Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Which One of Us Am I Actually Punishing?

 Yea, today was not a good day.  And I don't mean that from Pam's perspective, but from mine.  I wonder if other caregivers have days like this.  I did something that I should not have done.  I acted out of emotion rather than out of intellect.  While I am sitting here typing, I am reflecting.  And I am ashamed that I did it.  At the same time, I do not regret doing it.

This has been a very busy week,  Pam had two physical therapy appointments, a med review with the clinical pharmacist, a mani/pedi appointment and we just got back from the hair salon.  Oh, and tomorrow evening is the MRI of her lower back.  It was too late to start the corned beef boiled dinner that I had planned.  So I sliced up a large onion and began caramelized it.  As the onion was cooking, I added a package of beefy onion soup mix to the ground beef and formed two large patties.  I seared the patties then added the onions back into the pan and added beef stock and a cover.   While that was simmering, I peeled some potatoes and set about boiling them for mashed potatoes.  Mashies as Pam calls them, is one of her favorite foods.  The patties were fully cooked so I whisked in some flour to make onion gravy and set the pan aside.  I drained the potatoes and added butter, salt & pepper, and some milk and I used a hand-held masher to finish the potatoes.  Pam was watching YouTube in the other room and yelled over to stop making so much noise.  Apparently, mashing potatoes is very noisy.  I put the asparagus spears in the microwave and began setting the table for two.  Plates, silverware, serving spoons and gravy ladle went down on the table.  I set the steaming pan of beefy onion patties and the mashies on the dinning room table and we were ready to eat.  I began to stir the onion gravy and bathe the beef patties in the gravy when Pam, sitting six feet away and still watching YouTube, yells out "would you PLEASE stop making all that noise".  

That did it!  I broke!  I dropped the ladle into the pan and said "dinner is on the table" and I walked out of the room leaving her to eat alone.  Pam got up from the TV and began serving herself.  When I didn't return to the dining room, she asked if I was going to come and have some dinner.   I empathically said no!   I took my water and went to the den and began playing solitaire on the computer.  In my passive aggressive fashion, I was striking back at her by depriving myself of the fruits of an hour of labor.  Pretty childish.

For weeks now, I have been telling myself that I do not feel any particular stress being Pam's primary caregiver.  Today showed me that I am fooling myself.  She is obviously over sensitive to certain noises and is vocal about it.  But to flip out over being scolded about being too noisy is just over the top.  I should have just ignored her comments and sat down to dinner with her.  But I did not.  Besides, who was I striking back at her or me?  My role as caregiver is only going to get tougher as the dementia progresses.  Am I really prepared?  

Obviously, my emotional response to menial feedback was uncalled for.  It is clearly time that I put some energy into finding some help.  I am still unclear about just what this help is going to do.  Will I be paying to have someone just sit there and watch TV with Pam?  Or doing crosswords while Pam is snoozing?  Once I figure that out, then what?   Just creating time for me to get out the door without the caregiver role does nothing.  What am I going to do to make use of that time?    What am I going to do to occupy myself and get away from the condo?  I have no clue?  When we were in Maine I spent much of my free time prepping the Red Hemi and taking her to car shows.  I no longer have her.  [I really do miss that car]  I wish I knew the answers!

Sorry, couldn't  resist adding the picture.




  1. I think this is something that happens to all caregivers. I know I had those moments with my mom. Don't beat yourself up about it. I looked forward to the once a month dinners out with my "dinner group" and my weekend hikes. Fortunately my mom could be left alone for a couple of hours so I could do those things. Though I would worry what I would come home to each time, but those moments away helped to relieve the pressure for a short while. Take time to take care of yourself Bruce.

  2. Speaking from experience, having a break from the caregiver role does make a difference. The constant responsibility and pressure is gone for a while. Go to the movies. Read a book in a cafe. Go for a ride or a walk. Visit a friend. There are lots of options. If you must be doing something then find something to occupy yourself.

  3. Your not alone in your feeling, happens to all of us caregivers. Keep trying to find something that takes your mind off it, we all need a break.

  4. Don't be so hard on yourself - you are only human and well, sometimes we slip up (or lose it)! Self Care is so important - you are important as well - I agree with the comments here - try and take some "you" time. We love you and are thinking of you!