Thursday, March 25, 2010

Book Learning

I am a firm believer in reading about a topic that you are dealing with, if you do not know anything about it or simply need to gain more knowledge and insight.

Having said that....pertaining to caregiving....books only take you to a can only learn so much from them, the rest is on the job 'hands on (or in) learning.'

I know someone entering into this world of caring for a family member, who has books on caregiving, they believe they 'know' all there is to 'know' about it, you can't tell the individual anything about what to expect, what to plan and so on.

I am so glad they have all that information and everything is completely in order as they begin this journey.

That was being sarcastic in case you didn't pick up on that.

Are they kidding?  I read books too!  Do you want to know how much help they were these last 4 years?  Maybe on a scale of 1-10, let's say a 2! 

All the emotional changes, physical changes, attitude changes, mental changes, even spiritual can read about any of these in the myriad of caregiving books out there....but.....when you are in the middle of changing your mother's poop filled aren't going to remember the chapter, or the paragraph or the sentence, you aren't even going to remember the book that told you about this!

You come face to face with the reality of caregiving.

It is the point of no're elbow deep in a commitment you made, and no one and no book can help you at that time, your help is going to come from within yourself and hopefully you can call on God for strength and grace to get you through that moment and all the moments to come!

Books, yes, read books...but that does not make a person an experienced caregiver, only the experiences of caring for an individual whether family or friend in such a capacity, will do that.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Even When You Dont Feel Like It - Do It Anyway By: Donna Ryan

There are days I wake up and say I just dont feel like working out - do it anyway

There are days I say I just dont feel like eating healthy-do it anyway

There are days I say I have no ambition and dont feel like getting dressed - do it anyway

There are days I say Im so overwhelmed and dont feel like doing anything - do it anyway

There are days I begin to question and dont feel like praying - do it anyway

There are days I dont feel like going out of the house - do it anyway

There are days I dont feel like talking to anyone - do it anyway

Three are days I feel like Im unappreciated and am just doing all this for nothing - do it anyway

There are days I dont feel like being cheerful or laughing - do it anyway

There are days I dont want to be disciplined and want to shop unecessarily - do it anyway

There are days I dont want to be cooperative and forgiving - do it anyway

There are days I dont want to be helpful and nice - do it anyway

Doing it makes a big difference. Positive actions each day makes a big difference. We all feel sad sometimes and just want to have a victim pity party but it is much healthier instead to try and find a healthy outlet. It is so easy feeling resentment when you are a caregiver. We are constantly taking important things away from ourselves in order to fulfill everyone elses needs. We are constantly sacrificing and we sometimes just want to throw in the towel...Dont!! We cannot be too busy to care about our feelings and our health and our lives. Doing the wrong thing has consequences also....Keep on keeping on...Keep on running your race....Take everyone elses dreams and successes and what they are or are not doing out of the equation right now. Focu each day on getting up and do it and DO IT the best way you can!!.
Its going to hurt sometimes, its going to be hard sometimes, its going to be painful sometimes, its not going to be fun sometimes, do it anyway. You will be glad you did!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Hands of Time

hands that scraped an apple, and mashed a banana, for me to eat when I was sick in bed

hands that brought me that treasured round tin full of wonderful and magical buttons

hands that brought me a glass of grape or apple juice

hands that cleaned up after me each time I was sick, (special mention to the barefeet that walked in it sometimes too!)

hands that selected my new Easter clothes

hands that helped me on and off the busses and trains as we traveled the country

hands that held mine while crossing the street on the way to church each Sunday

hands that cooked some of my favorite foods, beef stew, pot roast, country style spareribs

hands that cared for others for over 15 years as an aide in the hospital, then 3 years in a home and school for developmentally disabled individuals

hands that made the tiniest precisely placed stitches, in mending and quilting

hands that did tole painting, creating special keepsakes

hands that worked word search after word search puzzle

hands so strong that when she held yours, she could cut off the circulation, and you better not have on a ring

hands which are now spotted with age
frail, and weak
slow moving and tremble
hands that wipe her nose and mouth, sometimes
hands that feebly point to her bear buddy, or
the picture of her and daddy
hands that if she gets mad,
will muster up enough strength to grap hold
 of my wrist or clothing
hands that arrange the bead necklaces
on her bear buddy
or look slowly through her cards and photos
hands that will randomly and for no
reason, tear up such items too

hands that patted my cheek ever gently in an unspoken gesture of love

Friday, March 12, 2010

What's Up With Me?

It has been a what's up with me kind of week. I have new blogs I want to write, titles already in place, but just can't get my thoughts in order to finish them.

Wanting a bedroom and bed is weighing on me this week too.

Spring is coming one of my favorite seasons, but along with it comes another dimension of loneliness and sadness. Where the multitudes are enjoying the warmer temps, bar-b-cues are being held, festivals and picnics are being enjoyed, and the quiet and isolation intensifies in this house. Yay, I will get to open windows and doors, and air this place out (from smells unmentionable!), but it adds to the knowing of what is going on outside and what people get to enjoy that I don't and haven't for sometime.

Mom will be 96 in May....

Choir will be over this month with our Easter Program, then there will be no getting away on Monday nights, just every other Sunday.

Mom's bones show more and more as the days pass....hard to tend to her and see and feel them.

(Sigh) Winter blahs, as many get, for me have to do with not being able to open doors and windows, that is about it. I wouldn't go out and do extra activities in the winter even if I could, do not like cold or snow!

But it is the warmer weather, the leaves on the trees, green grass, and flowers...I love flowers, and birds...have to see my first robin to know that spring is really here...and see those geese flying north!

This is a rambling blog for sure, but I knew there were things slushing around inside of me, and the best way to feel better is to let them ooze onto a post! Yuk...

Hopefully I can get the other blogs done soon, I don't like have unfinished ones, means those thoughts are in my head, and emotions bound up inside yet.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Silent Talking

My husband recently said to me, “Do you know what you don’t do when you are taking care of mother?” I said, “What’s that?”, He said, “You don’t talk to mother very much, and I always talk to her. I said, “I know that but realize that you have always been a talker, my family did not talk to each other, and mother and I did not talk to each other.”
Unfortunately some of us grew up that way, not being able to communicate to a parent, sibling or spouse and often our kids as well.

I was ‘forced’ into talking by my husband who insisted I communicate, and secondly by being pushed into the world of retail where I spent the next 20 years! I kind of had to learn to talk to people! But when it came to family members, specifically the immediate family, talking was still minimal to none.

I speak few words to mom in the normal everyday process of taking care of her, mostly those which need to be spoken. But every once in awhile, I will think of something funny…get my face up close, look in her blue eyes and wait for the twinkle and the slight upturn of her mouth as the deep trenches of her face relax in that ever so slight acknowledgement of the haha I had just made.

I can’t talk just to be talking, just because that is what I am supposed to be doing, I can’t force it. I want what I say to count for something, make a difference however brief, in mom’s day.

I have a book, Daily Comforts for Caregivers by Pat Samples. It was given to me by Senior Services here in town. An entry in the book talks about a caregiver talking to the one she cares for or the many instances of not talking at all. I would like to offer this passage from Pat Samples book.

“My words do make a difference at times, but there are other times for silence. If my words are not working, it may be best to stop using them. Just being with my loved one is enough. My silent presence is the gift I give. No words are necessary. What is created in the silence is room for our two souls to rest together and contemplate. We have a sacred time to be in each other’s presence without expectation. If there is anything to communicate, love is the language spoken.” (Sample, 1999)

This entry in Pat’s book helped to ease the guilt I have felt because I do not know how to talk to mom and never had. Now I wish I could do more, but perhaps what I do is enough, speaking to her silently in the language of love.

Sample, P. (1999). Silence together. Daily Comforts for Caregivers. P. (81) Fairview Press, Mn. MN

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kym Saw Me - I'm Not Invisible

I recently wrote a blog titled ‘Invisible People’, it was written as a result of an ‘experiment’ I did on facebook.
One of my facebook friends, Kym, who is also a dear friend from my church, posted on Feb.22 that there were free pancakes being given away at a ihop the next day, and who wanted to go with. As I wrote in the blog ‘Invisible People’ I said I did, but I couldn’t because my husband was not here so I couldn’t leave the house.
I am posting the ‘Invisible People’ along with this, to show the background for what happened next.........
Invisible People

Something triggered this thought recently, I can't say what it was, but the thought was that as caregivers, we are invisible people. We aren't seen, aren't heard from aren't thought about. Not all caregivers are in that category, but I'd be interested in doing a poll to see just how many felt that way!

I inadvertently tested this out earlier this week. A national restaurant was offering free pancakes, and one of my facebook friends posted that she was going to go the next morning to get some and who wanted to go? I said memememe! Of course I couldn't go, but I thought I would post on my facebook about the free pancakes and I would like some, who would like to bring some to me? As usual, higher then practical expectations develop! I did get a couple comments on it, but no real takers to see to it I could have some pancakes. Everyone, family and friends within a 50 mile radius know I am a caregiver, and most know I get out of the house very little.

I am in no ways traumatized by any of this, but I did find it interesting. There are those who I know think about me and mom, but how many there are that do not, and how many there are that do not call to see how we are and do we need anything, any help? Again it seems to come back to the, it is all up to me to ask others for help. But this pancake thing, I was all but screaming out, won't someone please see me, here I am, my husband is out of town, it is just me and mom, and I would really just love to have someone bring me some pancakes. Sigh (just did that).

So, other caregivers, do you feel like one of the invisible people, and if so, in what way?
I received numerous responses to this post from caregivers who felt invisible like I did, and also many offered to bring me pancakes, if they could! They knew what I was feeling and the common bonds that link caregivers were evident in this situation.
Then….Kym asked me several days later if I had gotten my pancakes, I said no I hadn’t. She asked me if I was going to be in church Sunday, or my husband. I told her it would be Gary, it was his turn. She said she would bring them on Monday to choir practice then. I was a bit surprised to say the least, and really did not expect that to happen, but you know, it is the thought that counts, right?
On Monday Kym and I were chatting on facebook, and she asked if I liked thin or thick pancakes, I said thick…and off she went to make pancakes…for me! Well, I thought I was getting pancakes that night, she said so, but it was one of those ‘I’ll believe it when I see it things’ because how many people have even offered to do things at all for me that were really needed! Here was someone doing something as simple as making pancakes for me! Oh yes, in the other blog, I made reference to family and friends in a 50 mile radius who knew of my situation….she is about 50.
Kym, saw and met a need out of the kindness of her heart! Kym took time out of her busy day, time away from family activities, for me! She saw my request; she saw and heard the need. But the need was not for pancakes, but to be seen, to not be invisible! When I shared with her Monday night what her act of kindness really meant and accomplished, it was a ‘special moment’ for both of us. She didn’t realize the impact her making pancakes for me, would have, and the hope it would bring to me. Hope that maybe others would see me too, and not just me, but hope for all caregivers who feel like they are not seen by family and friends!
It is the little things that mean a lot, not the big overwhelming, don’t have time for or can’t afford to do for you things. The little, seemingly insignificant things!
As you can see by the photo,  Kym blessed me with the most beautiful batch of pancakes ever!
I know that God has a special blessing for Kym, because she has blessed me!
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