sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Archive for July, 2011

Let’s Get Real

…that you cannot find or create a costume big enough

to hide your true self from anyone.

  In truth, we’re all wearing The Emperor’s New Clothes. We parade before the world naked–thinking that no one can see us. Why not just be proudly revealed, and authentically who we are?

And do not worry about being rejected and alone. It is

the real you that everyone falls in love with–and that

God adores.

So I am once again inspired to write after reading my daily message from Neale Donald Walsch.  I did something new today when I was playing on my BlackBerry in the early morning hours after waking up and not being able to sleep, I started reading others blogs and I found some good ones.

I read some  wonderful articles including, Old Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills and Changing the Paradigm which reaffirmed my beliefs about home/unschooling.

And I read some others where I disagreed which in turn fueled me more to write my own thoughts. ( I thank all who post their ideas and opinions.  I like reading articles that challenge my way of thinking as well as ones that allow me to get a glimpse of how other people think .)

This post, Part2: I homeschool because I am selfish – Homeschooling Five, was by far my favorite. It was my favorite because she was real. She wrote what she was thinking and what I and others have thought. After reading her bio, I read more posts.  She wrote about “owning our words” and “not censoring those who disagree with you” in another post.  That is the kind of writer I aspire to be…one who speaks my truth clearly yet honestly; respectful of others yet without apologizing for being who I am.

So now, in the words of the amazing song writer and performer,  Billy Jonas (no, not one of the Jonas Brothers), “Let’s Get Real“.  Real about what you ask?

Burnout

Not just burnout in the general sense, but caregiver burnout.  Sure, this is recognized like described in the WebMD,  but I believe we need to recognize and deal with this before it gets to the full burnout stage which is basically Depression.

To dig further, I think one of the biggest reasons we fail to see the signs coming, is as a society, we fail to acknowledge grief.  Sure,  we acknowledge grief when someone dies but grief happens in many forms and it can happen even when the experience is not as dramatic as physical death.   What about other life changes, big and small, that challenge our way of living and cause us to rebuild or rethink our life?  I have many personal examples I can share.

Five years ago, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, very early stage.  He was still living life to the fullest, continued to work in his self chosen semi retired state, living in his dream home on the lake and active with his hobbies of fishing, golf and woodworking. His diagnosis didn’t  directly affect me, yet because I am an Occupational Therapist and have worked with people in the late stages of Parkinson’s, it had a big impact on me.  I imagined the future, based on those who I have seen in late stage, and this changed my image of my future  including my father’s deteriorating health (Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disease)  and the idea of  no more  family gatherings at my parents’  lake front property, something I had come to really love and value for myself and my kids.  My father had been in good health and was 64 when he was diagnosed. It was a sudden realization of the mortality of my aging parents.  About this same time, my good friend and amazing EFT Master, Jan Luther, was working on  her book, Grief Is…Mourning Sickness.  I had the opportunity to be part of a video tapped session for local television where Jan talked and demonstrated EFT around the topic of grief.  Jan recognized my experience as a form of grief (sure -milder than a more traumatic event, but grief nonetheless).

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross first defined The Five Stages of Grief in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. Yet, theses stages, now well know, most people associate  with tragedy especially with a terminal illness or catastrophic loss, like the death of a loved one.  There are different degrees of grief.  And so when my 52 year old healthy husband had a sudden unexpected heart attack and cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance in Ventricular Tachycardia,  his dark blue  face and  motionless body being forever imprinted in my mind, and even after he was “brought back to life” and in recovery in the CCU 4 hours later and I got to talk to him, one could see clearly that I was in a state of grief.  Looking back, I see how I was both in shock and denial.  The denial  came more when I lingered to call 911.  As I research the word shock, I discovered this information on  “trauma cycle” ( see Phase1. The Loss Cycle).

And so while my husband was in the hospital, friends and family swarmed us with love, prayers, thoughts, help in many forms including caring for our three children, providing meals, groceries, and in so many ways I could write an entire blog about it.

Then, 12 days later Don came home and I continued to ask for help, something that used to be difficult for me but had become suddenly very easy to do when Don was in the hospital.  Yet, as time wore on, and my husband improved, it became more difficult for me to ask for help.  He had survived a nearly fatal heart attack and was on the mend and so surely we did not need as much help now.  Yet, I knew better and didn’t foresee fully how I would slow down in asking for help.  Sure, we were excited that he was home and improving and just plain grateful he was alive and grateful for all the help our family and friends gave us, yet, now we had bigger challenges.

When he was in the hospital, life was simple.  I was either at the hospital with Don, helping advocate and care for him, or I was at home tending to the needs of my children.  Now, with Don at home, we were adjusting to his “new life” with 7 medications (when he was on none before), and me acting as his caregiver, taking his BP and monitoring him as an Occupational Therapist (because I am an OT and I can’t just turn that off) as well as the increased responsibility of caring for the children and home with initially very little help from him which has slowly improved but is no where near the level it was before (Don is a a very involved dad) not to mention the added new financial challenges and juggling doctor appointments.

Yea, that was a rather long sentence and it doesn’t even come close to fully describing how much busier my already busy life became.   And with time, it has gotten busier. Sure Don has been able to slowly do more but by slowly I mean SLOWLY!  We talked about it the other day and as of now, June 27, 7 1/2 weeks after his heart attack, he is at about 50% (at most )of his activity level compared to before his heart attack.

And does anyone still recognize that we are still dealing with grief?  I haven’t asked anyone the question.  I know that as a society, one would assume, that we no longer have “grief” but just ” a lot to deal with”.  Yet, all that I have learned from Jan Luther, I know better that this is still part of the process.  Even as Don gets amazing news that his heart has returned from 25% function to 50% function (near full recovery), our life is forever changed and we are continuing to  process this change and are in fact, going through the stages of grief.

Vacation?

Today is Friday, July 22, 2011.  I had to look to know that.  Its been a whirlwind summer.  My oldest went to scout camp for a week on July 10. On the 14, my husband and daughter came down with the nasty stomach virus.  Yuck.  My son came home July 15 and my brother arrived with his two kids on the 16th.  He took his son and my oldest backpacking on Sunday the 17th and Monday morning at the top of the mountain in a tent, my 13-year-old got the stomach virus. Or should I say, he expressed it.

WE met at my parents house on the lake, like we do each summer, that Monday.  My son spent the day in bed and much of the next two.  Somewhere early on, my niece got the virus. 

I enjoyed swimming in the lake Monday night, went for a message Tuesday morning and then I got the virus.

The next few days are a blur.

Wednesday, my brother got the virus. Early this morning, my sister got the virus as well as my nephew and my dad seems to have it too. 

My mom is the only one left standing.  Well, those of us on the upside are much better.  Good thing about a stomach virus, it doesn’t last long but it did linger some and today I am feeling the most like myself but not 100% and it has been 4 days for me.  Technically, my 2-year-old has not gotten it or not to the degree the rest of us have.  Extended nursing is a wonderful thing. 

And so here I am at a house on a beautiful lake in SC for just another day and a half and I feel like I haven’t done much while I was here.  The other kicker is that it has been over 100 degrees and humid.  We have enjoyed swimming in the lake but you can only go on the boat first thing in the morning or late evening and even then it is too hot. 

Yet, I know that, this too is God.  Somehow that is true.

I was really ticked at first because after the year I have had, I was so looking forward to this trip and relaxing.  Relaxing.  I have really needed that. And a break from caring for people.  Ha.  ha ha ha….

We won’t forget this summer trip to the lake.  And it is giving me something to write about.  Not that I have said much yet.  I am looking for meaning in all of this, or as Neale Donald Walsch would say, I am deciding the meaning I give to this experience.

Trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

I do have reflection time right now and for the first time in months, I was able to sit for over an hour and work on my homeschool website.  I have shared fun with my toddler including a boat ride with him, my dad and my sister.  My husband was here while I was sick to help care for me and my kids.  He is home now and hopefully enjoying some much-needed rest in a quiet house….something he has needed since he came home from the hospital over 2 months ago.

We still have the second leg of this trip to look forward to?

From here we head to GA for a family reunion.  I think.  My mom hasn’t gotten sick but I don’t know how she will avoid it and we surely don’t want to share this with all our relatives we see in GA.  We will be staying at a cabin at a state park which sounds peaceful and nice.  Yet, I am staying in the cabin with my parents.  I love my parents but I have had enough of this virus and am not looking forward to sharing a small cabin with someone gets the stomach virus while we are there.  I hope that doesn’t sound callous.  I am such a caregiver, that is hard for me to remove myself and not tend to the sick person in need. 

It’s time for a get away by myself.  Or at least a trip to the coffee-house for a couple of hours with my lap top. Oh yea, it broke.  There is the other one that you have to hook a mouse up to but then that is the only port and you need the port to get wifi….in other words, it barely works. 

Maybe it is time to pull out my spiral notebooks and pens again.  At least I can always write on paper.  Yes, that might be fun.  I trip to the coffee-house with spiral notebooks and pens.  That is how I used to go.  I only got the lap top about 3 years ago.  I will keep that vision for when I return home.

Now, its time to squeeze in some vacation in these final days.

Wish me luck.