Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Traveling and Caregiving: Yes, There are Similarities

I had an amazing vacation (and can’t thank Other Brother enough for his help in “underwriting” this trip).  If only I could have brought back one of these delicious and artful gelatos for you!  (Who am I kidding - I wouldn’t have because this deliciousness was too wonderful!).  
Addicted to gelato
I did realize, however, I am a terrible traveler.

It’s not that I don’t love traveling because every time I go on a trip I scheme to figure out some way I could do it as a career.  (As long as my entire family could tag along since we all need to try as many flavors of gelato as possible).

I don’t travel often enough to be a confident traveler.  One thing I have going for me, though, is that I’m flexible.  An hour delay on the tarmac in Dallas (to fix a light bulb in the cockpit) wasn’t a huge deal to me.  Hubby and I kept ourselves entertained with an episode or two of NCIS which he had downloaded onto his iPad (his patience with the light bulb issue was a little less than mine).

I have to admit, though, once we finally made it to London and had to make a mad dash to our connecting flight to Rome, I was also cursing the darn light bulb.

While I wasn’t caregiving for Robert during this vacation, caregiving was on my mind.  Caregiving requires a great deal of flexibility too. When I notice Robert is dragging his foot more and is sleepier than normal, I allow more time for appointments or I let him sleep in and keep a sharp eye on him. 

What I’m not so good at when traveling or caregiving is recognizing my own needs.

If I’m thirsty, I often don’t realize it until my mouth is parched and I’m way past dehydrated.

If I’m hungry, it isn't until I start eating a meal at 9:30 p.m. that I realize all I’ve eaten that day was a muffin, half a spring roll and a piece of chocolate (oh that’s healthy!).

Caregiving can put the blinders on my eyes as far as my own needs are concerned too.  Many times, I don’t realize I need a break until I snap at Robert for getting his pajamas on too slowly. 

Why am I really frustrated?  Because I’m tired and want to go to bed but can’t until Robert is dressed, shaved and medicated.

I might get short with Robert if a doctor appointment has run long and I haven’t yet eaten lunch.  Whose fault is that?  Oh, yeah.  NOT Robert’s.

Caregivers are told to “take a break” or “Put your oxygen mask on first.” (My least favorite bit of advice).

Caregivers will be the first to tell you that’s a nice idea but not practical.  If Robert is having a seizure or is in the hospital or actually needs to be getting ready for bed (at his glacial pace), I can’t just stop caring for him because I need a break. 

What I can do is be better about recognizing my own needs before my lack of doing so makes me cranky/hungry/tired/a raving beatch.

I can bring a (healthy) snack to appointments or do some quick exercises while Robert is dressing at bedtime. 

I need to recognize when my bucket is empty and realize I need to refill it on a regular basis (when it doesn’t interfere with caregiving).

I also need to drink a lot more water whether I want to or think I need to!

And I definitely need to eat more gelato . . .

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