Monday, December 21, 2009

Yep, I'm Human

I hate to admit it, but I am human. This was brought home to me yesterday as I experienced a temporary meltdown.

I have been Superwoman for many years. I did it all. Managed a series of demanding consulting jobs over the last 25 years that frequently involved long days and lots of business travel. Helped Skip through 20+ years of progressive MS, figuring out new ways to deal with each new symptom that emerged, solving ever more significant problems. Became a full-time caregiver as her ability to handle the tasks of daily living fell away. I used to have a social and volunteer life as well. We used to entertain here and there, with Christmas Eve's special dinner of butterflied leg of lamb, scalloped potatoes and sauteed red cabbage my personal favorite (all of which I prepared). We were actively involved in the local Unitarian Universalist congregation for a while, I even served on the board for 3 years. We used to take vacations to distant places twice a year. And, I loved the planning of those vacations almost as much as taking them.

I was feeling pretty tapped out before Skip went into the hospital two weeks ago. The Superwoman cape was getting quite tattered, showing its age. The demands of caring for Skip have basically crowded out all the non-essential stuff and I've been feeling pretty careworn. The wound care, which involved daily visits from nurses, feelings of frustration and fear and additional effort, were piling on too much and I could feel the strain. With all this, though, Skip was at home and we had control over our daily lives and routines.

Now we're in a whole new world, where control is gone. I am no longer hands-on for Skip's care. Instead, I must stand by and watch as things are done for her. Sometimes I think a great job is being done; sometimes, not so much. And, other people can decide to send her off to the hospital at 2 in the morning when all she needs is some hydration (that's really what the problem was). How come I know that the special bed she's on can cause dehydration and the folks who are supposed to care for her in rehab don't so they don't take countermeasures such as daily hydration IVs?

Okay, so I'm not Superwoman. Never really was, of course, but I pulled off the impersonation for a very long time. Now that I'm human, I admit the frailty of humanness. But, can I learn to ask for the help we humans all need?


upstater said...

Dear Cranky,
I am so glad you are human! There is no way I can do the superwoman thing (though I look good in a cape ;-) and frankly the very idea scares me. “Being in the moments of grief, anger, and despair allows you to be in the moments of joy, faith, and gratitude” (Miriam Greenspan wrote that and okay, I know it sounds like a platitude but it is what is helping me in the moment). From what I’ve seen in these few short months, you’re blessed with an online and local community that will be with you every step of the way no matter what.

Sending kind thoughts and the more practical hope for folks to help you cook, clean, and shovel.

steve said...

So very true. Just when we start feeling great that we've got all the plates spinning on their little poles, another three poles sppear.

There are two ways to look at it:

1. The extra poles and plates are just like the others, so I should have no problem keeping them going as well.

2. I've never done that many poles and plates, and I need immediate help until I am comfortable with that number.

Sometimes to see the need for option #2, you need to compare your current load to last year's load instead of yesterday's load.

Peace Be With You said...

You're entitled to feeling cranky at least some of the time. I send you a hug.

Herrad said...

Hi Cranky
Thanks for sharing how you are feeling.
Difficult to ask for help but good to do for you as well as the people you ask.
Keep warm.
Big hug to you and Skip.

Taxingwoman said...

Hi! Cranky
I'm not good at asking for help.


Diane J Standiford said...

I know you and Carole are tough broads, but do the rest of us tough people a favor and ask us for help when you need it. We feel un-needed when we can't help. Concrete help is but a phone call away (I won't insult you by thinking you don't know the many places that will provide chore help.) and emotional support is but an alphabet key away. I have been in Skip's shoes and yours too, playing both roles over my 30yr relationship---it is worse to be the one at home while the loved one is in another's care. (Even if that care is IN the home.) Sounds corny, but just having each other is enough to make it to the next day. Know you both are in my thoughts. Oh, and in your spare time (; there is an award for you on my blog. PS--I'm not good at asking for help either. But I learn fast.

Herrad said...

Happy Christmas.

Cranky said...

Upstater - I like the quote. It's true about the need to be in the moment. Thanks for your support!

Steve - those plates spinning on sticks made me think of the Ed Sullivan show. To carry forward your analogy, I think I'm dealing with all new kinds of plate to spin. So it's a definite learning curve and will take some time to get comfortable.

Judy - thanks for the hug!

Carole - I'd have to say that I truly suck at asking for help.

Diane - it is hard to have someone else take care of the person who is typically in your care. I find it odd to standby while others do all manner of things to Skip. I've taken to doing things like trimming nails, applying cream to dry skin and such to make both Skip and me feel better. Thanks for the award!

Herrad - thanks for both your notes. And Merry Christmas to you as well! I hope you and Richie have a wonderful day.

steve said...

Yeah. That Turkey Platter is a bitch to spin.

Merry Christmas, Skip and Cranky.


Cranky said...

Thanks, Steve. Yep, that oval platter is a stinker to spin!