Thursday, April 12, 2018

Juggling, Teamwork and a Little Hope

My IT guy at work juggled three oranges at work the other day and made it look pretty easy.  (I then told him to get back to work.)  I have tried to learn to juggle but I am not quite coordinated enough. The juggling I do involves caregiving, medical appointments and various emergencies. 

Caregivers are experts at this type of juggling and sometimes even while we work. 

Thankfully, Richard helps with juggling our appointments.  We have a loose division of duties: he takes his mom to her appointments, I take Robert to his, Richard goes to his own and I go to my own.  (Hopefully, mine will be short-lived.  My MRI results came back normal(!) and I only have a follow-up with the neurologist. Then I’m crossing myself off the appointment list!)


We have pre- and post- surgery appointments, wound therapy, neurology, epileptologist, GP, pulmonary, ENT and cardiology appointments.  There’s pain specialists, physical therapy, lab work and x-rays when something is not quite right (like suspected pneumonia or artificial knee pain).

With the regular appointments and even ER visits or hospital stays we somehow manage to keep on track.  (It helps that Richard, Carol and I coordinate our calendars to be sure we all have the same information.) 

Sometimes we have to call in extra help, though.  Richard’s brothers, either Mark or Jim, will take Carol to her appointments if they conflict with one of Richard’s appointments.  Rach jumped in to take me to the ER so Richard and Carol could stay home with Robert and has stayed home with Robert while I pick up Richard from the hospital. Mark and Carol jumped in to help with Robert when he was sick and I needed to take Richard to get staples out of his leg.  

In other words, we juggle.

And we are very lucky. We are extremely fortunate to have the support of our families as I know many caregivers do not have that option. 

I am extraordinarily grateful to our family for their help and, while it is difficult for me to ask for help, sometimes I actually do it.

Robert has a VEEG (video EEG) coming up next week which requires him to be in the hospital for five days.  It also requires someone to be with him all the time.  As in, day and night.  To be clear, I am talking about all 24 hours in a day.  For a week.  And, we have to be alert and awake the whole time in order to push a button when he has a seizure.

I do tend to take on a lot but even I realize neither one of us can stay awake all week.  Heck, I don’t even think it would be possible for just me and Richard to do it.  (Although, that was our initial plan.)

I texted Other Brother for help.  I explained the situation, told him I was making a schedule and asked if he was able to come up to be with Robert for a shift.

“You mean like through the night?”

I know.  It’s a big ask.  It would be nice to have an extra relief person so Richard and I weren’t doing the whole week.

“How long are the shifts?  Are there any food or bathroom breaks?”

I gave him more info about how the whole thing works, logistically.  Of course, I am just going off of the booklet the hospital mailed us – I haven’t actually done this before so don’t know how it will actually go.  I mean, does the nurse come in and poke us if we accidentally doze off?  Does the guest chair trigger alarm bells if there’s no movement for a few minutes?  Or does it just spring us out of the chair to wake us up?

After ribbing him for all of his questions (as only an older sister can), Other Brother offered to take two of the overnights which was a huge help. I thanked him profusely!

“Can I take a laptop?”

Oh crap. I thought for sure this was a deal breaker. 

Um, no.  No laptops or phones.  We can’t have the signals interfering with the monitoring equipment.  I did suggest long bathroom breaks if he had to use his phone . . .

Carol and Robert share a special bond
I created a schedule for the three of us and sent it to Other Brother.  He reviewed it with his wife who suggested he stay in a hotel for a few days so he’s not driving back and forth on no sleep.   He can do his shift, sleep in the hotel, drive the hour or so back to home/work and then repeat it the next day. (Good thinking!)  Other Brother revised the schedule, adding another overnight shift for him with even longer hours.  What a wonderful surprise and such a huge help!

Carol is planning on holding down the home front and doing laundry and caring for the dogs while Richard and I take turns at the hospital and I try to go into work for an hour or two.  In fact, she feels ready to move back to her own home but is postponing it so she can help us out. (We wish she wouldn’t move home but that’s a different story.)  Rach and Matt are planning visits to the hospital to check on us and to the house to check on Grandma.  Mark even offered to take a shift but he recently started a new job and I don’t want him missing work on our account. 

We are very lucky indeed!

We all see the value in the VEEG and know how important it is for Robert to have this testing.  This is a step toward getting the Neuropace for Robert which seems to be a very promising treatment for him!  Robert’s new neurologist thinks he is a great candidate for the Neuropace and thinks this could significantly reduce his seizures.  If that happens, he might even be able to reduce some of his meds.  Can you imagine?! 

Everyone is willing to pitch in because we all see the possibilities of this new device.  We see the hope.  We see Robert’s fervent wish and prayer to be seizure-free as close to possible as we’ve been. 

This is truly a team effort of juggling to support each other.  That is what family is all about and I am so grateful. 


Other Brother said...

What? No phones? I'm out. (kidding)

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Oh, Other Brother! You're hilarious!