A Caregiver Speaks: Dee Simon


 Author's note: This is one of an occasional articles which is part of the "Caregiver of the Month/Caregivers Speak" series in which we ask caregivers about their experience with the hopes that these conversations both inspire and educate our caregiving peers. Check out our other interviews with Marc Vera and Manja.Sommeling and our feature on things caregivers wished they'd known. If you or someone you know who like to be interviewed about your experience, please contact us via email.

We'd love to hear your story!

Q: I know some of your journey but can you please share a little bit with our readers about your caregiving? How it started, what has happened, how you are doing now, etc.

A. Sure. I'm 49 years old and have been taking care of my mother who has metastatic lung cancer for the last two years. For a time she moved in with me, but when her physical needs became more than I could handle, I moved her into an assisted living facility and now into an inpatient hospice facility. I still visit four times a week, after work, and sometimes I go on weekends as well. I am very involved with advocating for her to get the best care she can, and I bring her anything extra she needs but am no longer doing the day to day caregiving that I once was.

Q. That sounds like a hard decision.

A. The decision to move her to an inpatient facility?

Q. Yes, to have her no longer in your home.

A. Well, yes and no. My mom and I have always a very hard relationship, very fraught. I wouldn't say they we aren't close, in fact in some ways we are very close but she also was an active alcoholic almost all of my childhood years. I don't think I saw my mom without a beer in her hand until I was almost old enough to drink myself.

She came drunk to my parent teacher conferences, fell into the cake at my birthday party, puked on my date when he came to pick me up for prom, the whole Lifetime movie kinda thing. It was horrible and really, if it hadn't been for some of my extended relatives being very supportive and covering for her and taking care of me, it would have been much worse.

So, my mom has never been a mom to me exactly. Which makes it hard to feel like caring for her, except she is a woman, a person, who is hurting and having a hard time. And I'm an only child. So it's up to me. My mom hasn't made many friends, I can tell you that, not any long term ones. Luckily I have good friends and they help me out.

Q. Wow. How do you find the the strength, the stamina, the motivation to keep going.

A. Well even though my mom and I weren't close like a mother-daughter kind of thing, I do have a long history of taking care of her. My mom had me when she was still quite young and I've always said that when I was a teenager, I felt like any other teenager helping their drunk friend...holding back her hair so she could vomit, etc.

Except for the friend was actually my mom.


So I have a history of taking care of her, and she has a history of letting me and so actually that helps. We haven't actually changed roles which is part of the struggle that I see some of my friends go through. Like, my mom is sick and puking from chemo but it doesn't seem that different than when she was drinking. The situation is different, but the dynamic is the same.

See part two for more from Dee, 

Continue Reading