Sunday, May 18, 2014

This is Respite?

We are in the middle of sprucing up our house so we can sell it as quickly as possible and for as much as possible. 

For months after Robert moved in a year ago, I have been casually looking at available single story homes.  Richard and I have known even before Robert moved in that Richard would not be able to deal with stairs for too much longer.

Richard’s back pain is severe enough that he consciously plans his activities to go up and down the stairs the least amount he can.  After a back procedure or if his back is hurting even more than usual, we both wish we had a one story house or at least a bedroom downstairs. I have had to physically help Richard up the stairs, taking one painful step at a time, more times than he would care to admit.

This past Thanksgiving was the deciding point for me. We had grown accustomed to our family room being a family room by day and Robert’s bedroom at night. I was getting weary of pulling out the sofa bed each evening, adding mattress pads to make it comfortable as well as head and leg wedges for extra comfort and to help Robert’s congestion and edema.

Family room/by day; Robert's bedroom by night
The morning routine was reversed: strip the bed of wet sheets and blankets, put the wedges away and fold up the sofa bed.

All three of us and even the dogs were used to this routine but I had dreams of a one-story house where Robert had his own bedroom with a real bed and a bathroom with an actual shower.

On Thanksgiving, we continued the tradition of hosting dinner and Richard continued his custom of doing way more than he should. After I burned the rolls (more than once – hey, it was a new oven), eating too much and laughing with our immediate and extended family throughout, Richard slowly made the long trek upstairs to rest.

“Put a fork in me, I’m done,” he joked as he painfully made his way upstairs.

Other Brother watched the grimace on Richard’s face and the grip on the railing as he made his way upstairs and quietly said to me, “You guys need a one story.” 

Yep.  We sure do. 

We got serious about looking.  My daughter’s boyfriend, Matt, was experienced in flipping houses and knew what needed to be done to spruce the place up.  My first chore: start packing.

I waited to get started until after Christmas and Robert’s December hospitalization but once the New Year hit, I dove into packing the upstairs.  The plan was to paint the upstairs, replace the carpet and install new baseboards throughout the house. 

It took a while for us to get the momentum going but before long, Richard and Matt had figured out the cost of the remodel, the vendors to use and the schedule.

Richard also decided the house wouldn’t look perfect unless the whole house was painted.

Argh! More packing, more moving of furniture, more disruption.  I really wasn’t happy about the decision because of the work involved but knew it was the right choice. (Let’s keep that between us so Richard’s head doesn’t swell too much.)

Throughout the turmoil, Robert was a trooper. We kept a path clear for him so he could safely walk to his usual spots (dining room table, couch, front door and bathroom). Only a few times was it necessary for him to eat from a television tray but he thought that was fun. He had a few irritable moments but it is hard to know if that was from the disruption or the new medication he is still trying out.

Once the actual work started, I knew Robert would need to stay at his favorite care facility.  I set up his “weekend away” once everything was confirmed.

Since Robert is a client of the local Regional Center we qualify for a certain amount of respite hours per quarter (I have not yet been able to get his case manager to tell me the exact amount of hours we get so I suspect there is not really a specific formula.) 

During our last respite, Robert went to a wonderful care facility where he was spoiled rotten and probably gained ten pounds because they fed him like a king (and he was able to eat Rocky Road ice cream every night!).

Robert was happy with his own “vacation.” Richard and I went to Miami and then on a cruise to the Bahamas with his family and our caregiving friends. It was delightful!

This respite, we are sitting on the patio surrounded by boxes and keeping the dogs calm while strangers are in the house painting. The baseboards were done on Thursday, painting started on Friday and carpet will go in on Wednesday.

I picked Robert up from Day Program on Friday, took him to his beloved second home and will pick him up again on Monday. 

I treated him to a chocolate shake on the way to the facility.

“Thank you very much” was his excited reply.

I explained everything I packed for him: bible, clothes, briefs, pillows, blankets, white shirt for Sunday, and medications.

After I mentioned each item, he appreciatively replied, “Thank you very much!”

I kept telling him everything I packed (socks, pajamas) just to hear him exclaim, “Thank you very much!”

He was so appreciative and delighted to be going to The Place That Spoils Him Rotten.\

I stopped on our way to pick up a half gallon of Rocky Road Ice Cream. If he was happy about that white shirt, he was doubly happy about that ice cream.

He called last night to tell me how much fun he was having and asked if he could watch church on Sunday.

Yes, you have your bible and you can watch church on television. I told him I also sent his church DVDs (still being sent to him by the church he belonged to when he lived independently) and he could watch those if he wanted.

“Thank you very much!”

He is obviously still happy and enjoying his respite. 

Richard and I have made the most of respite as well – I am getting my elusive personal computer time (hey, I get to write a blog post!) and we have eaten out and even had gelato for dinner last night. It’s just like vacation only without the airfare and ocean breeze and with a lot more paint smell and moving of boxes and furniture.

The painting should be completed tonight – a little ahead of schedule which is awesome. We might be able to get a few things done tonight to get the house back to normal and then Robert will be back home tomorrow.  

I am happy we have a head start on packing for a move and am hopeful this house will sell quickly and we will find our dream one-story house.

Once this is all over, though, I will be ready for a respite involving some beach time, fresh ocean air and a lot fewer boxes.


e_journeys said...

You guys RAWK.

I am super-impressed with all your coordination, teamwork, good humor, and sheer balance of it all. Love how you're making a vacation out of the upheaval. <3

Am keeping my fingers crossed that you make a fast and great sale and find your dream home. You've all more than earned it.

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Thank you, e_journeys! There's a lot going on right now but even the dogs seem to be handling it fairly well! It will all work out and then Richard and I will wonder what to do with all of our free time. Haha!