I was a basket case. I knew I was, my kids knew I was, my family knew I was and the care givers knew I was. I wasn’t going nuts; I was there, at the station, ringing the bell that says, “I’m NUTS”.
In June of 2006 I was walking a fine line between being a care giver and needing a care giver, or at least someone to keep me from running down the street naked with a blood pressure cuff.
Those were the days of multiple illnesses, multiple hospitalizations and me learning how to live our new life. I was obsessed with Marty and how she was feeling and if she was sick and if she was about to die, it never left my brain. I would constantly take Marty’s blood pressure to see how low it was and then take mine to see how high it was. Like I said, I was nuts.
I personally did nothing for it to get better except learn how to do my new job better. Mostly it got better because Marty got better and we found some first class caregivers, you know the ones, the ones that kept me from running down the street naked with the blood pressure cuff. I didn’t do that because I was afraid it would scare them off and freak out my neighbors.
Regaining some sanity didn’t happen overnight, there was never a road to Damascus kind of epiphany, it was more like a Darwinian evolution, it happened over a period of time and one day I saw myself in the mirror and I didn’t look quiet as crazy, I didn’t have the look of someone who would freak out the neighbors prancing naked in the street.
I learned to roll a little bit more with the punches, I learned to quit planning Marty’s funeral at every cough, I learned to trust our care givers and our doctors and mostly, Marty got better because she got stronger and we got better at providing quality care. I keep saying that because it was the silver bullet, the number of infections was drastically reduced.
All of this leads me to state unequivocally that we adapt, we learn, we change, we grow, we evolve. I was not built for what I do today; Marty never ever had the potential of being a good patient.
I do what I do, provide care for my bride, really well; it’s not something that was ever part of my native skill set. I learned. Marty was head strong, always knew a better way and was a non-compliant rule-breaking patient; she was, in short, a patient that could try patience. She is not that person today, she is accepting of her new normal, she is agreeable and likes a routine, she learned, she adapted.
Trust me on this; if I can make this kind of change, if Marty can make this kind of change, you can make this kind of change too. You simply have to put your head down and take a step, the next step. That’s exactly what I did several years ago instead of running down Sandalwood Drive naked. I accepted, I adapted, I kept my clothes on, most of the time.
Let’s face it, people live longer, overcome more trauma, more life altering illness and spend more time recovering at home. You will, if you are lucky, get to help care for someone at home or in the hospital or in a facility. You will adapt, you will learn, you will figure it out and move forward and take care of that love one. You will do it because that’s what we do for those we love.
When we left St. Catherine’s care facility nine years ago I was a basket case and worried about how I would learn to do what needed to be done. I obsessed about taking care of Marty and told myself continuously I could not do it. When one of the physical therapists was showing me how to move Marty to help bathe her I told her my secret, “I don’t know how to do this.” She looked at me and said, “You will figure it out.”
She was right, it wasn’t easy, it still isn’t, I still, every now and then get the urge to abandon all decorum, drop my trousers and run screaming down the street. And then I see myself in the mirror and realize I am well past the age when that made any good sense at all.