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Moving forward


swilkinson

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It's taken me years to get comfortable being on my own. A caregiver of a person who has many deficits and many needs becomes joined at the hip to the one he or she cares for. I think that is what makes it so difficult to recover from that separation and death, not only the sense of loss and the love you bore them but also the joined at the hip factor. I loved Ray and we were together for 44 years, allowing for the year he spent in the nursing home and the last decade of our marriage we spent so much time together that to lose him was like losing half of myself.

 

I cared for him, in a limited way from 1990 when he had the first stroke and six months off work, when the main issue was massive fatigue and some minor deficits. We were both able to work up until 1999 when he had the the two major strokes and I stepped up to the plate to care for him. That became, probably by late 2008, total care. Admittedly in the end I had some help but as a friend of mine says: “If you have an hour a day with assistance that is 23 hours a day when you manage alone.” A lot of caregivers here will relate to that.

 

I don't regret any of that now, in fact I wish I could have done more, but the emotional as well as the physical side gets to you when you are a caregiver. You want to give more but looking after a person on your own is draining, and the multiple deficits when they include incontinence as well as dementia really weigh you down. No excuses, I did what I was able to do.

 

The time Ray spent in the nursing home was a real trial as I watched him deteriorate but there was an upside to that, the support of those family members who came in to see their spouse or parent or other relative, we all suffered in the same way and that brought us together and I still have a handful of people I met in that year as friends. I found a lot of fun and happiness through all of this too, you should try playing Bingo with dementia patients!. Happiness is where you find it and fun is in seeing the silly side of life, I have always been able to do that.

 

To deliberately pursue happiness has been the goal for me this year. I took as the word for the year JOY and I have endeavoured to find joy in a lot of different ways. The years going by do dilute your sorrow and it does become possible at last to go on with life with some form of acceptance. And slowly I have gathered new friends, people who see me as I am today, a bit older and wiser than some of those who have returned as friends remember me I guess. The years do take a toll. But I can see the world around me and find something to enjoy, something to laugh about, something to make my present life worthwhile.

 

Finding the site Widowed Village has made a difference too as I have my widow blog there. As I do here I comment in their forums and in the groups I belong to. Like here that provides me with a release, I don't have to tell my problems to people who don't understand when there are people who know what it is like to go through being a widow, particularly after being a long term caregiver. And I know people on here read my blog still as a guide to what may or may not be ahead of them, for in every partnership one person has to die first so we'll all have a 50/50 chance of being the remaining spouse.

 

People ask me if I am moving on and I tell them no, I am moving forward. We all have to change throughout our lives, not only because of trauma but stroke for the caregiver as well as the stroke survivor is a life changing event and therefor in a way we all have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) to overcome as well as the other side effects or problems that come into our lives with the strokes. I have been so grateful for the support I have got here and in my life. A lot of people don't understand and that is stressful for us, but a few do and offered me support and that has lightened the load.

 

This might sound like a farewell blog and I know some day I will leave this site and go and do other things but at the moment I am still in pay back mode and still enjoy the chats and doing the Blog Moderator job. So this blog is just about where I am now, not every day but more of the days I can find joy in my life. I hope you all find the same.

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Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being you and showing us all the meaning of love and  that vows matter.

Thank you for showing me and all the other caregivers that it's ok to vent and be mad at the world but in the end to pull up our big caregiver pants and get on with what has to be done.

Thank you for all that you do for this site and I glad that you will be with us for a bit longer

Sally

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Thank you Sue, that touched my heart. You have a way with words, that makes me think deep in my soul.  

 

God bless you

 

Yvonne

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