Keeping It Together

focus on what holds you togetherAt the end of the day I spent so much time going over what  I might have done better and trying to figure out how to fix an unfixable problem I lost sight of the truth. Together we were doing our best and that was all anyone could ask of us. 
 
Caregiver, be kind to yourself you are doing something wonderful every day.
 
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NaBloPoMo November 2014

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Because Your Loved One May Not Be Able to Say It

When I Count My Blessings

Today when my family and I hold hands around the table I will count every one of you among the blessings for which I am thankful. Without you so many would be lost.

Blessed be everyone.

 

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NaBloPoMo November 2014

A Bit of Humor To Get You Through

As you continue to care for your loved ones and prepare to recognize the Thanksgiving holiday in a way that is best for you and your family; I offer a bit of humor in the hope of bringing a smile to your face.

survive the week

And in honor of your making it through as I’m sure you will, you are a caregiver after all, here is your sparkling helmet.

sparkle helmet

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NaBloPoMo November 2014

 

Was I Crazy?

Crazy lady cartoon for caregiver

“You’re a little bit crazy, you know that?” my father-in-law said.

It wasn’t the first time he’d accused me of being crazy and it sure as hell wasn’t the last. Despite the fact that he’d suffered from mental illness long before age-related dementia set in he was convinced he could take care of himself and I was out of my mind to think otherwise.

Sometimes I agreed with him. About the crazy part anyway. Isn’t it considered crazy to keep doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result?

By that definition we were both nuts.

He figured if he took every opportunity to take off down the hall without his walker whenever my back was turned he’d convince everyone he didn’t need it. After all, he’d only fallen once and it didn’t kill him. I hoped if I kept catching him and leading him back to safety he’d begin to accept the walker and use it without prompting.

When he developed Dysphagia and could no longer swallow regular food and drink, I prepared fresh purees for him every day while doing everything I could to make them healthy and tasty. I learned that a lot of his favorite foods could be prepared that way. It was worth spending a bit of extra time so he could enjoy his own version of whatever meal we were having. Pureed hot dogs and potato salad on the 4th of July. Pureed turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving worked very well. So did the pureed pasta with homemade spaghetti sauce. I’m still proud of the pureed tuna and tomato sandwich and pureed cupcake he often had for lunch. Was I crazy to go to all that extra work instead of ordering prepared purees for him? Hormel makes a line of foods for people with Dysphagia and I did order some of them. But, I didn’t want to rely on them. Eating was one of the few pleasures he had left and I wanted him to experience the flavor of his favorites. He was convinced I was crazy to think food could be dangerous.

“Something’s wrong with her. Food goes in your stomach not your lungs. You can’t get pneumonia from eating,” he’d tell the doctor at every visit. Eventually the doctors tuned him out, not bothering to explain again why he couldn’t have a sandwich or big juicy orange.

Sometimes I couldn’t help but wonder, was I crazy to become a caregiver? Was I crazy to lie awake at night trying to figure out new ways to get through to him? Was I crazy to keep fighting for him and with him when it became clear that no matter what I did or how hard I tried he would continue to fail?

Maybe. But sometimes crazy is what it takes to get the job done and maybe my crazy was just what his crazy needed. I hope so.

For more information about Dysphagia and where to find products for your loved ones click on any of the following links:
http://thickit.com/products/purees/?gclid=Cj0KEQjw5-OdBRDW3ceD9fL0r4QBEiQAW7htXesa0NQ2vOYLfvQkg6Je4E7uLezTgEiuIwXFAHWIHu8aAnrt8P8HAQ
http://www.hormelhealthlabs.com/2colTemplate_product.aspx?page=CO_ThickEasyBreakfast&cond_id=117&cat_id=122

http://www.swallowingdisorderfoundation.com/swallowing-support-groups/

http://www.patient.co.uk/support/dysphagiaeu

http://www.hormelhealthlabs.com/2colTemplate_product.aspx?page=CO_Dysphagia&cond_id=117&cat_id=117

http://www.medicinenet.com/swallowing/article.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dysphagia/basics/definition/con-20033444

caregiver card2

 

 

Big Turkey! – Moments in Caregiving

Some moments in caregiving linger on and bring a smile to one’s face long after they happen.

From the first moment he saw her, Rodger was head over in heels in love with baby Ava. When he found out we would be going to my daughter’s house each morning after the birth of her first child, he was up and ready to go before sunrise every day.

“What time do we go?” he asked as soon as I wandered into the kitchen and reached, bleary eyed, for a tea bag and my microwaveable cup.

“Not for while yet. You have to have breakfast and take your medication. I need to take a shower and get dressed. And besides, the new mom and dad need time to get going in the morning too.”

“They need us. We have to go.”

Knowing he would pace and worry until we got there, I sipped my tea on the way to my room, showered as fast as I could and pulled on a sweat suit. My hair was hopeless. I put it in a pony tail and grabbed a baseball cap to cover it. Then I packed a bag with his medications, a blood pressure monitor, thermometer, stethoscope, his nebulizer, band-aids, Depends, a change of clothes, and some food I knew he would eat. Just like I used to pack a diaper bag for my daughter when she was a baby and she would now do for her child.

As soon as we arrived he went straight for the baby who was nestled quite contentedly in the arms of her other Grandmother.

“I’ll hold her. I know what to do,” he said, his tone of voice a clear indication he disapproved of her technique. Fortunately, my daughter’s mother-in-law was amused rather than offended and helped get baby and Great-grandfather settled comfortably in the overstuffed chair he preferred.

IMG_0288

And so it went. If the baby wasn’t being fed or changed, he wanted to hold her and he wasn’t shy about chastising any of us for taking too long to hand her over. Often I would look over and see her deep blue eyes staring into his faded brown ones and thank God they had this time together. Was she transferring innocence to him as he silently shared his wisdom with her? I like to think so.

Lots of pictures were taken by proud parents and grandparents, of course.

One day, not long after our help was no longer needed, I gave Rodger one of the photos. In it, he was sitting in that overstuffed chair holding Ava who was wrapped in a beautiful pink blanket. I knew he missed her and waited to see him light up when he saw her. He stared at it for a few seconds, a puzzled look on his face and said, “That’s me.”

“Yes, that’s you.” I answered.

He looked at for another few seconds before the smile I was hoping for appeared. He tapped the picture and pointed to the baby and announced, “Big Turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!”

The proud new mama wasn’t thrilled to think anyone could mistake her baby for a turkey but now that time has passed and Old Grampy, as Ava now calls him, is no longer with us, it’s one of the most precious memories we have of him and the little girl he loved so much.

As you can see, Ava looks nothing like a turkey.

Ava Dancing Queen

If you have an amusing story about a moment in caregiving, please share it here. I’d love to read it.