A Day In The Life of a Caregiver: Rena McDaniel

In honor of National Family Caregiver’s Month, we’ve asked some special guests to tell us about 24 hours in their life as a working daughter. Today’s post from Rena McDaniel, blogger at The Diary of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver, is third in our series.

When I first agreed to write this post I thought I’d write about a so-called “normal” day as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver, but I realized that after 4 years as a full time caregiver I didn’t know what a normal day was supposed to look like.

I am a business owner (with all of its two dozen hats), a full-time Alz caregiver, a wife of 26 years, a mother to two, a grandmother to two-year-old twins, and a daughter. No two days EVER look alike.

Take last week for instance…

Monday started off normal. I woke up rushing to get momma up, ready for the day, and breakfast in her, before running to my desk with two minutes to spare before my designated “office hours” started at 9 am. My desk, in reality, is a converted dining room with file cabinets, art boards, manuals and the unmanageable piles of office supplies that I just can’t seem to keep myself from buying every chance I get.

I’m considered “lucky” because I can work from home. Home, the same walls, the same questions asked and answered, the same “Have you been injured in a car accident” commercials blaring from the TV. I do get to work in my pj’s though, so there is that. It means I’m available to take care of my momma 24/7. Every. Single. Day.

Anyway, I stopped to fix lunch about 1:00 and noticed that it was raining. An hour later, the tornado sirens started going off and I went to check things out. We stood in the garage while it poured so bad the road in front of the house looked like a raging river, never once looking at the back of the house. Then the lights went out and they didn’t come back on for three and a half days.

We were one of the lucky ones and didn’t suffer any damage to our home (two streets behind us is completely gone). Imagine this though:

You have a loved one with Alzheimer’s who practically lives on coffee and Pop Tarts. No toaster, no coffee. That was problem 1, 2 & 100. No lights, no TV, no computers, no WIFI, no music, no stove, no microwave, and after the first two days, no food, because everything had to be thrown away, no heat and someone who forgets every 5 minutes what is happening.

I honestly couldn’t tell you who was more traumatized. Dinner was a baked potato over the fire pit, entertainment was watching the traffic go by and digging the toaster out of the garbage every 10 minutes. Fun times. Finally, at 6:30 on the third night the lights came back on and we celebrated and then explained to mom why we were celebrating.

My grandchildren spent the night. They will only sleep in bed with mamaw & papaw. Did I mention they are two year old twins? Momma loves the twins and that’s part of the reason I volunteer to keep them so much…that and they are pretty adorable.

The next morning as I dragged myself out of bed, momma came down the hall and my grandson went running. “Grandma! Grandma!”. She got excited and bent to pick him up and her left knee went out. They fell. We thought it was minor until she stood back up and we saw the 5 inch gash up her arm from the gold watch she wears everyday. Her papery skin as delicate as well, paper.

I grabbed a hoodie and sweats and ran out the door to the ER while husband stayed home with the kids. Two hours later we finally got to see a doctor who slapped a bandage on her arm and sent us away. Not even interested in checking her knee or ribs. He practically screamed, “She’s old. What does it matter?” Which sent me off the deep end, but didn’t result in anything different.

I brought her home and my husband mets me at the door saying, “You just missed the news. They wanted to interview us about that picture you posted to Facebook about our firepit potatoes last night”. A trip to the family Dr. for the X-rays later in the afternoon to round out the day. You know…just a normal day at our house.

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