Saturday, February 20, 2010

Heading Out of Town

I'll be taking a short, two-night business trip this week. Heading out on Tuesday afternoon and returning on Thursday evening. Despite the fact that the full-time care for Skip in my absence is expensive, I am looking forward to the trip quite a bit, primarily for the caregiving break it will provide.

From a work perspective, it's a low-stress trip. It's two days of internal meetings, so no client stress. I will spend the time with people whom I like (mostly) and it will be good to see some colleagues in person that I normally only interact with on the phone, in email and via instant messaging. I had some prep to do for one small part of the meetings, but the rest of the prep was done by others (yay!). The biggest stress, work-wise, is ensuring I have decent clothes to wear and comfortable shoes. Since I've been gaining weight of late, a lot of my decent clothing is a bit snug now and I've purchased some new, larger blouses and dress slacks in anticipation of this trip. And, I spend most of my time now in bare feet or slippers, so wearing shoes for 3 days straight will be a challenge.

For some reason, the fact that Skip is virtually 24/7 in bed makes me more comfortable with having others provide care in my absence. I think this is because there will be no transfers that could be an issue. MW, Skip's aide, will be here about 2/3rds of the time I"m away, from mid-afternoon through the night into the early morning. From 7-3 each day, we'll have a home health aide in to take care of some of the "heavy lifting" of caregiving.

This is the first time I'll be taking advantage of a new program offered by my employer. If you need emergency dependent or elder care or have a work obligation that requires additional coverage in your absence, you can get this coverage up to 20 times a year at a fraction of its actual cost by going through this work-sponsored program. Where we'd normally pay $27 per hour for an agency home health aide, using this service I only pay $8 per hour, my employer picks up the difference. This is a national program that works with local day care centers and home care agencies to provide the care.

When I first called to find out how to make arrangements and register for the program, I asked if the agency we normally used for coverage in a pinch was on their list and found out they were not. We were disappointed, as it meant there wouldn't be a chance for having the aide, MJ, that has been coming for 5 years. Skip wouldn't have the comfort of a familiar face and would have to train the new aide on everything. Imagine my surprise when I got a call on Thursday telling me the aide had been scheduled, and it was MJ! I'm quite delighted that Skip will have a familiar face, someone she likes and is very competent, come and help each day. The only thing I'm worried about now is how she'll keep MJ occupied for 8 hours each day as she is a whirlwind and a ball of fire who always likes to keep busy.

This leaves, really, only one concern for me. That is, the wound vac dressing. The wound vac works with a sponge inserted into the wound that is covered by a Tegaderm drape. Tegaderm is like the adhesive part of a bandaid, only much lighter. The dressing is changed every 2-3 days. It's being changed today, then again on Tuesday, the day I leave. On the days between dressing changes, leaks often occur that require minor patch jobs by me. I remove the small bits of dressing that have become damp and need to be changed then apply a strip of Tegaderm to restore the seal. If I'm not here, there won't be anyone to do the patch jobs. As a result, I expect a wound nurse will be needed both days I'm away, once to make leak repairs and once to replace the dressing completely. I've already discussed this with Skip's wound nurse so she's aware an extra visit will probably be needed.

So, it looks like my trip will be a good break for me. No stressful work stuff and few worries about the situation back home, knowing that Skip will be well taken care of around the clock. I look forward to spending time alone in my hotel room, relaxing and having no caregiving tasks awaiting my attention.


kmilyun said...

Gosh what a post LOL we have the money side, logistics, good luck bad luck, and you get to take a break!

Works for me. Bet getting away works for you too.

Enjoy even if it is business.


Diane J Standiford said...

You deserve this break. Get drunk one night too.

Connie said...

As someone who also has MS for 25 years, I also have a caregiver. And when you do get time away from being a caregiver, do something FUN.
My caregiver is self employed, and is wonderful, but I feel guilty, when she doesn't do anything for herself, when she is away. She's always wondering if all of my needs are getting met. And believe it or not, I get stressed out that she is thinking of me, when she is suppose to out having a great time.
If she got killed in a car accident today, I'd be okay. It would definitely take time, but I can live without her. So please, don't take it all upon your shoulders. And maybe I have it all wrong, because of your relationship and length of time you've been together.
But one thing I said to her the other day was "thank you", because if she wasn't there, taking good care of me, I wouldn't be able to be living at my home anymore.

steve said...

And now for your next trick, cold fusion!

MJ has earned your trust over the years. She'll keep Skip differently and lovingly. Is there anything they can do for you while you're gone? BR and Jordan had leftover meatloaf waiting on me when I got back last Wednesday.

Rain said...

I hope you can relax and rejuvenate a bit Cranky! :)

Patrick@Caregivingly Yours said...

What an excellent program! Between you and Steve I am learning to live vicariously. Please post pics and details of 'free time'.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

Cranky said...

Jan - fortunately, the bad news is minor and the good news is stellar!

Diane - I agree, I do deserve it. But, I hardly ever drink anymore, so probably won't get drunk. I plan to be somewhat self-indulgent though.

Connie - I'm glad you have a good setup with your caregiver, that is so important for peace of mind. I'm glad, too, that you have some perspective on it, and don't feel too dependent. I've found when I'm away, Skip worries about me and my safety. Whereas, I never worry about my safety as I figure I'll handle whatever comes along.

Steve - I wish someone would make meatloaf for me. I really love it, but I know Skip doesn't like it that much, so I never bother to cook it. The things they can do for me while I'm gone will mainly center around laundry and cleaning. Clean sheets on my bed and all laundry washed and folded will be a wonderful gift upon my return.

Rain - thanks. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to 2 quiet evenings in my hotel room.

Patrick - will do. And, I live vicariously through many of your posts as well. Your excursions out with Patti, even though challenging, sound fun.

awb said...

If I had free time I think I'd go curling? Whatever you pick, have fun.


steve said...

Crisp, clean sheets are the best.

Have Myelin? said...

Oh I am so glad for you! =) You deserve it!!!

Herrad said...

Hi Cranky,
Hope your trip away went well.
Keep warm.