Tuesday, May 13, 2014

After the getaway...

I so recommend that every caregiver arrange somehow to take a few days away from caregiving to restore one's soul.  It is so beneficial in many ways but mostly, at least to me, it helps to put everything in perspective and to distance oneself from the stressful situation.  I spent a weekend in Colorado with my sister-in-law under the pampering of my niece and her partner while my daughter and her partner moved in my home to care for my husband.
     I came home so much more relaxed and feeling better than when I left...a weekend of great sleep and food and wonderful conversations.  All this plus a visit to one of the greatest shoe stores in Ft. Collins...retail therapy. 
In the meantime at home my daughter was getting a real hands on picture of what my life is like.  She was tired when she picked me up at the airport.  She did a great job of keeping tabs on her father, monitoring his medication and took him to church on top of keeping tabs on her teenage daughter.   She said to me as she left, "Mom, I don't know how you do it."  I often don't know either.
       For me, getting away and coming back allowed me to see along with my daughter that my husband's Alzheimer's is getting worse.  He is struggling more to track conversations and find words to complete his thoughts.  We went to pick up his prescription and after returning to the car, he insisted that he needed Scotch tape, lots more tape.  "I am so far behind in my work since you were gone.," he said.  So I went back in and bought 4 more rolls of tape knowing that there was still tape at home but if it makes him happy, not a big deal.  He has created more piles of paper on the breakfast table and spends the day reading old emails and cutting up the parts he wants and tapes them to other sheets of paper (?).  I honestly don't know what he would do without this project as he works at it almost all day with some breaks to sweep the garage.  But we can't show the house with all this going on.  Hmmmmm...
      I am beginning to have a little concern that he may need a memory care unit soon which would change our plans to move into independent living but will cross that road when we come to it.  I am taking one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

What if??????

I think it must go through every caregiver's mind at least once the question, "What if something should happen to me?"  But do we really give it careful consideration?  For me it was only a fleeting thought UNTIL...I got sick, really ill.  Three trips to the ER with abdominal pain at first and then a crazy heart rate of 180 at the last one which put me in the hospital for a week.  Lots of tests to tell me my heart is fine, I was dehydrated, along with an awful round of antibiotics that made me sicker and broke me out in hives.  But I'm good now and that's not the point of the story.
After the first trip to the ER in my daughter's car I began to think ahead of how would hubby be cared for if by chance I would have to be hospitalized.  Daughter was ready to get on board and we managed pretty well as long as I was home to give directions.  But as I wasn't getting better, I called my sister-in-law and asked if needed, she and my brother-in-law could take hubby for a few days if needed.  She agreed...whew!  I had back-up while hoping I wouldn't ever need it.
Well, wishful thinking!  A week later my heart woke me up at 4 am pounding like it wanted to leave my chest.  I got  dressed, got hubby up and called 911 after telling hubby to unlock the front door. Shortly there was a knock on the front door and  he escorted two big policemen in who immediately took my BP and kept an eye on me until the ambulance arrived and the EMTs came in.  They looked at my pale face and noted a heart rate of 180 and asked if I wanted to go to the hospital.  DUH!  They loaded me on the gurney and into the ambulance and put hubby in the front seat.  I could tell he was excited, not just over my distress but that he was going to ride in the front seat of an ambulance.
In the ER he stayed by my side and held my hand and followed me to a room once the doc decided I needed to stay.  He really managed well at the hospital and kept asking me if I needed anything.  About 8:30 we called my daughter and she came and after checking on my condition took him home to feed him breakfast.
This is where the story gets funny.  The following afternoon my daughter brought hubby back to the hospital.  On the way, he turns to her and says: "You should have seen those big guys last night.  There was a bunch of them and they just came in and took over.  And they really knew what to do...wasn't that nice of them!  And they just loaded Mom up into the big hook and ladder."
"Dad, it was an ambulance."
"No, it was a hook and ladder."
"No, Dad, it was an ambulance that takes people to the hospital."
"Well, it was a long one."

A little later...
"You know what I want to do!  You know those great guys that came last night.  I want to go to each one of their houses and give them each a $20 bill."
"Dad, that is their job.  That is what they are trained to do."
"Well, whatever.  They were good."

My in-laws picked him up at the hospital and entertained him for a few days.  My church members went into action with support.  Thank you all.  I didn't have to worry about anything but getting well.  I am fine now after a round of unagreed on non-life-threatening colon something.

My message is there is always humor to be found in the most stressful situations.  You just have to smile and wait for it to appear.  And always have a plan, a plan A and a plan B just in case.  We are all vulnerable to all kinds of unexpected events.  My plan B is in effect right now.  A weekend away from it all in Colorado with my niece and sister-in-law for Mother's Day.  Very restful and cool and wonderful long naps.  Daughter is staying with hubby and all is well.