illness, and looking at life from a slightly warped perspective. She hopes that by expressing her thoughts and feelings, she can help another caregiver feel less alone and more understood. Read more of her thoughts at runningonemptyblog.net.

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21 Comments

  1. And my client thinks she’s got it rough

    Reply
  2. God Bless you .. yes the mental exhaustion overtakes your whole body .. sending prayers for healing

    Reply
  3. I wrote this piece 6 months ago. Today, I sit here 13 days post op from a mastectomy and reconstruction. The stress and exhaustion finally caught up with me. Take care of yourselves, caregiving friends. I know….that’s much easier said than done.

    Reply
    • Very inspiring to me. Thank you. Blessings to you and the family.

      Reply
    • Thank you for sharing your story. At least I’m not alone even though it feels like it. I’ve been feeling the exact same way for the last 8 years. Now dealing with Peg tube on my mother who cannot move. It’s turned into 24 hrs care at home for her. Tomorrow will only be week 1 of this care and I’m feeling lifeless. It’s damn hard. I don’t think I can manage this level of stress snd continue to live my live which has already been difficult.

      Reply
  4. I am extremely exhausted. My question is–when I am no longer a caregiver, will my energy return?

    Reply
  5. My brother in law loved my sister through her breast cancer and she him to the end when Shye Drager took him from her.

    Reply
  6. I am so wore out physically and mentally ! I spend 90 percent if today wondering if I can keep going, but I get up everyday and keep going, full time caretaker for my mom

    Reply
  7. We all do ,it’s part of being a carer..❤️

    Reply
  8. I take care of my son alone, sad thing is, as much as it is exhausting, we have to keep going. Eventually, it takes a toll on our health. A sad reality.

    Reply
  9. I can’t even tell you how much I understand. I’ve been my adult son with DS caretaker for 13 years as a single
    parent. He’s 35 now.

    Reply

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