This is the last post of the caregiving series and what better way to do it than with a personal recount of a successful caregiver? I happened to meet this blogger friend online, who is not only a great caregiver but also an enthusiastic lifeaholic!
This amazing lady has been living the role of a caregiver for about 15 years and narrates her experience in this interesting post. Behind those beautifully funny words I can feel her immense courage and strength in handling challenging situations and her longing to lead a happy, cheerful life day after day. Isn’t it true that God chooses certain people to be caregivers?
DARK TALES FROM A FULL TIME CAREGIVER (PLEASE DON’T JUDGE!)
- I sent Dennis out with his shirt on inside out.
- When washing Dennis’ hair, I over did the purple shampoo for grey hair and created a bluish, purply, hue to his hair. Usually this hair color is only rocked by old ladies who sit in the front pew at church.
- Once shortly after I had helped Dennis on the toilet, Amanda called and asked to be picked up at school. I completely forgot where he was and left for Woodstock High. I had, at least, left him with a cell phone. Dennis called after 20 minutes, wondering when I was coming back and, “Why did it sound like I was driving”?
- After giving Dennis a shower, I used self-tanner moisturizer by accident instead of regular and turned his mustache and “man parts” orange. He is only going to find this out when he reads this, I claimed to not know why this happened. Fun fact: the foreskin on a man’s penis simply doesn’t change with self-tanner. Unfortunately, other parts of the penis do! Who knew?
- Four years ago, we got a Labrador retriever puppy, Daisy. During the early months we crated her at night, whereas now she sleeps right on top of us. One morning, I let Daisy out and was immediately distracted by the doorbell ringing. Normally, given the time, I would raise Dennis up in the bed with the remote and bring Daisy to give him a few good morning licks. Unattended, Daisy bounded on to the bed, Dennis was completely prone, his good arm trapped under a blanket and totally at the mercy of a wildly affectionate puppy. When I finally came back to the room, Dennis was covered in dog slobber, and I mean in his ears, nose and mouth. He was laughing hysterically and the more he laughed the harder she licked! I’m still not sure what the kids these days call “hooking up” entails, but I’m pretty sure by old school standards, Dennis and Daisy went to second base together.
- I put Dennis’ shoes on the wrong feet and sent him to work. One of his special education student pointed it out. Just last week, I sent him out to the local pub, with two different shoes on. I don’t feel like that was such a big deal because they were both Converse just different colors.
- While “helping him” smoke a cigar I singed his mustache and dropped the ashes on his crotch, he shrieked (like a baby). Once, while trying to keep him out of the Andy Rooney look-a-like club, I cut off half his eyebrow while trying to trim them.
- I mixed up his a.m. and p.m. pills. Taking Ambien at 9 a.m. makes for a looooonnnnnngggg day. I even told him to perk up!I could go on and on with stories of my screw ups but I think you get the picture. Also, please bear in mind this all happened over a period of 15 years and change. If you’re still with me, and aren’t on the phone to the NDA, here are some hard earned tips on care-giving that may help you in the future.
CAREGIVING for THE CAREGIVER (that’s all of us)
- YOU MUST TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! After 13 years of numerous migraines, illness’ and pneumonia, I have realized the world doesn’t need another Martyr. You know why? Martyrs DIE and you’re no good to anyone dead! Get the help, screw the cost, go for the massage, keep your own doctors in the loop about your situation. Both my general practitioner and my “Lady parts” doctor are aware of my situation and take the time to ask questions and provide help for my situation. If your doctors aren’t that thorough give them the boot.
- Make your home a cozy haven for you both. Get it decorated just how you want it and make sure to have a spot set out just for your relaxation, with no visible signs of illness like equipment or medications. Buy the good scented candles and invest in a great sound system to play your favorite music. During a hospital stay when Dennis was dangerously septic, I told him, “When we get out of here I’m buying a hot tub”. He was completely supportive (true, he had a temperature of 104 and thought his black nurse was his (very Caucasian) Aunt Ninny, who had passed away a year earlier, but I just knew he was totally on board! It helped me to visualize something positive for the future, while trying to sleep on what the hospital refers to as a “bed” but what felt like a very large, hard maxi-pad. I can sit like a Queen and gaze at the stars. In comparison to stars my life has the briefness of the light from sparkler. I just want to try and sparkle as brightly as I can for my brief moment of illumination.
- Get a hobby you can do at home as well as at the doctor’s office or hospital. Knitting, crosswords, reading or write a blog you force your children to read and get excited about. Become a pen pal for someone who is in jail! Wait, scratch that I’ve heard that sometimes leads to weird romances. Find anything to do while waiting, besides scrolling your social media staring at pictures of your friends at Oktoberfest with their panties on their heads and their Lederhosen unlaced. Even worse are other peoples vacation pictures on Bragbook. Dennis and I stopped being able to travel several years ago, it’s just way too complicated and tiring. I am truly happy for my friends being able to go on vacation but there is no point in torturing myself with what’s been lost.
- Remember the person you are taking care of is not their disease. When Dennis has symptoms like double vision, fatigue, or pain, that affects my quality of life and prevents me from doing things, I curse the disease not him. I have named his Multiple Sclerosis, Mark Scott and there are times when I curse the f****** bastard like a prostitute in prison. It helps me remember Dennis isn’t trying to make my life miserable, the disease that occupies his body is making US miserable at the moment.
- Nurture friendships with people you can be unflinchingly honest with. I cannot stress this enough! You need people who will encourage you and listen without judgement.
There is a poem by Mother Theresa that sums it up far more eloquently than I ever could.
So, take care. Take care of each other and take care of yourself, even when you don’t feel like it and even when you’re not sure how to. Put away your phones and talk to your grandparents and don’t remind them they have told you the story of Uncle Bernard getting stuck in the outhouse with chickens, like a thousand times. Ignore Aunt Velma’s lack of tact, when fresh out of the nursing home for the holidays, she tells you, “You look thicker”. Sit down, ask her about her childhood, give her a hug, and honor her simply for being a fellow human being. Do your best at caring and rest assured you will enter the never ending circle of care that goes around and around and gives our hearts courage for the journey!