Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You Can Only Control So Much...

It has been awhile since my last post. I got some sort of "bug" the first week of October, and it kicked my butt for the next 10 days, and I've been pedaling fast since then to recover. The challenge for caregivers is to stay healthy - when we are down, who dispenses the care? Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who is willing and able to pinch hit for me when needed. I prevailed upon him to make the pharmacy run and deliver some blank checks to my grandmother's house on "errand/beauty shop day," and by the grace of God, my niece had a day off and was able to do the actual errand run. My husband could have done it, but I knew my grandmother's medicine needed to be dispensed into her daily dosepacks, and he'd never done that before - my niece is a CNA and was familiar with my grandmother's meds, so she was the logical candidate.

There was no way I wanted to expose my grandmother to my illness - I sounded like a man when I talked, so she KNEW I was sick! And thankfully I was only potentially contagious for a few days, so I missed just one week of errands. But it is a dilemma. What does one do when unable to handle the normal caregiving duties? I think it behooves all of us to come up with a "Plan B." For me, I often have family members I can ask to help. However, I am re-evaluating that plan and considering other possibilities. In my situation, the kicker was the medicine, and I realize now I could have asked for my grandmother's Home Health service to send a nurse to do it (I don't know if an aide would be legally allowed to handle the medication). There were neighbors and friends I could have asked to do the other errands, had no family members been available.

Last week my grandmother told me that she thought she was "coming down with a cold." She said she had a headache and a runny nose. I feared she was indeed getting my "bug." I spoke with her around noon one day, and she felt certain she was getting sick, and she said she would rest that afternoon. The same afternoon, around 5:00, my phone rang. It was my grandmother wanting to know what I was doing. I told her I was scrubbing my shower. She said, "Well, I have the biggest mess of greens you ever saw, and I wondered if you wanted to come get some." I told her that I did not, and I asked where she got greens. She said, "Well, I mentioned to someone at church yesterday that I would love to have some greens, and they went and picked a mess today and brought them to my friend Ruby." She added that her friend had washed them three times and gotten them all good and clean and then brought them over to my grandmother, who had stemmed them and gotten them ready to cook. I asked, "I thought you were sick - do you feel like fooling with greens?" She replied "No, but what else can I do?" I told her she could let them go. She said, "Why, I can't do that!" I suggested... "Who would know?" She retorted, "Well, I would!" I told her if she was too sick to fiddle with them, that was what she should do. She did NOT like that comment!

So I told her to leave a bag of greens in the refrigerator for me, and I would get them later in the week. She agreed. Two days later, I phoned her to see how she felt, and she was much better, and the greens were cooked and in the freezer. I asked if she left a bag in the refrigerator for me, and she said she did. She mentioned how she had seasoned her greens with salt pork, and I said, "I will probably cook mine with bacon." She said, "Well why would you want to do that?" I told her that I was allergic to something in salt pork and could not eat it. She said, "Well, I've already COOKED your greens!" I was not all that surprised, but no less aggravated. I told her that I had wanted them left uncooked because I couldn't eat salt pork. She said, "Well, I didn't put in enough to hurt her." I tried to explain that ANY amount was too much for my allergies, but I could tell that just made her mad. So I told her not to worry - that my husband would eat them. She said, "I just cooked ALL of the greens. I'll freeze these and get you some more." I told her NOT to do that - that I really didn't want/need greens right now, and she certainly didn't need any more! So, when I went for errand day, my cooked greens were still in the refrigerator, and she spooned them up to send home for my husband. I didn't say a word. Sometimes you just have to let it go.*lol*

The grocery list was much bigger than usual. Company was coming - three cousins from Oklahoma. Now the last time they came, they covered two counties in three days, and Mam-ma was exhausted when they left and subsequently got very sick. It took her weeks - actually a couple of MONTHS - to recover. But she had already baked a pan of brownies, and she informed me they were staying at her house, and there was no arguing. If she gets sick, so be it. I couldn't tell her that she couldn't host the company! But I did ask her to promise she would not overdo it and let them wear her out. She assured me if she got tired, she would ask them to take her home. And apparently she did.

My point for this week is that we can only control so much. We are going to get sick from time to time and be "out of the game," and we better have a "Plan B" and a list of "subs" we can call to assist us. And our elders are going to do pretty much what they want most of the time, so we have to learn to accept the things we cannot control. I won't hesitate to speak up if I feel my grandmother is doing something that will cause her trouble later or is too strenuous for her. I am responsible for her safety and general well-being - to a point. But she is always saying that this person or another "is 21," and so is she - in fact she is 96! So I have to let her do what she can as much as possible - and within reason. And just because she cooks the greens doesn't mean I have to eat them!

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