Frustrations of Dealing with Limitations

Life at our house over the past month has been rather challenging.  My Mom was just diagnosed with ovarian cancer and lives about two-hundred miles away; so we have moved her and my Dad in with us while she goes through chemotherapy.  Lynn’s Mom has myasthenia gravis and suffers from extreme weakness all the time. She fell while home alone and got pretty banged up though fortunately no broken bones. His Step-Dad was diagnosed this week with lung cancer and has maybe six months to live…and it’s the holiday season.

As the primary caregiver for Lynn, not only do I deal with his physical health but his mental andemotional health as well.  All this bad news has been very difficult for him.  He is angry because he wants to help but is limited in what he can do.  For example, we had bought his Mom an emergency alarm button to wear but she was intimidated by how to set it up and therefore, it was not working when she fell. Lynn had tried to explain to her what she needed to do to start the service but she just shuts down when it comes to technical discussions. Therefore, he felt he needed to go to her house to make sure the system was functioning.  We climbed into the van and, of course, when we get there, his wheelchair couldn’t go inside. (I strongly suspected it couldn’t before we went.)  He was convinced that with the small metal ramps we have, he could get in. I could tell his need to make sure she was safe was over-riding his knowledge of logistics; so we went and I went inside to hook everything up while he waited in the van. His Mom couldn’t come out to see him so I became the liaison between them and made sure his need to see her safe was satisfied.

Now his Step-Dad is dying. His Step-Dad didn’t enter the picture until Lynn was an adult so it’s not the same impact as when his own Dad died with MS when Lynn was twenty but still, he’s known Ben for about thirty years and he is special to Lynn.  Tomorrow, we plan to load up and go to the hospital to see him to essentially say good-bye because we try to avoid hospitals as much as possible during cold and flu season to keep Lynn healthy, I’m nervous about going.  To visit face-to-face versus calling is a choice I allowed Lynn to make because, again, he needs the opportunity to satisfy his emotional needs as well as his physical.

Lynn has really become depressed with all the health challenges affecting our family.  He’s a tender hearted man and though he has great faith and knows each of them knows Jesus and will have a home in heaven, the grief he is feeling over their suffering and uncertain future is difficult for him because he has no control.  He’s trying to control his emotions and not add more to my load but I hear him getting angry and frustrated at minor things as he seeks to write on his book.  He’s sleeping a lot; he doesn’t feel well; he has no patience; and he’s making poor decisions regarding his own health (staying up till 6:00 a.m. while I take my Mom to the emergency room instead of going to bed and getting the rest he needs).  I’m trying to help him cope through humor and helping him find solutions that work for the both of us but I have to admit, my patience is at a limit, too.
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I got a text message early this morning from my son saying that his fiance’s mother, Leslie, was beginning to transition toward her death.  I hadn’t heard dying referred to in that way before but it made a lot of sense as I thought about it.  There are specific changes that occur as our bodies begin to stop functioning and prepare us to die.  For those who are followers of Christ Jesus, it prepares them for accepting their heavenly bodies and begins the process of ashes to ashes; dust to dust.  Tonight at 10 p.m. she finished her transition and she has now gone home to her heavenly family.
Anticipating his call (admittedly, not quite this soon) that she had died, I’ve thought a lot about how we transition our lives.  For Leslie, she no longer suffers.  She is being welcomed by family and friends who have gone before her and by a heavenly Father who’s love surrounds her in warmth.  She has no more pain, no more worries, no more fear.  Her transition to the purest form of bless possible is now complete.
For her family, they transition to sadness mixed with some relief.  They are relieved her suffering was so brief (she was diagnosed with lung and bone cancer just two months ago) but sad because they cannot have her with them physically anymore.  There will be many adjustments for them to make since my son and his fiance lived with her and her husband.  They will each assume new roles and new responsibilities.  It will be tough on all of them and has been since she got sick but they have also grown and matured so much in the last few weeks.  I am so proud of both my son and his fiance in how they have worked together and handled this difficult time.
I also have thought about the transition that occurred in our lives when Lynn was diagnosed with MS; then again when he fell and was left helpless on the floor for several hours till I could come rescue him; and then again when he came home from the hospital so weak and de-conditioned that he could not sit up on his own or do any self-care. We transitioned from being a couple fully involved in our church to a couple who only attend church electronically now.  We used to help others and now we need others to help us.  He used to build and create with his hands and now he must do so with his mind.
Transition implies a gradual change from what was to what is.  After the transition, you’re left with a new reality.  It takes a lot of adjustment and sometimes it’s a struggle. Sometimes it’s a welcome change; other times we go kicking and screaming but in time, if we’re wise, we accept it and move on.  We take a deep breath and move forward taking it one step at a time without looking too far ahead.
Leslie has now transitioned into her new life and her family are transitioning into theirs without her.  I pray for comfort and peace for them all and am thankful for their faith and the knowledge that they are not alone.

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