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looking forward, looking back



I told Jean and Bonnie I wasn't going to make New Years resolutions and as I have been sitting here alone the last three hours or so I have been thinking about that.


When I was young I learned to establish goals, long term and short term goals. The short term goals are something I could do in the next few weeks, so get a haircut, tidy out the linen cupboard, reply to all the Christmas letters would seem reasonable goals for the next three weeks. Realistically longer term goals would depend on the availability of money to finance the project, time and opportunity so they are not as easy to fulfill in a realistic way.


Sometimes goals spring out of needs or as the answer to problems. I looked back at blogs from this time last year and found out that I really still have a similar set of problems. Ray is still struggling with continence issues so I still struggle with cleaning up after him, he still has swallowing issues so I try to keep the menus simple but sustaining, this can also lead to a lack of variety in our diet and the need to cook several meals some days when he needs something simple and I fancy something savoury. He still has mobility and sleeping problems so I have to keep our schedule simple and allow plenty of time for him to sleep. I therefore run into problems with afternoon specialists appointments etc.


New problems in the last twelve months include increasing confusion and with it a lack of processing skills. This caused a problem this morning when he managed to spill the urinal on the bed. This he stated , was my problem, as I was the one who replaced the old bed. Sure, blame the caregiver. He then had several problems with the day linked to not processing what I told him and translating it into an action. It is sometimes like having a truculent toddler. Unfortunately he is not going to "grow out of it" as a toddler would. And sometimes my patience is in short supply.


So what would I use for long term goals in this situation? I guess one would be to keep Ray healthy. To make sure he takes his medication, checks with the doctor frequently, does the bloodwork etc necessary for the doctor to have a good idea of upcoming problems and keep them in check. The next one is harder which is to ensure Ray has sufficient sleep. This also entails sometimes turning down appointments at inappropriate times and insisting on consideration of his limitations, such as not being fed sweets at Daycare as it throws his sugar readings out and insisting he gets some exercise when he goes into respite. All this without looking like a controlling, manipulative and aggressive female. Not an easy task.


Then there is taking care of myself. Looking after my own health problems ( like that is ever going to happen!) and taking appropriate breaks etc. It is so easy to give up on this one but I think I am slowly being able to achieve an occassional hour off here and there, even if it is by saying to Ray;"Go out on the verandah and read for a while and I will tell you when you can come back inside". It seemed harsh the first time I said it and he looked crestfallen but I sometimes need the break, to clean the bathroom, change cupboards around, anything where I am going to spread materials around in such a way that I don't want to have him walk through the middle of them.


I managed to have a respite break this year. It was partly because I let myself get to breaking point that I needed it so badly. I get depressed when I am not coping. But it was also due to Ray's increasing dependence on me and his inability to cope with simple problems. I have watched as he forgets simple things like washing his hands and face and checking to see if he needs a shave before going out. Once that was automatic, now it very rarely occurs and I have to remind him. Changing his clothes, remind him, having his glasses with him, remind him. I remind him of every aspect of his day to day activities, not once but many times each day now.


Then there is the family. What a minefield that one is. His family were more noticable by their absence last year. Again. A few cousins and old friends kept in touch, but we buried a few of them too in the last twelve months and I have a funeral to go to on Tuesday and one I should go to on Wednesday but probably won't. "Should old acquaintance be forgot" we sing on New Year's Eve. Well, no they shouldn't, but I can't afford the time to relentlessly pursue them either. So if they contact I reciprocate, if they don't it is possibly goodbye. And a good clean break is often better than something that lingers painfully on and on. Our family support is at about the same level, though my sister minding Ray stopped earlier on this year.



And lastly there is the thoughts of change. What will change in the next twelve months? Already our daughterand her family's going north is in discussions about what will happen for birthdays, how we will keep in touch, send presents etc. And our sons job if it becomes permanent as it seems it could will mean he is away from home for a lot more of the week. And what of Mum? A move across the road from the Lodge to the nursing home? Possibly? And the rest of the family? Who knows.


And so this is the basis of my thoughts. The reason behind the decisions I will make. I am not listing them:"I resolve to..." it is not clear cut enough for that.


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Since you are getting respite a couple times a year now, would it be possible to set yourself up to do something truly special during those caregiver breaks? I mean do the spa thing or take in a bunch of shows or take a mini vacation---whatever turns you on? The point is to have something in the future to look forward to and plan that would more than just a 'break,' it would an adventure. We are always so good about planning the care of our husbands, why is it so hard to plan for ourselves?


Happy new year, Sue. I hope it holds good things for you and Ray.





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Sue, I was going to ask how the New Year is since you are already there; but I see, it's basically "the same old, same old".Guess that should be understandable. I just guess I'm looking for earth-shattering news which is not possible for anyone. You do seemm to have sorted your future somewhat by at least thinking about it and that certainly is the right start. A very Happy and Healthy 2007 to you, Ray and your family

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