The Sandwich Generation

As a parent of a sick child and the child of a sick parent, I often feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. I am part of the “sandwich generation.” I am stuck in the midst of a virtual tug-of-war game: who needs my immediate attention more, my mom with stage four cancer or my three year old who was recently diagnosed with celiac disease?

The recent holiday was especially exhausting. For the past couple of weeks, my daughter has not been herself. She’s been fussier, paler and pickier about her foods. At first I thought she was just fighting off a virus but her skin became paler and slightly yellow and my maternal panic button went off. 

I called our pediatrician and rushed my little one in. After a thorough check-up and a trip to the local children’s hospital for a blood draw, I convinced myself it was only her severe constipation that was the issue. We piled in the car and drove six hours to visit my parents for the long weekend – a brief vacation and relaxation.

We woke the next morning and I began the new regimen of Miralax to ease the constipation, confident she would be on the mend in no time. Her body should respond to it quickly, but nothing had changed by day’s end. She was still constipated, pale, crabby and lethargic. 

That afternoon, the kids were playing in the pool in my parents’ backyard and my folks were napping. I even napped for a bit as I had not been sleeping well with a sick child who was up several times each night. Perhaps this was the start of a relaxing weekend…

At 5 PM, my cell phone rang and my heart jumped. This couldn’t be good – a late afternoon call from the doctor the day before the Fourth of July. I listened as the doctor rattled off the data – I tried to remain calm and keep track of the  details: severe anemia, high white blood cell counts, and low hematocrits (the new red blood cells). The rest of the lab results were still pending – additional allergy testing and a pathology smear. 

Things just kept getting worse – she wanted us back at the children’s hospital on Friday for more tests – wait, that’s the day after tomorrow – but we just got here and it’s a six hour drive… so much for the relaxing mini-vacation.

No sooner did I get off  the phone and break the news to my husband and dad then my mom’s health took a nose dive. My dad went to wake her up and blood sugar had tanked. It was too low, way too low. My dad took her the apple juice – our gold standard for her low blood sugar but she didn’t improve. So I followed up with a Glucerna®. Finally, she began to improve. 

As she was resting, I began cooking dinner. It was good to have something to do one my own. I cried and worried as I chopped vegetables for the salad and basted the chicken. I don’t know what the future holds for my daughter or my mother. What will tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year look like? Will they still be here? Will they be healthy? Will they be happy? 

Even through all of this, I have been able to find balance and peace and keep the worrying to a minimum. Sure, sometimes I’m an anxious, sobbing basket case, but that’s pretty rare. 

If you are in a similar situation and are looking for support and a way to find the time and energy you need to care for yourself, please check out my website:


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