Monday, August 27, 2012

Marathon or Cross Country?

The caregiving experience is often compared to a marathon instead of a sprint.

I'm not sure that's an appropriate comparison.

In most marathons the surface on which runners compete is pretty consistent throughout the race. Mostly roads or track with hills thrown in every now and then, marathon courses offer a sameness that helps runners.

Cross country courses might include mud, hills, logs to jump over, rocky stretches, gorges to traverse, mountains to climb, deserts to cross...all kinds of obstacles.

I understand the point of the comparison of marathons and sprints in terms of have to be in it for the long haul. 

I think caregiving is more like a marathon cross country race.

And, if you don't want the race to make you crazy and force you to give up (which you really can't when you think about it) you have to be ready for the obstacles and understand how to quickly recover from them.

Recently, my mother has been falling. There have been lots of dings, bruises, stitches, scrapes and cuts. She appears to be healing, but we thought, "This is it. It'll be a fall that finally does it." But, she fell less last week, so maybe she's getting better. Or, maybe not.

All we can do is help her heal, keep moving and and try to anticipate the next obstacle.

Keep running. Keep breathing. We can do this and not go crazy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

No Scooters in the Hospital?! What Up Wid Dat?

My mother is jumping into dementia with both feet.

The other night, while she sat with my brother in an emergency room, she saw a man pulling a small oxygen tank on wheels. She turned to my brother and said, “I’m surprised they’d let someone with a scooter in here!”

Later, she asked, “Joe, do you think they’ll have your car ready soon?”

Finally, while watching the nurses and medtechs work at the nurse’s station she said, “I didn’t know they’d moved the stock department down here.”

If you can't laugh at this stuff, it'll kill you.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Telling the Tale

Here's the best way to push away the people who can do the most to help keep you from going crazy in your caregiving experience. Whenever they ask, "How are you?" Launch into an excruciatingly long story about your care experience including the names of care recipient's meds, doctors, therapy strategies, aides and bowel movements.

Believe me, I have been, and am now on, both sides of the conversation.

Here's the truth: They are asking a wonderful question but they really don't want to know everything that is going on. And if you drain their emotional energy with one of those "might as well recite every book of the Bible" answers they'll stop asking.

When people ask, "How are you?" simply say, "I'm Ok." Or, "I'm taking it day-by-day."

My favorite is, "Hey, I'm trying to be a grown-up."

If they ask more specific questions and you want to answer them, do it.

If you have a close friend who will let you rant, cry, explain and blow up you have a treasure, but don't wear them out. Tell them, "I need to get this out, but I want you to stop me in a few minutes."

Getting it all out is helpful, but doing it constantly makes you more crazy and wears you and them out.