Saturday, November 21, 2009

and this was supposed to help?

I am probably really going to regret posting this...

I've been feeling rather discouraged lately. You know those days where you feel there is nothing you are doing that is going well? You know that is must be an exaggeration (it can't really be NOTHING), but you try and try and still can't think of anything?

So...I come across this article online "God cares for the the caregiver". Wow! Just what I need to get me back on track.

Here's what I learned:

I am to...

-do my best and leave the rest (okay, let me make sure I'm really doing my best here; could be doing better, but leaving the rest would be good)

-count my blessings (good point; know I need to be more thankful)

-honor my parents (okay, can definitely do better here - I've been more than a little impatient, inconsiderate)

-accept help (sure - just need to remember to make some calls to ask for help)

-set and enforce boundaries (sounds good; I'll try to think about this really soon and figure out what it means)

-check in from long distance (yes! I can cross this off my list - since mom lives with me, I can check in 24/7 from a very short distance)

-set up a primary caregiver's notebook (good point. Let me find all the information I've collected on mom's insurance, bank account, personal records, medical information, prescriptions, legal documents; then I'll get these instructions on what should be in a "primary caregiver's notebook; shouldn't take too much time)

-discuss different topics effectively (yep - need to communicate better, too)

-be informed (yes...never can have enough information, that's for sure. Since my understanding is less than optimal, I should do more research, seek more information and advice)

-help your parents get around (don't forget this one!)

-keep them active and engaged (I already know that I'm supposed to do this; does anyone have any actual, viable suggestions?)

-be flexible (good point; I struggle with letting other things get in the way of flexibility - like my job, teacher conferences, after school activities, nothing too important)

-choose the best living situation for them (this is always an easy one to feel good's only one of the biggest decisions you make for them - especially when each option is less than optimal!)

-deal with their cognitive decline well (sounds easy; key work here "well")

-deal with your grief well (ditto)

Wow! Did I tell you how encouraged I feel after reading this?

Monday, October 5, 2009

how do you get superglue out of your hair?

Transition (from movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another.

Mom has now been with us for a year. I figure it takes about that much time to transition with something big in your life. It seemed to take that long to sort out the new and changing needs for mom, my family, myself - and to get a plan that was actually working. I was (finally) feeling great about life and where I find myself now. Most importantly, I was really feeling grateful - for mom, being with her, etc. My heart was in a good place.

Now I'm not so sure about this transition thing. Yes, I have a plan and yes, it is generally working. But my heart is not always in a good place - and I wish that it was. There are too many days where I don't feel this gratitude. I don't know why I don't. And I feel guilty that I don't. I know that I have so much to be grateful for. Besides the constant blessings in my life of God, family, friends, etc etc etc, mom is really doing well. I understand that she could be so much worse, I really do. There are just so many times when I feel discouraged that I can't "fix" this. I want my old life back; I want the mom I used to know back.

Which brings me to the title of this blog post...
Yesterday I put superglue on one of my fingernails that was breaking (isn't that its primary purpose anyway?). A little later I find superglue in my hair. Must be that I inadvertently ran my finger through my hair before the super glue was dry. Well now how do I get this out? wash it? scrape it? cut it? No, no and no. As I write this, the superglue is still in my hair.

So what's the point? I think there are some things that are not fixable. They just are. Like superglue in my hair. I need to take one day at a time; wait on God; enjoy life anyway. Even with superglue in my hair.

Friday, September 11, 2009

it's a lie!

Who said that you can do it all?

I know that I've heard that. I even believed it. I think it came from the 60's and the womens lib movement, where it started innocently enough. It was meant to help women (and girls like me) realize that you are capable of doing more than just keep a house clean. Get an education! Have a career! Raise a family! Yes, by golly, you can do it all!

And somewhere along the way, I decided that "do it all" literally meant "do it all". Like everything...all the time...often at the same time. And while I never quite got down that keeping a house clean part, I have worked really hard on the everything else part - until now. I've finally come to my senses.

Maybe someone out there...some superwoman...really can "do it all". But I am not that person. And I'm okay with that. I'm finally understanding that you have to make choices. You can not keep adding things on to your life, especially when your life is already full, without taking something off.

For example, I added the PTA treasurer position to my list of responsibilities [for those of you who have heard the stories of my college days, where I would switch banks every few months because I couldn't balance my checkbook and thought a fresh start was the answer, you can laugh now], so I resigned from the EESAC committee at school. (well, I tried to resign - they didn't take my resignation- they're desperate, that school!) That was a good start.

After almost a year of trying, I now know that no matter how hard you work at it, you simply cannot fit 48 hours worth of activities into a 24 hour period. The resulting stress in my life, not to mention how it made everyone else in my family feel, was not worth it. So I looked at my options, evaluating what responsibilities could go and would couldn't (let's see.... I think I'll keep my husband, children, mom, friends...). So last week I decided to resign from my job - my dream job - the real lawyer job with a great boss who let me work part-time. I hadn't told anyone other than my husband about this decision(who was quite supportive of this decision, by the way - I wonder why???). Maybe I was still hoping, somehow, to do it all. But I did tell my boss (who was also quite supportive - again, I wonder why??) And he found someone to replace me! Already! I met her today; she's perfect for the job. And the surprising thing, I feel even better about my decision. The job was a wonderful opportunity for me, and it will be the same for her. I'm happy for her...and for me. A few years ago I would not be able to say that; I would have fought with myself to (1) keep the job and/or (2) not feel like a loser because I couldn't do it all. To be honest here, I probably couldn't have said this a few months ago. But I can now...God's timing is good, and I'm grateful that He is always at work in my heart.

Maybe one day I'll get another opportunity like that, who knows? But what's important to me is knowing that I didn't fail - I made a choice.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I've become one of "them"!

It happens to all of us. We see other people doing things that we just can't understand. I remember seeing silly mothers crying over the silliest little things. What was wrong with them?! Then I had children. Then my daughter got her first shot. I'd become one of "them"! Do I need to describe other firsts, like her first time with a babysitter? her first trip to Disney World? her first day of school? I don't think so - you understand because you probably became one of "them" too (or live with one).

I'd read about the "sandwich generation" several years ago. They're the ones who provide for their elderly parents while also taking care of their children. And I felt for them, I really did ("sure glad that's not me").

Then I became one of "them".

Each of us, as caregivers, has a different story. No one's situation is exactly like that of another. My dear, sweet mother is 86 and lives with macular degeneration, tremors, and mild to moderate dementia ("mild" on good days, "moderate" on bad). We also have a 13 year old son in 8th grade and a daughter in college (I guess she doesn't technically count since she's not living at home, but she counts to me!). My husband is a medical professional with his own practice. And I actually have a life too (two jobs; PTSA; friends; things I like to do!) Did I say my son is 13? Did I tell you that he has lots of friends and likes to be busy? Life is complicated in our household!

Now I get it! The "sandwich generation" - stuffed between the needs of their children and those of their parents. Doesn't sound like much fun. Often it's just hard.

Most importantly, my mother became a Christian a year ago. We are a family where each is striving to follow Jesus and become more like him. When I think of my greatest blessings - marriage, raising children - I know that those blessings have also been the hardest things I've ever done. Could it be that this new "hardest thing" could also turn out to be one of my greatest blessings from God? God, who is strong and loving, tells me yes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

the start of the Accidental Caregiver

I would never have chosen to be a caregiver (that's why people go into nursing, isn't it??) . I would not have referred to myself as a caregiver. But my mom has been living with us for ten months now and I have to admit that yes, I am a caregiver.

Accidental: happening by chance or accident; not planned; unexpected (

From my favorite verse in the Bible (Psalm 62.12)
" One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving..."

Because God is strong and loving, He doesn't let things happen to us be chance. He loves me; He cares about me; He is aware of what is going on. He hasn't missed something or let something slip by. My new role as a caregiver is not by chance or accident. It has happened out of God's love for me.

But it IS unplanned and unexpected...hence the birth of "the accidental caregiver". To be honest, I was going to title this "the reluctant caregiver", but that felt discouraging and I truly do not want to be reluctant in this role. Then I thought of calling it "the barefoot caregiver", after "the barefoot contessa" - to give it a witty and elegant sound - but I don't feel witty and elegant, and even more importantly, I was afraid no one would "get it".

So, why a blog? My purposes are initially self-serving:

1. Being a caregiver is hard! I think this blog will help me sort through my thoughts and feelings so that, in turn, I can learn, grow and change.

2. If this blog turns out to be amazing, then it can become a book, then a movie...

3. Maybe it will help others - if I let others read it! - and provide a connection with other caregivers.