When one becomes a 'CareGiver' life changes. I used to work 30 hours a week and do odd shifts as a security officer.
When Rich had Throat Cancer I had to drive him 180 miles a day for his radiation treatment. My bosses re-arranged my schedule to work on the weekends. I did that until the day he had an Anaphylatic shock to the chemo treatment.
Two days after getting out of the hospital I was getting ready for work. It was the weekend and I had an early shift.
He got up to go to the bathroom and had a TIA.
The hits just kept coming. He had another very serious stroke in 2017 that the doctors were not sure he'd recover from.
The social worker came into the room and said that they were searching for a room at the VA hospital or the VA nursing home as he could not go home and be left alone. I made the decision to give up a job I'd had for 9 going on 10 years to stay and take care of Rich. Any career choices were now eliminated.
The Pulmonary Emboli that should have killed him the next year didn't. And my new career which had been ongoing since his cancer diagnosis was now in full throttle.
I had to care for a man who was diagnosed with dementia [not severe at this point] and a long list of other health issues. The most difficult issue to deal with was the severe depression.
So what did I do for myself during that time? In October of 2018 pre PE, I joined CrossFit to get out of the house for an hour a day during the week and to get some social and physical time. I was falling into a trap of sitting at home and watching Rich's every move.
My care responsibilities had increased.
Of course this was about the same time that Rich's mom had been diagnosed with dementia and that huge mess. I'll skip all of that. The end result is that for a while I was the CareGiver for two people and eventually the court appointed a guardian for his mother.
When I look back and wonder how can 5 short years have so much change in our lives?
So what have I done for me? I eventually decided I needed an out more than just hiking. I joined a gym and began to enjoy the physical and social aspect of creating friendships that were not dependent on CareGiving.
My doctor had been concerned on my last physical about my blood pressure. Sure, it was going up and up. Now? I average a very good reading.
Maybe I am taking the right steps to self care. But perhaps I can learn more about Care...Giving...and Self Care. That's why I signed up for the Virtual Class.
One of the more interesting things about this progression of events is that I have not become hateful or bitter or even resentful.
Sure there are days that I feel frustrated and short tempered when dealing with my loved one's apathy and disinterest or his forgetfulness. I am only human.
I still find moments with him that cause me joy and laughter. That is the important part. I don't regret leaving the workforce [well, I sort of do, I loved the job, but not the stress of all the strange hours].
I've branched out to learning new things to keep myself occupied.
Covid-19 has really managed to change the whole playing field. No more gym, no visits, and isolation from others. No long day trips. Getting groceries is an adventure in masking and avoidance of others.
I'm looking now for things to do to keep my mind occupied for the winter. [The reason I decided to do a toy story book and a photo book about 2020].
I may even start sewing stuffed toys again.
So ... Things Change, yet they stay the Same don't they?