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Caregiver from BC stuck in ON 
Started by browncurlyhair
17 Dec 2022, 10:09 PM

Hi all...

My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer over three weeks ago. She's in Ontario, just moved here in August, and I'm still in BC (where she moved from.) When I found out about the cancer, we weren't sure about timeline and the who/what/where's, so I didn't immediately book a flight, but the next morning her landlady (very illegally) evicted her from her suite on their farm, so I not only had to deal with the news of my mom's cancer, I had to fly out immediately to A) find her a new home, and B) move her from her suite into this new home.

I left one-way on November 28th and now I'm here, in my mom's new 2 bedroom, with her nearly completely bound to her recliner or bed, and I have no idea when I'll be back home. She's swung from having a great day of being out of the house for 6 hours, to being in extreme discomfort and unable to eat or sleep for days. When she's suffering it's beyond overwhelming, my fear skyrockets and I feel completely out of control. But then when she's well, like now, time stands still and I wonder what the fuck I'm doing here and when it will end and when I'll get to be home again. I miss my partner, my home, my rituals, my endurance training, my west coast weather, my job. I don't want her to suffer, it's fucking awful, but I also can't conceptualize coasting for another six weeks. This is hell, it's hell, it's insane. 

My brother arrived on Tuesday to visit and the extra hands have been amazing, and my partner arrives on Christmas for 10 days, and we have a PSW, and palliative, and nursing support, and hospice support, and all the things, yet I'm losing my mind cuz I'm in this weird dark basement apartment in this unfamiliar city around a woman who's my mom but not my mom because she's 40lbs underweight and dying. It's surreal. I don't want her to die but I don't want to be here anymore. I might lose my mind.

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Reply by eKIM
18 Dec 2022, 4:30 PM

Hello, dear "brown curly haired" one


I send you a VirtualHug

I am so, so sorry for the situation that you are in.  I know that I am a complete stranger, but I hope that reaching out to you brings you even a small amount of comfort.


You have every right to be angry with the woman who evicted your mother – a truly heartless act.  I am sure that she has not given one more thought to you or your mother. 


Try to put her out of your mind.  Every time you give her a thought, she is hurting you again.  Once is enough.  Don’t give her more.  You are dealing with enough and you don’t need more.

The fact that you dropped everything and flew to her side speaks volumes about the fine person that you are.


The uncertainty of the length of your stay must be so difficult to deal with.  It must be like being in a swirling vortex of emotions going round and round and not knowing when this horrible ride will stop.


And her “up and down” state must rock you from happiness to despair.


It’s no wonder that you feel totally out of control – you don’t have any.


My wife gives me heck when I use the “F word”, but occasionally she’ll do it too.  Sometimes it’s the only word that fits. 

We have a family member who has stage 4 cancer and it’s in her lungs, breast, liver and rectum.  Members of our family wear a T-Shirt that says, “Fuck Cancer”.


What a crappy 2-sided coin: 1) in a totally unfamiliar setting and 2) missing your familiar surroundings and routine.


And not having your own partner and support group with you must be so hard for you.  I am happy for you that your partner is coming.  You are so lucky to have someone who loves you that much.


And your brother helping.  That is amazing.  I hear of countless stories where brothers suddenly go “missing inaction” (yes that’s 2 words, not 3).


The fact that you have full medical/hospice support is a good thing.  I believe that these people are very special people for the work that they do.


Wow!  Those conflicting emotions: “a woman who's my mom but not my mom because she's 40lbs underweight and dying” are so powerfully said.


Your world has been turned upside down, no wonder everything looks weird!


You said, “I don't want her to die but I don't want to be here anymore. I might lose my mind.”


No one would choose to be in your situation.  As difficult as this is, you will get through it. 

Somehow the phrase, “This too shall pass”, has always brought me comfort – I hope it helps you.


Years ago my mother was living in Ontario and was dying.  My wife and I were in Nova Scotia running a new business that we had started.  We simply could not leave.


On the phone, my mother would always say, “Don’t come, sweetheart.  I know you have your own family and responsibilities”.  Moms are like that.


I didn’t go until the funeral.  Two things I knew for sure. 1) Mom forgave me and 2) I would never forgive myself.  To this day, I beat myself up for it.


No matter how long you stay with your mom – short or long, (you only can do what you can do) you will never have regrets like I do.


Take care of yourself, dear.  That’s exactly what your mom would want you to do.



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Reply by browncurlyhair
20 Dec 2022, 8:47 PM

Hi @ekim -- thank you so much for this reply ! So well thought out... What sticks out is that I won't regret being by her side and you're 100% right. Despite feeling lost and out of control some days, I wouldn't be anywhere else.

It's crazy how every day you could basically spin a wheel with emotions on it and it'll land somewhere random each morning and each evening and I have zero control over it. I felt so angry and fed up when I wrote that, and again a few nights later. And then today I've felt cheerful and in control. I've bawled other days. I've felt exhausted other days. Spin the wheel! 
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Reply by eKIM
20 Dec 2022, 11:59 PM

Hello from eKim.
I want to write "I am so happy that you are happy."  But knowing how "it" works, your mood might be 180 degrees opposite when you read this.  

That is normal in high-stress situations.  And this is where self-care plays such an important part.  Some self-care methods are: praying, meditation, yoga, exercise, journaling etc.  Whatever works for you is fine.  But ignoring self-care can lead to burnout.  No good for you.  No good for your mom.  So, self-care is not selfish.  It is necessary.

What type of self-care do you use?  CNN has a wonderful series called "Stress, But Less".  There are dozens of tips and ideas that are very helpful.  https://www.cnn.com/specials/series-stress

In the meantime, please feel free to "unload" here at Canadian Virtual Hospice.  Keep us up to date with how you are managing.  A caring stranger is an unusual commodity, but that's who we are.

- eKim
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