Whom Do I Choose?

I am feeling so frustrated tonight because my good sense tells me not to do something I really want to do but my heart is longing to do it.  Here’s my dilemma.  I want to be a caregiver to two different people (actually three) and it’s tearing me up that I can’t.
My grandson is very sick tonight.  It probably won’t amount to anything but he’s only six months old and has a very bad upper respiratory track infection.  He can hardly breathe, his mucus drainage is so thick he’s choking on it, and he can’t drink (he’s only had nine ounces of milk today) so he’s becoming dehydrated.  His mother (my daughter) is scared to death. Her husband’s cousin died at this same age of an upper respiratory infection and she’s afraid it will run in the family so she doesn’t plan to sleep until he can breathe.
She had him in the emergency room last night unable to breathe and she’s had him to herself all day today so I’m sure she has not slept since yesterday.  That means whether she wants to sleep or not, she will at some point and when she does she needs to make sure that little Eli is safe.  I’ve coached her on some tricks-of-the-motherly trade to try to help her with the approaching night (everything from poweraide for hydration to sitting in the shower steam to open up his head).  I’ve any suggested using the carry sling to hold him against her tonight so when she falls asleep, the baby will not fall off her chest.  I’ve offered prayers and my limited experience to her over the phone, but what I really want to do is to go over there and keep him for a while so she can rest. But, I can’t do that…
With MS, one of the big risks is contacting infections.  MS is an autoimmune disease meaning that the immune system does not function properly.  People with MS must avoid getting sick because it’s more difficult for them to recover.  Lynn, for example, will take a month to recover from something most people are over in three days.  His lung capacity is compromised due to weak diaphragm muscles.  Therefore, if he gets a cold he has a more difficult time coughing up secretions and keeping from getting pneumonia.  Therefore, we don’t go out much in public during cold and flu season to limit his exposure.
We were already exposed to Eli all weekend.  I kept him Saturday afternoon and then again Sunday morning.  At those times he wasn’t eating much but he did not appear the least bit sick.  He was happy, breathing well, and sleeping without any congestion.  I was very surprised when his Mom called to warn me he was sick and Lynn had been exposed.  Oh well, you can’t avoid everything.
But here again, MS gets in the way of what I want and need to do.  I want to help my daughter and grandson but I can’t because Lynn is my first priority and responsibility.  I worry about my responsibilities getting in the way in meeting the needs of my other family members too.  My parents are around eighty years old.  They are very healthy still but every time the phone rings, I’m afraid I will hear that one of them is sick or injured.  I will want to go to be by their side but what will I do with Lynn? If I take him with me, his wheelchair can’t go into their home. He couldn’t stay alone at a hotel because he can’t do anything for himself.  I could maybe get someone to stay with him but no one in the family really knows how to care for him 24 hours a day and besides, everyone works or has other responsibilities.  I could have my parents brought here but I know they would not want to leave home.  It bothers me a great deal because I’m torn between who I get to help when I want to help them all if they need it.
So I deal with it by not thinking about it.  (visions of Tara and Scarlet O’Hara run through my mind…”I won’t think of it today.  I’ll think of it tomorrow.”) I know one day I’ll have to make a choice but that day is not today.  I just pray I’ll make the right one; the one where I can do the most good and the least damage.

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Life Changes

I’m going to be a grandma for the first time in June!  My daughter is having a little boy and I’ve been more than a little excited since the first moment I heard the news (which was about two days after she knew she was pregnant). She and her husband are going to make great parents and I’m fortunate that they are not that far away so I’ll be able to see them fairly often (I hope).
I’ve thought a lot about this new baby entering into our family.  I day-dream about babysitting and playing with him.  I want to go to their home for his birthday parties, attend his school functions…all the things grandparents love to do.  Then there’s this part of me that thinks about the reality of my ability to do that.  I expect I can babysit here just fine but Lynn can’t get into their house so  I couldn’t go to his birthday parties unless they were somewhere accessible or Lynn didn’t go.  I also wonder as I look ahead, when the little guy actually starts school, what shape will Lynn be in by then.  That’s five years away.  Thinking back five years ago, Lynn was still working and totally independent.  What if the next five years has the same decline of the past five? ….I can’t even go there.
So instead, I’m going to think positively.  I know that there will be grandma time.  I also know that Lynn wants some grandpa time so we’re thinking about getting him one of those things you strap on to hold the baby so he can safely cuddle him, too.  Oh, probably he could not tolerate much time actually holding or playing with the baby but we’ll find a way for him to participate. I already have visions of the two of them racing down the hallway in Lynn’s powerchair!
That’s not our only life change coming up.  Lynn’s son is getting married in November!  Our kids are all great at finding ways to include Lynn so he can fully be a part of their lives.  For instance, Lynn had secretly hoped that his son would ask him to be his best man but he was not going to say anything about it to him because he didn’t want to put any pressure on him.  It’s their wedding and we want them to celebrate as they see fit.  But he didn’t need to worry, he’s going to be the best man.  We’ve been laughing about me getting him dressed in a tux and this should be something to see.  Maybe a youtube moment that would go viral?
The wedding is at 2 pm, early enough that hopefully Lynn won’t have gotten worn out by then and late enough for me to make sure he’s had all his essential daily activities completed in plenty of time.  The other factor is the rehearsal dinner…you know the groom’s family does that.  My concern, though not shared with them, was that between the rehearsal and the dinner, Lynn would become so worn out that he would be barely able to function the next day.  Well, they solved that problem for us.  We’re having a rehearsal luncheon instead.  Everyone will come to our house, I’ll fix something we can serve buffet style and that can be fixed in advance and when he gets tired, he can rest.  I’m hoping he can do the lunch thing, ly down for a while and then go to rehearsal, come home and rest for the remainder of the night and be refreshed for the wedding.
So we have major life changes happening in our family.  I’m excited about them all but as is true for anything, it has it challenges.  When a family member has MS, special consideration and long-range planning is needed. You hear the news, get excited, and then at almost the same time, start thinking about what changes will be needed so that the MS won’t get in the way.  The important thing is to make sure it doesn’t stop you or anyone else in the family from participating and enjoying the new events.  It would be easier in some ways to just “sit this one out” but we intend to keep our lives as normal as possible and to participate in whatever we can whenever we can… and so far it’s working.  I hope the same is working for you and yours.

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