Living in a hospital. And being a guilty caregiver.

Like the world's worst summer camp.
A reminder of the Arterial Blood Gas tests.

This is the first in a series about being a caregiver for better or worse as a man in his late 20s. It’s to raise money for my mother who isn’t doing too hot after a lengthy stint in the hospital that probably shouldn’t have ended quite yet. Check out that link here: http://gofundme.com/HurtByUSHealthcare

You know that episode of Roseanne? The one before the show gets crazy? The one where Dan has a heart attack at Darlene’s wedding?

That’s what I always pictured when a matriarch or patriarch takes a fall from health. The family gathering around in the waiting room hoping for the best kind of result.

And, in a way, that’s how it was when my mother had a heart attack an hour after I got home from the last day of my junior year of high school. She had a minor heart attack followed by an induced one at the hospital. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Life went on. We moved to a house with a pool. Times seemed good.

A year later, to the day, my father walked down to the basement and told me he was about to tell my mother he was leaving my mom. She was watching my neice at the time (who was about to turn one). This isn’t a health condition, but I overheard her be called things like “disgusting” from a few feet away. And I didn’t do anything until he walked out the door. At which point she didn’t want my neice to see her upset, so she tried her best to push it all down. And this is important because it knocked over the first in a long line of dominos that got us to where we are.

A month later, I left for college at UGA. I thought it was going to allow me to be close to my family while getting a best-in-the-region education. I studied political science, worked in tech support, and climbed the ranks of The Phi Kappa Literary Society.

The recalling the next 5 years play back simultaneously in slow-motion and on fast-forward. I was having fun in Athens. My mother’s health was deteriorating in ways I can only notice now in the flashes from vacations home from school.

Fibromyalgia, COPD, Thyroid Cancer… all things I would hear in passing but we’re presented to me in ways that minimized their impact.

It wasn’t until I got a great job working from home and made a decision to move back in with my mother and step-father to help take care of this that I started to truly notice how back things had gotten.

The nerve pain disorders, and even the cancer, have had to take a back seat to the COPD. A disease that has us owing $7,000 in copays thus far. Her CO2 levels periodically rise. The only way to get them down is intubation.

This is what led us to the hospital this last time. The goal was to go Hospital ➡️ Rehabilitation Center ➡️ Home. Unfortunately, the respiratory doctor on the floor (post-ICU) was a dick. Nope, he was a bag of dicks. The bedside manner of a Dr. House with the on-the-whole approach to medicine of my cat.

Let’s take it back a few steps. Our home equipment to keep my mother alive is a bit on the neglected side thanks to the semi-monopolies given to healthcare providers and insurers combined with our moving states. Every doctor and nurse has said that it would be dangerous for her to go home until our equipment was serviced. There are three units. We’re still waiting on 2/3rds of them to get serviced.

So, we’re back to the present, and I’m here with my mom trying to take care of her mostly on my own during the days. And that’s where the guilt comes in. I have a bad back. It hurts all the time. I literally feel like a 💩 when. I complain about it. And I’m pulling on my mother and trying to do as much as I can.

I also lost my job in February and am having trouble finding work. Which means our razor thin budget can’t afford all the added expenses of the last little but. So, I started a GoFundMe to try and help things along because I can’t help but feel like it’s all my fault. I didn’t notice the signs of CO2 retention early enough. I didn’t force her to go to the hospital early enough. And, losing my job had us treading water financially as it is.

This is the first in a series about being a caregiver for better or worse as a man in his late 20s. It’s to raise money for my mother who isn’t doing too hot after a lengthy stint in the hospital that probably shouldn’t have ended quite yet. Check out that link here: http://gofundme.com/HurtByUSHealthcare

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