Notes To A First Time Caregiver (Vol 1.0): Everything Changes

No matter what your friends say, your colleagues say, your boyfriend/girlfriend says, or your neighbor….

Everything changes in every major way when you become an adult caregiver. How you cope with those changes will be perhaps the primary test. — — I want to share and empower others through how I at the age of 35, being an only child, unpartnered, and a professional academic became sole caregiver to my mother a 5 time stroke victim. The part of her life in Atlanta immediately post strokes 2009 leading up to her move to St. Louis is far less interesting except the role of Skype, Facebook in re-invigorating the recovery of a 5 time black female stroke survivor and her return to the computer.

In August of 2013, my mother was pretty much forced on me after a family member bailed on the agreement to become caregiver to my mother. While amidst a month of hearings during summer break — during what was supposed to my pre-tenure year off at my academic job — I was forced into the courtroom at the time I thought to ensure fairness for my mother being moved with family she preferred, however shortly after a family member renigged, my lawyer quit on my telling me no court would grant me custody over my mother because I did not have a husband or any children….

With less a day, I was forced to represent myself and fight for mother without help guidance or really any family support. I was granted guardianship over my mother, and the celebration lasted two seconds as I thought to myself, how the hell am I really going to pull this off?

I didn’t know nor did family, colleagues. Nor was there really a guide to reference at all. It became instead a constant barrage of moving parts that I had to just respond to in getting her out of our former home in Georgia, and on to St. Louis with me (devoid of any grown person plan). I flew home shortly after the court hearing and I had barely a month to rethink my entire year ahead that again was supposed to be year off to focus on my book and professional career as an academic. Instead, I had to go to my university and ask to retroactively resume my teaching duties because I could not afford to take care of two people on half pay, I had to fly to GA and load a Uhaul with whatever my mother’s former caregiver did not leave for trash/estate sale, and lastly I drove the Uhaul with a family friend across three state with my years of my mothers things. I didn’t have time to think, I loaded everything into storage and arranged to fly her to St. Louis a week later.

My mother arrived without a hospital bed, unable to really walk, tired, hungry, and demanding to get on her computer…..As I looked at her (after some gracious students helped me to lift her up 5 gradual steps into the apt AND without a railing up b/c my landlords were too cheap, I knew then that I was in over my head and there was no turning back. I couldn’t send her back to the courts, to Atlanta, or anywhere, it was all on me. — — 1st time caregiver reminder: Your life will never be the same, everything changes!