I’ll be the one hootin’ over here…
The man who doesn’t relax and hoot a few hoots voluntarily, now and then, is in great danger of hooting hoots and standing on his head for the edification of the pathologist and trained nurse, a little later on. – Elbert Hubbard
Yup, I’m in relax mode for a few days. I am at the end of caregiving – my patients are both safely where they need to be to get better. I will be moving forward into a new space very soon. On Friday, when the 83 year old dementia patient was safely on her way to a nursing facility, I was able to take a breath. I knew I needed a distraction so I went to the movies and saw Thor. Very entertaining, but I got rather overwhelmed and ‘dropped’ in the middle of it. I stopped at Carrabba’s, for a take home bowl of lovely sausage lentil soup and a piece of tiramisu, to celebrate.
I ate and went to bed. Not to sleep immediately, just to pray, to allow all the myriad of emotions to come and go, to think abstract thoughts, to allow tears to flow (as needed). As I sink into this release, and let go of the fight, the responsibility and preparation for death that was a very real threat. The people I was caretaking for are not my family, so everything has been more complicated and it has been a boundary line I have had to be very aware of and that has added even more tension.
Yesterday I basically did nothing. I sat and stared at trees for hours. I did a little painting. Laid in bed and did the same ritual as the night before. I ate because I needed to, not because I was hungry. I drank lots of water.
I carry all my tension in my shoulders and have had issues with my sciatica since my last pregnancy, in 1991/92. I am in much pain from those as I begin to decompress and relax from these past months of stress.
Today I’m going to church and then I have no plans, I may end up repeating yesterday. I may actually do some hootin’ and hollarin’ – I’m prepared and ready to do that, when that comes. I remember many years ago getting a traffic ticket that one of the very worst moments in my life and, after the officer had gone, I sat and screamed (yes, as-loud-as-I-could-blood-curdling screams) for at least 30 minutes, maybe more. I felt much better after and I have no problem doing it again when I need to!
I am sharing this, because there are many people carrying these loads and bags of caregiving. In some ways, I believe it is really harder to be a caregiver than to be the patient. The caregiver carries it all, has to handle everything, is also unable to move into a normal role with life. Caregivers watch people they care about devolve and grow weaker and they are pretty much helpless. Many times the patient feels they are better off than they truly are, or they become so depressed they cannot help themselves any longer. The caregiver walks a tightrope between caring and not becoming an enabler. It is very tricky, draining, difficult (to say the least) and takes a rough and rugged toll every day it lasts.
I am so grateful I have experienced this – I pray my time here learning will help others. I pray today that all the amazing caregivers to have moments of respite and be able to relax for life giving moments. Don’t ask for permission!!! You need this! Self care is not about being selfish – know the difference. Do some hootin’ and laugh out loud! Take a deep breath – I know how much you need it and hard that is some days!