Monday, August 09, 2004

a crack in the chrysalis

I’ve used the word 'transition' throughout this journal. … the transition to the nursing home era.

Transition … tran·si·tion: noun (from Latin transpire) a process or period in which something undergoes a change and passes from one state, stage, form, or activity to another
Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © 2004

That’s what dictionaries tell us transition is. Never has the word transition been as dynamic as this past weekend. While our lives have been open everything has been somewhat insulated, essentially wrapped in a caregiving cocoon.

Swamped in the daily routine of the responsibilities of Patti’s legal and medical advocacy I lost focus that Megan and I are also both in a significant chrysalis stage.

That chrysalis began to crack this weekend. The transition for Patti is a change to safety and security. Yet for Megan and me there also will be passage. Putting our teenager aside for the moment, I found myself a bit overwhelmed just entertaining short term and long term possibilities.

Home caregiving at Patti’s level of need eliminated planning (maybe even dreaming) because the probability of a change in symptoms or progression made all such energy an exercise in futility. You just stop trying.

With Patti’s safety and quality of life assured, the ‘transition’ is ALSO a most dramatic change from one state of living to another for us. While yes I was aware changes would affect us that really had not sunk in. Peaking out through the crack in the chrysalis this weekend was strange, apprehensive, and exciting.

What brought about this crack? I guess a combination of good friends and family friends that have never let go. Or maybe it was just time?

Former neighbors visited this weekend. Patti’s former ‘disability suite’ had recently been converted by Megan and I into a pseudo family room / guest room (or fall back to disability suite if need be). For the first time our home was about human interaction without the advanced level of Patti’s MS dominating the agenda. I’m still amazed at how much that affects even the littlest things.

Wanting to visit with Patti simply involved hopping in the car and riding 20 minutes to her care facility. Giving them a tour of the place, Patti even remarked about all the help and facilities “… it’s almost like being rich ,,,”.  Another one of these remarks Patti surprises me with unexpectedly. Yet taking time to think from a disability perspective instead of mine, 24/7 attended care, every meal in a hotel like dinning room, beautiful tended gardens (with paved paths)  gazebos (with fans), and daily activities from bowling to movies to bingo IS something nice to show off.

As our neighbors headed home we took Patti to her parents for the day.There conversations with family and dear family friends included upcoming trips, my journal, and new employment options now that Patti was in facility care. Also when chatting with our former neighbors actual conversations were held about what I might do now that Patti was cared for such as keep or sell the house, change in employment etc.

To a reader such conversations may seem common chatter but any talk about what I might do has been bizarre to say the least. Such thoughts were quickly filed away and stamped “increasing caregiving needed”.  

No question the weekend cracked the ol’ chrysalis. I feel good that Patti seems to be in a successfully orchestrated transition to a better stage. Looking out through that crack I wonder if for Megan and I this passage might not border on the metaphysical. Instead of a transition, we might kick right through that cocoon to metamorphosis. <grin>

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