I’m No Angel

I admit my life is very busy and very difficult. I also admit I manage it pretty well, but just because I have to do some pretty difficult tasks day after day and I keep doing them, doesn’t make me an angel. I realize that most people who are not full-time caregivers are amazed at what I do and how I manage but that just means I know stuff and I have abilities and that God blessed me with a servant’s heart that allows me to meet these challenges without quitting. It does not make me an angel.

I bet if you’re a caregiver, you’ve been called an angel a time or two, also. It’s a compliment that is intended to reward you for all your hard work, and I admit, it sounds nice, but when someone tells me I’m an angel, I’m embarrassed and I feel guilty because I’m far from being an angel.

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All He Can Do Is Yell

I’ve never been comfortable with strong expressions of anger. I’m the sort of person that prefers to compromise and resolve things peacefully so one of the more difficult challenges I have faced is how to handle Lynn’s frustrations expressed through anger.
Today as I was working at my desk, I heard over the baby monitor I use to make sure that I hear him if he needs anything, the increasing volume of Lynn’s voice as he was trying to get his voice recognition software to work properly. As I sat there, I could hear him first repeat the same command three times, each time a little differently.  Then he started adding in a few expletives and some not very flattering descriptions of the software program. Finally, the volume and expletives became so intense, I could no longer listen to it for fear that he was about to take his headphones off and through them across the room.
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The Best Laid Plans…Oh, Forget It

By far, one of the greatest frustrations I have as a caregiver is that I have no control over what I want to do and when I want to do it. I am sitting here so frustrated at this moment that I can hardly think straight.
Today is July 4, my day off.  However, I actually planned to work today to catch up on some projects at work that I REALLY need to do.  I had my plans all straight but here it is 4 pm and I have not done anything I planned to do.  I could cry.
I took some “me” time last night from midnight to 2 a.m. to watch a movie I rented from Blockbluster (been trying for a week to even be able to put it in the DVD player).  BIG MISTAKE.  It never pays to take “me” time.  I always regret it later.  So anyway, I took the time to watch a movie; afterwards waking Lynn for his dinner (yeah, I know we have weird schedules), feeding him, doing his night routine and then mine, so I got to bed at 3:30 a.m.  Up again at 5, 7, and 9 (Lynn thinking it was 10.  He seems to think he’s my personal alarm clock and heaven forbid I just be allowed to sleep till I wake up on a day off!) to cath him. I go back to bed to sleep till 10 so I get 5 3/4 hours of sleep (15 min per cath event).  Getting up at 10, of course, makes me  late getting started but I figure, we have nothing special we have to do today, I’ll easily get started by 1 with what I need to do.
Then the day precedes to be shot to h___.  I do the morning prep work while he does his vocal exercises.  I take him to the bathroom and it doesn’t go as expected.  He has to use suppositories due to limited muscle strength and it didn’t “come back” like it should.  That means disaster.  Now we’re waiting in the bathroom and he decides he needs to pee (why couldn’t he have gone before we go the bathroom–yeah that doesn’t make sense to you unless you know that the cath supplies are in the bedroom not the bathroom). I finish that, get him cleaned up and then he announces he wants to sit in his manual wheelchair (he’s trying to toughen up his butt in hopes he can tolerate the cushion in that chair and maybe go to church again one day).  That means rearranging various pieces of equipment to get the manual chair out of of that room and putting him on it instead of the power chair.  That done, we go to the kitchen for his morning pills.
In the kitchen he takes his meds and decides he wants me to put weights on his wrist to work his arms.  That done, I turn to begin preparing my meal….no wait…. he needs me to help him with his arm exercises.  I do that, then take off the weights, and begin to get ready to take him back to his room. No wait….”I want to do pull downs in the weight room,” he announces.
I again go to the weight room (which I had just rearranged to get the manual wheelchair out), rearrange it again to get it ready for him and back I go to the kitchen to get him.  I roll him to the weight room and help him do the pull-down work out and then take him to the bedroom to set up the massager for his feet. I then go to start my breakfast (two hours after I get up) and eat.  While eating I prepare mushrooms for roasting, and cook spinach for his diet; also make his soup for lunch.  As I finish, I hear, “Sweetie, come back. I need to go to the bathroom again.”  Large GROAN.
With sagging heart, I go and take him back to the bathroom (remember, I only do manual lifts so I’m physically lifting him in and out of these wheelchairs and onto the toilet).  He “goes” and then says he might as well lie down awhile so I roll him to his bed.  “Oh, yeah, I want to do  push-ups.” Seriously???
I get out the PVC work-out pipes that I insert under his mattress (out of the weight room, of course) and help him do push-ups.  Then I settle him down for a nap (put his pants on him again, cath him, put his boots on him so his feet don’t cramp, get the TV set for viewing, wash his face, and straighten up the room.)
While he’s down for a nap, I just finish cooking what I put on while eating, washing the dishes and doing a load of laundry when I hear, “I’m ready to get up.”  I get him re-dressed, hook him up to his peddlar,  hear “I’m hungry,” so I feed him breakfast and as I finish feeding him, hear, “I need to go back to the bathroom again.” Major sigh…..
Back to the bathroom, back to bed, redress, get him back up, reconnect him to his peddlar, make him tea, cath again, and do a few adjustments, and now it’s 4 pm.  Six hours after I get up, I’m finally finished with his morning activities and I’m ready to “start” my day.
I give up! I think I’ll just take the take “off.”  After all, it will be time to cath him again in thirty minutes (true enough, he called to be cathed again at precisely 4:36) and he’ll want a snack 30 minutes after than, and then more tea, followed by another cath…..
So much for my plans.
I know none of the above was unnecessary for his comfort and well-being.  I know that he hates the fact that he had to disrupt my day so much (and I’m sure he hated hearing my complaining about it even more).  But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s depressing to have so little control over my plans. I’m tired of being unable to plan anything and I’m tired of disappointments but most of all I’m tired of the fact that I haven’t found a way to not let it get to me.
I really wish it didn’t. I wish I could laugh it off and just roll with the punches but that “funny bone” just ain’t working right now.  Could be lack of sleep; could be the fact my arthritis is really bugging me; or it could be….I’m just feeling sorry for myself and making it all about me.  It’s not all about me and it’s not all about him.  It’s all about us.  We’re in this together and I need to keep my perspective on it.  In the scheme of my life right now, not being able to work on writing policies for my job is not a big deal. Being able to make him comfortable and take care of his needs IS a big deal. I just have to refocus and get my perspectives right.
Hmmmm….I think I might just have the thing to do that…I think I’ll go make a slushy out of watermelon….yeah, that will make it all better.
Happy 4th of July.

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Trying to be All Things at All Times

I’m having one of those “half-empty” days.  Didn’t start out that way.  I was excited because Lynn was having his Tram delivered today and I knew he would be happy to have that.  The Tram is a device we bought to help him stand and perhaps even walk one day so it’s a “hopeful” device based on our faith that he will be able to do more in line with walking, in time.
However, he woke up not feeling well from his Rebif shot last night.  When he doesn’t feel well, my day becomes devoted to his constant need for attention.  I needed today to catch up on work I was behind in from my job.  I count of having some dedicated time on Saturday and Sunday to make up for the time I have to spend caring for him during the week. Well, it’s now 7:30 p.m. and I’ve given up the hope that I’ll get to do any work.  I realized I was depressed and feeling overwhelmed so I decided to talk to you all because I know you understand.  In other words, you’ve “been there, done that.”
I get so discouraged sometimes.  Lynn wants me to be all things at all times and I get so tired of trying to keep up with it all.  For example, he has an itch that needs to be scratched so he calls me to come scratch his leg.  I get there and he looks at me expectedly as if I should know what itches so I go through the twenty-questions routine to narrow it down.  “Which leg, top or bottom, nearer the foot or thigh, inner or outer side,” until finally I get an idea of where the itch is.  Then I scratch wondering if I’m coming close and when I can stop.  He expects me to instinctually just know what he needs.
A few minutes later, “Donna, come fix my patch.”  Lynn has a pressure ulcer on his buttock I’ve been treating and covering with a foam-type patch.  It’s large enough that it pulls on his skin hair at times or sometimes the problem is the air-bladders in his seat cushion that press against it and make it hurts.  Whatever the problem, he expects me to make it better. He looks at me imploringly to say, “make it stop hurting” and I fiddle around under his leg, lifting it up, smoothing out the wrinkles, padding down the sharp points that come from under-inflated air bladders to see if “it makes it all better.” Sometimes it works right away; other times I work and work to make it all better. When it’s the last scenario, I feel like crying in frustration before I’m released by him to go back to whatever job I was trying to do before he called me for help.
When I’m not magically trying to fix pain and discomfort, then I’m acting as psychologist.  This week he got depressed because he had a visitor who choose to tell him about two people she knew with MS who had serious complications or whom the disease had devastated.  One of them died and the other is bed-ridden and in a lot of pain all the time. After she left, Lynn, in exasperation asked, “why do people do that? Why would anyone tell someone with a chronic health condition about someone with the same condition that was doing much worse than they are?  Can’t they understand that I don’t want to hear about how “bad” I could get? It’s hard enough to keep a positive attitude and keep fighting this thing without someone trying to bring me down with stories of how others lost their battle.” After that visit he was irritable and easily annoyed for a while so he needed a lot of attention.
A new challenge lies ahead for me. Lynn now has his Tram which could lead the way to a lot of progress OR it could result in a lot of disappointment and frustration if his condition won’t allow him to stand with support.  However, who is going to be the one to help him with his goal of walking?  I am of course.  Insurance cut out his home visits for Physical Therapy.  They might approve outpatient visits but honestly, if I had to take him in for PT every day, I might as well give up my job now.  It takes a minimum of three hours to get him and I ready if we are going somewhere or having someone come to us; then there’s thirty minutes or up to an hour to drive to wherever we’re going.  Therefore, to save time, I’ll have to become his PT.  I already help him every morning to change weights, apply straps, adjust positioning, hold equipment, etc. while he works out. I’ll be adding to that assistance with standing. He will need to increase his endurance by standing longer at a time so I’ll have to be close by meaning–more time away from my paying job.
Everything he asks me to do he needs to have done for optimum health. Everything he asks me to do though takes time from all the house maintenance, car maintenance, shopping, cleaning, food preparation, personal hygiene, job duties, making appointments, etc.  He REALLY needs a full-time assistant but our bills are significant enough that I couldn’t carve out that much money to have someone full-time–and in-home care is not covered by insurance. I feel like I’m working twenty-four hours a day; seven days a week.  I haven’t had a day away from him that wasn’t related to my going into work since Eli was born and I stayed at the hospital all day/night with Sarah and Greg waiting for his arrival.  That was May 27.  Before that I had a shopping day in October looking for a dress to wear to my nephew’s wedding.  That’s the only time I have been away for several hours unrelated to work in a year.
I’m tired.  I’m discouraged.  I need sleep.  I need to get away…..but I need to go give him his shower, fix dinner, get things ready for his family who are coming to our house for an after-Christmas gathering tomorrow, and meet him many requests for assistance till I fall into bed around 2:00 a.m. tonight. Oh well, life goes on…
PS:  Don’t worry about me. I’m just using you to regenerate myself. Thanks for allowing me to share my feelings with you.  I can’t do that with Lynn; it would hurt him too much.  I’ll be fine.  I’ll see my grandson tomorrow for a few minutes and the world will be smiles and coos again.
Thanks for listening.

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As a caregiver, I’m asked to assume many roles–comforter, nurse, counselor, banker, chauffeur, and many others; but the one role that I really hate is being the man-of-the-house.  I’m sure the same holds true for men who are caregivers to women.  I would venture to say that most caregivers are satisfied with their God-given gender.  I know I am.  I like being a woman accepting both the bad with the good.  It’s a role I know how to do since I’ve been this way for 55 years.  On the other hand, I was not born a man and I do not have any desire to become one, compete with one, or assume the responsibilities of one, but that’s what I’m asked to do at times.
What caused me to get on this soap-box you may say?  My car.  I went out to the car while my step-son was here to stay with Lynn so I could go to the grocery store.  When I climbed in and reached up to adjust my rear-view mirror, it was not there.  Instead, there was a cord hanging down with the mirror at its end and a black bar in the seat beside me.  Needing to get to and from the store quickly, I left it all there and took the van instead.  When I got back, I told Lynn that I would need to call our mechanic on Monday to get him to fix the mirror on the Impala.  Lynn’s response was, “You don’t need to get Ronnie to do that, you can handle that yourself.” He then proceeded to tell me how simple it was to take the mirror apart and glue it back in place. 
Now any of you men out there who have ever repaired a mirror that has come unglued will realize this it really does not take a rocket scientist to repair this situation nor do you have to know how to tune an engine or use a lot of tools.  You’re probably shaking your heads saying, “Yeah, it’s a five-minute fix.  Don’t pay a mechanic to do that.” That was Lynn’s opinion, too.  Mine was, “well if it’s so easy, then you go out there and do it.” 
Ouch!  Not very sensitive of me, I admit.  My purpose was not to make him feel bad about not being able to fix the car but to instead emphasize that while it’s easy for some people but not for everyone…including me.   Perhaps it IS so simple a process that even I could do it, but I DON’T WANT TO KNOW HOW TO FIX MY CAR! 
In exasperation, I declared, “why do I need to make a special trip to NAPA (which is next door to our mechanic) to buy glue, then figure out how to disassemble the casing (or whatever) on the mirror mount, glue it and then reassemble it all, probably getting frustrated and stressed in the process when I can take it to Ronnie and he can do it in five minutes, on the first try?”  Sure I could save some money.  I might even feel a sense of accomplishment for repairing it myself BUT I have enough to do with what I have to keep up with every day. I don’t want to learn something new.  I want to go see Ronnie and have him fix it.  He’s a mechanic and a good one; let’s let him have the business, okay?
I do realize, it’s really not about fixing the mirror.  What I’m upset about is having to learn to do things my husband used to take care of so easily.  He was a carpenter.  He was very good at doing repairs to homes and vehicles.  He knows his stuff so well that his first response is to tell me I can fix it myself with him telling me how.  What usually happens instead is that I get stressed and frustrated and he gets stressed and frustrated–for different reasons–and neither of us is happy. I may eventually get the thing fixed but I resent having to do it. 
There…that’s it.  I resent having to do it.
I resent the fact that I have to be both the woman and the man of the house.  I felt that way some when I was divorced because I had been left alone to fend for myself, but now I have my spouse who wants to help but can’t.  He gets frustrated and angry because he’s not able to help me. Then he feels depressed and inadequate because he sees me struggling to do it all.  I’m juggling so many plates in the air at one time that I can barely keep them going before they all fall down.  He hates to ask me to do one more thing but knows that if he could just explain it well enough, then he could still be useful by saving us money on repairs. But then if I take on the new task, nothing gets taken away; it’s just one more thing to do so I debate, “do I try to fix it with his help or call someone else for assistance?” Lately, I’ve been calling more because I realize I just can’t do it all and I don’t want to be the man anyway.
There are times I swallow my fear of failing when something needs to be done and I try to do it myself.  When I succeed, I admit, I feel proud but I’ve learned I have to balance my life.  Sometimes, it’s best just to ask for help, so come Monday morning, I’ll be making that call to Ronnie, “Hey, can you fix my mirror?”


Reaching my Saturation Point – at least today

I guess I think that I can do whatever I sit my mind to and that my body and abilities will fall in line to make sure it happens.  So I strive to be the best manager, employee, mother, wife, caregiver, and friend, I can be. I want to take care of everyone’s needs and solve all their problems and still have energy afterwards to take care of our home and personal affairs.  Well, today I reached my saturation point and had a melt down…and so did Lynn….
If you follow my blog, you know that I offered to start an online “virtual” support group.  The plan was for those who were interested to call-in and we would have a conference call support group. I announced that if there was any interest, I would get it started.  I had a few interested responses so I created a Skype account and ordered a webcam.  The only problem is, I didn’t have time to learn how to use them properly.  I got everything loaded in advance but hadn’t had time to do a test drive, so, I was a little nervous about having the conference call today. 
What also didn’t help was that I was up till 2 a.m. after working till midnight on some reports for work and then getting Lynn and I ready for bed. I slept-in till 10 a.m., but I still should have had time plenty of time to see to the test before 2 p.m. when the call was scheduled.
Only it didn’t work out that way.
Each time I would sit down to pull up the program, Lynn would need something.  Then just as I was going to lay him down for  a nap, my son and his girlfriend came over to see him for father’s day. I haven’t seen either of them in a while and my son had been out of work for a week due to eye problems so I wanted to spend time with them.  While they were here, I put Lynn to bed for a short rest.  Suddenly I realized it was getting close to conference call time.  I put my conversation on hold with my son and went to get Lynn up.  Realizing I was most likely going to be late for the call, I sent an email to the other participant (I ended up with only one person interested in attending the conference call) to say I might be running late before going to get him up.  Sure enough, I was about 15 minutes late getting back to my computer after he finished with all his requests. By that point, the other party was not answering the call (I’m sure she had given up by then and if she’s reading this, I apologize for being so late!)
Since I could not get though on the call, I decided to test the connection and see how well the webcam worked.  I called to the computer in the back room where Lynn was and tried to talk to him.  The audio didn’t work well at all and he could not see the video.  So I tried to figure out how to make the equipment work properly for about thirty minutes, getting more and more frustrated as I did because the instruction book was so difficult to figure out.  Before long, I was ready to through the little camera away. 
Then Lynn needed me to turn off his camera because when he closed down Skype, the camera stayed on.  Well, it didn’t have an off button and I couldn’t find an exit menu for his software.  After spending ten minutes pushing more button, I finally decided to just unplug it.
By that point, I was in tears.
When I get upset, Lynn gets upset because he knows I’m so overwhelmed with all I have to do.  He tries to encourage me but all I want to do is cry.  So, I do, and I feel better, but that’s hard for him to understand. 
Then it’s Lynn’s turn to have a melt down…
Afterwards, I get him settled in his peddler, go fix some lunch, and go dig up some tomato plants that grow naturally near our house and transplant them into a pot on the deck.   I come inside and start to cook Lynn’s dinner when I hear something hit the floor hard in the bedroom.  Doesn’t sound big enough to be him but something obviously hit the floor.  I take off for his room and he’s heading my way in an obvious “mood.”  He looks like a thunder-cloud rolling in from the west. (Remember, I left him attached to his peddler which is obviously not attached now.) 
“What’s wrong?” I say.  He bellows back, “This !%##$%$% seat cushion is tearing up my @### and I have to get off it.”  Then he adds, as he rolls over some of the things he has knocked onto the floor, “I’m so #$%^ tired of being sick and feeling like %^&*(!” Then as he pushes his way to the bed so I can take him off the chair, he runs into the bed, knocks it off the blocks it sits on, and out rolls the knob to this wheelchair I knocked off earlier in the week and couldn’t find after searching for an hour! I yell at him, he growls, …. and then we fix the disrupted room …and our tension deflates.
It was bound to happen.  Being sick for long periods and being confined to being with someone who is sick for long periods takes a serious toll on one’s emotional stability.  Our relationship is like a see-saw.  If one is down and the other is up, we keep moving forward and it works. But when both of us are down, we’re not at a standstill, we’re broken.  Something has to give to take away some of the pressure pushing us down.  For me it was tears and for him it was banging into things and cussing. He needs a punching bag but he can’t punch so his chair and his mouth are his only outlets.  All that pent-up energy has to go somewhere!
So right now we both feel better.  We both “blew” in our own way  or got  our pent-up emotions “wrung out” of us by situations so we’re stable again….and everything’s good.
Back to the conference call.  I’ll try it again on July 14 at 2 p.m. eastern standard time.  Send me your Skype contact information in advance if you want to be on the call.  I have some concerns about whether this is actually going to work or not.  I realized today that Lynn’s needs can’t be put on hold while I talk on the computer so being able to set aside a particular time might be a challenge.  Plus I’m a little concerned he might over hear my comments and I don’t want him to do that….Just some nagging concerns I’ve been having.  Let me know what you think, too, about it–honestly.
Till next week,

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Whose life is this I'm living?

Have you ever wondered whose life it is you are living?  Sometimes I wonder if I exist anymore. Some days it seems that I only exist to be Lynn’s assistant.  I do not have a life of my own anymore.  Sometimes I try to have one but when I do, I just become frustrated with trying so I try not to try.  I also wonder who would I be if I was not providing care to Lynn?
When you are a caregiver, your entire life is wrapped around the person for whom you are caring. You decide what time you have to get up in the morning based on what you have to do for your loved one.  Here’s how today went for example.  I wanted to attend a meeting today, in person, at work.  In order to do that I had to make sure I had someone who could come in to stay with Lynn.  I had to plan for what he would need while I was away and I had to calculate how long I would be gone, what else I might be able to fit in while I was away, and what he would need while I was away.  I set my clock to get up two hours before I had to leave. I  got up and put him to bed while I showered (he sits up to sleep at night so he can peddle if he gets stiff).  Putting him to bed takes about 20 minutes.  I showered, blow-dried my hair and put in hot curlers. I didn’t apply make up or put on my clothes because I knew they would get messed up as I performed his morning care.  I got his medicine ready and part of his breakfast and went to get him up.  I got him dressed, and brought him into the kitchen to take his medicine while I ate breakfast, then I took him to the bathroom, catheterized him, redressed him for being up all day, brought him back to the kitchen, fixed his breakfast.  He fed himself while I brushed my teeth and applied makeup.  Meanwhile he kept calling me to help with things he was doing.  I was supposed to leave at 10 and did so finally at 10:15.  Not bad; I’m often later.
Today I was able to sit through the entire meeting without being called away.  I was actually able to assume my “worker” role and learn something new.  I was able to talk about something other than MS and to do something that did not involve caring for Lynn for an entire 1 1/2 hours. It was refreshing.  Then I left to go home.
On my way home, I had to stop at Walmart to get some things we needed, go to Krogers to get his medicine, look for a movie he wanted to watch at Foodlion, and make two other stops.  He called me as I was leaving Walmart to ask when I could get home.  Knowing that meant he needed something as soon as I could get home, I skipped a few planned things and headed home.  When I got home, I resumed caring for him for the next two hours and then put him to bed.  Then I resumed working till he woke up.  It’s always a balance between what he needs, what I need to care for him, preparing to care for him, cleaning up afterwards, and planning ahead.  Whatever a caregiver does, he or she has to consider the impact on the one being cared for.  No decision is made in isolation and whatever you might want to do, those plans are contingent upon the other one’s needs. 
My office party is next Thursday.  I’m hoping to go but I know that I can’t be counted on to be there.  If I can’t find a sitter or if he’s sick, I can’t go.  His needs have to come first; just like caring for a child.  I often feel like a single Mom again because it’s the same now as when I was caring for two young children on my own.  Usually at my age, you’re able to start living your own life again but not so if you’re a caregiver.  Your life is not your own.  Your life is lived though the life of your partner or “care-ee” and that’s hard to adjust to at times. 
I have chosen to give up my life to care for my husband.  It’s what I want to do and it’s what is best for him but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t times that I want to just escape.  I would love a day off –a day that I’m not rushing to get what I need done; a day to just relax and be away but in order to get that someone else has to be here and everyone else has their lives to live as well.  I have to ask for help so often that to ask for just a day off seems rather selfish; I already ask a lot from them. I have a lot of really great family and friends who are here to help on occasion so I’m very fortunate.  But I admit, that sometimes I would like to just get away and be me for a while…whoever that is.

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The world still doesn't understand disabilities


Would you believe I still don’t have the loan settled for our van?  I know God will provide and this van will be ours but it has been so very frustrating dealing with the loan company this week.  Here’s the issue:
The seller is asking about $7000 more than the blue book value for a 2005 Uplander.  The loan company’s policy is that they will not loan more than 125% of the blue book value.  Can you figure out why there’s a difference in price?  Of course!  It’s a wheelchair converted van! Duh!  It’s not a regular van that is equivalent to the basic 2005 Uplander blue book value.  It’s a van that has had $20,000+ of work done to it so that someone in a wheelchair can use it. Therefore, an additional $7000 is extremely reasonable as an additional cost above the blue book value.  However, the fact that this is a specialized van does not seem to figure into the equation.  The loan officer is very sympathetic.  She was once a nurse and understands the need for the van and the fact that they are very expensive but rules are rules–there has to be a way to determine a “reasonable” value for the van and that’s the blue book value.  I’ve suggested that she contact companies that actually do conversion van work so hopefully she will but today was Veteran’s Day and they were closed so I’m not sure what is going on with the loan.  It’s just so frustrating that rules get in the way that do not take into consideration the needs of the disabled.
If dealing with the loan company was not enough this week, I’m also struggling with the insurance company regarding a patient lift I want to buy. When Lynn was in the hospital, I learned to use a device called a Maximove.  It was so easy to manage.  It has electronic controls and allows you to be at the patient’s side as you adjust him from lying to sitting and then slowly adjust his position as he’s placed into a chair or location.  It’s easy to use, very stable, and much safer than the hydrolytic lifts the insurance companies want you to use.  Hydrolytic, manual lifts require that you stand near the pump and/or release value as you use the

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device.  Although that’s not that far from the patient, it doesn’t allow you to be right there with them.  It’s also difficult to get the patient adjusted because you can’t change their position while they are in the sling.  I’ve tried the one we have now that has been approved and I never can get Lynn comfortably settled into his wheelchair. Usually he ends up on his spine or twisted. It looks like the insurance company would realize that if it’s not as easy and as safe to use, the caregiver is not going to use it and eventually the wear and tear on their body will cause the insurance company to have two people submitting claims instead of one.  Go figure…
I wonder if the people making the rules for insurance and loans would implement as many barriers to caregivers if they became one themselves.  Maybe it would help if they “walked a mile in my shoes.”

The world still doesn't understand disabilities Read More »

What a day!

I have had a terrible day, and it’s all due to having to get a new modem to my computer.  I truly believe computers can either be your best friend or your worst nightmare, and since about Wednesday; I’ve had it up to my eyeballs in frustration with them.

First, on Tuesday, I lost the internet.  I HAVE to have the internet because that’s how I connect to work.  I called tech support and spent over an hour, trying to figure out what was wrong.  They decided it was my modem and said they would have to send me one.  I was really upset.  If I can’t work from home, I have to go to work.  Who was going to stay with Lynn if I went in?  If I didn’t go in, I had to take a vacation day.  Who wants to take a vacation because their internet is down? 

I was on the verge of tears.  Lynn insisted he would be fine and I had to leave him home alone.  I didn’t want to but what other choice did I have?  I started getting him ready, getting the items he would need within reach, tidied myself up to go in (I don’t exactly dress professionally at home), and got ready to leave.  Fortunately, before I got to the main highway, Lynn called to say the internet was back up.  I was so relieved! I turned around and came home (so much for the tech support diagnosis).

Late Wednesday the modem came in by UPS.  Supposedly it’s faster than what I had so this morning I hooked it up.  I’ve been working on the x!@#$%^ thing all day!  First getting my computer set up took well over an hour because the activation process wasn’t working for me. I finally got that settled.  I then had internet, but Lynn’s computer didn’t.  Tonight I spent 2 hours on the phone with a guy from India (who was incredibly nice), but Lynn’s computer still doesn’t have an internet connection.  It’s connected to my modem, but the internet won’t come up. What’s with that?  I finally had to get off the phone. I have now hooked up a laptop for him to use, but it’s got such a small keyboard and monitor I don’t know that he can use it at all.

I share all this because of the effect it had on us.  I was so frustrated all day–torn between wanting to help him (so he could work on his book marketing and play music from YouTube), and I need to work or do things around the house.  He knew how upset I was, and that directly made him feel like a burden.  He had had a good day today.  He was able to do things in physical therapy and later, when he was exercising that he hasn’t been able to do in a while.  He was so excited, and all I could do was focus on the !@#$%^ computer.  My behavior stole his joy.  He was feeling so bad about being a burden to me that he was nearly in tears this afternoon. Then he recognized it was just Satan trying to steal his joy and undermine his progress so he would give up. Which also showed me that Satan was doing the same thing to me, so instead of seeing Lynn’s growth, I would focus on the difficulties.  What a shame. 

I wish I could say I’ve learned my lesson, but I know myself too well.  I can easily get overwhelmed and start to feel sorry for myself, and then I take it out on Lynn, letting him know how frustrated I am that he cannot do more and accusing him of not trying hard enough. He truly tries but with fatigue and spasms, and just plain ole MS complications, he can only do so much.

Lord, please forgive me of my attitude and self-pity and help me to appreciate the improvements and the successes.  And Lord, please give me an extra measure of peace in my spirit so that the frustrations of trying to work on his computer tomorrow won’t result in the same thing.  Amen.

What a day! Read More »