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Posts tagged ‘caregivers’

In A State of Change and Transition

By Cam Lemmon

We strive to reach goals but if our goals are no longer changing, we will eventually hit a brick wall.

Several years ago, I did a blog on how life can give you a new room to go into on your path, one filled with a future you had no idea would be in the plan of your life. It certainly wasn’t in my business plan or my personal goals, but prepared me for the years to come. The most valuable assets we have are real-life skill-sets and experiences, the challenges and the way we approach each new life event, brings new person growth, knowledge, and experiences. How you learn to deal with it, can tell everything about a person. “That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

In 1998, I was called on to take care of my dad who had not been diagnosed earlier when a spot appeared on his right lung. The doctor’s office staff had his file out 2 years before with the intention of calling him to come back in. Someone put the file away before ever calling him. By the time dad returned to his next checkup, the doctor told him that his lung cancer had spread.

At first, I would visit him at his home and help him with his meds, do his shopping for groceries, and cleaning his house. Then, the cancer became too advanced to take care of himself living on his own. I moved him into my home with my daughter, and a nurse would come every other day or more often when needed. Dad died in my home on Valentine’s Day in 1999. A Hospice nurse was with me and I had stayed with a friend while my ex-husband was at my house visiting our daughter. John called me and said that daddy’s mouth was open, as were his eyes, and his breathing was shallow.

I got back as quickly as I could and I held my dad’s hands and he said “Thank you, and [in only my dad’s way] said “I love you…” and he stopped breathing.

The point is, since that time, I’ve dealt with my illness (Lupus SLE), finding new work in the town where I grew up. Since then, I’ve been to 12 funerals of friends and chosen family, met my birth mother and family, married the love of my life, and divorced, moved into my 2nd husband’s home only after learning of our daughter’s pregnancy, and helping her to raise 3 children, seeing six of my grandchildren be born which defied the prognosis of my illness!

While I’ve worked the entire time, my full-time “job” has become more of a caretaker. I’m living in a state I never dreamed I’d end up in, I’m with my second husband who has always been my best friend, and now that the kids are in school, the last of the grandchildren, my beautiful little Twinkle (“Alice”), I find myself realizing I have another 20+ good years left and I can do anything I choose to do. Uh, that’s not true!

Learning how to love people unconditionally has been a gift to me that allows me the ability to approach the next challenge into an opportunity. This week we are having tests on one of our closest family members (if you guessed, you probably guessed right!) for how severe or mild is his Alzheimer’s.

In the spring I was looking forward to going back to San Francisco, my original destination when I stopped through Birmingham to say my goodbyes. That was when our daughter made her big announcement and I wasn’t going to leave her.

Since then, John has had a major surgery with less than greatest success and recovery. While I’m sure I may be taking many trips here in the US and abroad, I won’t be uprooting myself from Alabama any time soon. But, here’s the thought I want to share with anyone who finds they’re on a path they had no true wish to be on, you need to honor your commitments you’ve made to others. But, you also must make time to honor yourself.

It’s important to hold true to your commitments, to follow-up, and to do things you say you’ll do. This is important for everyone in every circumstance – business and personal lives.

The first thing always to remember is this: Love yourself and treat yourself with kindness and care.

Second, find the schedule that works for you. If you are not rested and healthy and loving yourself, you will be no good to anyone else.

Be prepared for even more changes as that’s part of life so be open to new opportunities and work them into your own daily schedule. Root out the negativity and drama in your life, and only surround yourself with wonderful friends (yes, even on-line friends) who are POSITIVE, OPTIMISTIC, POWERFUL, and SUCCESSFUL! These people, while they don’t need to know your daily drama, they are people who can help YOU stay up and filled with the “POPS.”

Trust your instincts. Make decisions carefully. Make your surroundings a paradise so that regardless of what other parts of your home may look like, you can have a retreat to go to when you have those spare moments or just need a ‘time-out.’

Set goals and when you reach them, reward yourself!

Get yourself in shape as you will need your body strength. I was a part of taking care of my mother before she passed. One day my partner and I went by to say “hello.” Mother was calling out for help when we rang the doorbell. She gave the code to the garage door and I was able to go in. I found her on the floor in her panties and bra. I cradled my mother with every ounce of strength I had to lay her back in her hospital bed that had been moved to the den downstairs. As people get older and bones become more fragile, it’s easier for them to fall.

From a health standpoint, you will benefit from having a more fit body anyway! If there is a rehabilitation facility you can join designed for older people, sign up! It not only will help you, it will the person you are taking care of in their daily habits.

The point? For me, anyway, I’m still full speed ahead with my work, but, while I am open and easy to please, I don’t have time for inconsiderate and rude people. I also don’t have room in my life for negativity. I get enough of that right here.

I set my goals HIGH! I make time for me, even if it’s an hour to read a book, play on the computer, engage with social media friends, or do a special project around the house.

In years to come, I’ll be traveling and letting my daughter take over. She almost does that now even when she isn’t asked… but, I will take time to get away. I will continue to work on my health as it hasn’t been the best of late.

But, have faith, find it if you don’t, call ME if you need a pep talk but not to just rehash your mind trash. Pray and meditate daily! Make friends if you have none who are close by.

Be positive and persistent. That doesn’t mean being pushy with your friends. But, with faith and a positive outlook, taking time to love yourself, you will be a better person, friend, companion, and caregiver. If you experience periods of being depressed or down, get out of where you are and go somewhere that makes you feel good (for me, it’s a library, bookstore, or music shop!)

Remember, life throws you all kinds of curves in your path. You may have different challenges than I’ve had, but whatever they are, you can use these same ideas.

Probably, the most important thing I can suggest is breath deeply before doing something stressful! Breath deeply all day, and remember to love yourself, set your goals, work towards reaching them and just because life has taken you down a different path, or into a different room, or you find yourself as I’ve found for me, that puts your focus on someone else, never forget who you are, or how important your own dreams are. It’s never to late to start something new for yourself.

Wishing you much success and a downfall of blessings! May your life path be absolutely amazing as I am finding mine to be…

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