Change of mind

It gets flat out lonely and monotonous being a caregiver, at least for me. George is fairly functional, but capable of falling just getting out of bed. His speech is weak and at times can choke on water.  I find leaving him alone for long, just is not worth the anxiety.  I find myself tearing through stores and errands out of the house like a wild woman on her 18th cup of coffee.

Then, when I’m back home, it’s days and days before I need to go anywhere or anyone comes by.  Which certainly makes for long days sometimes. I could find so much to do around the house, God knows the projects I ponder and could accomplish if I felt motivated. Feeling a bit isolated in the country, other busy schedules, family living at least 80 plus miles away, seems to put a damper on motivation. I am a people person. I get my biggest ideas from being around others.

But, this is how it is now. The only way to keep from the funk of a spiral down into depression is a change of mind.  That’s where writing helps me. I used to write about things that are bothering me. And I still do, but not as much as I used to. When I write about my angst now, it is for the purpose of finding the positive in the situation.

More of my writings now are about good things I feel. I’ve changed my mind. I want to express my appreciation and gratitude for as many things as I can. Even if it’s that the sun came out for a few minutes.

It seems as a caregiver we are always solving problems for our loved ones or the house, finances, on and on and on.  My lastest delimma is where the dead mouse is in my duct work.  I finally just poured a lot of vinegar in the vents. Last night I used flashlights strategically placed in the vents and a mirror. No luck.  My change of mind about how I have to do everything, no one can help me, I’m all alone, blah, blah, blah became about getting a good workout, without having to get out in the freezing temps and numbing wind, by going from vent to vent, about the clever idea of placing flashlights in several and using a mirror to see through the lines as much as could be seen.  I appreciate googling neutralizing oders with vinegar and pouring a lot in every vent.

I appreciate painting pictures, even though they aren’t great. I appreciate watching Netflix with George.

It does me know good to think about a situation that I can’t control, don’t want to be in and certainly don’t want George to me in. I’m not great at it, but I do my best to change my mind by changing the focus of my thoughts.  By NO means do I deny my feelings. This is a difficult time and feelings need to be acknowledge. We are not superheroes.  Identifying the feelings, accepting that that is how you feel is great. Otherwise, you’d just be denying and not honest with yourself.  Be honest, identify the feelings and as quickly as possible find the positive hidden within.

Posted in Caregiving | 2 Comments

Finding Solace

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted. It’s been, as with most, one thing after another.  I do apologize.

I have found solace lately by keeping buzy with projects. Usually, my projects involve repairs on the house, mowing 4 acres or cleaning out the things that have become clutter after 21 years in the same house and putting out, metaphorically speaking, “fires”.  I occasionally work on art projects, mainly painting.

Ive discovered  a new series on YouTube that has reignited my spark to paint. She’s known as the Art Sherpa. Her gorgeous purple and pink hair suggest a woman with a like artsy spirit as mine.   I escape into my work for hours.  I truly enjoy it.

Youtube is my go to source for learning to do just about anything.  Many repairs I’ve done myself through the videos and is a great place to visit.  I watch videos on history, personal growth, finance, anything I happen to be curious about or need help with.

I love it and it quickly gets me out of my own way.

hope, love and joy to all.

Michelle

 

Posted in Caregiving | Leave a comment

A Lesson About Momentum

It’s been awhile since my last post.  I’ve been busy to say the least.  We welcomed a new grandson, Xaiden, into our lives.  His tininess, his daddy’s face, his welcoming, though feeling a bit overwhelmed, mom certainly brought much delight to our lives.  He certainly opened a flood of memories of holding his daddy for the first time many, many years ago. My father posted on Facebook of his own memories flooding back of holding me.  Time certainly moves quickly. 

Meanwhile, back on the Homefront…George saw his neurologist.  The doctor said George seemed to be quite stable in his mental functions but that his mobility was “very disturbing”.  He said it was time to get home health started and to order a bedside commode.  Even though I knew it would be to both of our advantage, I took this much harder than expected.  I felt the pressure of time upon me.  It was moving to quickly in my mind.  Just the delivery of the chair sent me into a bit of anxiety and depression.

I still haven’t gotten home health started.  My fear about that is Georges reaction to it.  He’s not complained or been down because of his condition and I don’t think I am at a place yet to handle both of our emotions.  So valiant of him to continue on without feeling somewhat sorry for himself. I know it breaks my heart. I’m not sure if it’s denial or being strong for me in the only way he can. Delaying home health is my way of finding out which one it is.  I’m so afraid that someone coming into our home, our lives, to care for him will certainly break his denial. And if it is denial, I depend on right now.  It is so self-serving I know, but I often feel I can’t handle much more. 

The past few weeks he has fallen almost everyday, at least once.  He may have fractured his tailbone and has since added to it a fractured or deeply bruised rib.   He’s very good about taking it easy until I step outside or sleep.  He always falls when he’s rushing to the refrigerator.  Not sure if it’s medication or boredom but the man can eat.  I’ve gotten on to him about eating so much and always needing to go back to Walmart for more food.  So, I set this up because when I go outside or to sleep he runs almost to the refrigerator as if I won’t notice. I’ve been cooking and baking a lot more just so there is more to eat. I made an apple pie from scratch a few evenings ago and went to bed after I took it out of the oven. The next morning I found he had eaten the whole thing during the night. 

I was outside talking with our neighbor when I heard a loud crash. We both came running in and there he lay, in the kitchen floor, obviously in quite a bit of pain and his walker and a metal bar stool turned over. My neighbor had to help get him up. He’s just too heavy for me.  I wanted to call an ambulance but he absolutely refused.  My son, a safety supervisor for an oil and gas company, was all I could think of for advice. I know he has cared for some horrendously injured people and could advise on the ambulance.  He said he would come and get George and take him to the hospital and would have no problems making George go but said “mom, think about this.  Dad can’t take anesthesia, they can’t do anything for fractures but medicate him more.  Maybe you should give it a day or two. If it is very serious dad will want medical attention by then.”  Sound advice.  Doesn’t help with anxiety of the “what if’s” but certainly helps with any arguments that my fears would quickly escalate with George. 

Meanwhile, on another side of the Homefront….the washer started leaking, the dishwasher wasn’t cleaning the dishes very good and then the burners on the stove quit. The stress of being a caregiver and caretaker of our home and property has given me an outbreak of shingles across my chest and my tolerance for much more is low. I walked into my room, shut the door and was getting geared up for a major meltdown when it dawned on me.  If momentum for things going wrong could move so fast why couldn’t the momentum for things moving great move just as great?  I had an urge to flip the circuit breakers off and then back on for that side of the house. The burners on the stove began to work. I ran a load of laundry, no leaks. I watched several YouTube videos and deep cleaned the dishwasher and all is well.   Mind blowing!  I hadnt considered momentum isnt partial to which direction it goes. 

Posted in Caregiving | 4 Comments

A few days of….

The past few days have been trying to say the least. An all out search with mirrors and flashlight did not reveal the dead rodent in the ductwork.  It was awful. George felt so bad that he couldn’t do much to help.  He offered advice the whole 5 hrs of investigation.  One of the things about living in the country is the varmits.  I worked so hard setting the flashlight in one vent and going to the next room with a mirror, George, his walker and the cat riding shotgun on the seat had my nerves frazzled.  I know George feels his limitations in times like these and gets frustrated, but it had to be done and that falls on me.  I don’t mind. I get like a dog with a bone. There’s a problem and I’m going to solve it. Finally, at 5 am I pour vinegar down all the vents, turn the heat way down and tell George and the cat we are going to bed.  

Overtired, I fight my frustration until my mother calls. God love our mothers!  For 10 minutes I get to be a little girl and cry to my mom. 57 years old and so thankful my mom is still in my life and able to bear my tears. I hide my emotions from George. He has the toughest part in all of this and I want him to feel all is well. (Except when he falls and blood is involved. Automatic tears. He knows this and puts on an attitude of “it looks a lot worse than it feels, don’t cry, I’m ok”. 

I slept all day and most of the night.  As soon as I woke I remembered this is a dream and I’m the only one who can make it a nightmare.  Everything that has happened in my life that I thought was so awful, in time, became just a dream from the past. It isn’t real in my present. It happened, I survived and the only thing left is the memory. A fleeting memory at that, unless I choose to honor it dreadful feelings by going through it over and over in my mind. 

This too shall pass, as a matter of fact the vinegar did a really good job.  I realize that when faced with frustration, fear or any other fearful emotion, I automatically start fearing my future. That always compounds my fears.  I don’t know my future, none of us do.  Those thoughts remind me to take a break, be good to myself for doing the best I can and get some sleep!

Posted in Caregiving | Leave a comment

A Dream

I had a dream. I stumbled upon a 3story house that I loved and really believed it was meant for us. I was so at peace at the idea that that would soon be our new home. I took George to see it. The current owners were working on it to go on the market.  The facade of the building was down and exposed was the whole internal structure and it was in irreparable condition.  I was heartbroken. 

That dream bugged me for several days. I contiplated the message it was trying to give me. I knew there had to be meaning because it kept coming into my thoughts.  Later in the evening we were watching a drama series. One of the main characters said “in the end, we are all alone and no one can come and save us.”  Wow, it hit me in so many ways. 

I have built my life on deeply held beliefs. Those were the structure of my life. They were the foundation of the being I had become.  Having my own illness shored up those beliefs even more. This dream, I believe, was reality showing me what my conscious mind did not comprehend or refused to acknowledge. The house was beautiful on the outside, but the structure could not stand for long. It was decaying and would soon be done in. 

I began to look at what deep beliefs I may have had.  I believed that sick people got better. I believed that tomorrow would be close to the same as today and yesterday and last week, etc.   I believed George would be healthy and live as long as his parents did. I believed we would have the income we used to have for many years to come. I believed never again would I be alone.  I believed that death would never come for us. 

Facing these thoughts didn’t frighten me as they had in the past.  I knew that everything we thought was a major “crisis” worked itself out. I also knew that my fears came from these beliefs that so clearly were showing me they were wrong.  As long as I looked at his symptoms, I was missing his real, internal, eternal being.  He is not his illness. He is much more than symptoms. As we all are.  When he is having dementia for a few days I know somewhere within him he is sleeping soundly. He will awaken as soon as he can. 

Yes, the foundation of what I believed about my life, his life, our life could not support the ideal any longer.  So, I am beginning to rebuild my core. 

Life seems so precious now.

Posted in Caregiving | 1 Comment

Get Your Happy On

My sister introduce me to “law of attraction”.  I remembered thinking “how can I be happy?  My husband is dying!”  Thoughts of the future terrified me, finances were wiped out, house needed repairs and on and on and on.  It was time for 6th month “vacation”, a trip to Houston to see the cancer doctor. 

Robin, my younger sister, now lived there.  I got to spend a few days with her and the friends I had made while receiving treatment.  When Robin and I went anywhere she played her law of attraction CD.  Though I couldn’t envision myself getting happy so much of what was being said resonated with me. Several days after I was back at home I received the book “A Comprehensive Guide to Law of Attraction” from her.  Since I didn’t sleep at night I read a few pages almost every night.  Some soaked in, most didn’t. So, I’d start over and over because I felt something rang true in its message. 

I began to think about it and realized that I created so much misery for myself.  The constant “story” of my fears and lacks and woes were literally sucking the life out of me. George’s disease could progress so quickly he’d be gone in a few months or it could go on for years. It was my decision how I wanted to feel not only always, but especially while he was here with me.  That’s when I began to study it more seriously.  For my sake and George’s well. He deserved happy.

I wasn’t hoping for wealth, as much focus is put on Law of attraction. Yes, if I had wealth my life might be easier but I wouldn’t be much happier.  I needed to redefine wealth.  For me, I define true weath as happy, joyful, security, good friends and many loved ones.  Mostly, it comes down to happiness that comes from within. 

I started writing of things I appreciated or made me feel good. Everything I noticed in my daily activity that made me feel good I wrote down. From a visit from my parents to a close parking spot at the store. I wrote about my cat curling up next me, about my dogs smiling when they saw me for the first time in a day.   The sun being out, a funny tv show. No long paragraphs just what I liked in one sentence.   When I’d catch myself in the old thinking habit, I’d look around the room and wrote how happy I was I had a home. 

I can’t deny the circumstances going on but I can choose how I want to feel the majority of the time.  I got my happy on. I don’t wonder how long it will last or worry about this or that. I prefer being happy. I’ve notice that George seems happier too. 

Posted in Caregiving | 1 Comment

How to come to terms with so much change

It’s not easy. The emotional roller coaster has caused many, many sleepless nights. So many changes in every aspect of daily life.  Finances were dramatically changed. Security in many areas of life are gone. I still didn’t realize the depths of my fears until one night of no sleep. 

Tired of tossing and turning, I got up, got dressed and went to what seemed to be my only social outing, Walmart.  By the time I finished packing my groceries into the car it was 7:00 am. I loaded groceries into my car when a man says “ma’am you have a flat tire.”  A flat?  I just loaded the trunk with groceries and I don’t know how to change a flat. The man told me to try and get some air in it at a gas station thump, thump, thump down the road I went. Not holding any air, I thumped my way to the tire shop.  They opened at 9:00. I had no choice but to sit and wait. What a gift that was. I began to cry and it was as if the dam broke. I couldn’t stop. All the built up emotions were being released. I cried and cried and cried. 9:00am, the store opens and I still can’t stop crying. 45 minutes getting a new tire I spend by the side of the building uncontrollably sobbing.  That’s when I realize I am in control of everything. And I can do this. 

This works for me

1. Live in the moment. We only have this moment and we decide how we feel in it.  We’ve already learned life changes. We can’t predict the future and we can’t travel back in time and change things.  It is what it is, in this moment. 

2. Find what makes you feel good and do it.  I like to paint. I like to sew. I like to play music when I clean house. The point is take control of each moment you can doing what makes you feel good.

3. Keep a list of goals you would like to achieve and those you have accomplished.  Creating realistic goals your focus shifts. Keeping a list of accomplishments can add momentum.  I had to find hope and happiness somewhere and even small accomplishments lifted my spirits. 

4. If you can’t, you can’t. Accept it without beating yourself up. There are days that I just can’t find my mojo. I don’t even want to get out of bed. And that’s ok. Our minds are ever changing and in an hour, a day or maybe 3 days from now I will feel differently.  But for now, this moment, this is how I feel. 

5. Find a support group and pick a few connects.  I immediately went to MSA-A Caregivers Journey on Facebook. The postings terrified me. But they were such a help when I was engulfed in fears. I couldn’t follow often. Too much information was given than I was ready for. I found a few that I could chat with and we would get each other through our rough times.  Then we became friends, following posts about family, motivational quotes and private messaging.  The key that I had learned through my own illness is cancer, my husbands illness, whatever is going on, is not my identity. It was a situation, not who I was. 

6. Don’t take on responsibilities that are not yours. George has had many days of depression. Understandable. He has to work through his feelings. I can’t change his mind. That’s his job. I can offer support, love and compassion but he must deal with his feelings. 

I am not an expert. I am speaking through my own experience. For me, this has been a journey back to my own identity. I am much more capable than I ever knew. I am stronger than I ever knew. I am finding myself. 

Posted in Caregiving | 3 Comments