Monthly Archives: June 2014

Caregiver thoughts #2

Control expectations, and be flexible.

If you’re caring for someone who’s recovering, you want to convey optimism, but things proceed on their own schedules, and progress is not always linear. Some days it’s two steps forward, some days it’s a step back, some days you just fight it to a standstill.

It’s ok to make plans, but be prepared if your cared-for can’t attend that event, or progress isn’t “on schedule”, or even if you have to change your own plans because your cared-for needs you. Do not get so enamored with a plan that you get all in knots if it has to change. That becomes just a bunch of stress you don’t need and wastes mental bandwidth.

Options are a good thing. If your job permits, keep your laptop handy so you can do work when you’re sitting around the hospital. Know where the grocery stores are so you can make a quick stop on the way between places. Have a friend who can mow the grass and look after the cat if you get tied up. Carry durable snacks (preferably something healthy, like trail mix) in case you have to miss a meal. Know places where you can get a healthy meal if you don’t have time to fix something (I like Subway). Carry your most important medications with you (tip: a small re-sealable bag takes up a lot less room in a backpack than a pharmacy bottle – just make sure it’s properly labeled). Having options like these in your back pocket will help reduce the stress when the situation changes.

Be flexible, and know your priorities. If you’re called away from work, know that you’re taking care of the Most Important thing (your cared-for), and don’t worry about work. That’s what FMLA is for (for my US reader, anyway). Remember to keep your own self a spot on the priority list (see Caregiver thoughts #1) and, if your cared-for is in a good situation, go run or do some gardening or whatever you like to do to unwind.

It is what it is, and what will be will be (I think that’s from a song).

Creature Feature 2014 #3

I got out on the lake early in the morning. It was a pretty nice morning, but a light southerly wind swept up enough moisture from the lake to sock in the areas north of the spillway. In spots, visibility was on the order of 100m.

When I got back, I heard a Great Blue Heron squawking and this other sharp call I’ve heard from time to time, but didn’t really know what it was. Then this little Green Heron landed right on the dock, practically right next to me, and hung around for some pictures.

Caregiver thoughts #1

My role as a caregiver for a cherished loved one had been gradually increasing over the years, but recently, due to medical issues, that role has taken a very large leap. That’s why I haven’t been posting much here lately.

Remembering that I have a blog, I thought I’d post some thoughts on being a caregiver. I’m a practical sort, so I’ll concentrate on the nuts&bolts (so to speak) of being a caregiver and leave the deep philosophical/spiritual/psychological aspects to others who are far more qualified than I am to comment on such matters.

Rule #1: take care of yourself.

Everyone I’ve talked to places this first, and I understand the reasoning. It’s like when they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others should there be a sudden loss of pressurization on the airliner. If you’re passed out gasping for O2, you’re of no use to anyone. My Sister put it quite nicely: “If you [as the caregiver] go down, he’s [the one cared for] in Trouble.“.

I’m posting this one first, not just because it’s Very Important, but because I’m finding it very difficult to adhere to. It’s very difficult to leave your loved one in professional hands, no matter how good, and walk away to even do “necessary” things like get groceries, but even more so to just unwind and do something recreational. Or maybe you think it’s not necessary to buy groceries. After all, there’s a food court in the hospital, and plenty of drive-thrus. IMHO, relying on those food sources would be a Big Mistake.

But it’s important to maintain yourself with adequate rest, food, exercise, and yes, just plain downtime. You need to operate in a way that’s sustainable.

Now that I’ve said it publicly, I have to stick to it, otherwise someone will hit me over the head with this post.