The Most Challenging Part Of Being A Caregiver
Last updated: August 2023
As a caregiver, I’m always afraid that I will get something wrong or make a wrong decision. My father’s GFR is 35. He will be 90 years old in a few months. His pill count is 21 and counting. As a caregiver, I find just keeping up with his medication is the most challenging part for me.
Am I being selfish?
He is in and out of the hospital a lot and has several doctor’s appointments a week. His doctors change his medication often. Being underwhelmed is an understatement. When my father isn’t feeling well, he said it’s because I’m not ministering his medication correctly. I disregard these remarks because he’s “old”.
On one of his medications, the doctor said that one of his lifesaving medications comes at a cost to his body. As I’m taking him to another specialist, I have lost count of them. I drive 4 hours a day to get him to all his doctor appointments. On every car ride, I am always wondering about the side effects of taking so many medications for years and if I’m administering them right.
We know that every medication has side effects and the risk of developing other illnesses. But in my mind, I feel that keeping my father alive by treating his illness outweighs the side effects. Am I being selfish as a caregiver?
My father's conditions
Some medications affect his kidneys, but one of the doctors who has tried to take him off of seems that they can’t. His inflammatory markers rise, and they tried and keep him at a very low dose. These are some of his illnesses and medical procedures my father has or previously had:
- Laser surgery and cataracts
- Chronic kidney sisease
- Enlarged heart
- Lung thickening
- Prostate cancer
- Hiatal hernia
- Thickening of the arteries
- Throat cancer
- Ingrown toenails
I bet you I even missed a couple. He sees several specialists to treat him and even has to be treated for side effects. As a caregiver, I know this is a lot of medication, but I want him to have a good quality of life. When I discuss this with his primary care physician, she said that he has to pay to stay alive. Every medication decision needs to be carefully balanced as we know it’s going to impact his body and interact with my other medications.
Always thinking about the next step
There is never a time that I am not thinking about medications or what I need to do next. He gets 6 medications before breakfast, eye drops after breakfast, he takes 3 eye drops 5 minutes apart, he takes 7 more at lunch, and 8 at night. I think this is right. As a caregiver, I have to make sure this is done daily to keep his body functioning properly. Some days that I am beaten and can’t stand up, but I will not let death win if I can help it.
My father doesn’t like medications. On many occasions, he has told me that I don’t know what I’m doing. I look over these remarks because I know this is not easy for him either. He has to deal with the taste, side effects, and what these pills are doing to his body. Even though I’m tired and I know my father is also, I know this is what needs to be done to stay alive. My father has a lot of fight left in him and so do I. Giving up is not an option as a caregiver and daughter, but these are the challenges that we face.
This or That
In addition to chronic kidney disease, do you also live with diabetes?
Is exercise an important part of your CKD management?