Friday, November 4, 2016

Caring for the Caregiver

"Secure your own face mask first before helping others."~ Airline Safety Instructions

Another week of daily lessons.  This week, John's second chemo series, was more challenging than the week of his first series.  He has developed plantar's fasciitis, so experienced unexpected foot pain.  He's had a few bouts of nausea and also required two transfusions, his first since leaving Houston.  Last Friday evening, we faced our first fever, mild, yet a concern.  Fortunately, we had a doctor's appointment earlier that day when we reviewed the warning signs (a fever of only 100.4) and had an emergency number for assistance, which we ultimately consulted.A more challenging week for both of us, during which I had plenty of opportunity to observe my caregiving m.o.  I research first, get all the information I can, evaluate my options, go into action and then deal with the emotional and physical fallout later.  Pretty effective in the moment, but not so hot in the long run.  Adequate for our time in Houston eleven years ago with professional assistance nearby 24/7.   But, I clearly recognize, calling for some serious tweaking for this challenge.Ultimately, I believe the caregiver has to take responsibility for caring for herself or himself.  That can mean, among other things, setting responsible boundaries, managing  stress levels, learning to ask for help, or in my case taking better care of my own health.  So, for the first time in a long time, I'm exercising regularly - light weights, and exercises to improve my balance to start with.  I'm drinking more water than ever before and limiting sugar and salt.  This may not seem like a lot to a true health aficionado, but it's a start.  And for those of you who know me well, who know how much I can live in my head, for me this is a lot!  Next step, Tai Chi!It's not that I believe I have to do it all. I know I am one blessed caregiver.  I have a breadth and depth of support that continues to touch me every day with an outpouring of care and compassion.  From e-mails and telephone calls, cards and photos, unexpected gifts and offers of service, I am reminded how important and valuable a network of support is, especially in times of crisis. These wonderful people have buoyed me up emotionally and physically. Have let both of us know we are not alone. I am not reluctant to ask them for help. But they cannot be with us every moment of every day. They cannot make the decisions I need to make to take better care of myself so that I can take better care of John.  They cannot change my behavior.


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