Aug 31, 2015

Looking for Miracles

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"It's not a matter of miracles occurring in your life, it's a matter of you noticing how many there are." David Goldberg

Some days it is hard to see any miracles, but perhaps that is one's orientation.  I have been unusually stressed.  I lost a house key on Friday, and, for me, that always means I am under too much stress.  As caregivers we have heavy loads.  In addition to seeing my loved one several times a week and the 2 hours it takes to drive there and back, I - like you probably - have the whole upkeep of a house inside and out, bills to pay, commitments to manage, professional lives to handle, and then - hopefully, a bit of time for family and friends.  My life has been unusually full with calling services to take care of and eliminate a rodent problem, calling for other services to handle storm damage to property, and meeting with people to plan end-of-life services for my loved one.  No wonder I am stressed!  I am sure you are too.  So, within that, what are the miracles?  After many phone calls and service people coming, I finally have found a contractor who will correct the problem which allowed the pack rat.  Another miracle, when I was with my loved one over the weekend, he was more alert and verbal than he has been in weeks.  What are some of the miracles in your life?

Aug 30, 2015

Conundrum of Things

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"When the going gets tough,the tough gets going." Billy Ocean song

As caregivers, whether of someone with a disability or terminal illness or the caretaking of a small child, we will have much more to deal with than just the tasks of caregiving.  Always there will be extenuating circumstances, such as strained relationships or strained finances.  Sometimes it is more challenging to deal with those things than with the actual caregiving.  The problem with a pack rat invading part of our house is more upsetting and taking more of my mental energy than the actual caregiving at this point.  Seems odd in the scheme of things.  But, this has a sense of urgency that the caregiving does not at this point in time.  What other things take your time and energy?

Aug 29, 2015

Feeling Our Feelings

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"It is as easy to feel joy as it is to feel sadness." Ernest Holmes

Let's remember this when we are feeling sadness.  There will be much sadness in our lives as caregivers -- but we can look for and orient ourselves toward joy.  It rained last night, and everything is so fresh and green this morning.  The air smells wonderful.  All is well in my little home right now.  I have family and friends I love and who love me.  What is right in your world?

Aug 28, 2015

Asking for and Accepting Help

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"Crying out for help -- from others and from God -- may be the strongest moment of our lives." Randy Kilgore
I have always leaned too far toward being independent and not asking for or counting on others' help.  Some people lean too far in dependency.  Which are you?  I was prepared to go to the funeral home alone, but it was lovely and comforting to have my daughter there.  We do not have to do all of this caregiving alone.  There are people who are willing to and desire to support us.  Let's let them.  It is good for them.  And it is good for us.
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Aug 27, 2015


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"Chewing gum can reduce stress hormones." Julia Calderone

Chewing gum is probably not enough to counteract the stress of caregiving.  Yesterday I met with the funeral home and the nursing home.  Sobering  -- even a bit harrowing!!!  Even though we know we are dealing with a terminal and progressive illness, I found meeting with the funeral home very, very sobering.  I am so grateful that my daughter and granddaughter were there to help it not be so daunting.  The meeting at the nursing home showed everyone in consensus:  my loved one has declined dramatically in recent weeks.  Both meetings created some good plans and were necessary,   I recommend that when you choose to make funeral plans that you have someone with you to love and support you.

Aug 26, 2015

Being Fully Ourselves

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"The displeasure of others is no reason to muffle your love.  You do not have to do anything to be loved, and being who you are does not let others down." Mark Nepo

I, like many other humans, have long considered what I needed to do to be loved.  Having some rejections, as we all do, in life helped reinforce for me that a person must need to do or be something in order to count on the love of others.  But that thinking is completely wrong.  Of most importance is to be ourselves.  If we are truly ourselves, we will be loving, creative and kind humans.  That is also, paradoxically, when we are the most attractive to other people, but that is not the point.  The point is to stop trying to figure out what others might want, and - instead - to find out what we want and to honor that and express it as who we truly are.  

Aug 25, 2015

Seeing Things Newly

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"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

This is true in all situations in life, to include caregiving.  Someone said to me recently how sad it was that I had to return to work to help cover costs of nursing care, but my position is - how lucky I am to be trained in a profession in which I can dip back in and work.  It is all one's perspective.  

Currently I have a problem with a pack rat having gotten into an area of the house via a heat duct.  At first I was upset to have to deal with this, but, then it occurred to me, how lucky to have discovered it before winter.  I called service people this morning, and they will be here this afternoon.  And, this morning, I have noticed a large hawk situated near our house.  I am going to consider this hawk is after the pack rat that is problematic to me.  Perhaps it is true!

Do we see problems or possibilities?  As humans, we will see both, but we are better served to focus on the possibilities within the problems.

Aug 24, 2015

Natural Health Agents

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"Among an array of natural plant extracts, only cinnamon inactivated the virus Phi X 174."
Touro College research

Within minutes, a tablespoon of cinnamon kills 99.9-100% of this virus, which is similar to viruses found in the common cold and flu.  It is so important for us, who are caregivers, to manage our own health -- partly for our own benefit, and also to protect our loved ones who may have compromised immune systems.  The researchers in this study suggest taking one tablespoon a day of cinnamon to protect ourselves in the upcoming flu season.  

Music also supports our health.  Research out of Finland suggests that listening to music quiets the genes involved in Alzheimer's disease.  It seems that not only classical, but also hip-hop and jazz can quiet those genes.  Music any one?

Aug 23, 2015

Trusting The Process

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"I'm only lost if I am going somewhere in particular." Megan Schribner

Yesterday I arranged for our priest to come and do the anointing of the sick - what used to be called last rites.  I want to cover a large range of ecumenical practices to support his dying.  The harpist was arranged because she is trained to play music to help one in the process of dying.  The prayers I say are from my own spiritual path, and - because his relationship with God is important to him and he is most comfortable for that to be delivered within the structure of religion, I asked the priest to come.  This is honoring his religious tradition and choice.  

I know death is not imminent, but I also know it is on the horizon; and it is my practice and preference to prepare in advance for life events.  Next week my daughter and I will meet with the funeral home.  I want him remembered for who he is/was and his life celebrated, and that is best done for me by thoughtful preparation.

Aug 22, 2015

The Emotions of Caregiving

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"If you are thirsty, you cannot dip your face in a stream and say, "I'll drink only the hydrogen and not the oxygen."  The life of feeling is no different." Mark Nepo

Sometimes it is tempting to try to avoid the feelings of sorrow and sadness, but - just as we cannot separate hydrogen from oxygen when we drink - we cannot separate joy and sadness from our lives.  We will feel both, and I believe we will feel joy more fully when we choose to feel sadness more fully.  Our range of emotions is expanded when we feel our feelings.  Yesterday was a rainy day here, and I found myself crying, which is very unusual for me, -- crying over the impending death of my loved one.  I spent the day going through things I want his daughter to have and through photos that might be used at his funeral.  When I was a little girl I went to my favorite grandmother's funeral - the priest was drunk and the funeral was completely anonymous -- it could have been a funeral for anyone.  I was so shocked and saddened that I promised myself that no one I loved would ever die without her/his life being honored and celebrated.  I want people to remember the goodness and quirkiness and uniqueness of Dwane.

Aug 21, 2015

Our Thoughts Support Us and Others

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"As God's thoughts make worlds and peoples them with living things, so our thoughts make our world and peoples it with our experiences." Ernest Holmes

What thoughts do you have when you visit your loved one?  It is an important consideration.  As we have entered a new stage of the dying process, I find myself calling upon Mother Mary.  In the religion of my childhood, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is the one who shepards souls as they depart from this world.  I am taking a statue of her to be by the bedside of my loved one, and I know he is in her loving care.  It is not that Mary can replace one's idea of God; it is that she is that also, perhaps its feminine face. 

Aug 20, 2015


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"I am firmly in the pro-vaccination camp.  I've seen the devastating impact infectious diseases can have when people don't take the proper precautions of getting vaccinated." Dr. Oz
I am astonished that the misguided information about vaccinations still abounds.  I was recently with a woman who was furious that the hospital, for which she worked, wanted her to get a flu shot -- she did not want to "put that poison in my body".  OMG.  My thought was how can you care so little about the health and welfare of the people who come to the hospital with compromised immune systems.  I get the flu shot every fall, specifically to protect my loved one, as well as myself.  Dr. Oz recommends we get the flu shot every fall, preferably by October, and that we get shingles vaccination, Tdap, and pneumonia.  The CDC is now recommending two vaccinations for pneumonia, especially for those with compromised immune systems.  Let's do what we can to not only stay healthy ourselves, but to support the health of our entire communities.