For the first time, the thought “I can’t do this any more” fleetingly entered my head.
I’ll elaborate. It has become financially necessary for us to bring in more income. Since MW is in no position to do that, the onus falls on me to do it. So, I’ve set up as a freelance translator (Italian > English. Get at me for a quote. And please the social media ‘gurus’ whose sole aim is to render your entire existence one big networking exercise. Reticulo ergo sum, as the Romans might have said. But I digress).
I’m getting work in and it’s a boost to my self respect that I’m no longer “just” a carer (a societal view, not a personal one). Plus a slight sense of achievement for doing all of this off my own back. I’ll stop there before I become one of those “if I can do it, anyone can do it” people that I don’t really care for. The downside is that my stress levels are not helped by checking email every few minutes for offers of work or feedback. Particularly when things happen with MW. I’m still getting to grips with trying to shoehorn work into an already busy day. Which why it was probably ill advised to stay up till 5am one night two weeks ago to finish a job for the deadline the following day. I’d spent the whole day taking MW for an appointment so I had to work the evening to make up. Unforeseen problems meant a very late night. Cue me being overtired for days after. Two nights later, I’d just managed to drop off around 1am when MW had a night terror. This sent me into orbit and triggered a massive panic attack. I thought I was having a heart attack. In panic, I dialled 999 for an ambulance. Which hadn’t arrived after an hour – Saturday nights, eh? By this time, I’d calmed down and cancelled the ambulance.
Things settled on a more even keel. But I’m now constantly monitoring my own body for signs of weakness. Does a raised heart rate mean that something’s wrong? Not good if you’re used to exercising. Is my heart raised more than usual? Am I sweating more than usual?
The “I can’t do this any more” thought came into my head last week. MW had two choking fits in one day. The latter of the two being more acute. I’m holding her upright while she’s struggling to breathe, unable to move, and trying to cough up the foreign object – a stray bit of regurgitated food or drink. I pressed the button to alert the carers and one of them came to help. Neither of us could do anything practical. We can’t go into MW’s airway/lungs and pull out whatever it is that’s caused it. The warning sign is always a gurgling sound in her stomach followed by a quiet ‘burp’ sound and frantic coughing. Sometimes it’s not very bad. A few coughs and it’s out. Other times, it’s more serious. Breathing becomes a problem and I can do nothing to help. On more than one occasion, I’ve had the phone in my hand, ready to call an ambulance.
So, I’m caught between two stools – being carer and provider. I gave up my career because I couldn’t do both. MW needed and needs the care, so I did and do that. Now, as expenses get higher but income doesn’t keep up, I have to try that balancing act again. And I’m scared of dropping one of the two networks of plates that I’m spinning (verso reticula?). Or one of the smaller plates within each network. And I’m scared of being a failure at one or both of these roles. Because they are both necessary. After the choking incident, I had a quiet moment to try to forget the sound of MW gasping to catch her breath and the feeling of utter helplessness. That’s when it popped into my head. “I can’t do this anymore” “My best isn’t good enough”
I had another panic attack last night. Not as bad as a couple of weeks ago. Probably a build up of stress coming at me from all sides. I suspect that this post will elicit some advice along the lines of “you need to reduce your stress”, “is there anything you can do so that you don’t have to do both roles”. I know I need to do something about my stress. Or it really is going to have a lasting, drastic effect on my life. Given what we need financially, I really can’t see any other way. I know I need a break and I’m working on that.
So, I’m coping. At least, I think I’m coping because I’ve not dropped any of the plates I’ve got spinning, but maybe my body is trying to tell me otherwise.