Sunday, November 28, 2010

Caregiver Fatigue

I haven't posted in awhile, and I'm not even sure if any of you are out there anymore.... But we've been kinda busy. Mimi is currently on her third hospital stay in the last month, and the juggling act that I can normally handle is in hyper-drive.

The house is decorated for Chirstmas; the kids are fed. In fact, everyone but me is in bed.

(If I were Grannie Aunt Nelva, I could turn this all into a poem. BUT.... I'm not.)

What I am is tired. And what I know is that I'm getting a re-introduction to "Caregiver Fatigue."

I'm not sure if that's the actual name or not, but if it's not it should be. What I do know is that this is a completely different situation than when Mom was in the hospital.

When Mom was at MD Anderson, A'Lise and I had everything in balance -- sort of. I had the nights, she had the days. While A'Lise was at the hospital, I was at home trying to unpack from the move, keep everyone fed, and find my silverware. We never did find Biggs' SWC Championship Ring.

I didn't know anyone here, we didn't have a Food Fairy, and we still managed.

When Mom landed in ICU in Lubbock, I handed the girls off. First to Paige, and then to the Fluvanna Flock. I didn't really have to manage anything. We had a hotel room; we shifted the days / nights. I had to dodge that hispanic girl that tried to beat me up in the waiting room, but really that was the extent of the distractions. I was free to focus solely on Mom.

This is different. For one, we have a hope that if we can just figure out what's wrong, Mimi will have a long future ahead of her -- one with lots of travel and playing with the grandkids and fun times at the Creek.

But before we can get to that future, we've got to get through the NOW. And the NOW can be exhausting. Even when we're not at the hospital, we wish we were. And we never stop thinking about it.

Let's see... Nights spent at the hospital -- in the ICU, in the room, in the Emergency Room. Days spent at Mimi's bedside. Trying to be there at the perfect time to catch the doctor you so desperately want to talk to.

And then there's the Homefront. It's a 45 minute drive one way. On this side of town, we have Car Pool, laundry, Destination Imagination practice, Christmas, dinner, soccer, playdates, church, small group, Team Tiara, etc. All that "stuff" that normally makes my head spin -- without this time spent at the hospital.

Before Round 1 in the hospital, I was riding 70 miles a week on my bike. I'd lost 10 pounds since school started. I had bravely taken on a Beth Moore Bible Study at Ladies' Bible Class.

Since Round 1, I've ridden maybe three times, I've lost two more pounds, and I've completely fallen off the map at Ladies' Bible Class. I don't think anyone noticed, though. I'm thinking I wasn't there long enough for them to figure out who I am....

Caregiver Fatigue, Insert Here.

So what I do??? I Praise God for the people who have stepped into the gap to help me keep my juggling act going.

Sherrie Webb and Suzi Bruin have spent nights at my house when we were called away to the hospital -- so we didn't have to wake the girls.

The Baehrens and the Bruins have juggled cars and kids and schedules to make sure all our herd was covered.

Kay Routh showed up on my doorstep with baked chicken and carrots.

Cyndi Swords brought us lunch at the hospital -- and I ate it in ICU, even though that's against the rules. (I didn't read the sign.)

Melissa Martin worked to arrange a meal schedule for us on Round 1.

Jan and Penny have both spent long hours with Mimi, especially doing "shopping therapy."

Julie Long put the most incredible pot roast ever in my crockpot in my kitchen -- and cake balls in the freezer. Not to mention the Ghirardelli brownies or the bajillions of cake balls she's made since. When my life goes haywire, Julie makes cake balls. That's a friend.

Biggs threw me the coolest 40th birthday party ever last week. If I'd known it was the calm before the storm, I would have had a second margarita.

My family offered love and hugs and good wishes when we had to cut our Thanksgiving holiday short to come home to Houston.

Many, many of you have prayed for us, left us facebook posts, and loved on us.

So what lesson can you gain from this?

When you have a loved one in the hospital, especially for an extended time, it's easy to get worn-down. And it's so very important for your friends to lift you up. I know that I'm not the easiest person in the world to help, and I know that more often than not you pretty much have to force that help on me, but I do need it. And I do appreciate it. More than you'll ever know.

People "just like me" are all around you. They're in your church. They're in your neighborhood. They work with you. They're the people who are trying like heck to juggle their lives, while helping take care of this whole other situtation on the side.

So this Christmas, I challenge you to look around for those people in your realm who are juggling just a bit more than that average bear. Look to see who could use a pot roast or a chai latte from Starbucks. Look to see who might need little bit of extra help.

You don't have to look far, and you don't have to do much, but you'll be amazed at the impact you can have!

1 comment:

Mrs TD said...

As usual, D'Lyn, you have so elequently put into words the life that so many experience. You have described perfectly the roller coaster ride of caregiving. That has been my life since the first diagnosis of cancer in June. Thank you for sharing this and we are praying for Mimi here. We are very close to the hospital on the other side of town, so feel free to stop in if you need a quick nap.