Saturday, August 18, 2018

A Rain Day for Resting and 'Riting

We needed this day of rain, a day to curl up under blankets and sleep (if you're recovering from a stroke) and a day to sit at the computer in your office (if you're a freelance writer who still has to work).
The rain is heavy and it's soothing to listen to as it falls through the leaves of the trees outside my windows.

Before the rain, we needed chocolate cake. Aunt Lila's Chocolate Cake with Grandma's Icing, to be specific, the long-time family favourite. The cake pictured above is the second one my mother made since Dwayne came home from the hospital a week ago yesterday. Sometimes the best coping mechanism is a pan of cake and a knife...
Post-stroke recovery strategy: One day at a time, one piece at a time.

Thank goodness for my mother. She has really stepped up, and stepped into the hole created by Dwayne's stroke. Since he's been "semi-retired", he's taken on so many of the household chores -- encouraging me to devote my time to writing and allowing Mum to pretend she lives in an all-inclusive retirement home for one -- but when the tables turned and the carer became the caree, my mother has taken over many of his jobs.
Like vacuuming the black mats that collect so much dirt and cat hair. Like making supper every night since he came home from the hospital. Like going back to the farmers market for a second time this morning to buy the corn and tomatoes she forgot the first trip. Like being a trustworthy sounding board for all the other little unanticipated issues that pop up in the middle of a health crisis.

Don't let the flowered gown fool you -- this woman is a ROCK. This is what a true sweet little white-haired lady looks like!

What I remember best about helping her take care of her husband (my father) when he had dementia was her statement about "thinking for two". From what I witnessed and experienced, it's so true and while it's most significant with a neurological disease like Alzheimer's, it applies in varying degrees to other caregiving endeavours. Thinking For Two happens when you are taking care of anyone who is comprised in some way, whether temporarily or permanently, physically as well as mentally: You have to think about them and their needs, anticipate those needs and the required actions as you go about your day. You also are dealing with their fear, their worry, their embarrassment, their pushback, their anger -- all the emotions and reactions that come with being in a state of unwanted incapacity.
All of a sudden, all those normal daily activities -- feeding pets, vacuuming, thinking about what to make for supper, getting your hair cut, get pushed behind the needs of the person who is in need.
And wow! You don't see the division of labour that develops over the course of a marriage until suddenly, you have to do everything. I'm lucky; I'm young-ish and healthy so taking on Dwayne's work has actually been good for me, good for my coping. The physical work, the distraction of the chickens and the gardens has been helpful. Pulling weeds is very therapeutic.
But damn -- we should have kept on with those tractor driving lessons...

I'm fortunate that Dwayne is not physically incapacitated; we just have his somewhat garbled speech to contend with, and we have been told that will come back with time and patience -- and with rainy days and good mothers.

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