Francie Camper ~
City snow blankets my little mother in her hospital
bed in her bedroom, no wonder she is confused,
pointing to things in the air, on the ceiling that only
she can see. She might be hailing a cab. She raises
her head to tell me, Four members of the Isenberg
family came to visit and one was Mima Ettel,
who is already buried in
Priscilla Mainardi ~
Your skin pale with worry,
your mouth a straight line,
the fear in your eyes–
all this told me,
more than the nausea,
more than the fact that I couldn’t move my head,
that something was really wrong.
You thought I wouldn’t see.
I looked up at the ceiling,
at its pattern of dots,
white, and brighter white,
Patricia Williams ~
If one more person tells me to be sure to take care of myself, I’m going to bury my face in a pillow and scream.
“Go for a walk, take a vacation,” they advise. I know they’re trying to help, but really? Giving me one more thing to do? Oh well, they’re just doing the best they can.
I moved my folks across the country, from Florida to Washington
Dianne Avey ~
One night on my nursing shift in the cardiac intensive-care unit, I received a new patient from the operating room: an eighty-eight-year-old woman who had suffered a major heart attack and had just undergone emergency coronary-artery bypass surgery.
Her bed was wheeled into the room along with the usual accoutrements: six different IV drips, a ventilator, an aortic balloon pump and various other lines and monitoring devices. Her name, I
We were best friends, but we always respected each other’s physical privacy. All of this changed when I became Dad’s caregiver.
Arthur stops close to where we sit waiting
for the person you call the activities lady
to serve us drinks and biscuits.
He moves his wheelchair with slippered feet,
so we become another group.
You introduce me, This is my sister,
I nod to Arthur and watch his mouth form words
that seem reluctant to reach me, hang
in the air unsteady, diminished.
Ronna L. Edelstein
For years, and especially as he entered his nineties, my father kept begging me not to “dump” him into a nursing home. He had seen too many of his cronies abandoned in this way by family members; his visits with these friends left him feeling depressed and hopeless for days. I assured Dad that I’d never put him in a facility.
It was an easy promise to make. I didn’t
I’m walking very slowly with my dad down the produce aisle at the local supermarket, past the colorful waxed apples, Mexican mangoes and Rainier cherries, and imagining my life’s blood trickling onto the floor from an invisible wound.
As I pass by the misting system spraying the bins of green, red, yellow and orange peppers, past the lady reaching for carrots, past the stock guy balancing the heirloom tomatoes into a
When I read news articles about caring for elderly parents at a distance, I sometimes shake my head. There’s a tendency to put the best spin on the experience: as long as you contact the right people, get the right information and treat the ups and downs as just part of life’s challenges, you’ll be fine. You can do this!
I find myself wondering when the author last talked to a caregiver at
I am a family physician. Like most of my colleagues, though, I must sometimes step out of the comfort of my clinical role to take on the role of patient or family caregiver.
Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.
During visits to the doctor, I find myself noticing many details and comparing the quality of care to that in my own practice.