Sunday, October 20, 2013

I Never Thought I Would . . .

It’s hard to believe my caregiving for Robert started five years ago. Before I became involved, our dad helped him with his finances.

Mother-in-law, Carol, with Robert

Which means when I took over caring for him I had to fix a lot of financial issues.

Caregiving for Robert has kind of crept up on me.

It started one Thanksgiving with Other Brother and I dealing with a homeless woman Robert and his companion brought home and who gave Robert a black eye. Around this same time, Robert was battling an infection and he was hospitalized a couple of times.

Other Brother visited him since he worked in the same city as Robert was hospitalized and I was in contact with his medical team.  Once he was discharged, I took Robert to a couple of doctor appointments. The infection kept returning and became life-threatening.

Then it was an avalanche of caregiving: a trip to the emergency room; emergency surgery; several weeks of IV antibiotics; discharge to a Skilled Nursing Facility; move to an Assisted Living Facility; a few more hospital visits – and that was all within four months.

Five years later, Richard (hubby) and I are caring for Robert full-time while he lives with us.

It is hard to believe all this has happened in five years.  It is also difficult to believe the things I do now that I never thought I would. 

This can only mean one things: it’s time for a list!

Before caregiving, I never thought I would . . .

  • Be caregiver to Robert;

  • Have a husband who was willing to help care for my disabled brother;

  • Know so much about epilepsy (even though Robert has had it his entire life);

  • Be strong enough to discuss Robert’s care and treatment options with his doctors;

  • Be strong enough to stand up to an emergency room nurse who was giving Robert the wrong medication;

  • Do so much laundry!;

  • See Robert using a walker;

  • See Robert making nurses laugh out loud with his jokes;

  • See Robert live to middle-age;

  • Spend more time with Robert than I do Other Brother (who I am much closer to);

  • Be able to pronounce the slew of medications Robert is on. And be able to recognize them by sight;

  • Mix water and juice with a powder so that it is “nectar thick;”

  • Have so much Rocky Road Ice Cream in my freezer;

  • Teach Robert how to be patient with a puppy;

  • Give Robert a bath;

  • Clean Robert after an accident. Every day. Sometimes several times a day;

  • Watch my husband do the same;

  • Enjoy Family Feud and Jeopardy as much as I do (shh! Don’t tell!);

  • Know enough about Skilled Nursing Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities to help others;

  • Did I mention all the laundry?;

  • Wonder so much before going out if there will be an accessible bathroom;

  • See my non-affectionate brother, Robert, hug my daughter when she visited recently;

  • Wonder: Hey! Where’s my hug?!;

  • Be a published author of a book about caregiving and family;

  • Be an author of several articles on caregiving;

  • Keep such an eagle eye on a cough and congestion – willing the bacteria to stay away;

  • Make so many new friends who are all caring for someone with compassion and love or helping those who do;

  • Give up my family room and downstairs bath to accommodate Robert;

  • Slow down enough to let Robert participate in a conversation and answer questions;

  • Fill so fulfilled from doing something I never had planned to do;

  • Watch a beautiful friendship develop between Robert and my mother-in-law, Carol;

If you are a caregiver, what is something you never thought you would do?

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