Thursday, November 10, 2011

This Explains It All

More when I get some sleep!

Friday, November 4, 2011


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Woolen Memories

Everyone talks about "the present moment."  Living in it, loving it and being aware of are said to be the key ingredients to a happy life.  If that's true, than I am grateful to live this moment.

Dad returned home from the hospital this afternoon and Hospice admitted him five minutes later.  My pulse raced, denial hammered in my head, and I didn't know if I had the strength required to travel this journey with my mother and father.  I still don't know.  Whatever moments present themselves are going to tell the story.

But, tonight as my father lays peacefully in his new hospital bed with his wife sitting next to him offering words of love and comfort, I am witnessing new precious present moments, which are giving me the where-with-all to keep on plugging as their caregiver.  When the words stop, the love continues with a gentle hand on his arm.  I wonder what memories have emerged.  A replay of her present moments with her husband from days past?  Remembering their wedding?  Whatever those moments are they belong to them.  I leave the room.  This moment belongs to them.

Tonight, with a sink full of dishes, a dining room table buried with medical supplies, and enough dust in the house to be mistaken for volcanic ash, I'm knitting a sock.  I hope that demonstration of their love remains in my memory bank long after the scene ends.

The rhythm of the needles calms my fears.  The softness of the yarn running through my fingers reminds me of the thread that ties our lives together.  Every time I look at these socks, I hope I remember these moments buried in each stitch.

It's quiet.  They're safe.  They are together.  That's all that's important in this moment.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November Is National Caregivers Month

Today marks the beginning of National Caregivers Month. A month focusing on the work caregivers provide in our society, so the rest of us don't have to. It might sound harsh, but in the medical realm that's who we are.

Caregivers give love, attention, and comfort to the sick and disabled freeing up skilled medical personnel to care for others. In 2009 AARP reported, More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one.” You'd think with that amount of clout, more would be done to support us other than naming a period of time after us. However well intentioned, it's surreal to me to learn about community activities to commemorate caregiving that, quite frankly, we can't leave the house to attend.

65 million people day in and day out give all they've got to give to our elderly parents and disabled relatives because in our heart of hearts we know it's the right thing to do. We know our loved ones need help to wrestle with the bureaucracy that's the fabric of our medical system to secure help.

To keep their bodies clean, nourished, hydrated, and warm, caregivers use their energy to be their loved ones advocates. We are their voice, their defender, the ticket to what happens to them once the body weakens or breaks down. While we do not meet the clinical definition of a “skilled” worker to change bandages, give shots, etc., we are all that and more.

Caregivers shift themselves on a dime – we possess a gentle temperment to reassure our patients, we accept our role as part of a broader medical team, and when that team becomes disfunctional, caregivers have to become warriors (we are naturally worriers) to go out there and fight for the services our charges so desperately need. There are no local advocates for the caregivers. No one who will stand up with any clout and say, “LISTEN TO THE PERSON WHO CARES FOR THIS INDIVIDUAL!” (All caps=screaming intentional.) We slug it out on our own.

So, if you know a caregiver, please thank them. If you are are a caregiver, dear brother or sister I say, “Thank you. You are one of us and our jobs are replete with blessings and tears. As you take care of others, please take care of yourselves. You ARE skilled in undefinable ways.”

And it takes more than a month to do what we do.