I say it all the time. Someone says, “How are you?”
I say, ” I’m hanging in.”
Or I say it to others as bland advice to show I care, but have nothing wiseror really helpful to offer, ” Well, hang in there.”
And tonight my finger nails are tired…from hanging in and hanging on. I believe, as caregivers, we are often just hanging in and hanging on.
Two weeks ago, my mother was released from the sling and stabilizing contraption she wore for two months after breaking her shoulder. We then experienced one week of increased energy, pleasant confusion but good conversation and laughter. She engaged cheerfully in activities and my hopes were raised for a good summer.
Then another UTI raised it’s ugly head. Now we have had ten days of major confusion, listlessness and her frustration when she can’t articulate a clear sentence. She looked at me one day and said ” I just feel like sh-t”.
I answered, ” I know Mom and I’m so sorry.” And we wait for the antibiotic to finally kick in.
Tonight, the meal at the assisted living wasn’t fit for man nor beast. Tiny portions, little protein, and a slice of plain white bread. No roll, or biscuit, or whole wheat or grain bread. Mother’s table mates were vocal with their disgust. We pay a million dollars a month ( not really, but you get my point) and this is dinner. Long term care is NOT what it needs to be. And who still eats plain white bread??????
And earlier today some one said something to me that was really offensive and just plain rude.
And our airconditioning is on the blink. I sweat as I write.
This weekend I read the new Chicken Soup for the Soul book. It is for those dealing with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. I am privileged to know two of the contributors to this collection of stories “of caregiving, coping and compassion”. I urge you to purchase the book. The stories are lovely, and heart warming and inspiring. Royalties from the book go to the Alzheimer’s Association. I am prejudiced, but it’s a great organization and they do excellent work.
But in my current mood, the book just made me sad. There were no stories of overcoming the disease. There were no truly “happy” endings. Sometimes I get tired of the “heart warming” and the coping and I just want the cure. And then I felt depressed. And then I was angry.
And tonight my fingernails are tired.
Then I stumbled upon an article with a quote by neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD. She said ” When you feel an emotion caused by a negative event, it takes only 90 seconds for the body to process the resulting stress hormones and return to it’s baseline setting.” Her recommendation was to not think, just feel – for 90 seconds – and then let it go!
So tonight will be my 90 seconds – of sadness, frustration, anger and tired fingernails. Tomorrow, I will rise, and I will take on the challenge once more. I will strengthen my grip. I will move forward in a pro-active way and I will CONTINUE THE FIGHT. Change will happen only when we make it happen. Are you with me?