Sunday, June 24, 2018

Making Changes and Even Accepting Help

Let’s get this out of the way first:  Yes, I still have some residual numbness and tingling from my small stroke.  I wake up every day assessing my numbness.  Thankfully, the intensity is getting less and I rarely feel like I have a fat lip but my face still feels a little frozen and my hand feels like it is still asleep.  It will take time for all of that to go away but not a day minute second goes by that I am not incredibly grateful at how lucky I was to have this be the only remaining issue from having a stroke. 

I am not about to squander that good fortune.

My neurologist said I needed to exercise more (well, technically, start exercising), drink a lot of water and eat healthy.  I had already significantly reduced my carbs so, hey, that’s something  (please don’t mention cake, cookies or ice cream around me or I will be reduced to a puddle of tears of longing and sorrow and no one wants that).

She also said I needed to reduce my stress. 

Oh my!  That’s a tall order but I am motivated to do it!  I want this to be my first and LAST stroke.

My ideal way to reduce stress would be to buy a beach house, walk the dogs by the ocean every day, watch sea otters (or seals?) frolic in the water, write and eat the vegetables Richard grows in his garden (we would starve if we depended on me to grow anything).

The problem with that plan is we do not have a beach house fund, I still need to work if we want to be able to feed the dogs and I really don’t know the difference between a sea otter and a seal. 

Plan B it is.

We hired a house cleaning service which is the best (and easiest) thing I have done.  What a load off!  I wasn’t just stressed from having to keep everything super clean (especially with the illnesses we had going around here last winter) but it was the stress of stressing out because I did not have the time to do it!  (My stress even has stress!)  Having housekeepers come twice a month has been a tremendous relief. 

I emailed all of Robert’s doctors (he has several!) and told them what was going on.  One recommended getting a case manager from Robert’s medical center and referred me to a specific person.  I didn’t even know this position existed!  She’s been a huge help with referrals for home health agencies as well as for respite care.  Kudos to Robert’s team for not only caring for him but also recognizing the need to help the caregiver!  Love those people.

Richard is in charge of grocery shopping but has been laid up with his own health issues.  He started ordering groceries online and scheduling them for delivery!  This is so simple but it saves a ton of time and has been a wonderful way for both of us to reduce some of the stress of running a household. 

Me and Rach in the ER
Robert has been going to physical therapy twice a week but I reduced it to once a week.  I know that more physical therapy is best for Robert but I also know how stressful it is to make such an outing (not to mention missing some work) in order to take him to these appointments.  Robert will not suffer from a slight reduction in his PT schedule. 

I am still working full-time but reduced my time in the office.  I leave mid-afternoon and do work from home for a few hours.  So far, that has been a wonderful change.  I do wonder if I will be able to continue to work full-time and care for Robert, however.  For now, I have to if I’m ever going to get that beach house! 

I planned a much needed vacation with Richard (something we’ve wanted to do for a while) and called an agency to help find respite care for Robert.  I now have two agencies working to find facilities and I will also continue my own search.  We need this vacation and I refuse to feel guilty about admitting that we need this.  Respite care is tough to come by and I’ve been told that it may not be possible to find until two weeks before our vacation.  Yikes!  That’s a little stressful for a planner like me but I have faith it will work out.  It has to.

Finding a home health aide is the last thing I am working on.  This is the absolute toughest thing for me to do.  It’s not because I don’t think others can do as good of a job as me or Richard but because what is needed is not hard.  I can do hard things so I can certainly do the little things too!  I pride myself on plowing through tough times and getting things done. 

I can do hard things. That’s practically my personal motto.  I mean, I even have a sign that says that!

Taking care of Robert is not “hard” but it is time-consuming.  It is a relentless barrage of laundry, changing briefs, helping in the bathroom, bathing, organizing medications and dispensing medications, doing his breathing treatments and walking with him everywhere he goes so he doesn’t fall.  It is taking vitals twice a day and keeping a log of seizure activity and any signs of pneumonia.  It is waking up when he gets sick or confused in the middle of the night and calls out for me.  It is constantly staying vigilant so he stays healthy and, frankly, alive.  

I just want someone to help out once or twice a week to fold laundry, take Robert to the bathroom, get him into his pjs and help him do his PT exercises.  I would love to have someone stay with Robert while Richard and I went to dinner or just coffee (decaf for me, please). 

It’s tough for me to let go and allow this extra help in our home because I want them to do things that I know I can do. 

Except that I just can’t any more.

That’s the realization.  Yes, I can do hard things but it’s time for me to allow myself not to do them all the time. 

It has only been three weeks since my stroke so I think I have done a good job with the changes.  I am going to keep walking, drinking water, dreaming of cake, reducing stress and accepting help. 

I have to. 

That just might be another hard thing that I can do. 

1 comment: said...

I’m sooo proud of you! Your importance to so many of us cannot be measured! If I was closer, I’d be tracking you down for a giant hug but for now, i’ll just continue with prayers!