More notes from a Covid-19 Caregiver’s journey…

In the gathering darkness of trying to ameliorate the worst aspects of my father-in-law’s dementia, knowing all the while that this mission of mercy is in fact a losing battle, out of nowhere a ray of sunshine pierced the gloom and warmed my heart. Let me explain.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have been down this road before. This struggling against the dementia that is diminishing my loved one’s quality of life, ultimately is a futile battle. I had to give up plying my mother-in-law with food and drink and accept letting her waste away. That was really hard though so much more peaceful for her. Yet here I am once again, this time trying to find a way to free my father-in-law from his obsessive pursuit of phlegm.

So today I had a call with my GP to find a way to lessen this obsessive hawking and spitting. We have been working together for three years trying to lessen the flow of his post-nasal drip, without much success. But now even if he has less mucous due to the antihistamines and nasal sprays, he still can’t tolerate the sensation of it in his throat and works and works to produce a mere teaspoon of sputum. I kid you not! So we are looking for a different antidepressant that might take the edge off his obsessive focus, without making him unsteady on his feet or result in him sleeping too much. In the midst of this technical, medical discussion she suddenly thanked me very much for the care that I am giving my father-in-law. It felt strange to hear her say that, but it also just about put me in tears. Just for a second I felt seen, appreciated and respected by this young woman. This very competent physician stopped and acknowledged the cost of my service, thanking me for taking care of my father-in-law.

Intellectually I know that society is much better off when family members take care of their own rather than expecting society to do it for them. Of course not everyone can manage to do what I am doing, but for those of us who do take care of their family members, getting a thank you from someone speaking for society is really nice. We too are front-line workers in the fight against Covid-19 as we self-isolate with our loved ones, providing them with everything they need to stay as well as possible.

Originally written June 3, 2020

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