Monday, May 18, 2009

Caregiver Aids #6: Friends

Friends are there for us to help in a pinch, when an emergency hits. In the years when I worked at an office and traveled quite a bit on business, we needed them in a pinch quite a lot and worried we might be imposing too much on some of our friends. Sometimes all we needed was someone to check in on Skip because I couldn't reach her and I was out of town. Sometimes I'd be delayed getting home and a quick meal delivery was needed. And, occasionally, Skip was rescued from some bad situations by the assistance of some wonderful folks.

For example, one time, I tried Skip a number of times from the Philadelphia airport to give her an update on the timing of my arrival home. Phone rang and rang and rang. I called our friends who lived nearby and they went over to find the phone was out of order. They were able to check in on Skip, confirm all else was well and I knew she'd be in good hands as I got on my flight home (this was pre cell phones, so no way to get in touch again until I touched down in Boston).

Driving to the San Francisco airport one Friday afternoon in 2001, I called home to check in on Skip and heard a horrifying story. She had gone out onto the patio earlier, which required rolling down a short ramp. Going back up the ramp, she managed to somehow flip herself backwards, fell out of the chair and hit the patio cement with her head! She crawled back into the house, got to the nearest phone and called a friend who was home during the day. The friend and her sister came over and got Skip back into her chair, cleaned her up and tended to the egg-sized bump on her head.

When we traveled on vacations quite frequently, we often went with friends, who helped us out in innumerable ways. When Skip used a manual chair, there would often be volunteers to take a turn pushing her. I'm not much of a shopper, so there'd frequently be someone to step in and go with Skip to the next store when I had hit my limit (I don't think Skip has a shopping limit :-) ). If we were on a cruise and Skip wanted to go to the evening's entertainment but I wanted to shoot craps in the casino, there was always a group going to the show and Skip could go with them. Since caregiving doesn't go on vacation, it was always great to have a short respite, provided by our dear friends.

Oddly, the most recent emergency came about because of something that happened to me. In November last year, I went through two bouts of vertigo that each lasted more then 10 hours. During these bouts, I couldn't move my head without inducing violent vomiting. The first time it happened, Skip's aide, MW, was coming to work that day and ended up putting in an extra long shift. First, she went to the emergency ward to be Skip's eyes and ears to see what was happening to me (I had been at an ENT's office to have my ears checked when the vertigo came on and they sent me to the ER). Then, she stayed with Skip all through the evening until I was okay to travel home. Finally, she picked me up and brought me home. The second time it happened, 2 weeks later, MW wasn't available. I was stuck in bed unable to move my head so was no help to Skip. Fortunately, a friend of ours came to the rescue. She brought in food, took care of Skip, checked in on me, and got us through the pinch. (Fortunately, the vertigo has not returned.)

Mostly, we look to our friends for love, support, fun, laughs and good times together. Occasionally, we impose on them for an extra measure of support. We are lucky to have them in our lives!


Patrick @ Caregivingly Yours said...


Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

Andy said...

Friends are the greatest! I stopped working 12 years ago and the folks I work with still stay in close contact. A couple years ago they even came and built a shed for us so I had a place to be exiled to! They are a rough and tumble bunch, but I can always count on an arm to help me down a step, or over a curb, and don't have to ask. i also think others see the job caregivers do, and are always eager to lend a hand, especially for the giver to take a break.

Vertigo sounds horrible! Hitchcock left the vomiting out of his movie. Here's hoping you have seen the last of that one.


Cranky said...

Patrick - you know it!

Andy - sounds like a great bunch of friends you've got. Lucky you.

Yes, the vertigo is a terrible drag. Looks like I have Meuniere's disease, which is an affliction of the inner ear. Dad and one of his brothers had it. The vertigo can be a real problem for some who have Meuniere's. Fortunately very infrequent for me.