On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Earlier this week, I wrote about a time when my greatest fear was losing the use of my eyes or my hands.  I recounted how I came to terms with that fear, but lately I’ve become aware of a new fear that is lurking around the edges of my consciousness.

Living in the country can be hazardous to your health, but I’ve learned to live with that along with the eye and hand thing. We’ve figured out what most of the dangers are and have tried to find ways to avoid them. But in spite of hats, gloves, long sleeves, and long pants, there are still things that bite, sting, scratch, or otherwise leave a mark. Last year David and I both learned the hard way to watch out for poison ivy and are now careful to wash thoroughly with soap and water and apply Ivarest as soon as possible after any suspected contact. But no amount of precaution can prevent every mishap, and a couple of days ago, David’s hand started to itch. Initially there was no mark, but gradually it started to puff up, redden, and blister. He hasn’t been to the doctor since we left Florida, so he needs to get set up at the VA here in Texas, and since none of our creams and ointments seemed to have any effect, we decided it was time for a visit.


Okay, this is as far as I got on today’s post. From here I was going to describe some of the patients I saw at the VA, many of whom were using canes, riding scooter chairs, or sitting in wheel chairs. Then I was going to talk about how that raises fears about my future, about becoming a caregiver for David or vice versa. As I composed the opening sentences in my head, I thought this sounds familiar. That’s because it sounds like “Getting Old Is Not for Sissies,” a post I wrote last fall when David ended up in the emergency room during a visit to Colorado. Here’s an excerpt:

During my years as a caregiver, I was plagued with a lot of worries and fears. One of the more personal ones was, Is this my future? Will I end up this way? Yesterday, looking at David on that ER gurney with a call button in his lap and a monitor over his head, I wondered how often I’d be doing this in the next decade or so. I’ve already sat with him in ICU after he took a header over his Harley’s windshield, and I watched a dermatologist cut a chunk out of his shoulder to remove a melanoma. On the other hand, maybe the roles will be reversed? He sat with me in the ER while the doctors worked to even out my heart rhythm and slow down my racing pulse, and he has sat in several waiting rooms while I underwent tests for CLL. That’s one of the harder things about making a lifelong commitment to another person. Unless we end up going down in a plane together, one of us will end up once again being a caregiver. We’ll learn for real what it means to love someone in sickness and health.

I also wrote about the subject a bit in another post called “I Can Still Spell World Backward:”

Mom’s mother died of Alzheimer’s, and she has two sisters who suffer from it. As if that weren’t enough, Dad had vascular dementia. Seems like the deck is stacked against me. I’ve done a little research on the disease, but not too much. I know progress is being made, but right now there’s no cure and no treatments that are really very affective. It’s kind of like how sausage is made –you don’t really want to know the details. But I know that keeping your body healthy and your mind active are important, so I do that. And so far, I can still spell ‘world’ backward.

What does all this mean? Does it mean that I’ve over-mined my memoir-worthy experiences and need to switch to another genre? Does it mean that my fears about losing my memory are becoming a reality? Does it mean that I worry too much? Or does it mean that I found a creative way to re-use a topic – again?

Whichever it is, I appreciate your stopping by for a read, and if you’ll come back again, I’ll try to come up with something new. Oh, by the way, my garden looks pretty perky today.




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