The thing about life is that life has a life of its own and you just never know when ‘life’s life’ is going to show up and where ‘it’ is going to take you. For the most part the unexpected twists n’ turns are a mere blip in your day, barely noticeable.
For example: You plan on wearing your black jeans, but they’re in the wash, so you grab your blue jeans. You plan on going to a movie, but when you get there, it’s sold out. No biggie.
There are the happy twists n’ turns. You go to a party and run into an old friend and marry him (not that night, but soon thereafter). You go on a trip to Chicago and unexpectedly connect to a gaggle of long lost cousins. (Best kind of family; little to no history but still family.) You permanently remove bucket loads of excess weight, create a website to share your experience and – holy cowgirls – a publisher asks you if you’d like to write a book. (All true.)
And then, there is the other kind of twist n’ turn; the type of twist that turns you inside out and upside-down and is not particularly welcomed.
Just as my husband, Peter, and I were making our final plans to spend a few open-ended months in Tucson without concern of a return date (a semi-retirement for him – my work is portable); just as I was incredulously saying, “OMG! This is incredible! We can go and come as we please. Can you believe it???”
Just as I bellowed from the deepest part of my soul, “Freedom” ala Mel Gibson in Braveheart (I forgive you, Mel, for your lame-brained remarks.), my fully independent, still living on her own, 95-year young mother fell, not once – but twice – and …
… The World of Elder Care came crashing down upon us.
Peter and I rushed to the hospital and when we found mom, whose name is – by the way – Harriet, behind the emergency room curtain lying lonely on the hospital bed, I asked, “Are you all right?”
Harriet replied in her usual witty and wry style, “Things could be worse … and they will be.”
We laughed. “Things could be worse … and they will be” is one of my mother’s signature sayings.
When I was five, Jimmy S. tripped me. (Intentionally?) My chin cracked open (I have the scar to prove it) and by the time I made my way home, my pretty-in-plaid kindergarten dress was bloodied up.
Mom said in a somewhat playful yet serious tone, “Ohhhh. Things could be worse” … followed by a sympathetic smile and a half-chuckle, “and they will be.”
When my 6 year-old neighbor decided to practice his barber skills on my favorite doll, Patty Playpal, and cut off her long locks much to my distress, mom once again said, “Things could be worse … and they will be.”
So mom fell, not once but twice, and ‘things’ surely could have been worse. Her elbow was fractured, the crown of her head was cracked open just a tad, leaving a small gash, and she was pretty much a bruised up mess. But she did not break her hip, no surgery was needed, and she still has all her marbles, which was a very good thing.
Naively, I thought, “A few weeks of rehab and life will return to normal.” Boy-oh-boy was I wrong! The words, “Things Could Be Worse … and they will be” have taken on new meaning.
As the weeks passed, it became abundantly clear that we were looking at a ‘new and lesser normal’ and that the day had arrived. Mom, 95.5 years-young, who had lived happily in her Long Beach apartment for 31 years, was not going home.
Elder Care is a minefield of logistics and a roller coaster of emotions. As I stated, our scenario is not the worst ever, but nevertheless it is madly overwhelming.
Madly is defined as wildly, fiercely. Its synonyms include absurdly, crazily, dementedly, desperately, exceedingly, frantically, frenziedly, hastily, irrationally, passionately, psychotically, senselessly, unreasonably, violently … Eldercare is all that and more.
One way I have been channeling my emotions, processing the daily happenings and seeing the opportunity in this journey (yes, there’s plenty of opportunity here for personal growth, including but not limited to surrender, compassion and humor) is to fast and furiously send emails to my real and ‘chosen’ family.
These missives, which ranged from ‘three tissue reads’ to ‘side-splitting belly laughs,’ have proven to be an enormously therapeutic tool (for me), and the information and entertainment factor useful and even enjoyable for the family, which brings me here – to this page, and to YOU!
I know there are plenty of ‘us’ caretakers out there, and we are stressed! According to a recent study from the American Psychological Association, 55% of us caretakers are just ‘plain’ stressed, and 22% are ‘extremely’ stressed.
It is my intention to share my journey on these pages and to keep it real, which means telling the entire truth; not just the more sane and happier slices of it. I think the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me G_d, is necessary here.
This isn’t about me. True – writing to you all is a most excellent way for me to empty my mind and vent about the happenings in my life; but I am merely one of the very many boomers who are currently navigating (or will be soon enough) the strange, alien, frustrating and frankly, insane world of elder care. Skimping on the truth wouldn’t be helpful or fair.
So … Here ‘we’ go. I am reaching out to you for support and at the same time offering support. I am hopeful that you will seize this opportunity to empty your mind, tell your truth – comment below – so that we can, together, face this bitter sweet time and help prepare those who are to follow.
Keep an eye out for my next post, when “delirium” hits Harriet and these pages! Oy Vey!!!
For the best wellness and weight loss wisdom, visit Janice’s daily motivational musings on Beliefnet.com Our Lady of Weight Loss… for weight loss wisdom. And … join the Kick in the Tush Club! Join with Janice Taylor, your Life & Wellness Coach, at Omega: Our Lady of Weight Loss EnLIGHTens; Health, Happiness & Well-Being – Janice Taylor, Life & Wellness Coach, Hypnotist, author & 55 pound big-time-loser, is on a mission. She wants to make health and weight loss fun and create balance and harmony in our life. For more information about her life-changing workshop at The Omega Institute, our nation’s most trusted source for wellness and personal growth … READ ON!
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There is a borderland state called hypnagogia. It is a place of transition; a space that is rapt with images, symbols and words that captivate the mind as they move you from wakefulness to sleep (referred to as hypnagogic) and, on the other side of the sleep cycle, give rise to wakefulness (known as hypnopompic).
Hypnagogia whispers to you as it gradually, bit by bit, lets go of or barely brushes up against your conscious mind. It is a process much like sunset and sunrise, which darken and brighten respectively, not in a flash, but slowly and mysteriously over the span of minutes.
It happened suddenly. He was alone in his car, heading home to nothing in particular. He thought he might watch a little television or listen to some music. He knew he would eat leftovers. Cooking was not on the agenda. He wasn’t thinking about anything, wasn’t feeling any particular thing, when all of a sudden, BAM! it came upon him. He found himself immersed in an experience of confusion, fear and loneliness. He felt lost, hopeless and helpless. He put the radio on to occupy himself. It didn’t work. The music was annoying. He drove faster believing if he could just get home, what he was feeling would go away. When he did, it did not. The experience grew deeper and darker. Men are not supposed to feel like this but, he was a man who was feeling it. When I got the call, ten days later, he was desperate.