Tuesday, June 27, 2017

One Year Later

This is a must-write blogpost. I've been thinking for the past week about Dean's physical condition that drove him into the nursing home that he's in now. It's been exactly one year ago that his blood sugars were discovered to be so high. And I'm talking about high-high! Like 810, when we got him to ER.

Then in February, he got pneumonia (someone we know calls it "old-monia")--his second time for a septic infection--and we also found out he has C.O.P.D., not just sleep apnea that he had been diagnosed with a year before that. Evidently, his years of smoking are catching up with him at last.

But I'm happy to report that Dean has made a remarkable, if slow, recovery from both these life-changing conditions. He's not 100% cured of them, of course--they are chronic, to be sure. But for a man with TBI-induced dementia, he's come a long way, even though he's still a steady candidate for long-term care.

There's no way I could have had the positive outcomes his nurses have had, especially with MY pulmonary limitations. And I'm not ashamed to thank Medicaid for making his healthcare possible. Even with its flaws, without it, he never would have made it this far.

I still consider myself Dean's caregiver. But now I'm allowed to focus on making him happy, not healthy (leaving that mandate to the medical professionals). Part of my calling then was to help organize a picnic for Dean's TBI support group this month. Upon my suggestion, the location of our gathering was just a few blocks from Waverly Care Center, where Dean stays now. So, amazingly, we were able to transport him there.

The weather was perfect and everyone seemed to enjoy the festivities. For me, his smiles made it all worthwhile!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Look in the Mirror

This weekend we enjoyed the company of Dean's sister and brother-in-law from Michigan, as they stopped here on the way to Colorado to see his relatives for an annual visit. Amazingly, we were able to enjoy dining out at a restaurant with them, our daughter's family, and Dean and I, by loading him and his hefty wheelchair with oxygen tank, into their SUV.

The evening went smoothly (unlike our last visit, when I believe Dean's temper got the best of him a couple of times). We even stopped by the house here for some homemade strawberry pie before taking him back to the care center. His blood sugar levels have been acceptable now for some time, so we didn't have to stress out about his eating, as the case has been on previous outings. Even his oxygen saturation levels are improving, so that was less of a worry.

I was expecting Lynn to give me some feedback on how she felt her brother was doing. She hadn't seen him for two years, and she would have to notice the deterioration of his physical health, being in a wheelchair now.

Instead, at one point when we were getting out of the car, she gave me a hug and remarked on how much better I was looking these days, compared to two years ago. Really, I was shocked, but pleased, that someone noticed that about me. I hadn't taken the time to recognize any change in myself. But evidently, less stress does translate into something positive.

I'd like to think, of course, that Dean's health has benefited from his stay at the care center too. And I feel that indeed it has. I may have been able to achieve similar results with him at home, but I'm sure it would have taken much longer, at best. And I shudder at what my physical and mental state would have suffered in the process. I would gladly make the sacrifice, but am grateful God has shown me another way.

What a wonderful gift I was given by Lynn's comment. I could look in the mirror all day and not have seen what she saw. I'm glad she felt comfortable sharing it with me. It did my heart good to get "a second opinion", if you will, of how I am surviving this caregiving journey.

I must remember to pass this kind of encouragement on to all my caregiver friends. We sometimes forget to look in the mirror. God is there for us too.
"casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you"! 1 Peter 5:7

Dean and his sister, Lynn--2 years ago