Notes From the Sandwich Generation

The past month has made it abundantly clear that Ed and I are living the Sandwich Generation life. Yes, it could be argued that I did when my Mom was ill, or that he and I have been pretty much since Jane and Mom moved to Florida. That was nothing compared to now.

It began when Jane was in the hospital and Michael went home. We needed to make sure Mom was eating, taking her medication and generally was okay. Then she had the seizure and another hospital stay and no rehab. Jane would be coming home a few days later.

Ed's taken on medicine duties morning and night, because his mom doesn't remember what she's taken and when. I do my best to cook 4 or 5 nights a week. Last Sunday, I asked Jane what she wanted for dinner and I was told that they had plenty of leftovers for a few days.

Few to me means 3, maybe four, but the next night, as I'm halfway to scouts, I get the frantic phone call "when are you bringing dinner?" She'd run out of food, misjudging what was in the fridge. On the way home, a detour to grab food through a drive through that they shouldn't be eating.

Then there is the scramble to make sure medications are filled and then not being able to find scripts when the time comes to get more. The frantic phone calls from Jane saying "Oh my God, I am going to run out of medicines." Frustration on my part because I feel like I should have kept the darn prescriptions because both of them have gotten so forgetful.

I'll get phone calls early in the morning to tell me they're ready for a doctor's appointment, but my ringer was on silent from the class the night before. Calling back at noon to break the news that no, that appointment is THURSDAY, today is Tuesday. The disappointment in Jane's voice that she was dressed up with no place to go. I feel guilt and offer of taking them to Panera so they can get outside, even though I've got a long list of things I need to be doing. I do them all in an hour because I spent three hours between getting to their house, getting them in the car, getting to the restaurant, shuffling mom, then Jane, into the place and getting them situated. Then reversing it all when we're done.

Having to keep Game Teen away from their house because Mema just doesn't understand that Asperger's is something he's born with. Knowing that if he's there, she'll just antagonize the kid. Running errands for them and leaving him at home, because I can't risk an hour of him in Mema's company.

Taking them to the doctor and knowing what he's going to say, but Mom and Jane hold out hopes that he's going to think I'm over reacting. Feeling bad that first Jane is upset at his unequivocal agreement that she should NOT be driving at all, but relief at the same time that I won't have to someday go to the hospital or, worse yet, the jail, because she had another accident but hurt more than her car.

Having to ask the doctor about Mom's diagnosed dementia that no one at the hospital addressed with her OR us. While I'm explaining to him how the nurse said "well, she has dementia" as if this was a known diagnosis, and watching her face as she realizes that he is agreeing, she DOES have it and offering his suggestion of seeing a neurologist who can give better treatment options.

Knowing that major decisions, like choosing a Medicaid provider, is not one to let Mom make on her own ever again, because she went for the cheapest (and thus, crappiest) plan because she didn't want to pay. In turn, they provide almost no coverage and she pays through the nose for her prescriptions and hospital stays.

I am freaking out a little that I return to work Monday, and wondering how the hell the little things are going to get done, what phone calls am I going to get during the day and what happens when (not if) Jane goes back into the hospital, if Mom falls because she doesn't use the walker properly or any number of things that can happen.

Dealing with the impending move to Assisted Living, relieved that Mom agrees they need to go. Looking at the house full of stuff that they can't take with them and knowing it's up to me and Ed to clear it all out, because neither one of them is capable of doing the work. Explaining to Jane that we need to clear out the spare bedroom first and then, the things they will take will go into it. If it doesn't fit in that room, it will not be kept. Wishing that it could be a salaried, full time job to do the task, because that's the only way I see it getting done.

Trying to find the time within the day between work, school, scouts and family tie to get to the various Assisted Living residences. Finding time to visit the financial people at their bank to inquire about what my landlord suggested so that they can keep the house. Hoping they agree to my suggestion that if they keep the house, we can move in and pay them rent.

Letting someone cope with the news by going off by herself to grocery shop, then picking her up to find that she's barely done her shopping and what she has is picked out a dozen cans of soup, five big bags of candy and bakery trays of cookies. Get her home in time for her physical therapy appointment and sneak off the five bags of candy with Ed's mom. Then get chastised by the physical therapist that I let her stay out w/o oxygen. Feel like I have to learn how long a tank of oxygen lasts and make sure we have double what I think she needs, because every time I take them out, it will take about twice what I expect.

Thankful at the end of the day that I can finally take a Vicodin for the shoulder that has been throbbing all day, only to find it's not working on the shoulder because I ignored my own needs in favor of those who have more pressing issues.

Wondering whether the merry go round is about to go faster or if it might slow down...


Laura said…
That is absolutely incrdeible what you are juggling. Remember to take care of yourself so you have the energy to take care of everyone else. I do not know the stress of caring for aging parents on top of raising kids. I hope you find some effective treatment options to help slow the dementia and best of luck to you in finding an assisted living place! Take care!!

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