More About Me

I just started following a blogger whose husband is ill and she has to care for him.  Almost all her thoughts and moves are affected by how her husband will react.   She plans her life around him and his needs.

I understand where she’s coming from; I, too, was once a caretaker for my husband.  Keeping him safe and happy was my life’s work.  It was difficult at times, but mostly it was rewarding.

And this is why:

We were in our late 70’s when he became ill.  Our children had long left the nest and lived in other towns.  We’d lost two sons, along with many other friends and relatives.  We mostly had just each other.  I was a retired psychiatric nurse, and chose that profession because my heart went out to those in need and I wanted to help them.  I especially related to the sick, as I’d been quite ill as a child, often separated from friends and family, trying to deal with my fears and discomforts alone.  My mother took good physical care of me but was too busy or unaware of how to comfort a sick, scared child.  She never spoke of or explained my illnesses to me.  Basically, I was just put to bed in a bedroom and left to my own devices.

Mother had always wanted to be a nurse, but she lost her father and brother before penicillin was discovered and had to quit school and go to work to help with the family bills.  Her nursing aspirations were carried into her adulthood.  She saw that I and my bed were clean and that I was well fed.  When I had Scarlet Fever, she rubbed my rash with calamine lotion.  She boiled my sheets and everything that came out of my room.  When she learned that I had Rheumatic Fever, she cried on the bus on the way home from the doctor’s.  I knew then that something bad was wrong with me, but I had no idea what it was or what was going to happen.   The treatment for Rheumatic Fever back then was bed rest.  There were no medications to treat it with.

Anyway, after I retired as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, I missed practicing my calling.  And with the boys gone and no one to take care of, I needed a reason to get up in the morning.

My husband was a strong, controlling individual.  He made the important decisions in our family, and I was happy to let him do that.  I’ve always been a sensitive, introverted individual, never really sure of myself, afraid to take the initiative.

Then, after Forrest became ill, first with Alzheimer’s, then with COPD, hypertension, diabetes, kidney dysfunction, and colon cancer, I gradually had to become the decision maker and performer of all the household duties.  I gained confidence, and, in fact, enjoyed being responsible.

But most of all, I enjoyed taking care of my husband—cooking his meals, buying his special treats at the grocers, seeing that he had his oxygen, clothes to keep warm, bringing his meals to him in the TV room after it was too much effort for him to come to the table, taking him to his doctors’ appointments, wheeling him in the wheelchair.  We’d sit on the patio, watch the birds build nests, the trees grow, flowers bloom.   Sometimes, we’d watch TV together, or I’d watch while he slept in a chair across from me.  We were together.  We connected.  Not only was he allowing me to care for him, he was enjoying it.  Sadly, it was our best time as a married couple.

The woman I spoke of at the beginning of this blog lives in Australia on a bird farm.  Our experiences with illness are not quite the same, but, still, I can empathize with her.  Her blog address is:  http://jmgoyder.com/    She’s courageous, admirable and an inspiration.  I think you might find her blog worth the visit.

WARNING: This is a pitty party of one

I fell apart after Betsy died and can’t seem to recover.  Have episodes of increased BP, nausea, blurred vision, ringing ears, passing out.  I’m anxious and depressed.  Don’t know if it’s stress or something else.  I’ve had these symptoms from time to time, but it’s more often now, and more severe.  It’s getting harder to hold on to a positive outlook.  In the past three days, I’ve been to the ER and seen three doctors.

I’m living the days I’ve dreaded for a long time.  I’m old.  I don’t like it, but I’m old, alone and lonely.  I’d love to have another furry companion but I’m afraid to get one.  Will I be able to care for her/him?  Would it be fair to the animal?  So I go through the rooms my precious ones have filled and the rooms are so empty!

A nurse from St. John’s Home Health Care was here today interviewing me.  Can they help?  I hope so.    My spirit has been broken before.  I hope I can heal it once again.

It would be wonderful to have just one person in the world you know cares what happens to you.  Seems to be a necessary requisite for survival.  I’ve always known why old souls in convalescent homes just shrivel up and die.

Enough said.  Tonight, I pray for the strength and courage to heal myself.

Thinking of sweet Muffy, Betsy and Scott

It’s been rough.  Today, all day, I did nothing.  I felt physically and mentally ill.

Muffy was put to sleep about a month ago in the ER.  She was dying of cancer of the liver; Betsy died Wednesday morning at home.  It all happened so fast.  She seemed okay.  Then she became ill and died.  Her ashes were delivered today.

And today is the anniversary of my son Scott’s  suicide.  I always dread August.  The day Scott killed himself, we were having a heat wave.  And now, again.

There’s always such guilt involved when a loved one, so close, dies.  What were the signs it was going to happen?  Why didn’t I see?  What could I have done to save my son?  My baby girls?  Was I inattentive, negligent in some way?  The questions haunt you, disturb/prevent sleep, tie your stomach in a knot so that you can’t eat.

Karen came with gifts, as usual.    She’s here visiting her mother; always comes by when she’s here.  Today she brought a cinnamon roll from the bakery on National and some lovely tomatoes,cucumbers and watermelon from a fruit stand.  I took a few bites of the cinnamon roll, had a tomato for supper.

My heart is breaking.  My mind isn’t really working.  I’ll tell the stories of Muffy, Betsy and Scott another time.  Just wanted to mention them on this day.