Posts Tagged normal life

Life Does not Stop for the Caregiver – It Just Changes

No one plans on caregiving particularly, for many it just happens. In my case it was an automobile accident which left my son Chris with a serious traumatic brain injury (TBI). For many of us, our lives stopped that day. But then slowly each of those affected began gradually moving back into their normal lives…without us. Even though my world seemed to stop that day and made some very sharp turns – it didn’t really stop; it just changed.

I guess what I am saying is that all of life’s events still occur alongside caregiving. Once I had become adjusted to the caregiving aspect – which is never anything I had imagined in my “former life,” other life events went on. People got married, had babies, I became a grandmother, my parents continued aging, and friends died. For awhile the emotions around all these events were strained at best. Even the good stuff was difficult to bear. Now that I’ve settled into my life as a caregiver and I’m not looking for anything in particular to change anytime soon – the emotions don’t seem as raw. Perhaps it’s more that they have shorted out and fried and I just don’t know it!  But at any rate, the emotions seem more rational and normal again.

Don’t get me wrong – nothing and I mean absolutely nothing is normal. There are some things that seriously pull my emotions all out of whack. For instance, when I see my son’s friends getting to go on with their lives – they travel the world, continue to pursue their dreams, play music, marry and have children, I just wonder. Where would Chris have been? What would he have been doing? Would he have married his true love? Would I have more grandchildren…the questions run in huge packs. But I have to make them stop. It’s not fair, or healthy, to allow my thoughts to run away with my emotions.

Today I was pondering some of these types of things and realized that they were not nearly as difficult as in the past. For one thing, I have developed my own personal strategies for dealing with these types of emotional upsets. It was kinda – do that or be overtaken by grief. So today, I found a tiny bit of comfort rather than discomfort in the fact that life has gone on. It’s really the same for everyone – we all have grief, sorrow, pain, joy and triumphs that we work through. I just have to work through my life occurrences while providing full care for my son.

Even though life is not an even playing ground and it’s not exactly the same for everyone, there are some things that we all have in common. We all have exactly 24 hours in a day to accomplish all our goals. We all have a circle of influence – some are smaller than others but we all influence and inspire someone; and someone influences and inspires us. The question is now what we are going to do with what we have?

One day I was whining about my whole situation (yes – I do whine!), then I found this quote that totally changed the way I was thinking. It said simply: Crying will get you sympathy, sweat will get you success. I have lived by that for some time. I chose to start working and then to work harder at working in order to succeed. I didn’t want sympathy – I wanted what was fair. Well – life is fair in some ways even when it’s not fair in others. For instance, we all have tools, we have a mind, emotions, creativity, and time. It is up to me what I choose to do with those elements.

First of all, I choose to rely on God for my strength – I just don’t know any other way.

Secondly, I choose to continue to press my son toward improvement – who knows what may come of it?

Thirdly, I choose to not live my life with my head in the sand – or in my circumstances. We have to look past ourselves and our own situations no matter how difficult or painful they are – other people are hurting too.

It’s my choice to live by crazy faith that is not about getting “prosperity” which is not soul prosperity at all – and walk with God each day of my caregiving journey. It’s not that knowing God is walking beside me makes it any less difficult – or any more normal – but it sure helps to know He’s there to lift me up when I get down, to strengthen me on those many occasions when I feel so very weak. All I can do is pray that He helps me to help others deal with their own situations. We have permission to grieve, hurt, laugh and play. We really can live life with everyone else – even from the cave – or from the furnace. We may be singed and smelly – but life is still worth living in Him.

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What a Day Brings

I keep saying that I am going to post to this particular blog every night before bed. My mind is sometimes very full that time of night, even though my body is too tired. For the caregiver there are just tons of things that can go down in a day – and it changes from day to day so you never know quite what sort of mix you are going to get.

Today is crazy already. I tutor ESL using Skype and this morning my first student informed me they had some “urgent meeting” to attend so they canceled class. It’s okay though because I still get paid for the class when there is no advance notice. It just messes with my mind because I scheduled it. I tried to catch up on some research and laundry. I’m learning to make use of those times and do something that I didn’t have time for otherwise. Then my second student didn’t show for about ten minutes. I had just sent the “sorry I missed you” message and they showed up. I asked them if they wanted to finish out the remaining 20 minutes and they did. Then they said they had fallen asleep (it’s 8:30 AM here but 9:30 PM in China). All I can think of is how I get up early enough to juggle changing and feeding Chris while  getting the sleep out of my eyes and stick to my schedule so I can be at the computer on time — and you’re SLEEPING? I get up at 5:30- to get everything done. Thankfully I don’t have real early classes right now – that’s helping me get a bit more sleep.

Then Chris is not feeling too well. O2 is fine but he’s breathing fast. He pulls his legs up a certain way when he is uncomfortable or hurting — he’s doing that. I get stressed because I don’t know what to “fix” to make him better. Then I fall into this huge  do I get him up? Do I let him rest? battle in my mind. Oh how I wish he could tell me something – anything! That way I’d know what to do with him – what to do for him.

And such is my day from 5:30 to 10 — still a long ways to go until I finish up this day and get in the bed tonight at 11:30 or 12. I have so much to do before I get there!

Days that start out this way make it so hard for me to keep my focus. It’s like a rough start opens up the flood gates of negative thoughts and rough memories of what’s gone before. I sometimes long for a “normal” life again. But I’ve become way too accustomed to my cave. I have been able to get out a little bit more the last week or so. I do recognize that I am becoming very content being alone – but I fear I am too content with it. I get really frustrated with what seems to be small things. For instance, I went to a church function Sunday night (yeah – I know and lightening didn’t even strike! lol). I looked through the church until I found the meeting room – that was easy – just no one bothered to say “go this way” or anything. Didn’t bother me but I noted it as interesting. Then I get to my table and my sister says “hi” to someone and says, “you know my sister Jeanie?” The lady said, “Yes, (chuckle) we are Facebook friends.” And kept right on walking. There was no attempt at conversation – no how are you – no go to hell- nothing! I came home and deleted her friendship — no loss we don’t communicate on Facebook either. I actually came home and deleted a lot of people. I figured if we don’t have a relationship even on Facebook what’s the point? These things seem small but when there is no socialization in your life and then that’s the reaction you get – it hits a little harder. And makes me withdraw a little further…Makes me think there is really something wrong with me and God put me in a cave to protect others from me or something! lol

But on a good note – I got a message today from someone who is planning on coming to see us this week. I’m very excited about it. I think the world in general has no clue as to what it is like to be locked away as a caregiver. You’re still equipped with all the emotions and desires of a “real” person – you just have to live it all out from a cave. Oh well – I’m getting used to it — and have settled in. Well, I’m going to go get Chris up and see what the rest of the day brings.. may check back in later.

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