A positive update. Jimmie’s recovering well from the dreaded P surgery two Thursdays ago. For those of you who are recoiling from my TMI posts, please just go back to reading posts with puppies or politics or whatever makes you to feel better or worse. Lord knows that there is enough suffering in the world to avoid posts about peoples’ personal plumbing perils. By the way, tonight is Piss Mas Eve.
Today I want to talk about caregiving. I recently read the most beautiful post from A Body Story called Hither and Yon. Disclaimer: I know Holly, the writer well, and appreciate the depth and conviction, wit and wry overview of her writing, knowing she is someone who’s not afraid to look critically and aesthetically at life from all angles. I encourage you to check it out. But she addresses the question most caregivers ask at some point in their journey albeit more graciously than I am here:
BUT WHAT ABOUT ME?
Don’t get me wrong. There are a ton of great things about being a caregiver. Here are some pros:
- More quality time with your spouse, parent, friend, loved one (whomever is receiving your care)
- Deeper understanding of what challenges we will likely face in our later years and learning to develop patience and compassion for these debilitations.
- Appreciation of time and the ability to focus on very basic needs for someone else.
- Mindfulness around simple tasks.
- Time to reflect and feel good about what it means to “be there for someone.”
- Enjoying your significant other whom you normally don’t get to see enough because of work obligations. I believe the correct term for this is “captive audience.”
- Meeting all sorts of new people. Since our discharge from the hospital, we’ve met RNs, LVNs, Physical Therapists. It’s nice to know that there is a social safety net for those exiting the hospital. Hadn’t known first hand about this network before.
- Finding validation in having a land phone line. I now answer the phone and whereas before 99.9% of the calls were for “Elizabeth,” I actually correct the caller now because they might be one of the above people scheduling a visit.
- Having an excuse not to go to the gym as regularly.
- Being on call when you do get to the gym. I now ride and do yoga with my phone at hand (on mute) because I never know when Jimmie will save me from the second half of my workout.
- Coming face to face with your own hypocrisy. I grumped at the hired caregivers when they were late, then proceeded to be fifteen to twenty minutes late every time I came home. I had the “aha moment” on the 110N one day and have subsequently left enough time to get home.
- Having an out time at work that is based on reason and not just the emotional “Hey, I think 12 hours is enough today.” So, fewer hours away from home. That’s a good thing.
- Working in PJs some days. With a boa. Or not. Up to you.
Some of the cons:
- Split focus – not in a good way.
- When you are home with your loved one and working from home, you are at work, not at home staring them lovingly in the eyes.
- When you are at work with your other-loved-ones you are thinking about what’s happening at home. (I’m assured that this is very much what new parents experience when they return to work.)
- Interrupted sleep.
- Interrupted exercise. Disrupted sleep cycles make getting up to go to the gym regularly very hard, even for the over-exuberant gym rats among us. Try responding to your Fitbit 2 jangling you awake at 5:30AM after returning to bed at 5:00AM. Not even a die hard Trojan can do it.
- Being on call when you do get to the gym. I never know when a call from Jimmie will stop me from finishing the second half of my workout.
- Binge eating. It’s hard to effectively binge eat when you are at your desk at work. It requires planning, shopping, and then revealing to youroffice mate that you are a binger. Sitting on your remote desktop on the couch at home, not so much… especially when your recent errands have taken you to Bed, Bath and Beyond, in the pre-holiday season, where buying a large bucket of Moose Munch chocolate/caramel popcorn seemed like such a thoughtful gift for someone. Yeah, me, it turns out.
- Forgetting your alarm code at work. I set off the alarm at my office the other morning while I fumbled with my phone to recover the alarm which I knew by heart only 10 days earlier.
- Missing watching the techs for several shows. Yes, I know that might seem like a pro, but it’s not. I’ve missed the process of seeing a show gel during tech. I’ve missed watching the hungry learning by designers and stage managers.
All of this, too, shall pass. In the meantime, we are celebrating Piss Mas Eve by sitting out on our balcony watching the city lights. Last night was Veteran’s Day and we had quite the view.
Darling Els – I cannot tell you how much your Pros and Cons list means to me. My mother is 102. She is my life. It’s that simple. But I also work to support us both, and the tug of war between time for work and time for her is often maddening. I need to remember the pros, and deal with the cons. Much love to you and Jimmie. Tell him I have his book and am saving it for the Christmas break, when I can read it and delight in it in leisure.
Oh Carol! 102! That’s amazing! Thanks so much for your kind remarks. Hang in there.