Hospital Room Station

The hospital room
Is very rarely quiet
People pass quickly

Like a train station
On a busy commute line
Zip in and zip out

Nurse and therapist
One after another one
Stop at our station

They stay a minute
Take vitals, check oxygen
And off to next room

We close the hall door
And draw the big curtain closed
Trying to find Peace

Soon another train
With more people in white coats
Approaches our stop

Grateful for their time
Thankful for the job they do
Quiet time heals, too

Daily Prompt:  Zip

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Still Evening

Watching him drift off to sleep in an upright recliner
From across a quiet and semi-dark room

I see the man I married who must be carried to each room
By a contraption on wheels that I must push

His muscles are weak and his spirit is tired
Yet he smiles at me with beautiful eyes

We are exhausted from a day of aides and nurses
Parading in and out of the house claiming to be helpful

We sit in the stillness of the evening
Listening to an internet radio that seems to know our favorite songs

We quietly listen to soft rock songs both old and cherished
And mouth the words of The Eagles and James Taylor together

The future is as clear as an opaque piece of stained glass
We sit still and await the morning

Daily Prompt:  Opaque

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Pressure Cuff

Seated quietly
Anxious to know the result
Patient rolls up sleeve

The sound of Velcro
Wrapped around arm and fit snug
Stethoscope in place

The valve closed tightly
Air fills the cuff with each pump
Arm pressure tightens

See needle climbing
Jumping higher and higher
Until the right point

The valve is released
The air begins to escape
The needle descends

The heartbeat is heard
A number is recorded
The patient breathes deep

Needle keeps dropping
As the heartbeat fades away
Now a new number

Remove stethoscope
Loosen cuff with Velcro sound
Patient hears good news

Daily Prompt:  Climbing

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Scoops of Love

How do you measure the anger you feel?
You measure it with Love to make you patient and kind.

How do you measure the frustration you feel?
You measure it with Love that makes you understanding.

How do you measure the sadness you feel?
You measure it with Hope that gives you strength to keep going.

How do you measure the physical aches you feel?
You measure it with Hope that shows you the blue sky during a storm.

How do you measure the love you feel for a loved one?
Some days it’s hard to measure. Some days it’s measured with a teaspoon because it’s so hard to find. Some days there are no earthly words to measure the abundance that you feel inside your heart.

The last few days, I have felt all of these. My responsibilities have increased. Caregiving is transitional and what I did yesterday may not be what is needed today. On these days of transition, focus on the love. Focus on the strength of your loved one. Look in those eyes and remember when and where you first loved them.

This is all any of us can do. Focus on the love. Look for the blue sky during a storm and hope the sun returns tomorrow.

Daily Prompt:  Measure

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Serve Me

Of course, we all want to avoid our loved ones being hospitalized. But if the loved one is stable condition and the opportunity presents itself, a caregiver just might possibly confuse the hospital for a resort hotel.

It’s certainly a change of scenery from our daily mundane view. It’s a chance to engage with other people and explore new surroundings. It may not be a fancy restaurant, but most hospitals offer some kind of cafeteria. Caregivers who serve others meals on a daily basis will always jump at the chance to have their food served by someone else.

Today as I opened the door to the hospital cafeteria, it occurred to me that I was blindly walking into a place where I had absolutely no idea what would be on the menu. What a welcome dilemma for someone who always knows what’s in the refrigerator. An exciting culinary mystery to be solved and savored.

As I walked into the hospital cafeteria, a heavenly spotlight was shining on the buffet counter. There was glorious looking food inside it, and nice people behind the counter to serve me. I’m pretty sure I heard an angelic chorus singing and happy people everywhere.

I returned to my husband’s room after a change of scenery and carrying a styrofoam container of nourishing food. It was extremely tasty and satisfying. The best part was that I didn’t have to make it, I didn’t have to serve it, and someone else actually served it to me. The trip to the cafeteria was a delightful experience. Ask a caregiver. They will understand.

Daily Prompt:  Blindly

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Love Won

I cannot sink the putt on the 18th hole to win the Masters.
I cannot get a base hit to score the winning run in Game 7 of the World Series.
I cannot make the half-court buzzer-beater shot to win the NCAA Basketball Championship.
I cannot jump several feet into the air while surrounded by defenders and come down with the Hail Mary pass to win the Super Bowl.

I can, however, steady my husband as he transitions from the lift chair to his power chair. I can also bathe and dress him. I can also prepare and serve every meal for him. I can also enjoy laughing wth him. And of course, I can love and support him.

I don’t have a huge trophy to hoist over my head. I don’t have sponsors to thank for their financial support.  But I can certainly thank my “team” of doctors, nurses, therapists, friends, and family.  My husband is the reason I have trained so hard to compete.  He has kept me motivated with his love and appreciation.  It doesn’t bother me that I will never win any athletic championships because I’ve already won his love.  I am his champion caregiver!  🙂

Daily Prompt:  Champion

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Resume

A life is interrupted. The universe has pushed the “PAUSE” button. In a monumental moment, the caregiving role will continue for a few months, a few years, or even much longer. The job skills, interests, and hobbies of that caregiver are frozen in time. Can you even be the person you once were?

Once my caregiving role is over, I know the house will be quiet, and I will likely be very quiet, too. There will be a sense of loss that I cannot even anticipate at this moment.

When the universe pushes the “RESUME” button, I will have to decide about priorities. What activities will I enjoy? Will the solitary life of a caregiver make the cultivation of new friendships difficult? I will also re-evaluate my employment skills. Will any previous career paths even be relevant?

As I re-evaluate my life, I will take stock of who I am post-caregiver and not who I once was pre-caregiver. Life has changed me forever and in some respects, caregiving has made me a better person. I will need answers, but until that moment, I may not even know the questions.

When I emerge from caregiving, I hope there will be a new life out there for me to live that brings purpose. Self-examination and discovery will give me that purpose. When that day comes, I will listen to my heart and resume my life.

Daily Prompt:  Pause

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Port Thoughts

I have not yet arranged for the Transport
Maybe I will leave from an Airport or Heliport?
One thing is certain: I definitely will not Abort
For it was judicially decided that I am a Quart Short

Caregiving is a hard and long endurance kind of Sport
A marathon of ups and downs in providing love and Comfort
It is essential the caregiver finds an alternate means of Support

And when necessary a caregiver should be sentenced by the Supreme Court
To a time away for rest and relaxation as prescribed in the Report
A fabulous sentence that has been decreed by the High Court

The time has come to stamp the Passport
The time has come to find the nearest Seaport
The time has come to reserve that all-inclusive beach Resort

It is an overdue trip that the caregiver must not Thwart
It is a wonderful sentence from a very wise Court
Come away with me and let us quickly Deport!

Daily Prompt: Passport

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Caregiving Math

A life is meaningless without a center or balance.  My life is balanced because my husband’s life is balanced.  Together, we have created a way to keep both of us centered, balanced, and our lives are full of meaning.

It is a fragile balance that must be maintained and nurtured by both of us to maintain that center.  We both require different things to maintain the center.  When my needs are met, I am able to ensure that his needs are met.  We must find ways to maintain that balance for both of us and I will do everything in my power to keep the meaningfulness in our lives.

I hated Math, but I’m seeing this as a Meaningful Caregiving Equation:

His needs are:    Hope  /  Love  / Happiness  /  Memories

My needs are:     Quiet Time / Self-Care  /  Sleep  /  Socialization

X = His Needs                Y =  My Needs

When X=Y, both our needs are being met

My life has meaning and his life has meaning.

When X=Y, the two sides are balanced and centered

OUR LIVES ARE MEANINGFUL

LIFE IS GOOD

Daily Prompt:  Meaningless

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Hidden Inside

Some things are quite obvious and obviously, some things are not. Objective things are quite evident to everyone. Things that are subjective and noticed only by you are symptoms.

People looking at your caregiving situation from the outside have an objective understanding of the things you do every day for a loved one. They can clearly see how much you do for others. But what are you feeling inside that others cannot see. What symptom are you hiding and what can you do to treat it?

One of my hidden symptoms is joint pain. Some movements and muscle flexes are somewhat uncomfortable for me. I can’t associate these symptoms with any obvious diagnosis other than what I refer to as “Caregiver Stress”. I can fit several general aches and pains under that caregiving umbrella, and no one really understands them but me.

What symptoms are you hiding? We can’t do everything for everyone, but we can do one thing for ourselves. Think about one thing you can do today to make yourself feel better in a small way. Today, I’m feeling tired. I’m going to listen to a hidden symptom. I’m going to take a nap.
What will you do?

Via Daily Prompt: Symptom

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