It had been months since I had gotten a break, and my spirits felt like an old piece of china, filled with cracks and so fragile any touch could shatter it. I was weary from the inside out. It is wonderful to be a caregiver, and to provide home care for my sister, but it had been so long since I had refilled myself that I couldn’t remember who I was anymore. I was numb, on autopilot.
One of my coworkers had encouraged me to look into respite care. She had been an in home caregiver to her mother before she passed away, and was very compassionate. I was skeptical at first, but the way she talked about how she felt, I came to realize that she really did understand what I was going through. I did need a break, a chance to have some peace of mind and collect my thoughts. I decided to make the arrangements for a day of respite care for my sister.
As it turns out, the process was much easier than I thought. I was matched with a caregiver who met my preferences. It comforted me to know she would be thoroughly trained and insured. When Jessa, our caregiver arrived, I was struck with how genuinely kind and friendly she was. I knew my sister would be in good hands.
So I left for the day. It felt very strange at first to have a day that I could devote to my own care. I started with a fresh croissant at the local bakery, then stopped in my salon and got a haircut and neck massage. I was starting to relax.
After a quick lunch to keep up my energy, I bought a ticket to the LSU Museum of Art and wandered, not bothering to look at the time. It was a strange feeling to simply enjoy the beauty around me. It felt like pieces of me were coming back together. After I soaked up the art till I was content, I indulged in a much loved treat: window shopping. I ambled along the city streets, and the feeling became stronger – I was starting to feel like me again.
Later that afternoon I met a good friend for an early dinner. It was lovely to have a lively conversation and laugh again.
Finally, it was time to go home, but I didn’t dread it. I was refreshed! I was eager to see my sister again and see how her day had gone. As it turns out, she had a great day too. Maybe she was a little tired of seeing my face day after day – for it seemed she was refreshed by spending the day with someone new.
Respite care, as it turns out, is the kind of thing that I made excuses about:
- It will be too expensive.
- How can I really trust someone?
- My sister would not take to a stranger.
- How selfish of me to say I need a break from my own sister!
But in the end, I find myself saying:
- It was worth every penny!
- I felt very confident in the caregiver I chose.
- My sister loved meeting her caregiver.
- I definitely, definitely needed the break.
Because I had taken care of me, I was genuinely, happily able to give better care to my sister. I plan to arrange for respite care every six weeks. Next time I’m going to the Botanic Gardens!