We're OK the Rest of the World is a Pain.
(Conway, South Carolina)
My mother is now 85 years old. She's worked hard all of her life and deserves a time to rest. She worked until she was 80 as a book keeper and until she was 83 as the secretary of music for her church. Then she lost her colon and while on the operating table had a small stroke.
She needs minimal but constant care and I have taken responsibility for her care until she decides to "go home" (die). Mom was my best friend all of the time I was growing up and we've remained good friends all of my life. The past 16 years just before I started living with her we were hundreds of miles apart and that hurt me but we had lives in different parts of the country.
We've had the chance to talk about her last days. It wasn't all that hard for either of us. Since I almost lost her in 2009, I've been preparing myself for her last breath, but the "sticking point" for her, now, is that when she dies, I'll be homeless.
I stopped working full time in 2006 due to generalized osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and a few other ailments the combined total of which has seriously curtailed my strength and stamina.
I'm taking classes online to try to get a job I can do from home on my own time schedule. I can work 24/7 in a pattern of 4 hours on one hour off but I can't work 8 straight hours. It doesn't matter what I'm doing, I don't have the stamina for it.
The most serious point of arthritis is that I have it in my lower spine. I can't walk more than a few hundred feet, I can't stand up for more than 5 minutes and I can't even sit for more than 3 hours without needing to lay down and let my back rest.
Fortunately for me, Mom can do most things for herself. I care for her colostomy for her but she could even do that herself if she had to. Mostly I make sure she doesn't take her meds too often. She sponge bathes every day but needs my help to get in the tub. We are fortunate to have a "handicapped accessible" apartment.
The frustration we face is that we don't have our own transportation. We live in Conway, South Carolina and there is no
public transportation here. Even the local "convenience store" is a mile away. Too far for me to walk without great difficulty. The grocery store is 3 miles away and everything else is more than 10 miles away.
We do have a friend with a car but he is sicker than I am and we can't really rely on him. There is a program here called "Neighbor to Neighbor" where members of a local church are willing to provide transportation to medical appointments and sometimes the drug store or shopping but other than that, we're trapped in the house.
There is very little opportunity for me to make friends here. We live in a rent controlled complex and we are the only "white" family in the complex. I am "victim" of reverse prejudice from many of my neighbors. They'll say hello but not much else. The one lady in the complex with whom I'd say I had a cordial relationship is moving the end of this month. Mother's friends from church seldom come to visit and I am a stranger to most of them as well. It's very frustrating.
Where I used to live in Virginia I was part of a role playing gaming "team" and related to young people at least once a week. We held our games in the community college student lounge and I frequented the library which was within walking distance for me. The library here is 6 miles away.
I love my mother and we have a lot of fun together remembering, reading or doing our needlework together. My being here with her has helped her regain nearly all of her speech capability since the stroke. But I feel trapped.
I have only two "friends" the gentleman who drives us and my daughter-in-law. He is my age but he's also of marginal intelligence and relating to him is like relating to a nine year old. Amanda, my daughter in law, is also an elder caretaker and we relate on the phone and in person often but she comes here to get away from her mother.
I have no where to go and no way to get there. It's very frustrating. Even if there was a caretaker's group in the area I couldn't get there without dragging Thomas out or getting one of the other people in the group to get me. Conway is just too spread out for that.