The fetid odor hung heavily in the air, prevented from dissipating by the closed space of the exam room.

“So help me, if he farts one more time, I am going to stab him with a serrated steak knife,” she growled.

Anger radiated off of her.

“For years I worked while he was retired.” Her voice rose higher. “Every day I got up early and drove to work. Did he ever help around the house? No. He was disabled. Back pain. ‘I hurt too much!’ he would whine. Instead he watched goddamn Westerns all day while eating vast quantities of peanuts and cheese balls. I hated him every single day.”

She paused, took a breath, and then continued.

“When it was finally time for me to retire I was really looking forward to being a woman of leisure. Maybe traveling. Maybe just sleeping in. Heck, maybe even helping out with babysitting the grandkids. Instead, he has a frickin’ stroke and here I am babysitting HIM!”

She pointed over at the man in the wheelchair. His vacant eyes were staring off into a far corner. A bit of drool dangled from his stubbled chin.

At that point she broke down sobbing.

“I should have divorced him years ago. When will I have MY happiness?!?!! Now everyone says, ‘What a saint you are for taking care of him!’ Bah! I just want him to die already. But I cannot SAY that. Not to anyone. To them I am a such saint. If they only knew….”


92 thoughts on “Sainted

  1. This is not uncommon with an elderly relative or a spouse. There is a sense of duty, guilt, and resentment at not being able to have a life. But the thought of putting them in a care home is either totally impractical or abhorrent. Nobody wins.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ugh! And that is why I thought Hannah was the greatest person in the world. She took care of me when anyone in their right mind would have left. Although I didn’t fart all the time and eat cheeseballs watching Westerns, so I guess there is that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Not the first time I’ve read or heard such an account, either.
    I think it’s a reminder to appreciate what we have, and a bigger reminder that we only get this one life to live — Happiness is important.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I can’t begin to imagine that sort of desperation.
    Life is short, living a life you don’t love is such a waste. I think she left it too late to face up to how she felt and wow did she pay. Very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Heartbreaking. Working in pediatric extended care I saw the same with parents of ill children who still had other children to raise, or a marriage falling apart. Respite care would work wonders for her, but many aren’t even aware that Medicare covers it. So much more we need to be doing for the caregivers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country…A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.” There are the desperate Eleanor Rigby’s, the lonely people, who yearn for at least one companion. There are those with companions who long to be free. None of us want to admit how close we *all* are to disaster. One wrong turn…

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I’ve repeatedly told my family (especially my wife who is my nurse) that when this time comes for me, as I fully expect that it will given my personal and family medical history, to put me in a home and go have some fun. If I’m not there, communicating and being myself, don’t bother visiting, don’t load up on guilt, just get the heck back into life.

    Unfortunately, knowing my wife as I do, I don’t think she’ll do it. But because I love her, I hope that she does…

    Liked by 4 people

  8. We were in this situation with my in-laws. My FIL suffered greatly as he struggled to take care of his abusive demented wife. Finally, when she was placed in a memory care unit and safe, he let go and died. I think the guilt killed him. I told my hubby and my immediate family, if I ever get that way, let me kill myself quietly and be released. I do not ever want to be like that. I so get what this woman in the story feels though as I fear this will be my situation with my diabetic hubby. He is already retired and spent the summer not doing much but playing golf and watching TV. I resented it greatly. But he works as a sub teacher the whole school year so…he redeems himself. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      • Good to involve the family. Now that you mentioned it, I have the feeling that that was really the problem — she wasn’t getting any important support from the family and feels/felt alone in this personal struggle. She probably wouldn’t feel this as much if her kids tried to help more, know what I mean? Of course, I don’t know them, but I feel that that is it. We’re not just talking about financial support, but more of emotional, mental and physical support.

        I’d really hate it if/when my husband and I arrive at this point. I dunno who’s going to be caregiver and patient. Even so, I certainly hope the caregiver stays strong and does not come to the point of feeling resentment towards the other. After all, we promised to love and take care of each other through thick and thin, better or worse. But emotions are emotions after all. It can be more tiring than physical exhaustion and drain every bit of our energy, then it’s breakdown-time…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Everyone does better with support. Her resentment was deep seated from years and years before, building. She never really got to deal with all of that. Now he is essentially “gone” and all of that unspoken, undealt with crap just gets magnified. She did need some time away and it did help. But no one could take away all of that. It will haunt her forever…

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I wonder how cases like this would fare in states with legal physician-assisted suicide (for the husband). If the ability to afford care should be a factor that would sentence people like this woman to misery; to possible negligent homicide if they won’t care properly for their family member. Is divorce possible in this case (abandonment?). Yikes!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My Mom didn’t want to take her Beta blocker for her A-fib. Said it caused her to gain weight. I said “Well okay, just know that when you have your stroke, I’m putting you in a nursing home and having Dad live with me”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is everybody’s nightmare, isn’t it? The thought of being on either side.

    The strict orders for me about me are — don’t try this at home. I feel this way about that romantic idea of dying at home. No. Do not do that to your loved ones! Go where your pain can be relieved and they aren’t having to bear the burden of loss while caring for you and then cleaning up once you’re gone.

    (Sorry. I saw my Dad torn apart by guilt when he had to finally put my mother — whom he’d cared for for several years at escalating levels of care needed — in a nursing home. It wasn’t his fault — or hers.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think a huge part of my husband’s grief and guilt is that he felt he didn’t do enough for his diabetic, semi-disabled mother. But his last visit to her place had him hurt (physically) so bad that I thought he would have to make a trip to the ER.

    He paid off her house, took her to her doctor, took her grocery shopping, hauled cat litter, all so she could live “independently” in her house that was an hour away from us.

    We found her dead, naked on her bathroom floor on Thursday. She was 65.

    It’s not easy being the caretaker, but sometimes it’s even harder losing that role.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. At least she finally talked about it. Health and being able to move around to run your life and household are not a given, especially after 60. The human body wears out.

    I hope the lady finds some fun in her remaining days. There must be more in life…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. America is corporation-run. As long as there is significant $ to be made off of care of our disabled and/or elderly, we will have high–and increasing–expenses associated with care of that population, with the bulk of the bill footed by the bottom 90%.

    Even the insurance that helps buffer against these costs (Long Term Care, Disability)–which I’d bet most younger Americans are unaware exists, and others don’t realize costs a pittance, IF purchased while young–even these wise plans are of course supporting the pyramid of preying profit.

    The only way I see to break the cycle, short of disease, famine, or social upheaval leading to total abandonment of those a genetically-enhanced minority deems less desirable, is nationalized care for disabled and elderly citizens (yes: I said citizens), funded from an equitably-derived tax that draws proportionately from every American’s pocket.

    Like THAT’s ever gonna happen.

    Instead, we’ll get Japanese care-bots and be fed Worm-lent Green pablum. Mmm…Nummy!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. That seems to be a very accurate representation of the reality some live through. I liked how you wrote this and could relate. I came by to thank you for following. I don’t write this well and appreciate those who do so, very much. I’ll be back as soon as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Bonjour “Victoire”. happy new year and all that. πŸ™‚
    Catching up with your posts as I come back from traveling.
    Hit that nail on the head again. A very good story. And you write with a scarcity of words that I like.
    Good job, Doc. πŸ™‚
    Hope the end of year allowed you to breathe and spend cosy time with your family.
    Take care

    Liked by 1 person

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