One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes is “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
Well, I should have eaten that frog this morning. However, the disaster happened before breakfast, while I was fixing Gary’s oatmeal. Poking around in the pantry for something (I put lots of goodies on oatmeal, including brown sugar, raisins, blueberries and cream), I knocked a bottle of soy sauce onto the tile floor–and the mat for the dog’s dishes.
Junior, of course, wanted to lick that salty, umami splat, and I had to chase him away because it was full of tiny glass shards. Even my pink sneakers were splashed (they’re in the washer now).
I finished fixing the oatmeal, cleaned up, and finally had my breakfast (cereal).
One thing I know about Gary is that he hates it when I cry, and I suspect he dislikes my cursing. When that bottle flew out of the pantry onto the floor I did both.
Once after a fight in which I cried, he complained about my crying. I finally, after a lifetime of being told not to cry, lost it and told him I will cry whenever I need to, it’s one way I process stress, and he can deal with it.
I swear like Alex Trebek (who was famously foul-mouthed). I firmly believe that both crying and cussing are purgative and therapeutic and I have no intention of quitting either.
The other thing this disability/caregiving is teaching me is that I have to pace myself. There were three events yesterday I would like to have attended: a Celtic Festival (love those men in kilts, and their bagpipes too); an art opening at one of the local arts centers; and a concert by the chorale I used to sing in. Instead, the one outing I could summon the energy for was a necessary trip to the grocery store.
Crying, cussing, resting: resorative.
There are three beings who depend on me: my husband with Parkinson’s, my granddaughter with multiple health issues, and the dog, who also had some health issues recently.
After many falls over the past few months, the one we knew would eventually put Gary in the hospital happened in mid-March. He spent five days in the hospital (including a blood transfusion for a huge hematoma from his butt all the way down his leg) and a compression fracture of the L1.
Then he spent two weeks in a skilled nursing/rehab facility. I was fortunate to have a choice, and this one checked all the boxes: they had a bed, took our insurance, came recommended by friends, and it happened to be the closest, 2 1/2 miles away. But even that was a tough slog, going a couple of times a day, spending an hour or so each time, along with taking the granddaughter to and from school, walking the dog, and all the other household chores that don’t go away. One nice thing was the facility allowed dogs once shot records were provided, so I took Junior a few times. He was a big hit with staff and patients!
The physical therapists and insurance having determined he could be discharged, Gary came home yesterday. So I thought I’d try to keep a chronicle of our new life.
Day 0, Going Home
They had discharge papers ready when I arrived; I signed a few documents, packed up the clothes and personal items I hadn’t taken home yet, and a staff member took him in a wheelchair to the car. (The physical therapist had given us a thorough lesson on car transfers a few days earlaier.)
He has a walker, and we are getting a wheelchair. My biggest terror, of course, is the danger of falling. I acquired a gait belt (something I had never even heard of before this), which will help me hang onto him when he gets up and down on the walker.
By good luck, this is Masters’ weekend, so he would be planted in front of the TV regardless of his health, which has given me a break.
I helped him brush his teeth and wash his face before getting him into bed. A shower will have to wait until tomorrow..
Day 1, Saturday
The dog and I got up early, took a long walk, and then I quietly checked on Gary to make sure he was still asleep, finally waking him at 9 to give him his morning meds.
It took nearly half and hour to dress him. It’s hard to put shoes on someone else! And he’s a big guy! He was able to get out onto the front porch and enjoy a little fresh air and spring sunshine.
Meals have gone well; he ate breakfast at the table and lunch in the living room while watching golf. This is a huge improvement; he could barely feed himself when he was in the hospital.
I needed to pick up the granddaughter and run an errand, and told him to stay put or, if he needed to get up, to do so very carefully–“nose over toes,” as the physical therapist taught him when he stands up. Most people normally try to stand straight up from a chair, but momentum is better if he leans forward, thus “nose over toes.’
I suppose things are going well, but I feel like I’m constantly in a hurry, and I’m also still living in fear of another fall.
Friends have offered help, and I intend to accept it when I figure out exactly what we need.
A friend whose late husband had Parkinson’s recommended a book called “How to Want What You Have,” by Timothy Miller. I’m reading it and highlighting passages. I think it will help me through this. More about it in another post.
In the midst of all this I had to go to Florida for my niece’s memorial service. It was a difficult trip, including canceled flights that delayed my return home (I had multple people covering for me), but I spent a few minutes on the beach. It was too cold to swim, but I did dip my feet into the Atlantic, a saltwater baptism I need every so often.