Tag Archive | adjusting to change

A True Confession

Yesterday was my 63rd birthday. I usually don’t tell people how old I am because I’ve always looked ten years younger. In fact, when I went to college at 35, one of my young contemporaries called me a “well preserved old broad.” (laugh here) At the time I accepted the compliment, and now, I hope it’s still true. (you can laugh again)

I really don’t mind getting older, but I do mind the changes it brings. Instead of presents, now I get phone calls. It’s not like I need anything, but I still revel when I’m surprised. Ken used to always surprise me, but now his illness doesn’t allow him to shower me with his special thoughtful gifts. It hurts. It’s another reminder of how much MS has taken from us.

I think at this stage of the game I should stop being a child about my birthday, but somehow I can’t turn off the fact that July 31 was the one day out of the year that I was the big cheese. My mother allowed all of us to pick what kind of cake we could have and what special outing we’d like for our special day. For me, it was poppyseed cake and an afternoon swimming at Brown’s Lake. On top of that, people sang to me and I got to make a wish before I blew out the candles on the cake. Then there was always the presents people picked out just for me. What a head rush! Who wouldn’t be crazy about a day like that?

So, maybe you can see now that taking Ken to the doctor and going out for lunch isn’t quite the same thing. However, it was very special when his doc sang “Happy Birthday” to me. Wasn’t that great?

A good blogging friend once wrote a comment to one of my writings about accepting change, which I came across this morning. Here it is:

The principles of the Buddhist philosophy is that it’s our expectations that cause suffering. When we release expectation and enjoy what is, suffering ends.

Makes sense doesn’t it? So why is it so hard to do?

 

Replacement Time Has Arrived

Did you ever have a piece of furniture you didn’t want to part with? I’m struggling with that dilemma right now. My sofa and my writing chair have seen better days several years ago, but because of our deteriorated economic status, we were just thankful for what we had.

Most mornings I wake up about two or three o’clock because my old joints and bones need to get up and move around. As I go through this routine, I wake myself up to the point where I can’t fall back to sleep right away, so I patter down to the living room and make myself comfy on the sofa. I turn on the tube to find a boring narrator to put me back to sleep. This whole process takes about an hour or two, so the next time I wake, the sun is up and it’s time to start the new day.

As you might imagine, the sofa has become a very comfortable friend to me, especially when Ernie, my pug dog, always curls up and goes back to sleep with me for those few hours. My question is, will I find a new sofa that offers so much comfort or should I find someone to reupholster the old one? Furthermore, if I do decide to recover the old furniture, will the replacement cushions and pillows be as comfortable as the old ones?

For the past four years when visitors came, I covered the holes with throw blankets and our guests were too polite to look underneath at the bare worn spots in the fabric. Now that I’m enjoying the arrival of my first social security check, I can  ponder the thought of buying something new.

So, as I work through paying all the creditors who have patiently waited for the past three years as Ken and I have journeyed into the land of “sickness and unemployment,” I will search for the perfect replacement furniture. If you happen to see a plump, gray-haired woman lying on a sofa in a furniture store, please say “Hi.” It will probably be me.

When Accidents Happen

OopsWhen I went to a Caregiver counselor a few weeks ago, she gave me a book called, Daily Comforts for Caregivers by Pat Samples. I thanked the counselor, read a few of the entries, and then didn’t pick up the book until sometime later. Even though the entries are short, somehow I didn’t find time to read one everyday. I’m like that. Aside from my blog and writing on one of my WIPs, I don’t do much of anything EVERY day. That would be too disciplined.

But today, I picked up the book and read a couple of entries. There was one in particular which resonated with me. It talked about “Accidents” which often happen around the house. I have to admit, one of the most frustrating things for me to accept is when Ken has an “Accident.”  Here’s what I’m talking about. The coffee carafe smashes on the kitchen floor because he doesn’t have the strength to pour the water into the coffee maker. He spilled a g;ass of milk  trying to carry it from the kitchen to the living room because of his trembling hand. Or how about the time when he sat on his glasses because he forgot where he put them. And I haven’t even mentioned the numerous falls he takes because stubbornly believes he doesn’t need his walker “for that little distance.” In this case, I hold my breath, say a prayer, and yell, “Are you okay? Need some help?”

So many of Ken’s accidents end up costing money. The all involve having to clean up a mess, and worst of all, he could get hurt. I wish I could wrap him in bubble wrap to protect him from himself, but as we all know, there would be a law against doing so. A more rational approach would be to just take over, and do everything for him. But, I can’t do that. He already knows his previous capabilities have deteriorated  He used to fix everything around the house, and now he can barely hold a screw driver still enough to tighten a screw. When accidents happen,  he is humiliated his Multiple Sclerosis has brought negative attention to him — again.

As much as my frustration wants me to yell  scream at him, I’ve learned to take a deep breath and smile. You can’t be angry when you smile and me dumping my wrath on him wouldn’t accomplish anything good; after all, he feels terrible already.

I love this man. I can’t take away his dignity and his eagerness to do things. He needs to try. I NEED him to try because I need to know he hasn’t given up. Plus, he feels good when he accomplishes the small feats. “Normal” people wouldn’t consider walking down the hallway without holding on to the wall an accomplishment, but for Ken, doing so makes a red-letter day. It’s a big deal for both of us. Sometimes we celebrate with a beer!

Like every other change that comes along, we find ways to cope. With accidents, I laugh and say, “So, gravity got you again, huh?” Then he laughs and says, “It’s the law, you know.” Our laughter takes away the immediate frustration we both feel. I clean up the mess. The sun comes up tomorrow and we both carry on as best as we can.