Triggers for caregivers

Posted by Scott, Volunteer Mentor @IndianaScott, May 29, 2019

Hi to all caregivers here! This past week I really got to thinking about all us caregivers here as I had a set of unusual triggers hit me, as the kids say these days ‘right in the feels’. I’m wondering if other caregivers, present and past, get effected by triggers as I do?

First was when our daughter was admitted to the hospital for a serious illness. Other than for visiting in a hospital I hadn’t been in the ‘working areas’ since I had been caring for my wife. As I drove the hour from our home to the hospital to be with our daughter I was overcome with not only my worry for her, but by a crush of emotions as I was overwhelmed by memories of the times I had to be in this crisis mode with my wife. When I arrived I got hit with another trigger as our daughter was in the same hospital where my wife got her first diagnosis of her brain cancer. Walking through those same front doors, I actually had to sit and cry in the lobby before I went back into the ER. In short order she was transferred to the ICU. I had not been in an ICU since my wife spent days in the NICU at Mayo. The noises, IVs, rush of nursing, regular monitoring, the feelings of fear, etc. triggered wave upon wave of emotion and memories.

Thankfully our daughter’s condition did improve and she was able to return home and is well on the mend. Then the next kind of crazy trigger hit.

Before getting ill our daughter had arranged to adopt a rescue Lab. She couldn’t go to pick up her dog so I made the trek and agreed to keep her for the week until she could join us. Her name is Stella and I was slammed again. Shaking, ribs sticking out, sores on her body, and then the intermediary said to me ‘you better be a good caregiver, she need’s a lot of TLC.’ Just him using that word sent me into a spin again.

Stella is improving and a truly sweet dog, then another wave. This is the time of year I have a lot of trigger events in quick succession. This was the time of year my wife suffered incredibly in her final days. It’s also when we celebrate and remember her birthday, our anniversary, and then the day of her passing. I know my emotions are far more raw and release easier in life. Heck, I even cried watching EndGame with our grandsons! But this time of year, when I am hit with trigger, upon trigger, upon trigger, I am a bigger emotional mess than usual.

I’d appreciate hearing how you, as caregivers, deal with your triggers?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Caregivers group.

@vickys

Scott,

I’m in my 4th year of ft caregiving but new to this group, I keep a “note” on my ipad’s notes app of supportive/helpful things I read so I can go back and read them when times are especially tough. I have already saved three quotes from your postings (two from this one post!). Thank you for what you do, and share.

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Hi Scott…once again you have touched my heart. Before mom was sick she was part of a community theater group and was in musicals..mostly chorus…with the occasional solo. She collected every musical cast recording and when plays came out on DVD she would add them to her collection. She loved opera and any music would set her heart singing. Now she can’t tolerate music..and even TV…she gets confused and can’t process it and it only would set her off on a binge of anxiety and frustrations…so I too miss the sound of music in our lives….when I am on respite I put on my earbuds and listen to music…it helps me but I’m reminded of how devastating it is for mom… another aspect of this diabolical disease.
Thanks for being there…have a sweet Father’s Day.

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@providence1960

Hi Scott…once again you have touched my heart. Before mom was sick she was part of a community theater group and was in musicals..mostly chorus…with the occasional solo. She collected every musical cast recording and when plays came out on DVD she would add them to her collection. She loved opera and any music would set her heart singing. Now she can’t tolerate music..and even TV…she gets confused and can’t process it and it only would set her off on a binge of anxiety and frustrations…so I too miss the sound of music in our lives….when I am on respite I put on my earbuds and listen to music…it helps me but I’m reminded of how devastating it is for mom… another aspect of this diabolical disease.
Thanks for being there…have a sweet Father’s Day.

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Thanks you @providence1960 You hit me right in the feels with your post too! My grandmother introduced me to symphony music, opera, and musicals. It took me awhile to understand how important that was, but now I am so thankful! Funny, it started out because she loved going to the symphony in Cleveland, but no one in the family wanted to go with her. I was the youngest so guess who got 'assigned' that duty? Then when she passed, my mom took over her tickets and luckily I got to be her escort too! Got to hear a lot of George Zell conducting and operas I'd have never seen.

I will spend my Father's Day immersed in memories. Our children are out of state so I will recall with fondness early Father's Days. I'll also recall my dad. A bit of a tougher one with him being an alcoholic for many years, but luckily I made my peace with him before he passed. I'll also be thankful for a father-in-law who filled in for many years as my 'dad'.

I hope your weekend is a solid one and the sun is shining on you and yours!

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@IndianaScott

Thanks you @providence1960 You hit me right in the feels with your post too! My grandmother introduced me to symphony music, opera, and musicals. It took me awhile to understand how important that was, but now I am so thankful! Funny, it started out because she loved going to the symphony in Cleveland, but no one in the family wanted to go with her. I was the youngest so guess who got 'assigned' that duty? Then when she passed, my mom took over her tickets and luckily I got to be her escort too! Got to hear a lot of George Zell conducting and operas I'd have never seen.

I will spend my Father's Day immersed in memories. Our children are out of state so I will recall with fondness early Father's Days. I'll also recall my dad. A bit of a tougher one with him being an alcoholic for many years, but luckily I made my peace with him before he passed. I'll also be thankful for a father-in-law who filled in for many years as my 'dad'.

I hope your weekend is a solid one and the sun is shining on you and yours!

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Thanks Scott…I know the sun is shining out somewhere but not in Chicago….this is my 10th Father’s Day w/o my Dad…I miss him.

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Being loved and supported by dear friends reminds me of the story of elephants who get sick. If one of them (I think a female) gets sick and falls down, it is too weak and heavy to ever get back up again. So to prevent this from happening, a group of the other elephants huddle around her to hold her up until she's strong enough to stand on her own. We all need God to send friends to do that for us too and to be on the watch for other people who need our support. Meditating on God's love and Word is also a wonderful way to calm our minds and hearts in the midst of our challenging times of grief and caregiving.

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@leeandpat

Being loved and supported by dear friends reminds me of the story of elephants who get sick. If one of them (I think a female) gets sick and falls down, it is too weak and heavy to ever get back up again. So to prevent this from happening, a group of the other elephants huddle around her to hold her up until she's strong enough to stand on her own. We all need God to send friends to do that for us too and to be on the watch for other people who need our support. Meditating on God's love and Word is also a wonderful way to calm our minds and hearts in the midst of our challenging times of grief and caregiving.

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My church and other groups have been wonderful friends through this journey the past 4 years. I enter the church and immediately am greeted with hugs and well-wishes. I told my family it is like a support group that I meet every week. The same is with other organization that I belong to and were very active with for many years. After I needed to stay home with my husband, they made sure to contact me in some way at least once a week. Now that he is in a care center, I try to attend the meetings when I can and always I'm welcomed with hugs and voices of concern. Great for the spirit.

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@rmftucker

My church and other groups have been wonderful friends through this journey the past 4 years. I enter the church and immediately am greeted with hugs and well-wishes. I told my family it is like a support group that I meet every week. The same is with other organization that I belong to and were very active with for many years. After I needed to stay home with my husband, they made sure to contact me in some way at least once a week. Now that he is in a care center, I try to attend the meetings when I can and always I'm welcomed with hugs and voices of concern. Great for the spirit.

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That's wonderful!! So thankful . 🙂

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Hello, @Scott, and everyone. Just dropping by for a quick second to say hello and see how y'all are doing.

My husband and I are at the age and in circumstances where we find ourselves in need of caregiving. While at the very same time we are caregivers of a very didferent sort.

We have our Grandson, who has been with us all His life. Our disabled daughter lives in another part of town, and we provide most of her transportation to her doctors appointments. She has six or seven doctors. And we have our senior Pug, Pugsley, who joined our family by way of rescue adoption.

One of my triggers is using the telephone. When it rings, it seems like sudden catastrophe is about to fall. There are so many appointments and so little time for much anything else. I know they are important and need to be done, but it makes it hard for me to plan the down time that I have left.

Mainly I try to focus on what really matters. And just go from there. I do read all kinds of articles about managing your time and focusing on what matters. That helps. I know I need to just have some patience. Understanding. And just keep doing the next right thing.

It's going to be just fine. We'll all get to where we need to be. We have each other here, at least, at Mayo Clinic Connect.

Love and light.

Mamacita Jane

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@mamacita

Hello, @Scott, and everyone. Just dropping by for a quick second to say hello and see how y'all are doing.

My husband and I are at the age and in circumstances where we find ourselves in need of caregiving. While at the very same time we are caregivers of a very didferent sort.

We have our Grandson, who has been with us all His life. Our disabled daughter lives in another part of town, and we provide most of her transportation to her doctors appointments. She has six or seven doctors. And we have our senior Pug, Pugsley, who joined our family by way of rescue adoption.

One of my triggers is using the telephone. When it rings, it seems like sudden catastrophe is about to fall. There are so many appointments and so little time for much anything else. I know they are important and need to be done, but it makes it hard for me to plan the down time that I have left.

Mainly I try to focus on what really matters. And just go from there. I do read all kinds of articles about managing your time and focusing on what matters. That helps. I know I need to just have some patience. Understanding. And just keep doing the next right thing.

It's going to be just fine. We'll all get to where we need to be. We have each other here, at least, at Mayo Clinic Connect.

Love and light.

Mamacita Jane

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Hi @mamacita Good to hear from you! Interesting to me that you find the telephone troubling and triggering! It was for me, too! While I didn't have the outside family members who also needed me as a caregiver, it was too intrusive and inconvenient when it ever did ring was always at the worst time it seemed! So I turned the ringer off, added voicemail, and only checked the phone two times a day. Once at noon and once after dinner. Knowing that the phone would NOT ring added immense comfort and ease to my life.

So good to hear from you and I hope your grandson and daughter are both doing well.

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Hi, thank you for writing about this. This week I have been a wreck and could not understand why or able to put a word to it. Thank you. Now to figure out how to work thought it.

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