Monday, September 24, 2012

Hope Not Panic #

By late September of 2010 a few months before his death things were definitely changing with my husband, Wayne. Transfers for my husband to the bathroom, back to the chair etc. were getting more difficult, and I found myself becoming increasingly stressed. I found myself dreading and consumed with thinking about the next transfer. I also kept wondering what my next step needed to be. Keep doing it myself? Try to hire more in home help? Pursue nursing home options?

Then one night my son came over. He was all stressed out because of a serious job issue. He was basically in panic mode. It was a serious situation, as his job might be on the line. My first reaction was to think, “I do not need this. I have enough stress of my own.”

Then, however, I found I could relate to him and thus calm him down. I told him about my heavy stress level and how we just needed to trust. I told him that nothing happens by chance, and we are being guided. I also told him that what will be will be, and that we will be okay. I asked him if he had prayed about it, and he said “Yes.” He then asked me to pray for him. I did that, and we both felt better. I do not think I could have helped him as much, if I was not as stressed as he was. I could relate to him, and therefore what I said to him had validity. It helped both of us.

This whole incident reminded me that everything has a purpose even the difficulties of caregiving. Because of the stress I was experiencing with caregiving I could help my son. We also shared a prayer and a hug together. That was a special blessing in spite of the situation we both were in. What could be more beautiful than that?

Hope reminded me that I really did not have to be in a state of panic. I would be guided step by step. Hope told me that caregiving would never be easy, but there was an eternal purpose to it all. God’s purpose would be fulfilled in me, and His love was with me. Hope told me that what I did in caregiving was important, and it had eternal consequences. Hope told me that the trials of caregiving was forming my character to become stronger. It reminded me to not focus on what I saw but on what would be and on what was good in my life right then. Hope I realized focuses on seeing the small miracles of each day and knowing and trusting they will continue.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Caregiver Prayer

In the middle of September of 2010 and in the midst of the last months of my caregiving days I wrote the following prayer. Perhaps you can relate, dear caregiver:

“Lord, help me today to count my blessings and not dwell on the difficult moments. Help me not give into fear about the future, but rather trust that You will guide step by step. I don’t know for certain the turns that this caregiving road will take in the future, but You do, Lord. Grant me the ability to rest in You in peace, and at the same time grant me the ability to make wise decisions. Grant me strength to go on each day. I am tired today, Lord, but you have promised that You are with me and that I can have victory in all circumstances.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

Emotional Roller Coaster

September of 2010 proved to be emotionally draining in many ways for me as a caregiver. It was the beginning of many exceptionally stressful days and the prelude to my husband’s death on January 2, 2011.

On September 2, 2010 my mother-in-law passed away in the early morning. She was 88 years old, and except for her last two years of her life when she was fighting ovarian cancer, she lived a healthy life. It was difficult to say good-by to her, but we knew she was now free of all sadness and sickness and was experiencing only pure joy with her Lord. We were happy for her.

During the week of my mother-in-law’s funeral there were the joyful highs of having all three of our sons home together for the first time in three years. One son from London flew into the States. My son from IA and his family drove in from IA that same day, and my local son and his family were also close at hand . It was sweet to all be together for a few days. My husband, Wayne, also had a great day on the Sunday we were altogether. I hadn’t seem him smile that much in a long time.

What was sad was the occasion for our being together. There were also the stresses and lows of Wayne having a very difficult day both on Monday, the day before his mother’s funeral, and again on Wed., the day after the funeral. On those days he did not function at all well and transfers were very difficult. There was also the stress of wondering if Wayne would be able to function well on Tuesday, the day of the funeral. (He did function well on Tuesday, and so was able to attend the funeral.)

Also as great as it is to have family around there was a lot of stress in having a household of people along with taking care of my husband’s needs. My daughter-in-law did bring in a couple meals which helped immensely.

In the days and weeks after my mother-in-law’s funeral and our children’s families returned home there continued to be a whirlwind of emotions swirling around in my heart. My mother-in-law’s decline and death and its accompanying grief tended to blend with my grief connected with my husband’s illness and decline.

There had been good and precious moments with family in between, but the constant ups and downs of my husband’s disease really became wearing. So often Wayne would have one or two relatively good days followed by a “crash” day where he slept most of the day. These “crash” days sometimes also involved it being difficult to manage his transfers to the bathroom etc., because his brain had difficulty processing making the moves he needed to make until it had recharged itself with a huge amount of sleep again.

Sometimes Wayne would act out in his sleep also. One day he was sleeping in his chair, and he was really agitated. He was acting very angry, and even though he was sleeping it appeared to be directed at me. He also said some cruel things to me in his sleep. It was really freaky, as he would open his eyes. Yet I knew he was asleep. It was difficult not to personalize some of that.

So those weeks in September of 2010 consisted of emotions swinging from one extreme to another. Those weeks I felt grief due to my mother-in-law’s death and because of my husband’s disease. I felt joy because of my family being there and because of my faith. I felt stress because of all the emotions and all that had occurred. I do not know how I would have gotten through those days without the Lord. Dear Christian caregiver, lean on the Lord in those emotional roller coaster days.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Mixture of Joys and Sorrows

 Life can be such a mixture of joys and sorrows. Even in our most difficult moments there is always something for which we can be thankful. Caregiving for a family member with a terminal illness can be overwhelming. It helps to also remember the blessings in one’s life, however. On September 12, 2009 in the midst of my caregiving days I journaled some of my thoughts on this subject. Perhaps you can relate, dear caregiver. I wrote the following words on that day:

“Caregiving like the weather always has its ups and downs. Some days feel stormy, and on those days I feel I can’t do it anymore. On other days life tends to take on a certain rhythm and pattern and is workable. Life always tends to be a mixture of joys and sorrows. I am joyful in my faith and in my relationship with my Lord. I am thankful that I know He is always with me. It is difficult living with the reality of my husband’s disease, however. I am happy that the struggles of life are making me stronger in my character, in my faith, and as a person. I struggle with the fact, however, that it sometimes has to be so emotionally exhausting, and I wonder why life has to be so difficult.

I am happy with the fact that my husband seems to be gaining much more physical strength through his therapy. I mourn the fact, however, that his balance issues remain and that he is beginning to hang to the side more when sitting in his wheelchair. I find joy in the times we spend with our grandchildren and our enjoyable times with family. My joys are definitely better because of the sorrows.

I do weary of being responsible for so many decisions, however. When we bought a different vehicle this summer, I did all the talking and dealing. When there are telephone calls to be made or problems to be solved it is I who has to take charge. Soon we will have some major insurance issues to consider. That will be mainly my responsibility. We may have a chance to move from our apartment to a condo. There is a condo maybe in our price range available, but all the things to think about in regard to such a possibility are a bit overwhelming.

I love the good times my husband and I still have together, but I miss the way things used to be. I miss the times when my husband took more responsibility for these type things and decisions. I miss the person my husband used to be. Lord, help me choose joy and gratitude today. Continue to direct my path, as You have in the past.”

Dear Christian caregiver, never forget that the Lord is always with you each step of the way. Let Him be your source of strength, comfort, and joy; as you deal with the heartaches and sorrows of caregiving.