Heart Talk

Grief reaches deep. In the two weeks immediately following the death of my father, my body felt the grief deeply, cellularly. Since his death, I have learned more about bereavement and its affects on the body. Reading like the back of a cereal box, most sites rattle off symptoms: sadness, crying spells, sleep disturbance, appetite changes… What stuck me was the intensity of the physical impact on my body. Waking up suddenly with heart palpitations, a fluttering heart that skips beats, racing, electrical charge on my arms and back, little appetite… The death of a parent, regardless of quality of the relationship, moves into us and takes hold. A week into this, and crumbling under the pressure of dealing with my mother’s antagonistic personality, hateful behaviors, and psychological decline, my blood pressure soared, I felt legitimately scared, and I found myself presenting to an urgent care. The doctor, a soft spoken middle aged man with dark bushy eyebrows, talked with me in a quiet exam room as I rest on the gurney, tears rolling. He listened to my heart, retook my blood pressure and diagnosed stress, but warned should I develop chest pain to go the nearest emergency room. “Do you have hypertension?” Well maybe, it was a little high at my last annual exam, so my doc is advising me to consider medication should it be repeated. My heart thumps on. I navigate the grief. Dr. Urgent Care further suggested that I no longer be primary caretaker of my mother. This was a Wednesday; by Friday at 5:00 pm a private duty caregiving service was in place and I felt some relief. But this was only the beginning of a chapter that has not yet found resolution.

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One thought on “Heart Talk

  1. Lora
    I have been thinking of you as I read your posts about what you are going through tin this challenging time. It is so hard. I moved my dad here to live closer to me, now 10 years ago. We knew he was declining, but didn’t realize how much. I thought that by bringing him here and seeing me and my kids on a regular basis it would make him happy and improve his quality of life. Of course, I didn’t realize in the beginning how much I was doing that. It was so hard to watch him struggle with some day to day things and not act how I thought he would. I really didn’t cope with all that very well. I had anxiety attacks that I had never had before. The racing heart, the weight loss (ah, if only that was a healthy weight loss)… I wanted so badly to help him. And certainly, I know that I did. But I didn’t realize how much I was looking for the outward signs. How could he not be happy to see his daughter 2-3 times a week bringing him supplies and dinners and the grandkids… The other thing that makes it challenging is the “role reversal”. I was trying to make the adult decisions, but I was still his “little girl”. Ugh, that was hard. One thing that someone said to me in that time was to remember that this was “his path”. He started on his path long before I was even born. So this wasn’t my thing to “fix”. I could be there for him how I could – but he was on his own path… And then with dementia -learning not to take things personally….ugh, that is hard too. It is good that you got a caregiver in the mix. Take care of you through this, and try not to put too much on yourself. (yeah, right.. I know) Hang in there! Let me know if you need to anything… I would be happy to listen. Beth


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