Two years ago this morning I was talking to a nurse in my hometown a 150 miles and three hours away about my mom who had just been admitted because of what turned out to be several serious cardiac issues that had to be addressed.
That was the beginning of a four month journey that I call Chapter 1 in my care giving journey.
In two different hospitals, two different rehab centers, in two different states; mom, in her late 80’s underwent two serious surgeries and a long rehab process.
Once she got out (and she walked out of the second rehab center, with a walker of course) her world had forever changed. The area she had called home for nearly seven decades, coming to in the midst of World War 2 and a day after graduating from High School in the south, was gone.
She had painfully, and slowly, traversed that 150 plus miles and 3 hours between us, in two ambulances, 0n a couple of OR tables, several hospital and rehab rooms and my car as I drove her to her new home five minutes from my house and family.
As I write these words, I again realize just how much she had to deal with in that time frame.
Chapter 2 began on that Thursday in July when we brought her home to her “condo” (as she calls it) and helped her begin to get acquainted with living in a new town and state and under a different set of health circumstances.
It was also a re-setting of our relationship as I had left for college almost 37 years earlier and lived in four different states during that time. We got re-acquainted as I was no longer the 18 year old and she was no longer the, uh… well…uh – well you get the idea.
But it was also time she was healing and falling and healing and falling until, nearly 18 months later, an ER doctor became an advocate for her and her meds were reduced and the falling stopped as mom was able to get her balance again. Trips to the ER were almost becoming routine.
Chapter 3 began with this end of the falling and the discovering of a small spot of cancer. She had had cancer nine years earlier, pre cardiac surgery and all of that, and she was nearly a decade younger, too! But it had been taken care of, successfully, without post operative treatment.
Surgery has come and gone with this newly discovered cancer and the surgeon is pleased and again, for which we are all grateful, no chemo or radiation is necessary. But now we add an oncologist to her growing medical team list.
This is perhaps now what I should call chapter 4 as I write these words. I don’t know.
But what I do know that I am grateful and thankful for the help and strength of my God in walking with all of us through the past two years; for the wisdom and support of my wife (soon to be one of 32 years!); the support of the congregation I serve; the support of family and friends; and the growing camaraderie of fellow care givers.
I hope that when the time comes, I will be able to offer further reflection on this journey of my life as well with the hope it is of help to others.
Caregiving is hard. But I am glad that I have been able to walk alongside a woman who definitely walked with me through childhood and adolescence…and into today as well.
(I shared some back in 2013 about the time she came out of her four month journey of several things that I found to be necessary as an only child caregiver. Click on this link to read it, http://wp.me/pfQ8z-2py )