Radio Therapy

There are different kinds of therapies available to caregivers. There is a lot of value in pet therapy which helps lower the blood pressure for both patients and caregivers.  Click here for more information about pet therapy.  One of my personal favorites is the occasional massage therapy to allow complete relaxation of body and soul. Another great therapy would be radio therapy.

Wait, What? No, this has nothing to do with x-rays or some expensive hospital procedure. Radio therapy is the most cost effective therapy because it is easily accessible. My guess is that you have even already received this therapy without even realizing the great benefits for you as a caregiver.

So how does radio therapy work? There are really just two components needed. The first is that you should be alone for this to be the most effective. The second component involves a radio, cell phone, mp3 player, or any device that plays music. Not just any music, but the genre or style that is most meaningful to you. In my case, that would be classic Rock and Roll. Whatever style makes you happy or speaks to you.

 

Without question, the most beneficial results from radio therapy will occur when you are alone in your car with the radio or player utilizing your preferred style of music. When operating the vehicle, please ensure that the safety belt is engaged. When you are comfortable and ready, turn up the volume to a level that is high enough to drown out whatever music may come out of your mouth, but low enough to not violate any local noise ordinance laws. Be realistic when you assess your musical ability and always be courteous when sharing your musical ability with others.

All that being said, when you are alone in a car, the health benefit comes when finding your own voice and being free to connect with the music or your favorite singer.  You may need to adjust the volume to an appropriate level for your own comfort. Your own musical ability (or lack thereof) should not hinder you from singing at the top of your lungs for the full benefit.

Under the right circumstances, you will immediately feel health benefits from radio therapy. Feel your stress level decrease with an increased level of personal happiness. You may have special memories or feelings that are associated with specific songs. If possible, utilize these special songs for maximum happiness. Remember this therapy is individual to you and your style of music. Imagine the satisfaction of rolling down the windows, feeling the sun on you, and driving (in a safe manner, of course), while singing or jamming to a favorite song.

Radio therapy is a lesser known therapy, but certainly an equally important therapy. When you need a stress relief for whatever reason, consider using your car and music for a happy, uplifting, and therapeutic experience.

In That Corner There

In that corner there

I lay my life

to keep it safe

from all this strife.

 

A caregiver you wish me to be?

Why there must be someone else.

It is certain that I am not qualified

to do what you request.

 

I will do this thing you ask of me

and be his legs and hands.

A caregiver I am meant to be

and all that it demands.

 

Caregiving is a labor of love

Performed for those we truly adore

I will do everything I can to help him

This I will do and so much more.

 

Sometimes I glimpse my life in that corner

I remember how much fun it used to be

Before my body felt so tired

And life was more carefree.

 

One day I will regain my life

And put down this caregiver role.

I will retrieve my life from that corner there

And thus reclaim my  soul.

 

 

Caregiving and Football

In the summer of 1995, I got married. In the fall of 1995, the honeymoon was over. The football season had started and I had to fight for my husband’s attention with a sport I knew very little about. I started sharing the sofa with my husband and asking football questions. I irritated the stew out of him with all my questions during the games. As I began to understand the finer points of strategies, players, and teams there was a moment when the alignment of the planets shifted. I had discovered a fascinating sport.

 

Several years ago, I worked in the office of a manufacturing plant. The company had a fantasy football league that occupied the time of the mostly male employees. I found myself joining the trash talk conversations and was able to speak fairly intelligently with “the guys”. They asked me to join their league. Fortunately, I drafted Peyton Manning and a few others that happened to have an outstanding season that year. It was a close fantasy season, but I managed to win the league that year. I was as surprised as anyone that I had won. My husband admitted that he had created a monster and we began bonding over football in a new way.  I was no longer the student. We had become football buddies!

When my husband’s health began to decline, I became his primary caregiver. Sharing football has increased our mutual love for the game. It has made us a stronger team. We have found that just watching football together is good medicine. It can be a stress relief when we both need to shout at the TV in a way that is both therapeutic and safe. The simple act of a high-five after a touchdown connects us physically and emotionally. We feel part of a larger community of fans and not so alone as we lament and celebrate with our team.  Of course, no football game day is complete without snack food.  Sharing food and football is a special fellowship experience to fortify our home team. It’s a reminder that we are united as a team to face the next challenge together.

 

 

Football is our team sport. If you are a caregiver, you already have a multitude of players on your caregiving team. There are therapists, nurses, doctors, and home health aides. If you are fortunate to have supportive family and friends, you are very blessed. Unfortunately, many caregivers don’t have that support for various reasons. We are all fighting a very fierce opponent that demands every ounce of strength and determination we can muster. It’s a long and hard game.

You are not alone in this fight. Even if it’s late in the fourth quarter, you have the strength and ability to win this caregiving game. Get involved and ask questions. Find the local services and resources that you need to help you reach the goal line. Be persistent and be strong.  Go Team!

Looking out my window

 

Watching life from my cell

The TV is my window

The sofa is my cot

 

Commercials I sing along with

The jingles I know

The lyrics are an old friend

 

Three times each day comes late breaking news

The reporters still look the same

Only the suits have changed

 

The mailman drops by each day

The diversion is welcome

The utility bills are not

 

The daily routine is the daily job

I clean him, feed him, and hold the urinal

The monotony is ever present

 

And so I sit and watch others live

In my previous life, there was living

But now my life is spousal caregiving

 

I can’t go far because I’m needed at home

Doing what must be done for both of us

Loving a man because he keeps loving me

Happy Shopping Day

Nine months ago I left my job to be a full time caregiver for my hubby and his father. Hubby has Muscular Dystrophy and his father is 90. Most days I juggle the two of them fairly well.

Today, the father realized his eyeglasses need adjusting. So the three of us planned an adventure. We made the decision to venture out to a new universe. We packed up the handicap conversion van with my elderly father-in-law and his “walking stick”, my hubby in his power wheelchair, and me feeling anxious, just ever so slightly. And off we went to the Walmart for the first time as a trio.

imag1228_1-2

We circled the parking lot a few times searching for the appropriate van accessible space like a cargo plane circling the airport. There was a verbal rejoicing when we saw the best space near the front door become available. If you’ve ever prayed while searching for a van accessible space at the Walmart, you can appreciate the good karma in this.

I got out first and captured a buggy for the father to lean on for balance and stability. Helped him down the van’s ramp and led him to the buggy. Pushed the button to release the hubby’s powerchair from it’s latch inside the van and waited for his chair to come down the ramp.I stepped out into the traffic flow in front of the store like a school crossing guard.   All I lacked was the neon yellow safety vest. I was prepared to put my body between the crazy Walmart drivers and my boys. Exercise caution and slow down. There’s an elderly man and a guy in a powerchair approaching the front door.

The vision center is close to the entrance and we were able to get his eyeglasses fixed quickly. One task done, two to go. Next stop was the drug aisle to stock up on the necessities of elder living such as laxatives, stool softeners, and male incontinence supplies. Doesn’t every woman wish to know about the needed bathroom supplies for her older father-in-law?   Right.

Moving on to the third and final task in Men’s Clothing. It’s hard enough to take your husband shopping for clothes. Now add an elderly man looking for a specific unknown shirt type that’s not a cheap dress shirt and definitely not an ugly colored flannel shirt. To his credit, he knows exactly what he’s looking for, even if I have no clue what he’s talking about. I’m helping him search and watching him walk to make sure he’s stable. Out of the corner of my eye, I’m also tracking my hubby’s powerchair to make sure I know where he is. Neither one has a phone or a GPS – I can’t loose sight of either of them inside the vast Walmart.

The hubby motions to the pajama department to go scouting for the pajama pants he loves to wear all day. Off he goes and I’m left searching for that mysterious shirt for the father. We might as well be searching for Bigfoot. I hear Dad call my name and turn around to find him gazing at a rack of shirts as if he has found the Holy Grail. Seeing the joy on his face, I knew all we had to do was find the right size and we did. We had found Bigfoot in Men’s Clothing.   Hallelujah. We picked out two shirts and started looking for the hubby and his pajama pants. Miracle of miracles, we found the right pajama pant size and color to make him happy as well. It was becoming a very happy day.

We made our way back to the front of the store and to the registers. We were delighted to find an open lane with the cashier waiting for us. She was very patient and sweet to us as I helped Dad use his credit card. Out of the store we went with our newly purchased clothes, a pair of repaired eyeglasses, and a couple bags of assorted personal care pharmaceuticals for an older gentleman. I was amazed and proud. With no trouble or pain, we had gotten everything needed at the Walmart.

The store buggy was returned to the corral and we piled back in the van to return home. It was a successful and non-eventful afternoon outing. As a caregiver, you relish the non-events that are boring because that means everyone gets back home safe and sound. We are tour directors, drivers, assistants, and fashion consultants. We are exceptional caregivers. We are also exceptional people doing exceptional things for the people we love.

The “IT” Factor

We don’t get out much.  We visit the drive-thru’s of the local fast food places and bring the food home. That’s about the extent of our social interactions. I can leave my hubby alone for about an hour and a half at a time. That’s enough time for me to get groceries and get back home. I recently came to the conclusion, that I needed a break (real bad).

I arranged for a home health aide to come to the house for 8 whole hours so I could take the day off.  My two fabulous sisters took me to town. We walked around the town square looking at the shops.  We then had lunch at a real sit down restaurant. It was so wonderful to have a nice lady wait on ME and bring ME food. We had a great lunch and then got spa pedicures. It was a great day and a welcome break.

I had about an hour before I had to be back at home, so I got a chocolate milkshake at the Dairy Queen and sat on a swing watching the ducks at a local park. It was nice to sit alone and be reflective before going home to reality. Somehow, I was refreshed. Maybe it was the chocolate milkshake. Maybe it was the pedicure. Maybe it was laughing with my sisters. I don’t know what the “IT” was. I do know that little break was all I needed.

I love my hubby and I’ll do this as long as necessary because I’m all he’s got. We are spouses in a caregiving marriage. Even when the embers of love glow dimly in the darkness of caregiving, it’s the only light we need to see. In the darkness of your own caregiving world, I hope you can find whatever the “IT” is that gives you strength to endure. I wish you Peace…Love…and a chocolate milkshake.