Sunday, June 24, 2007

Caregiving: a caregiver's translation

When an outing goes well, the caregiver’s craft is unnoticeable. I thought I might invite you behind the curtain to a ‘caregiver’s translation’ of the previous movie and entry about Jubilee Day.


“… we headed out early…”

ü     two (2) care facility staff using a lift get Patti up, Depends changed, dressed, and transferred from bed to wheelchair and ready for pick up

ü     me driving our wheelchair accessible van with a ramp transport Patti.


“… street fair vendors are always fun for Patti…”

ü     Patti’s wheelchair needs to be pushed “defensively”. In crowds, people often trip over wheelchairs. With arms filled with food or packages, people cannot see a wheelchair.

ü     Because of MS visual impairment,  I need to “describe” the world around Patti to her, clearly and entertainingly.

ü     MS short term memory loss and impaired reasoning confuses many transactions. Though on the other hand, some can be quite amusing.


… enjoyed southern pulled pork barbeque sandwiches …”

ü     MS impairs Patti’s ability to hold a sandwich. I separate the pulled pork from the roll and hand her one forkful at a time to eat.

ü     Because of MS related dysphagia I must monitor her eating to insure she chews and swallows, often verbal cues are required.


Patti can never be left unattended which also means the caregiver cannot do anything independent such as visit a bathroom yourself, etc. Fortunately, our daughter accompanied us. Ever tried to carry food and drinks and push a wheelchair at the same time?


“… a well deserved and air conditioned afternoon nap …”

ü     I physically transfer Patti from wheelchair to bed to change Depends and clothing. After her nap I reverse the process followed by laundering clothes and bed linens.

ü     While such transfers place both of us at risk, I have to ‘roll the dice’ when away from care facility staff and equipment.


No matter how the story is told Patti still HAD a fun time. … Yet as Paul Harvey might say, now you know the rest of the story.


Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer


  1. ((((((((((((((((((HUGSTOYOU)))))))))))))))))I am glad you all had a god time.I know God is blessing you for being a caregiver for Patti.Have a nice da.

  2. Nothing is ever simple as it seems, is it? I remember those days very well, and yes, have tried to carry drinks, food and push a wheelchair! <grin> Without much success, and feeling overwhelmed, I might add!


  3. I'm glad you told the other side Patrick.  My husband and I read your blog together and his retirement begins this summer.  We went to the fair and had some similar situations like eating, pushing my chair with a soda and getting me into restroom w/o help.  The fact you still get out there and give Patti such joy is wonderful.  Your family inspires us to keep doing what we love.  We had a ball and were blessed with assistance from complete strangers.


  4. ..........thanks for the rest of the story Patrick!  Jack has eye surgery again tomororow and I have a list because there are so many details to make any situation go smoothly.  You didn't mention the extra change of everything  that goes along with every trip, the restocking and set up for the next field trip.  And I have to prepare everything for the other one when I am gone.   Smiles, my years of teaching and doing field trips makes all of this so much easier.  SMILES  Hey we can do this, I thnk!

  5. Your work load seems triple and quadruple of what two healthy walking people must do to take a day off like this. I would think you need the nap as much as she. Bless you for explaining it and illustrating it with finess, humor, and love. bea


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