Hello to all my blog friends, old and new.
Yea, it’s been a while. A long while, actually.
One of the reasons? Fifteen months ago, my 87-year-old mom, who suffered with some baseline dementia but who was living independently at home (with some basic support from all her kids), was hospitalized for five days for a heart-related event.
I won’t go into details, except for two important lessons I’d like to share:
- For those of you with elderly parents with some dementia, beware: Hospitalizations often cause a level of added delirium from which they won’t likely recover. We weren’t aware of this, so we did not take steps in the hospital that would minimize the damage, such as facing her bed toward the window, limiting visitors, etc. While she did eventually recover physically, her mental downfall was precipitous and would have been permanent (and likely fatal) if we had not taken the risk, against medical advice, to get her out of the nursing home where she ended up in rehab after the hospitalization, and move her back to the familiar home where she has lived for 65 years. Not being dramatic here—we are convinced that moving her home literally saved her life. Was it tough on us? Oh yes. Were we prepared to handle our mom’s care at home? Not even close. Do I regret it? Not for a second. Mom’s delirium eventually faded, but the whole experience did leave her with more advanced Alzheimer’s and the need to have someone with her 24/7. But otherwise, she’s healthy and happy, at least for now.
- God is in control. I don’t act like it all the time, I don’t believe it all of the time and I certainly don’t trust it much of the time. But it’s true. We just have to let him be the one in charge. And nothing like a crisis will reinforce that notion. It would have been so much easier to embrace this fact at the beginning of this debacle, but, me being me, I battled it every step of the way. I was by myself in the boxing ring with my gloves on and punching away at the problems and challenges on a daily basis. I fretted. I worried. I got angry and resentful. But people, there came a day when battle-weary me with mysterious new health problems that had landed me in physical therapy—twice in one year—and with little energy and motivation left in my life, had to wave the white flag. I can pinpoint it to the night in December when, after a long day of work and an even longer evening caring for my mom, I came home, went to the kitchen cabinet where I kept my medicine and, in a fog, took my dog’s drugs instead of my own! That’s right, ladies and gents. I swallowed not one, but two pills that were laid out next to mine but meant for my little Shih-Poo, Sammy, who needed them for his seizures.
When I retold this story to my high school friends at a Christmas gathering a week later, you could have heard the roar of laughter three states away. But the next day, one of those friends kindly got me to admit things might not be OK. I guess if you get to the point of taking your dog’s pills, you should probably take a deeper look at your life.
So that’s what I’ve done the past 5 months, with some success. I made some big changes in my mom’s care schedule and in my prayer schedule. I made some bigger changes in attitude. And I’ve taken intentional, grateful inventory of the many graces that have resulted from the events of the last year. I’ve learned so much about myself, in particular what God can do with me and in me if and when I allow it. I’ve learned about bearing crosses with grace (still struggle with that on the daily, but improving) and I’ve learned that Jesus’ Presence is ongoing. He does not leave us orphans. (Much more on this topic to come, God willing).
So there you have it–an account of my whereabouts in 2019. I hope to maintain at least a minimal presence on the blog from here on out. Time will tell.
But this I know more clearly now: Chaos WILL ensue. It’s inevitable in life.
And when it does, my job is to step out of the ring, give the gloves to God and let him fight the battles.