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Constant Juggle
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mslrl posted:
I am the sole caretaker for a friend who is dying of AIDS. Though no one can be for sure, I believe she is nearing the end- renal failure is ever present.

I also have a thirteen year old sibling who lives with me. He and I have been inseperable since the day he was born, and since there is no acting "parent" at home, he is now my full time responsibility.

Yesterday afternoon my friend started getting very ill, so we wound up in the Emergency Room. My brother happened to have his first baseball game of the season (His team has had plenty of scrimmages, but this goes for team standing). I arranged for him a ride, and apologized because I would miss it.

He called me nearing midnight last night. We were still of course in the ER. He was very upset and angry. I had missed his first "real" ball game. He scored a homerun, he struck two batters out, and I missed it all.

I hung up the phone and couldn't help from crying. Obviously, caretaking affects the whole family unit. And for thirteen, he is generally very accepting of the whole idea that I have to be "shared". However, he was hurt. I know in my heart there was no other option. I simply cannot be in two places at once, and I was not going to leave my friend to sit in the hosptial, sick and alone for hours. But he's my brother; like my own son, and I missed something important to him- something that can't simply be rescheduled. Yes, he'll have more games, but...you get the picture.

Does anyone else ever feel the same "torn" feeling? How do you balance family and caretaking? How do you prioritize?
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Louise_WebMD_Staff responded:
That sounds like my last Wednesday. Mama was way sick. We were considering ER, but my 13 yo had her concert that night. (and I had to pick up my partner from the airport) The airport I could have just said, take a cab. The concert...trickier. I try never to miss kid things but I had missed her first concert because of a business trip. I ended up crossing my fingers and hoping the meds would calm things down, continue to work, and going to the concert but calling to check on Mama a lot. The hospital? I would have skipped the concert, begged forgiveness, and probably ended up sending someone to video if I could. Then a make up alone time with the child. Not the same...but still.

Yeah, I feel torn. A lot. Too much. I wish there was an easy answer without someone getting short changed.

The other issue is that 13 yos are inherently troubled creatures. Sigh.

Hang in there.
 
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bensboo1973 responded:
Honestly, we're all gonna have our break down an cry moments. Its natural. I'm sorry you missed the game an even tho he was upset at the time, i'm sure ur brother understands. What u are doin is something great for ur friend. Not many ppl would make that effort. I commend u for bein such a great friend. Stay strong an keep up the great work, with both ur friend an ur brother.
 
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GAP1954 responded:
The conflicting pressures of caregiving usually result in having wrong answers for almost everything - at least wrong for somebody. You will have to determine for yourself and your situation which wrong answer is likely to cause the least amount of damage. Both you brother and your friend are important and you will be forced to make choices. The choosing is not bad or selfish - it is just something that has to be done. As one who has spent much of his life giving time to those who were leaving life I have learned that giving time to those who are starting life is often even more important. If you are faced with a similar situation in the future - arrange to have the game video taped. And then spend whatever time it takes to allow him to replay it and relive the game with you - frame by frame if needed. What your brother needs is your presence and attention. And you will be faced with a growing boy who will find that attention and presence in someone else if he has to. It is not a matter of his being uncaring. It is another fact of life - his needs at this point in life supersede everyone else's. I don't have a copy with me right now but see if you can find an article I did a few years ago called "Hello / Goodbye - the two sides of caregiving" which deals with some of these areas. Be kind to yourself - there are not real solutions - just hard choices.
 
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mslrl responded:
thank you all for your encouragement and words of wisdom. it is greatly appreciated!


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