Friday, July 22, 2011

What if . . .

Now that we’ve made the decision to move Robert into our home, we have work to do! One contractor came to the house last week but he hasn’t sent me his quote yet (I’m anxious to get this moving along!). His ballpark figure was higher than I’d like but his specialty is plumbing which is what concerns me most. Robert needs a good shower with plenty of bars to hang on to as well as a built in seat (or at least room for a shower chair). He also needs a sturdy toilet since he’s kind of rough on them (and has broken one or two in the last few years).

The worse the "before" picture, the better the "after" picture

Hubby and his brothers erected a wall in the garage a few years back when we were using that space as an office but since we didn’t add heat or air, that concept didn’t last long and we now use it for storage. Embarrassing, messy storage of stuff accumulated over several years.

We do have help – hubby’s brother is a licensed electrician which is a pretty handy thing to have in the family! He already said he could do the electrical work which means dinner is on us for a very long time (somehow, though, the promise of a lifetime supply of veggie burgers probably doesn’t appeal to the man who single-handedly keeps Carl’s Jr. in business).

We also know a reputable air/heating guy (the husband of one of my co-workers) and I’d just as soon give him our business as some stranger the contractor drums up. We meet with him on Sunday (don’t worry, Jenn, we’ll pay him in actual money and not veggie burgers).

Robert still doesn’t know because as soon as I tell him, New Home will know. Robert will pack his bags and sit by the door telling everyone he is moving “tomorrow” so I have to wait at least until construction starts to let him in on this news.

Even though construction hasn’t even started yet, my mind is working overtime with the “what if” scenarios.

“What if” wonderful mother-in-law ends up in the hospital again while Robert lives here? Who will I call to stay with Robert while we all visit her or will we see her in shifts? Or do we take Robert with us (which wouldn’t be practical for a repeat of the time last week when we spent the entire night at the hospital). For short visits, he can go with us. We may have to see her in shifts for longer visits but what will help is for me to create a list of possible support people who I can call to stay with Robert in case everyone in the house needs to leave at the same time to deal with some crisis.

“What if” I have to work late during our busy months? That’s an easy one – I can work remotely from home when needed. Technology never looked so good!

“What if” Robert doesn’t like it here? I don’t expect that to happen but it might. Heck, he and I just might get sick of one another and need some space. He doesn’t really require someone to be with him all the time (as long as he is sitting or laying down) so we could (and should) let him enjoy time alone in his room (we couldn’t leave the house but he can go to his room and relax in a recliner to watch television or do his word search puzzle). I’ll figure out a way he can notify me if he needs something (cow bell, or vuvuzela maybe?).

“What if” I can’t keep up with Robert’s needs? I need to keep all his medications and doctor appointments straight. I need to make sure the meds come in on time and he has enough briefs, napkins and 7-Up at all times. I don’t know why I’m worried about this the most (well maybe it’s because if I mess up his medications, he’s going to land in the hospital). I’m organized, I can create charts and spreadsheets for any topic and I’ve raised three kids (and was a single mom for several years and juggled care and activities for my daughter quite well). I’ve thought about this a lot since making the decision (and, of course, before making the decision) but just tell myself I can do it (especially since I have a fantastic support system). I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.

Wait a minute – we can do it, we can do it, we can do it!

I have a wonderful and supportive family and know that we can do it but sometimes I have to wonder:

“What if” my family gets tired of always having to plan around having an additional person living with us? “What if” my hubby gets tired of having a “plus 1” when we are on the cusp of being empty nesters?

I am wondering these things out loud because there are millions of families asking these very questions when deciding to have their mom/dad/grandparent or sibling live with them (and may be afraid to say them out loud). The answer to each of the “what ifs” is different for each family and there can’t be a wrong answer to this very personal decision. The answer may also change eventually for each family.

I’ve allowed myself an out if things don’t work out. We can find Robert a home through his Regional Center if things don’t work here. I want them to work out but sometimes the decision to place a loved one in a care facility is just as caring and loving as deciding to share a home with them (heck, that was the decision I made for Robert two and a half years ago and it was the right one at the time).

Like all other caregivers who are given a variety of challenges which seem to change daily (sometimes hourly), we’ll work it out. Situations will arise that I haven’t planned for but I am confident enough in my problem solving skills and my supportive family, that we’ll be able to handle them. Caregivers have to think on their feet (which is not exactly my preferred way of solving problems) but we can do it. It’s going to be a team effort and I couldn’t ask for a better team.

And if the team gets tired, we’ll handle that too. We can do it, we can do it, we can do it!

(Now, let’s just get that contractor out here to do it!)


Matt S. said...

Let me know if you need any help (more contractor bids, etc)

In the past year we have re-built 5 kitchens, 10 bathrooms, and 15 bedrooms. lol. So I have a good grip on where to get good tile at good prices, how much it should cost for carpet, baseboards, etc.

Let me know if I can help in any way!


lifts said...

As someone who works with disabled people and has a disability themselves I find your blog really inspiring. It's really admirable the lengths you have gone to to care for your brother. I can't commend you enough

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Dear Lifts, Thank you for your kind comments. It sounds like you do your own inspiring by working with disabled people while having a disabilty yourself! I truly appreciate the people at Robert's Day Program who care for so many disabled people day in and day out and do so with such loving care. Thanks for stopping by.

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Matt, Thanks for your offer! I'm sure we'll give you a call since you're now an "expert." :-) FYI, we know a good a/c guy if you need to add to your list of reputable vendors. Thanks again for the offer and for reading - I don't know how you have time to read this with as busy as you are! :-)

Julie Labes said...

life is full of "What ifs" for everyone not just those who are a little different. you cannot spend your time worrying about the what will drive yourself nuts. you can only deal with each unique situation as it arrives.

Julie Labes: The Fun-Loving, Feisty, Fearless, Frisky, Fierce Over 50 Traveler

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Julie, You are so right. This is one of those things I have to keep reminding myself of! #1 on my to do list: Stop Worrying. :-)

Heidi Alberti & Atticus Uncensored said...

You can do it! You can do it! You can do it!
(that's Atticus's encouragement)

As Julie said, life is full of "what ifs", but they don't have to be negative "what ifs". What if Robert's life under your roof stabilizes his condition because he is so happy & well cared for? What if your house value goes up because of your awesome addition? What if you turn hubby's brother into a vegetarian and his health improves (and Carl's Jr's stock goes down)? What if your husband discovers he loves word search as much as Robert? What if you discover you actually have More time for yourself (no running back & forth to New Home, Old Home, etc..)? What if.....

I have complete confidence that you, hubby & Robert will adjust beautifully. and, in lieu of the vuvuzela, maybe you can install an intercom system?

Wishing you all the best through this transition -

Heidi & Atticus
"commentary to give you paws..."

June Sockol said...

I've learned over the years that life is always unpredictable, especially since having kids with disabilities. No mater how much planning you do, something will always happen that you don't expect. You're very lucky to have the support of your friends and family. I believe you guys will be able to handle any "what ifs" that come up, good or bad :)

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Thanks, June. I know we will be able to handle it and am so appreciative of the support from friends & family. It's important to me to just lay out there all of these thoughts, doubts and plans so other families struggling with similar decisions know they are not alone. Doubt will creep in but I know "we can do it!" :-)

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Heidi/Atticus, I am doubled over laughing thinking of my brother-in-law as a vegetarian. Not sure that would ever happen but we can always hope! :-) You are so right about all the positives. Having him home this weekend reiterated that for me - I am much more relaxed when he's home since I don't have to worry about his care! The intercom or a buzzer is probably the way we'll have to go. Thanks for everything!

Judy Stone-Goldman said...

I have been thinking about you and your decision, wondering how plans were coming along. I was happy to see the post to learn more. I can certainly understand your mind working overtime with "what ifs" - and in many ways it's been good because you've already figured out backup solutions to problems. I think it's fairly certain some problems will arise - and I don't say that to be negative, but it's true about life! Life is so full of "what ifs," we have to balance paying attention to them so we can be prepared and letting them go so we can be free to live hopefully and bravely. I know you will be able to tackle this with the grace and loving patience you have shown all along.

Judy Stone-Goldman
The Reflective Writer
"Word maven loves--and learns from--ordinary life."

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Thank you, Judy. You are always so gracious and kind and you help me to remember to find that balance! As you probably can tell -- I love back up plans! :-)