Catching my breath

Source: Clipartpanda

Source: Clipartpanda

Kudos to all of you who are caretakers. It takes a special person to do it selflessly.

I am a good pet caretaker. An elderly or ill pet presents very little resistance. I call all the shots. I like that. We do exactly as I say.

When it comes to caretaking people, it’s not so easy. Everyone has an opinion (and sometimes it’s hard to convince them that they are wrong. Note: Any opinion that does not agree with mine is wrong.)

For the past week I’ve been helping to sort things for my sister-in-law who broke her arm near the shoulder. Combine a bad shoulder with two bum knees and you have mobility issues. My brother has been doing the household chores and the errands. I have been providing support and occasionally logic.


I have learned a lot. Most of it about me. Most of it isn’t nice.

I’m not a patient person. I say it all the time but this past week I realized that I am squooshing (technical term that means hurrying) people along all the time. The beloved husband ignores me as do the cats. My brother is there too. That means I kick it up a notch and go into super-squoosh mode. It’s annoying. I can’t help myself. I need therapy.

Time goes faster when you are trying to accomplish too many things that require agreement. Everything took twice as long as I expected. No one’s fault. I just underestimate time and my ability to override opposing opinions.

Errands grow. What started as a trip to one store turned into three stores. We were looking for a lift recliner. When you are not in the market you see things everywhere. When you need one, they are scarce. We were able to locate some floor models that are available but the best choices require ordering. For a person who has been sleeping in a chair for a week, four to six weeks is a long time.

The biggest surprise is my sensitivity to noise. Since retirement I live in a quiet environment. When I worked my job was high conflict and people intense. I enjoyed it. When I came home I needed an hour of absolute quiet to de-stress.

This week I spent many hours in constant conversation, much of it involving negotiation. I craved quiet. I needed intensive “purr” therapy when I got home and a good “face bury” in a furry belly. (It’s better than Valium, quicker than a margarita and saves me from killing anyone.)

Onward we go. Each day gets better. By the end of the week we’ll know more.


37 thoughts on “Catching my breath

  1. Pingback: Catching my breath part 2 | Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

  2. A former boss of mine was a differing kind of problem solver: he would study an issue for seemingly minutes or even hours before he sprung into action. You were always convinced he was blowing it off, but in fact he was just thinking about just the right way to approach it. He once told me about a bad powder spill at his house that went over everything in two rooms. He took out the vacuum cleaner and proceeded to do his patented staring and thinking for what must have an interminable period for his wife. Finally she jerked the vacuum from him, turned it on, and began cleaning. She didn’t speak to him for the rest of the day. I’ve never forgotten that story!

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  3. Add me to the group of NOT a patient caregiver. Fortunately CH has not had anything happen to him that he didn’t bounce back quickly. I always tell him he has three days to get better and my nursing duties are over. I took care of my Mom in our home when she was in the end stages of lung cancer. Diagnosed in March and gone in August of 1987. I learned so much about myself during that short time. It was a tough time and there wasn’t the help network that is available now. Sounds like your SIL is improving and I hope she continues to get better each day, hoping that for all of you. It is not easy.

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    • My biggest surprise was what I learned about myself in this process. My husband is the best caretaker. He raised 4 kids by himself. When I broke my kneecap he did everything including taking care of the cats, all without a complaint. I took care of my mother too but her last stages lasted 2 weeks. She refused to move out of her house which made it both harder and easier. There is much better stuff to help with mobility these days.


  4. I have been spending more and more time caring for my father so that my mom can get out and do a few things on her own. Sometimes it’s more difficult for me than at other times, but beyond whatever struggles I feel with the caretaking responsibilities, I get very tired of hearing opinions and suggestions that come from other family members who aren’t otherwise contributing a minute’s worth of time and effort. it’s an interesting season! My dad appreciates silence as much as I do…so we don’t have the endless conversation. 🙂

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    • A long time ago I found out that when people suggest things that I should do, I put it back in their court. I ask them to investigate, research or whatever and if it’s a good idea, I encourage them to implement. I am open to suggestions but not more work for me. You are blessed with a dad who loves quiet.


  5. It takes time … and a realization that impatience is simply not accepting the present as it is. I know I found that out when I was so upset with my father for being ill… I so wanted him to be like he was before!
    Patience is accepting what is not in our control and being compassionate to the feelings that comes up, rather than running from it or trying to make it something it isn’t. I’m sorry your SIL is in pain. It can’t be easy for her or you Kate 💛

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    • All sympathy goes to my SIL. Immobility isn’t fun for an active person. My impatience mostly involved timing. I WANT IT DONE NOW. It’s a lesson I keep learning over and over. I’m an active problem solver. I want to be solving the problem ALL THE TIME. Sometimes I need to take a step back, evaluate what we’ve done, see how that works and re-strategize from there. The right stuff is all in my head. Definitely a control issue.

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    • Thanks. You have to keep your sense of humor or you go crazy. There is a lot of laughing along the way. The recliners we were looking at have pads you can buy. We looked at them. They weren’t padded for comfort so we weren’t sure what they were for. Duh! They are for accidents we were told. Bodily accidents but we were projecting drink spills instead because that is more fun than talking about peeing.

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  6. I’ve learned, at least for me, it takes time to be a patient caregiver. Putting myself into their shoes and observing the spouse, has taught me so much. I’ve also learned that one person can’t do it all. I hope your SIL is back on her feet soon, Kate.

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  7. I learned to be much more patient when I was taking care of my elderly parents. It’s hard, but I just take a lot of deep breaths. Just a suggestion, though: anything you will be using only short term (lift chair, for instance) can often be picked up fairly reasonable on the second hand market. Many people purchase these things new, then don’t use them for very long. If you can get a gently used chair, it will be a lot cheaper and you could probably re-sell it for about the same $$.

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  8. Kate Its hard, stressful and exhausting, because not only are you dealing with the beloveds physical issues, you are also taking on their mental stress too. I looked after my mum in small patches when she had her hip replacement. I bow down to nurses, always have, they are amazing people. I hope your sister-in-law is on the mend. Cat therapy is good for all that stress to be sure.

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  9. so sorry to hear she is having issues. Your brother and sister in law are amazing fun people. I had to laugh at and with you. Yes, everything takes much longer than you plan it to. That is annoying. All this teaches us lessons that we don’t want to learn and thoughts about ourselves that we don’t like. It is so great that you have fur therapy. I sit on the couch, suck my thumb, twirl my hair and watch really dumb tv. Whatever it takes us to get through.

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  10. Being a caretaker is not an easy task. It is not easy from both a physical or mental standpoint. The hardest part for me was the feeling of guilt because I really did not want to do it, but I did it anyway. I hated not wanting to do it, more then doing it… Quite the conundrum!

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  11. I snorted liquid out my nose when I got to “my ability to override opposing opinions.” Luckily, it was water, not coffee. Unluckily, it was Perrier, which kind of stings.

    I also overestimate the amount of time needed to override opinions contrary to my own. Please don’t ever let me be my FIL’s caretaker.

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