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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Going Home

This writer wife is tired
And the quality of today’s blog post is weak.

One hubby sick with pneumonia
And three hospital nights.

A parade of nurses
And treatment for breathing issues.

Finally feeling better
And able to taste food.

Doctors allowing hospital discharge
And the paperwork will be completed.

Hubby smiling and pleased as punch
And we’re happily going home today.

Daily Prompt:  Pleased

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Steadfast

Today, I must be at the hospital wth my husband who has pneumonia.

Today, I am arranging the care of my father-in-law who is home alone because I must be with my husband.

Today, I am arranging the care of my dog and cats who must be boarded because I must be with my husband.

Today, I am creating necessary plans to ensure the safety of my loved ones because my first priority is to be with my husband.  Even though I’m feeling tired and there is much to be done, I will make the plans fit together somehow.  I will not surrender and I will not be deterred.

Today, I am a tenacious spousal caregiver.

Daily Prompt:  Tenacious

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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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Just say YES

My mom had a refrigerator magnet that said, “I must learn to say NO”.
It was hard for her to say NO when people from a group would ask for her assistance. People loved her spirit and her passion to help others. I don’t know if she bought that magnet or if someone gave it to her. She would always be glad to help, but she knew her personal time was just as precious. It was the special time with family and friends that gave her the strength to be so highly involved with these important causes and groups.

My life has mirrored my mother’s in some respects. I share her passion to be involved. My immediate passion is the care and safety of my husband and his father. I will always be available to help them and care for them.

I need to remind myself that it’s okay to say NO, but how is it possible for a 24/7 caregiver to say NO to a loved one when everything that loved one needs is dependent on YOU?

I need a different magnet that says, “I must learn to say YES”. I need to tell myself that it’s okay to say YES to getting help with my caregiving responsibilities. It’s okay to say YES to substitute caregivers. It’s okay to say Yes to free time for ME. It’s okay to say YES to time with friends and family who have probably grown tired of hearing me say NO to them too often.

We, as caregivers, need to start reminding ourselves that it’s okay to get help for ourselves. For me, I’m going to start with a minimal commitment of just a few hours a week. This is time for me to get groceries or just be out of the house. This is time for me to gather strength so I may continue being an awesome caregiver.

I know that caregiving guilt is real because I feel it. Do you feel it, too? I’m trying to find that delicate balance in my caregiving role. I’m trying to say YES to friends and family more often. I’m trying to say YES to myself more. I’m trying…Will you try, too?

Via Daily Prompt:  Minimal

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Petite Warrior

The suit of armor that I wear protects me.  It keeps me safe from a dangerous world of hurt and pain.  Every night, I inspect it for any dings or cracks.  If necessary, I will repair it because it is so very valuable.

When I touch my husband and look in his eyes, the suit that I wear gets stronger. His laugh gives me energy. His love empowers me to protect us both.

Don’t be fooled by what you see. The petite woman standing in front of you is very strong and not easily intimidated.  She can whip out her sword at a moment’s notice.

I am a warrior caregiver fighting a battle with a disease that has already wounded my husband. I may not win this battle, but this petite warrior will NOT be conquered.

Via Daily Prompt:  Conquer

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Here at Home

Caregivers miss out on a lot of things. It’s hard to travel and we simply can’t go places that many people take for granted. I hate to miss out on fun travel adventures.  Ultimately, however, the love for my husband is much, much stronger than any concerns I have about missing out on anything. I know what’s really important and I know what really needs to be done right now.

London is on my bucket list. One day I will go there. I am slightly obsessed with all things British Royalty. It started a long time ago when I was on vacation with my parents in Canada on the day of Charles and Dianna’s wedding. I was awake in the middle of the night to watch the wedding on the TV. It was magical and I have been obsessed ever since.

My brother and sister-in-law are leaving for London today to visit her son who is studying there. My sister-in-law wishes I could fit in her suitcase. I do, too. They are promising to send lots of pictures. I’m planning to immerse myself in those images. I want to feel myself standing outside Buckingham Palace. I want to submerge myself in the culture, hear the beautiful English accent, see the smiling faces, and visit the historical places.

One day, I will get to London. Today, I’ve got smiling faces that are depending on me right here at home. I’m extremely obsessed with them and they need me a whole lot more than the Royal family ever will.  🙂

Via Daily Prompt: Immerse

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Zip Line Confidence

A few years ago, I took a “stay-cation” at a time when I still had a full-time job outside the home. Because of my husband’s physical disabilities, it had become impossible for us to travel on vacation. I arranged for a substitute caregiver for a few days, and began planning daily excursions for my “stay-cation”.

One item on my bucket list was to try an obstacle and zip line course. I found a course about an hour from home and made the reservation. At the time, I was in fairly good physical condition, but it was the fear of the unknown that made me nervous. Would this 50 year old body be able to handle it? I had never done this before.

After arriving, I parked the car so I could see the main entrance. I sat in the car for a while, wishing I wasn’t alone, so someone could push me out of the car. Expecting to see young and strong athletic types walking towards the gate, I was struck at the children, teenagers and even middle age folks walking past my car towards the gate. Okay, I can do this. It was my pep talk before leaving the car.

I got to the ticket area, paid the money, and signed the release forms that my family wouldn’t sue them if I’m paralyzed or die as a result of my stupidity. So much for the pep talk. What was I thinking? The “Orientation” area was close to the ticket area, so I was sucked into the newbie line without time to re-consider. My new outfit for the day was a vinyl harness that had straps all around my body to allow my arms and legs to hang out somehow. I walked as if I had been saddled on a horse for a few days. I was assigned a loose helmet and tight fitting gloves. I wobbled to the next area to learn about how to attach myself to the overhead wires. Perched on a platform about 6 inches off the ground, I learned how to manipulate the assorted carabiners and lanyards that would always keep me attached to either a steel line or a safety line. Once I had satisfied the instructors that my knowledge was proficient, they allowed me to wobble out to start my adventure.

It was a beautiful space in the woods with trees everywhere. Steel lines, rope ladders, and platforms high above were attached to trees. People were flying on the zip lines. I studied my map. There were five different obstacle courses with several zip lines included. Each course had it’s own starting point. Course #1 was the easiest and #5 was for the Army Rangers that parachuted in. I really knew nothing about #5, except that it appeared very high, very steep, and I would never be anywhere near it. There was a reason I never saw anyone on #5. The most popular course was #3 because it was nothing but a very long zip line without obstacles. The assorted obstacles gave each course it’s level of difficulty. There were small wood steps that you had to jump or swing to, high rope ladders, and long nets to be climbed.

Despite the anxiety and fear, there is the constant reminder that you really are secure. You are constantly attached to the strong steel safety lines. Once I got accustomed to the harness and equipment, I felt much better. Of course, it also helped to see children rushing to Course #1. Not adults, but children. If nothing else, I would just park myself on Course #1 for the day, be satisfied with the accomplishment, and no one else would have to know.

The adults and children blended with each other on Course #1. There was much laughter and happy looking parents. It wasn’t high off the ground and seemed to be nothing more than a very long balance beam with a few short zip lines to gain confidence. So I repeated Course #1 several times until I felt ready to move on to the next level.

I pulled out my map to find Course #2. I found the tree with #2 on it. When I looked up the tree, there was a very high rope ladder that must be climbed to reach the starting platform. Well, that seemed a little extreme, but up the ladder I went. I walked across the shaking bridge, held on to a rope while swinging from platform to platform, climbed a very high cargo net, and rode a frightening zip line that was very high and very long. It was about half way up the cargo net that I stopped to catch my breath. There was a man several feet below me who had stopped, too. We acknowledged each other and he yelled up to me, “You’re doing really well. #4 is a lot harder than #2” I responded back to him, “I haven’t been to #4 yet”. I could hear him laughing as he yelled up to me, “This is #4!!”   I sunk down into the cargo net and waited for him to catch up with me. Apparently the start of #2 and #4 originate from the same group of trees.   How confusing is that? We finished #4 together and he proudly introduced me to his wife. “This is the lady that went from #1 to #4!”

There were not many people on the #4 course because it’s a hard course. #3 is the zip line only course and #2 was much easier. I had somehow managed to leave the bunny slope and work my way down the black diamond ski slope without even knowing it. When it was time to leave, I was hot, sweaty, and dripping with a new found confidence.

When I started this spousal caregiving journey, I had no idea what I was getting into. I have rolled with the punches to help my hubby. It’s been a tough journey for both of us. Many times he has inspired me and we have made it this far by working together even when it was hard. My confidence has grown in what I thought I could handle.

I still remember the joyous feeling of knowing what I had accomplished.  That’s me in the pictures below. I knew that life and caregiving was hard. On that day, I returned home knowing that I was a pretty tough lady and I still had gas in the tank to face the next day. Even now, when I’m feeling tired, I look at these pictures and remember with pride what I did that day. I am a strong caregiver and with a little focus, I can do most anything!

Via Daily Prompt:  Nervous

An Average Litterateur

Call me a Caregiver, if you prefer
Let me tell you all about it, sir
Quickly let me explain before I deter
You think I am tired? Yes, I believe I would concur

The last few years have been a blur
Sometimes I’m so busy, my speech is a slur
This I can blame on the stress and not the liqueur
And, thankfully, I have also found a very good masseur

My cat helps me relax with a soothing purr
I love to run my fingers in and through his soft fur
Sometimes a caregiver must even perform as a chauffeur
Or create a stay-at-home income as a smart and clever entrepreneur

Yes, sir. This job called Caregiver to which I refer
Is a serious calling that must be pondered if it should occur
Being called a “Caregiver” is both a compliment and a hardship to be sure
But I am a totally awesome spousal caregiver and just an average litterateur

Via Daily Prompt: Slur

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