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Diary of a Caregiver: Confession #1

by Rick Henry 29 days ago in advice / humanity / grief · updated 22 days ago
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What it takes to be a caregiver

Image designed by Rick Henry / Featuring Rick Henry's mom Isabel

Waiting for the Bus

I've been my mom's 24/7 caregiver since November 2020 (overall I've been her caregiver since April 2013). It all began around noon on Tuesday November 10, 2020.

I went to work as normal on Tuesday morning. My brother, Chris, worked an early morning part-time job so he could be with my mom before I left for my job. As usual I called the house at 2:45 pm, from work, so I could talk with my mom while on lunch break. My brother answered the phone and after I asked to speak with mom, he said, "I don't think you should talk with her." I asked him why. He told me that she was sitting on the edge of her bed thinking that she's at a bus stop waiting for a bus to take her home. I asked him to give the phone to Mom so I could talk with her. Sure enough when I spoke with her she thought she was waiting for a bus to pick her up and take her home. She said that she had been waiting for a very long time and was hoping that she didn't miss the bus. This shook me up. I was rattled. I immediately got up from the break table and went and spoke with the manager on duty to let them know I had to go home because there was something very wrong with my mom. I left that afternoon and never went back to work.

Mom sitting on the edge of her bed thinking that she is waiting for a bus to come pick her up.

Figuring Out What Was Going On With My Mom

The first thing I did when I got home was to sit with my mom and talk with her. But she was in a state of mind I had never seen before. She was seeing people that weren't there. She kept thinking she was sitting at a bus stop waiting for a bus that would take her home. I was devastated. My mom was hallucinating.

It was now around 4:00 pm and I called my mom's doctor. Of course, I got her message service and they took a detailed message. But since it was close to the end of the day, I knew I probably wouldn't get a call until the following day. As expected the doctor called back on Wednesday afternoon. I described what was going on in detail. By now my mom was talking back to the people she was seeing. The doctor told me the obvious, that she was hallucinating. She said that we would figure this out by doing a process of elimination.

The Process of Elimination

The doctor began with a round of questions. She asked me if my mom was urinating more than normal. I said, "It does not seem as though she is." She asked me if she was running a fever or experiencing any pain when she urinates. I answered no to both questions. She asked a few more questions along the same lines and ruled out the possibility of it being a urinary tract infection that was causing the hallucinations.

Next the doctor had me discontinue giving my mom a prescribed diabetes medication called glipizide. She explained that sometimes an elderly person can experience hallucinations when the glucose level gets too low. So, I stopped giving my mom the glipizide. After a few days the hallucinations became worse and worse and my mom's blood pressure was erratic, running high one moment then tanking very low the next. My poor mom was very frightened as were my brother and me.

Prescribing a Medication

Now, on day seven with the hallucinations and agitation getting progressively worse the doctor concluded that this was happening because my mom was sleep deprived. She ended up prescribing a medication called Seroquel. Seroquel among other things helps to decrease anxiety and calm your thoughts. The first dose I gave her was horrible. The side effects were very strong. My mom became dizzy, and she kept saying that her heart was beating too fast and that she felt like she was going to die. Her face turned red, and she said she was scared. I did not give that to her again. The side effects far outweighed any benefits.

The Big Decision

Day eight arrives and my mom is progressively getting worse. My brother and I talked about taking our mom to the hospital. We agreed to let her get a good night's sleep and if in the morning she did not show any improvement we would take her to the hospital.

Morning comes around and it's November 19, 2020 which also happens to be my mom's 84th birthday. Surprisingly she woke up seemingly normal. She went downstairs to the kitchen, and we had breakfast and all. But within two hours the hallucinations came back full force and once again my mom was very scared and agitated. But my brother and I really hesitated in taking her to the hospital because we knew that she would not want us to take her. The idea of taking her felt like we would be betraying her. So, my brother and I agreed one last time that if the hallucinations continued the next morning, we would take her to the hospital.

November 20th came around and our mom slept until three in the afternoon. When she woke up, she seemed okay. But that only lasted about an hour or so.

At 5:00pm my brother and I helped our mom get dressed. It was cold outside so we wanted to make sure she would be adequately dressed. We explained to her that we were taking her to the hospital so they could figure out what was going on with her. Fortunately, she agreed so we got her in the car and off we went.

"Diary of a Caregiver: Confession #2" Click Here

This will be a multi-part series. I will have Confession #3 coming in the next week or so.


About the author

Rick Henry

Writing is a distraction for me. It takes me to places unknown that fulfill my need for intellectual stimulus, emotional release, and a soothing of the breaks and bruises of the day.


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Comments (15)

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  • JoAnn Ryan13 days ago

    Wow. Riveting. Sorry for mom! 😢

  • Thavien Yliaster20 days ago

    This goes deep. Like deeper than down the rabbit hole. I'm reminded of my paternal grandfather and how his brain kept rewiring itself from all of his little strokes. My dad told me that grandpa would experience slight headaches with vertigo once in a while, and after putting his head in his hands for a minute he'd be okay but not the same. When You had to quit Your job, You did so at the drop of a hat. I honestly don't know if I'd be able to do that. I've lost a job before, so I know the nerve wracking experience of going without a paycheck. It's uneasy. The only comfort I found then was working out, keeping my home tidy, and writing. Keep writing Rick, I have a feeling it's going to need You more than You're going to need it.

  • You have been through a lot. I love your commitment to family. Being a caregiver can be very rewarding work. =) I subscribed, and I look forward to reading more from you.

  • The Dani Writer27 days ago

    There is so much here. So much. You are a light for sharing Rick. This is some journey. Do not ask me how I know. I told my brother and sister-in-law that in the hospital, we worked in teams on 12 hour shifts but family...at home...never gets to clock out. There once was community. There once was ALWAYS support whether blood family or not there was an anchor and it was real. Thank you for revealing in this series. You have already been a blessing and are blessed. "Hi Rick's Mom😊"

  • Thanks for sharing this with us Rick. You are an incredible carer and we are all here for you. Great , informative article

  • I can only imagine how scary this must have been for your mom, your brother and you. I have experienced my dad having severe hallucinations as a side effect of a drug. That was a very traumatic phase of my life.

  • Carol Townend29 days ago

    This sounds like a horrible place to be in. I am a carer to someone who hallucinates when he is in pain, and I can relate to your frustration. I also have had other people I love suffer similar hallucinations for various other problems such as cancer and dementia. I want to take this chance to send you and your mum all my love and support, and I'll certainly look out for updates.

  • Babs Iverson29 days ago

    Mentioning the confusion and hallucination, these aren't what people think of as UTI symptoms. However, in the elderly, they can be. symptoms. Sharing the fact that the doctor mentioned it might be a UTI, this bit of information is important for everyone to know. Caregiving has its rewards, it also presents extremely scary scenarios. It's wonderful that she agreed to go to the hospital. Splendidly written and looking for the second of your series. 😊💖💕

  • Dawn Salois29 days ago

    This sounds like a very scary and frustrating experience. Your mother is very lucky to have someone to care for her and watch over her. I look forward to reading more of your story.

  • Heather Hubler29 days ago

    What an absolutely scary time for all three of you! I'm so glad she had you and your brother there. It's hard to know sometimes how long to wait to see if things change. Making those big decisions is extremely stressful. Thank you for sharing the beginning of your journey :)

  • I have a strange feeling this is going to be very emotional for me. I lost my mom in 2018, similar scenarios. So glad you are sharing this journey

  • Cathy holmes29 days ago

    That's really scary, Rick. Thank you for sharing

  • Keila Aartila29 days ago

    You are in such a difficult situation - remember to take care of yourself, too - it's good to share your experience, too :)

  • Irene Economou29 days ago

    Rick, I did not know about this occurrence with your mom. How downright scary this must have been for you and Chris! By the way, your writing had me fully engaged to wanting to know more and as a result I kept reading faster and faster! :-)

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