Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Spending Energy

It’s about the choices, it’s about priorities it’s about how you want to spend energy.

One of the things you discover about stroke recovery is that energy, both physical and mental is a finite resource.  It takes a lot of Marty’s energy to get up, to sit up, to focus, to talk, to think, to socialize.  It’s my job, or at least I think it’s my job, to figure out how to divvy up those resources.

We lived in Hillsboro, about 45 minutes north of our current home, for seven years in the 80’s.  Hillsboro is a small town of about 6000 soul’s right on the main north south corridor between Austin and Dallas.  We loved living in that town.

While there we were part of a supper club that met once a month, sort of progressive meal one night a month.  It was a time when everyone competed for and hired babysitters as we all were in a 30s and it was a time for adult communion.

Going to this party was important for Marty, she really wanted to go, she really wanted to be a part of this event, she really wanted to see her friends and be a part of something somewhat normal.  

We choose to go, I choose to limit the time there, I chose to go for only the first part, to see friends, to visit a bit and then beat it back to Waco.  I chose to conserve some of Marty’s resource, bless her, Marty agreed.

Marty and I had a pleasant drive back to Waco and the experience of coming together with old friends was good for both of us and I think really positive for all of those people who had not seen the new Marty.  I was pleasantly surprised at the people who came and sat with Marty and actually talked to her. I was pleased that Marty found a way to spend some of her energy interacting with friends.

As we drove off I asked Marty how she felt about the whole thing, “Good, I never felt left out.”

There it is.  My ever present worry, Marty feeling left out, Marty being left out.  It haunts me.  

I try to make sure Marty is included.  Our family works hard at making Marty a part of any celebration.  I don’t want her to feel left out, I don’t want her to be left out, but the plain and simple truth is Marty can’t do everything; she doesn’t have the capability or the stamina.  We have to make choices.

I guard Marty’s energy stores like an over protective father guards his daughter’s virtue.  I don’t want her to be physically or mentally exhausted; I don’t want exhaustion to compromise her health.  I worry that I sometimes guard it too closely and don’t allow her to stretch, that I keep her from doing too many things, that I make too many choices reducing her involvement in life.  I worry that I guard her for my benefit and not hers.

So far this month we had the party in Hillsboro and we went to the wedding of our niece in Arlington.  We still have the wedding of a close family friend in Austin and the pending chaos of the holidays and of course if you throw in my colonoscopy we have a pretty busy, energy sapping calendar.  (Marty thinks I should live blog the colonoscopy starting with the prep…..maybe not.)

We went to the party in Hillsboro because we both really wanted to see old friends.  It was a good decision to go and we only went for the first part, which was the compromise.  Go, but don’t stay too long.  Marty was really tired from going but I know we spent the energy wisely.

We went to the wedding of my niece.  Of course we did, she is my oldest niece, all of our grandchildren were in the wedding and Marty always had a special place in her heart for Liz.  The bride was lovely, my grands were gorgeous and the four year old ring bearer approved of the whole thing by giving a big old thumbs up to the bride as he presented the rings.

It was a long day for Marty and it wore her out mentally and physically.  I believe we spent wisely.  We made the right choice.

The plan is for her to skip the next wedding in Austin and stay at our home with two of the grandchildren.  It’s not a slam dunk choice either, Marty J always loved her some David D and missing his wedding is not ideal.  It’s a choice, a choice she generally agrees with, a choice I made based on what I think is best for her.  

Next we have Thanksgiving coming up and my whole clan will gather at our lake house on Thanksgiving to give thanks, to eat, to commune and of course to watch a little football.  

On that day we will make more choices, we will decide when Marty comes in to the gathering and how long she stays.  I will make choices for Marty that day, choices I hope suit her, choices I hope are made for her sake, for her strength, for her health.  

I fear I sometimes make those decisions based on what I want and what is easier for me.  I hope the choices I make are not so self-serving.  It’s really hard to know, it’s hard to separate the self from these types of decisions.

I am lucky that Marty trusts me, we are lucky we still have choices.  Marty used to rag on me because I would spend too much time trying to make the “right” decision about things, paralysis by analysis.  I do tend to cogitate too much trying to get it “right”.  I don’t know if right really enters into the process, I just want to do things for the right reasons.

It really comes down to spending limited resources in the best places you can, that’s what being sick does to you.

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