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  • Sharon Koay

Battling with my inner demons as a caregiver


When my mum went through her cancer journey, both my dad and I had the shared responsibility of being her caregiver. She passed away in August 2020, and my dad was diagnosed with cancer in July 2021. Since then, I have taken on the full responsibility of being his sole caregiver.


The struggles and challenges of a family caregiver, especially if not shared, is truly overwhelming. I find myself struggling with:

  • Managing time: For myself, my children, my work.

  • Sleep deprivation: My dad has fallen down 3 times in the last 3 weeks, all late at night or early in the morning, and so I now sleep with my bedroom door open, and I cannot allow myself to fall into a deep sleep. He also has a habit of waking up once or twice a night for a snack. I have provided a selection of buns, cakes and crackers by his bedside, but there are times where he still tries to sneak off to the kitchen downstairs, only to be stopped by me when I hear him walk near my bedroom.

  • Isolation: I don't feel that anyone can understand exactly what I'm going through.

  • Stress and guilt: more explanation below.

I have come to realise that I am no longer the person with endless amounts of energy, empathy and patience that I once took pride in having.


I have started to dislike the person I've become:

  • My dad is no easy patient to care for as he's stubborn and is used to having his own way. He doesn't listen to advice or instructions, and so we've had many arguments, as I feel that he's not helping me help him at all. Our arguments have been ugly, and I've said many horrible things to him that I would never have imagined myself saying.

  • I have become quick-tempered with my dad, having to shout and scream at him to try and get a message across. Some, if not many, include swear words, with numerous incidents in front of my children.

  • I've punched a desk, hit a wall, thrown and broken things in pure frustration.

  • I no longer have the desire to socialise. What little time I have not caring for my dad, I'd rather be alone. As I feel that no one can understand exactly what I'm going through, I feel there's no point talking about the situation, nor do I have the energy to pretend that everything is ok.

  • I'm behind on work, and I hate that I can't/haven't been giving my best to my clients.


And I now hate the monster I am:

  • It is with complete shame to admit that I am incapable, and have given up on my responsibility to care for my dad full-time through his sickness. I made a promise to my mum when she was dying that I would take the best care of my dad, and I feel that I have failed her.

  • On Tuesday, March 15th, I took my dad to view 4 nursing homes.

  • On Wednesday, March 16th, I checked him in to the one he liked best.

  • It is my intention to have him stay in a nursing home from Mondays to Fridays, so that I am able to sleep on weeknights in order to function properly for work on weekdays. I am the sole breadwinner of the family for my dad and two sons, and I can't afford not to work, especially with my dad's endless expensive medical bills.

  • The guilt from the decision in sending him away is unbearable, and I find myself being at the nursing home early in the morning before work to help with his morning shower and breakfast, and again in the evening after work till he's had his supper and is ready for bed.

  • I have gotten 2 nights of a full 6 hour deep dreamless sleep but at the expense of losing my soul.

  • I brought him back home on Friday, March 18th (after 2 nights at the nursing home), and I honestly don't know if I have it in me to send him back there again.


The decision of sending him back to the nursing home is not one I have to make immediately though, as he is scheduled for a TURP surgery next week, and will be hospitalised for days following that to recover.


I have always ended my blog posts with a silver lining, but the battle with my inner demons has clouded my positivity. I hope this is temporary.

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