January 6 – The Joy of Caregiving

by Gwynn Rogers

© Andy Nowack | Dreamstime Stock Photos

New Year’s Eve’s early morning started off with a BANG, CRASH, and THUD!  I jumped out of bed and ran around the corner of our short hall directly into the living room of our tiny apartment.

There sprawled on the floor was my husband.  He had passed out again. We must have looked like an episode of Oliver and Hardy, where Oliver misses a step on the ladder crashing to the ground while Hardy–me–runs around in frantic circles.  As my husband lurched toward the floor he hit our oak corner table shoving it into the wall of our tiny apartment.  There was a slight indentation in the wall. You can say we have made our impact on the apartment.

My mornings frequently start out this way since Christmas Eve 2015–one year ago.

My friends and I believed that after raising children our senior years would become easier . . . Golden Years. Then on Christmas Eve night in 2015, while my husband and I were lounging in bed watching TV, he turned to me and uttered: “Call 911!  I can’t take the pain any longer.”

I thought: But this is Christmas Eve. We have plans to enjoy Christmas day with our son.

So, turning to John I muttered “How about if I drive you to the hospital?” thinking that we would get to the hospital, the doctor would give John some medicine to settle his tummy, and then we could come home.

My husband evidently didn’t see the confusion in my eyes.  I was scared and concerned for my husband, but I wanted to enjoy Christmas with my family.

John emphatically muttered, “No!  Call 911.  My acid reflux is killing me.”

As it turned out, the acid reflux was killing him but it wasn’t acid reflux.  John had a serious hiatal hernia that was extraordinarily large, twisted around his stomach, pushing into his lung, and turning gangrenous.  To add to the fun, my husband has such extraordinarily low blood pressure that he would stand up and pass out.  I was hoping the doctor and hospital aides would wrap him in bubble wrap.

Now after several surgeries and a barrage of tests the doctors still don’t know why John passes out.  Consequently, at night when he gets up and attempts to use the bathroom he may walk a couple of feet along the edge of the bed, start to wobble and bounce like a small child on the bed.  Sometimes he misses the bed and hits the floor.  Sometimes he staggers to the end of the bed and bounces on my legs.  Night after night, and during the early mornings we go through the same routine.

Over the year, John has crashed through a couple of bathroom walls, knocked wooden closet doors off their tract, and banged up his head, back, leg, and shoulder.

My morning consists of getting up before John to get his water, pills, coffee, and oatmeal ready.  I watch as he marches laps up and down our short hall as he works to get the blood circulating to his brain.  Now, after seven months of this morning routine, he is finally able to walk out to the mailbox to get our mail and walk down our few steps to dump our garbage and recycling.

We don’t go out for meals, to visit our grandkids, or to run errands. “We” is now “me.”

I’m still wondering: When do the Golden Years start?

After 20smaller-pic years of sales and marketing experience in the fields of real estate, high-tech, and corporate travel, Gwynn moved on to the career of “Grandma.” When not spending time with her grandchildren she volunteers at Poulsbo’s Historic Maritime Museum and can often be found walking laps and enjoying the wildlife of the Poulsbo’s waterfront.

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17 responses to “January 6 – The Joy of Caregiving

  1. I enjoyed reading this with my cup of coffee this a.m. Perfect timing as we are experiencing health challenges now. Never feel alone with this when I read of other’s trials. And thank you for the humor!

    • Thank you Betty for reading my story. As I comment, I’m drinking my cup of tea… so I salute you! It is nice to know that I’m not alone dealing with these issues. Plus, I have several friends who have lost husbands. I now have a taste of what they experienced, and I can be thankful that my husband is still alive. Thank you for your support.

  2. Your story was that of mine several years ago with husband falling and being very recalcitrant when it came to caregiving. Have you considered going to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida for a second opinion. I say this because my current husbands wife also had the “falling down syndrome” which was finally diagnosed at Mayo Clinic as being amyloid dosus. (Excuse the spelling)

    • Now, that is interesting that others PASS OUT too. So far we have heard that it is an extreme form of Hypertension… the joy of aging. I’ll talk to my husband’s doctor about what the Mayo Clinic discovered. Washington State is a long way from Florida and my husband would be unable to fly. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Perhaps the Golden Years need new defining. My SO had a stroke in ’08 and open heart surgery a couple of months ago. Recovery has been slow, it seems, though we’re told he’s making great progress. I’m disabled and nine years older than he so it’s not easy for either of us. And yet, he’s still here, diabetes and all, and that makes the years left to us feel very golden, indeed.

    • I am so sorry that you have such extreme health issues to deal with every day. It does give me something to be thankful for in that my husband isn’t in such sad shape. I do so wish both of you good health. Thank you for commenting.

  4. Many many of us understand.

    • Thank you Letty for understanding. I DO need to work at giving myself more oxygen. Somehow I have to turn this lemon into lemonade! 😉

      • I’m only learning what it means to take care of myself. It is difficult but when my daughter made a comment, about my health and that I seemed constantly worn down and that she didn’t want to start to taking care of me, I sat up and listened. Within months of letting go worries and frustrations i am much healthier. Sadly, our aging MIL is declining with or without my supervision. I wish the best for you.

    • I do work at taking care of myself as I walk nearly daily around Poulsbo, but in the winter few other people are out too. I need the social contact, so I need to look for additional ways to give oxygen to my soul. Since I need to have both my hips replaced, I do have quite a bridge to cross… but I WILL succeed. I am glad you are learning to take care of yourself too as it IS important. As they say, “You can’t help others until you give yourself Oxygen first!”

  5. It can be a challenge, can’t it, to figure ways to take care of ourselves when the needs are so great and our abilities may be diminished. And yet, we must and do. We need to give ourselves credit for that, too. We sometimes take ourselves too much for granted.

    • My energy level is dropping, but I still have to keep on trucking. I think some of the problem is that I’m not giving myself enough oxygen by being out with other people. Time to change my tune! I hope you are taking care of yourself too… it is important!

  6. Hello Gwynn,

    Wishing you strength and support for the coming days ahead. Your article is also written very well.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

    • Thanks for visiting and commenting Patricia. Your support and the support of my other friends definitely helps! Thanks for being the wonderful person that you are. I hope your sad day wasn’t too bad today. Take care!

  7. A very touching post; well-written from the heart.

    • Debra, thanks for commenting. This year knocked me out of my comfort zone. I’m hoping the years to follow will improve… I have my fingers crossed. Again, Thanks for your support. Sorry for the repeat comment. I forgot to hit the correct reply.

  8. Debra, thanks for commenting. This year knocked me out of my comfort zone. I’m hoping the years to follow will improve… I have my fingers crossed. Again, Thanks for your support.

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