I know ALL about this...
Just like you, I had once dug myself into a VERY deep hole. Once the hole was dug I realized I was at the very bottom of it, and I asked myself "How am I supposed to get out?"
I will tell you the answer...
FIRST: The CHILDREN-in-law WILL NOT HELP in any way. You know that.
SECOND: What you do NOT know is that YOUR HUSBAND WILL NOT HELP either. Not that he doesn't care - just that he cannot COPE. I know you feel grateful to him for what he does when he can do it, but have you ever asked yourself WHY HE WORKS SUCH LONG HOURS? (Now, be honest with yourself, and NO, it has nothing to do with YOU!)
THIRD: The last thing (which you probably already know) is that YOU (you, especially) CANNOT HELP! Pamala, YOU ARE THE PERSON WHO IS MOST IN NEED OF THE HELP...
RESPITE CARE will not get you out of the hole.
A HOME AIDE will not get you out of the hole.
All the advice that has been given is good advice, but none of it should be directed at YOU! The last thing you need is "one more thing to do."
YOU are EXHAUSTED. SEVENTEEN YEARS!
If you have not already taken action with respect to placing your mother-in-law in a care facility I am going to give you the BEST ADVICE you will receive from anyone.
RIGHT NOW CALL 911.
Tell the 911 Operator that two adult women are in immediate need of medical assistance.
Tell the 911 Operator that one of them is elderly and bed-ridden.
Tell the 911 Operator that the other is the elderly woman's caregiver, and that the caregiver is suffering from nervous exhaustion.
Answer any questions the 911 Operator asks, then sit down and wait. Don't bother calling anyone - they are all too busy.
When the EMT's arrive they will understand immediately. When they ask who is responsible for the elderly woman, tell them she is YOUR HUSBAND'S MOTHER.
Give them HIS office and cell phone numbers.
While they prepare your mother-in-law for transport to the hospital they will check your vitals and ask you if you feel you require hospitalization. Of course, you do not. TELL THEM YOU ARE JUST EXHAUSTED. (All you need is bed and sleep for a month.)
When they drive away, DO NOT GO WITH THE AMBULANCE TO THE HOSPITAL...
FIRST: TAKE THE PHONE OFF THE HOOK.
SECOND: Pack a small bag of your mother-in-law's things for your husband to take to his mother at the hospital.
THIRD: Take a hot bath or shower, THEN GO TO SLEEP.
The hospital will call YOUR HUSBAND.
HE, in turn, will call HIS SIBLINGS.
At the end of her stay, HER CHILDREN will be responsible for researching and visiting care facilities, meeting with facility directors, touring, and then fighting about all of it. A hospital Social Worker will assist them with the process. They can even fight about how to pay for it.
And you, Pamala, YOU will sit back and WATCH...
9 1 1.
BECAUSE YOU NEED HELP - IMMEDIATELY.
All my love and care to YOU.