Friday, October 31, 2008
The Caregiver Role
As I have mentioned before, I live with my 75 year old mother, which is a blessing for us both. Shortly before I began blogging, my mother had been hospitalized for 10 days and had developed C. difficile, an infection in her intestines, while in the hospital. Well, the C. diff has returned. This is bad for mom, but also for me. With my multiple illnesses, and especially being on hydrocortisone therapy, I am very vulnerable to catching infections. When mom had this infection the first time, I started to manifest symptoms of the illness and was put on an antibiotics prophylactically because the gastroenterologist was concerned about the possible effect to me due to my inability to tolerate the antibiotics that normally treat this infection, as well as the fact that I take pain medications that slow the movement in my bowel down, making the bug live longer in my system.
The other wonderful thing about C. diff is that the only thing that kills it is bleach. You can't use antibacterial wipes to clean up in the bathroom or Purell on your hands. Since mom and I share a bathroom, that means constant cleaning with bleach, as well as vigorous hand washing with hot water and soap for no less than 30 seconds each time you use the restroom. Well, at home that isn't so hard to do, but try that in a public restroom. Many times you can't even find soap, let alone hot water or something to dry your hands on. Even at home, there is the joy of standing there in the middle of night, trying not to wake up while you wait for the water to get warm and you start to clean and count.
My poor mom has the worst of it of course, but it is another reminder that I cannot ever just be caregiver, I have to always worry about how things affect my own health. I need to try to stay healthy so I can care for mom. She feels guilty exposing me to an infection she didn't cause. I guess the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree in this case!
I am blessed, to still have my mother and to be able to help care for her as she has done for me for my whole life. Still, it doesn't make it easy to handle the extra cleaning and the worry, but given the alternative I am will happily deal with both.