We are nearing the end of our first week with Dennis being at home. A routine is developing. Our helpers are arriving on the assigned days. Every day we figure out some small thing that is a better way of doing, a better product, a better schedule, a better order. Hard things become more do-able.
I am so grateful for all of this. There is a certain comfort having the two of us in the house, three counting Shadow (the cat). Our times are quiet. The sun comes in through our living room windows on a clear day. The moon and stars, reflecting off the snow, light up the still nights. We help Dennis up to sit in the recliner where he sleeps, or listens to TV or music. The cat settles down on his lap in the chair, or on the bed. There is some little chore every hour or so, a medicine, feeding or position change.
The more active parts of the day are getting going in the morning and getting to bed in the evening. There is about an hour of work involved making sure the husband is clean, dry and comfortable. It’s physically taxing for us caregivers and for him. He gets exhausted being lifted, rolled, and “fixed” for whatever is next.
He says very little and sleeps, or has his eyes closed most of the time. He says he has no pain, no fear, very little discomfort ever. He can answer simple questions like that, but ask him anything complicated and he cannot find an answer. He has nothing to say about any of his care, with the exception of answering when I say I am about to take his blood pressure. “Be sure to give it back when you’re done.”
There is evidence that he is not a blank slate. He dreams a lot and talks in his sleep. He asked yesterday if I would read something he wrote “in the spirit”. He was very proud of it and said it was a lot like what the founding fathers would have written, Ben Franklin in particular. He said it was kind of about politics and the need to be a good listener, that silence isn’t necessarily weakness. It took a while for me to get all this from him by asking questions. I wanted to know how I was to read it if it was “in the spirit” and the conversation got too complex at that point. He stopped and admitted it was confusing, to him as well as to me.
I am glad that he does not seem to be suffering or unhappy – those are complicated thoughts, and he just doesn’t have them. I think it is God’s blessing on him that he doesn’t have the awareness of his own condition. He is not a complainer now, although that used to be one of the family’s sore spots. In the past he was more prone to notice one thing not to his liking and disregard a host of commendables. His nature has softened, become more reflective, accepting and content. He has been very open to God moving him in that direction. It is one of the blessings that has come.
One thing yet to be figured out is how I will find my own life around the demands of caregiving. At this point I spend a lot of time staring into space and trying to be ready for the next task. Trying not to run out of supplies, trying to remember medication schedules, trying to be creative in making our time together interesting, good. But it is winter, and there are very few expectations of me. My stress is limited to caregiving. That also is a blessing and I am grateful.
One thought on “Week One at Home”
Shirley, Dennis is so blessed to have you by his side — caring for him and loving him! You have amazing insight into your circumstances and you still find joy in the midst of your suffering. I am praying for you and Dennis. Your love for each other shines in your writing.
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