Most nights it is long hall.
160 steps, give or take a few, from the door of Patti’s room at her care facility to the after hours exit door. Sometimes I count the steps to try and quiet the noise in my head.
On average I take Patti out and/or bring her home for the evening 4.5 nights a week.
Making sure her sleep machine is on, mist both her and bed linens with lavender scented Sleep Well aromatherapy spray, spray her wheelchair seat and padding with Febreeze, and write on the oversized wall calendar whatever today’s outing or visit was. Tucking her in, I try to leave her laughing or smiling about something before turning out the lights and closing the door.
… and starting down the long hall.
Behind every door I pass is someone once independent and now dependent. Reflecting on quality of life can quickly become a caregiver’s rip tide.
Focus on caring … (the voice in my head says) remember to laugh. … Monday night Patti locked me out of the van while I stopped for gas. Patti is perpetually fidgeting with everything and anything and managed to activate the door locks, while the keys were in the ignition so she could listen to the radio. Between her mental confusion, frustration, and my freezing (I had hopped out of a warm heated van in only a shirt), I am sure we were entertaining yelling through a car window as I repeatedly tried to explain to her how to unlock the automatic door locks and Patti rather colorfully offered her feelings about the predicament. <grin>
Make time to play … continuing to convert old video camcorder tapes to DVD we have been able to watch reruns of our life. Years ago because Multiple Sclerosis kept Patti excluded from so many activities we videotaped as much as possible so we could share ‘our’ play with Patti.
Thanksgiving morning will begin the 18th year of caregiving … plus 160 steps give or take a few .. and, of course, countless puddles.
Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer