Lupus and Caregiving: Balancing my health with my mom's
For awhile there, my mom’s doctor’s appointments seemed to dominate our summer schedule. There were tests and labs and imaging and follow-ups, with two appointments needed for every one we went to. But I really didn’t mind. We were finally getting answers to questions we’d had for months, and the pieces (albeit ones we didn’t want) were falling into place. It felt good to do something constructive with a diagnosis looming, and I was able to spend time with my mom. A win all-around.
But I wasn’t always so keen on the plethora of doctor’s appointments. In fact, there were times I found myself in tears, overwhelmed and over-scheduled, what with my own healthcare appointments, and those of my family. The responsibilities kept mounting, and started conflicting.
I remember one particular appointment of my mom’s back in February. We’d been to the doc three times already in two weeks, and as we were checking out, they wanted me to schedule her for a fourth appointment within 10 days. Of course, I was happy to comply, but then we compared calendars. They had two dates available – one conflicted with my daily afternoon nap, and the other was at the exact same time as my own rheumatologist appointment, a visit I had already moved twice to accommodate her earlier appointments.
What do I do? She needed the appointment. Something had to give. Do I dip into my precious naptime, a daily ritual that was keeping me healthy enough to take care of her, or reschedule my own appointment yet again? The pressures of caregiving came barreling down all at once, and I started to cry. It was just too much. I felt trapped, having to choose between my mom’s health and my own.
Thankfully, one of the ladies at the front desk, leaned over and whispered, “It’s okay. I understand. I took care of my mom, too.” With that sweet acknowledgement, I was able to compose myself, see the options more clearly, and make the appropriate decision. I opted for the appointment time that conflicted with my own. Sacrificing my nap is never the right answer, and it wouldn’t be that hard to reschedule my appointment. I’d already done it twice, after all.
Since then, I go back and forth between scheduling/prioritizing our collective appointments. When an appointment of my mom's isn't urgent, I let mine take precedence. And vice versa. I try to stay flexible and creative, knowing nothing is permanent, and almost anything can be moved. No one's health is ever sacrificed, of course. But neither is my emotional stamina or stability.