Saturday, September 27, 2008

Illness And Moving And Caregiving. . .OH MY!!!

Hopefully someone else out there has the same silly sense of humor and gets the post title reference to "lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!!  I'm a little punchy with all that has been going on around here lately.

For starters, my mom has been ill for awhile.  The 2 weeks before I started this blog, she was hospitalized for 10 days.  Since I am the only caregiver for her,  it was a very stressful time for us both.  She is home now, but has developed another infection requiring us to make multiple doctors visits.  The antibiotic which she needs for her infection increases the chances of her C-Diff returning, so we have our fingers crossed that we don't begin that battle all over again!

In the midst of all this we are moving in 3 days!  I know, why make something simple when you can complicate it, right?!!  Seriously, this move will be a good thing for us if we live through it!  We have been in a very bad living situation for almost a year now, and it has affected our health and emotional well being, so once the stress of the actual move is over, it will be a definite benefit in our lives.  The problem  of course is, how to get to the better place without killing ourselves in the process.  Well, I must confess I am doing something I have NEVER done before, and I've moved a lot of times -- I've not only hired movers to move us, but to pack us as well and to help with unpacking.  True, money is very tight, and it certainly wasn't the cheapest option, but given the circumstances I realized that my responsibility is to my mother and to myself to give us the best chance of remaining as healthy as possible through all of this.  For me the answer was I needed help.  Unfortunately we don't have friends and family nearby who would be available to call on, so I did the next logical thing, I called on professionals.  I know I had a hard time accepting that I needed the help, and justifying the expense when we are so strapped, but when I realized what it would cost me physically to try to do everything on my own, I realized I was being proud and selfish.  That wasn't easy for me to admit.  It is still hard to admit I cannot do everything all the time, and this is after 30 years of living with chronic illness and having to learn to lose pieces of myself that I valued and defined myself by for so long.  But the reason I am writing this personal stuff in a public post, is that I know it is something that all of us, whether we are the sick person or the caregiver, go through.  I want to let you know that you aren't alone in feeling frustrated that you can't do all the things you would like to, or that you used to be able to.  But, that said, I also want you to know that you are learning new skills all the time and growing as a result. 

Learning to admit I need help, and especially learning to accept help when it was offered has been a huge blessing in my life, though I went into it kicking and screaming in the beginning.  Now I realize that it doesn't make me a failure to reach out when I need to, and it helps those around me to to do things that are really needed and meaningful, and that makes them feel good and needed.  Also, it has taught me that I don't have to do everything to be a good person (that terrible disease of perfectionism that lingered with me for so long!), that I am a good person just as I am.

Now the week wouldn't be complete if I didn't get ill as well!  Unfortunately I am pretty sick at the moment too.  But instead of pushing myself to keep going until I drop (like the old perfectionist would have!), I am taking care of myself and doing small things to make the move go more smoothly on both ends.  Instead of moving tons of things over before the move day by myself, I took some time to think about what we really need right away.  The first thing that popped into my mind was the bathroom -- LOL!!  So, I made sure I had a shower curtain and liner up, some toilet paper out, towels, hand soap and essentials like toothbrushes, toothpaste and the like.  This way we can just take out time getting the non-essential stuff set up as we both feel up to it.  In the meantime, we can shower and do all of the daily functions without trying to open a million boxes to find things.  All of this took less than hour between grabbing what we would need from the old place and setting it up in the new place.  But the peace I feel at knowing it is done is worth the effort.  And I still had time to nap, take medicine and care for mom!

Are there still things that need to be done, OH YES, but instead of panicking I am addressing each item and deciding what is really important and what I can realistically handle given how I am feeling and what mom is needing in terms of care.  It is a delicate balance.  I know that I will be freaked out when the movers pack us.  I am sure there will be things I forget, but I also know that I have truly tried to do what is best not only for myself, but for my mother, and in the end that's what really matters.  Everything else will get done in God's time, which is always the right time anyway!

So, if you have any good tips for moving without drama, or caring for another while you are feeling ill yourself, please feel free to share them with me.  I don't know it all and am always open to learning from others walking this path too.  And if you are still struggling with asking for, or accepting help, try to remember that you can be a blessing to another just by needing that help.  You aren't weak or bad, you are simply in need at the moment.  Of course it is important to pass that help along when you are feeling better, remember we all need to "pay it forward"!

Please be patient with me during the next few days.  I will be without internet service for 2 days next week, but as soon as I am back on-line I will be posting again and letting you know how it all went.  Before I sign off today I want to thank Lisa Copen of Rest Ministries for including one of my posts on Being a Good Friend Even When We Don't Feel Well as a Guest Blogger in the Invisible Illness Week Blog.  If it hadn't been for Lisa, and IIAW, this blog wouldn't exist.   I know how much the whole week meant to me personally and to many of you as well.  Thanks to everyone involved for helping so many of us in so many ways!

6 comments:

VShaw said...

Maureen,
Thanks for writing this so well. I don't envy you guys moving, but it will be so much better for the two of you. I pray it will go well for you. I'm glad you hired movers, although I know it's a splurge for you. But, I know it's necessary. If we were closer, we'd be helping you too! :) Good luck! Lots of love and gentle hugs!

Connie said...

You sure have a lot on your plate now. Asking for help was the best thing to do. Trying to do it on your own would be too much and all you would need is to get sick as well.

Praying for you and your Mom.

Congrats on your post on the Invisible Illness blog!

Lisa V said...

Thank you for your post today! I was thinking the exact same thing---how can I balance things without getting ill. We're moving in 2 days (packers are working as I type), mom is moving with us cuz we are her only family, and I feel like I should be doing something! If you get a moment, I would love to talk to you via private email--your situtation sounds very similar to my own.

Here's hoping the move goes well, your mother gets better, and you don't wear yourself out! Good luck!!

Jeanne said...

Maureen,

Getting help for the move was a very wise choice. Moving is very stressful even for healthy people.

For you and your mom, who are both ill, it becomes even more challenging.

While the expense may have been tough to swallow, it sounds like it was your best option.

Think about the copays you stand to save by preventing a back injury or some sort of other flare-up that moving it all without help could easily result in.

It sounds like you have learned an awful lot about recognizing your limits, setting boundaries, and self-care.

These are all excellent skills to have when you are both chronically ill with multiple illnesses and a caregiver on top of it!

Good for you to get the help you needed. Moving is never easy, even with help. However, trying to do it yourself when you're so sick and when your mom is ill too... it would have been bound to have negative effects on your health.

Good for you!! :)

Jeanne

Pat Malarkey-Stallard said...

Maureen,

Thank you for sharing your blog with me. Your writing is quite eloquent. I can tell you are your mother's daughter. It sounds as though you are coping amazingly well. I have been worrying about both you and your mom for quite a while. I hope the move goes well and that you will both be feeling better soon.

Our love to you both,

Pat & Glenn

Lisa Moon said...

While I realize this is a belated comment, I still wished to thank you for your wonderful post! You might well have been speaking directly to me about learning to recognise limitations and to accept help - further, to be able to ask for the help I need has been the hardest part, but has so far been very beneficial.
Others can't read my mind, surprisingly! I'm pleased to say that the requests I have made thus far have been received very well; it is my own discomfort I must learn to overcome.
Thanks again for your very relevant post. :)
Lisa