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Flexibility

Can You Come Here a Minute?

“Can you come here a minute?” I hear that every 30-60 minutes all day long and you know what?  It’s never a minute. When I enter his room to find out what he needs, I’m typically gone for 15-30 minutes.
Being the chief cook, laundress, banker, shopper, mechanic, fixer-upper, and caregiver; as well as spouse, Mom, grandma, and employee, my days are filled to overflowing. The only time I sit down is to eat and when I do, I’m usually composing a shopping list, taking care of bills, or completing assignments for work OR I’m feeding Lynn as I take a few bites as well. Most of my days are 19 straight hours of go, go, go; so in order to manage my life I have to be relatively organized.
“Organized?” you say as you look around my house. Well, my world might not look organized to you but trust me, it is. I have a hybrid concept of “everything in its place.” Its “place” is somewhere in a particular room, not a specific drawer, (well, sometimes a specific drawer if I use it fairly often) and is usually found somewhere to the “left as you enter the room.” For example, all medical equipment is in the spare bedroom, as is, the urinary catheter supplies. The equipment is located wherever you can get it to fit. The monthly catheter supplies are all on a shelf in that room and the daily supplies are in a plastic shelving unit in the bedroom. One is out of the way and the other is within arm’s reach of where I need it most. Supplies are stored according to purpose, frequency of use and size. I have cheap plastic storage bins stacked around that can be moved to where I need them and which allow me to have “activities” grouped together. Care supplies are organized; nothing else in the room is.
Clothes, for example, are not a priority for me. I want them clean, comfortable, and durable. I usually wear scrubs and they usually look well worn. I throw them in the hamper or washing machine, wait till I’m pulling out Lynn’s last pair of shorts to wear, and then and only then, do I do laundry. When the clothes are clean and dry, I hang them in the utility room next to the dryer for convenience or dump them into a laundry basket where they will probably stay until I need to use them again. My style of being organized – frequently used clothing right where I can walk by and grab them as I need them.
I wish I could be as organized with my schedule….but I can’t.
The key to my survival is flexibility and the ability to break tasks into smaller components quickly so that I can multitask. I keep in mind what is coming up next at all times. If I need to go to the back room to assist Lynn in answering the call of nature, I grab supplies or clean laundry to take with me. I ask Lynn to always tell me everything he needs when I first enter a room so I can plan my “process” for that particular visit. For example, if he needs me to make tea, cath him, adjust his position, and give him nose spray, I would put the water on to heat, fix the tea while it’s cooking, cath him, then adjust him so the process of cathing him would not disrupt the positioning needed, finish the tea then give him nose spray after he drank some hot tea. In my mind, I figure out how long something will take, what can be done in the meantime and what will be the impact on any one request by the sum and influence of all other requests. Through that analysis, I come up with a “routine.” Once I repeat that routine a few hundred times, it’s an automatic response. My goal=save time and energy.
That process works UNTIL he changes his mind in the middle of a routine and messes up the entire schedule. How often does that happen? continue reading at: http://multiplesclerosis.net/caregiver/caregiver-perspective-can-you-come-here-a-minute/http://multiplesclerosis.net/caregiver/caregiver-perspective-can-you-come-here-a-minute/
 

Moment by Moment

I was reading a blog about advice caregivers give to other caregivers and as I read through the suggestions (all of which rang true,) one connected with me more than all the others—“live in the moment.”

“Live in the moment,” is a phase I’ve heard much of my life in the context of learning to appreciate life.  The comment parallels the phases, “stop and smell the roses,” and “this, too, shall pass.”  While I rarely “stop to smell the roses” (all the flowers in my yard are artificial, even the roses), I do try my best to “live in the moment” and keep in mind that “this, too, shall pass” but from my perspective, they take on a little different meaning.
When I’m asked what advice I would give to someone who suddenly is thrust into the role of caregiver, I always say, “Take life moment by moment and try not to have, too, many expectations.”  I guess that sounds pessimistic to some but I see it as being realistic.
I’ve find that when I plan my day, I still tend to plan it as if I can actually control what happens.  For example, today is Saturday.  It is the one day I get to actually get a full night’s sleep provided we don’t have anyone coming to the house to help us out. Today, I had no visitors coming so I got seven hours of sleep!!!! I feel wonderful; full of energy.  I planned that after I finished our morning routine, I could write my blog, do some flower arrangements for the porch and get some work done for my paying job.  Wrong….
I started to write this blog at 12:00 p.m. It is now 2:30 p.m. and when I got interrupted, I had written two paragraphs.  Lynn has an unexpected trip back to the bathroom.  That’s a big deal when someone is fully dependent on someone else. It takes time to get them undressed again, assist them with contracting their abdominal muscles by pushing on their stomach for them, doing the necessary clean up, back to bed, redress, then back up again and settled in for their next task.  That additional 1 ½ hours of unexpected activity will mean either not doing something for my job or not doing the flower arrangements.  Things change, moment by moment and usually it’s not something that can be foreseen; however, it’s something that must be handled because it’s necessary and “you” have to do it.
Continue reading at: http://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/moment-moment/