THE BRYCE IS RIGHT!

Software for the finest computer – The Mind

BEING A CAREGIVER

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 8, 2021

BRYCE ON LIFE

– How it affected my life.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

For the last six years I have been a caregiver for my wife and mother, both of whom suffered from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) which ultimately claimed both their lives. It was a rough road we traveled as I watched the disease slowly beat them down and break their spirits.

When I was about ten years old, my great grandfather passed away, leaving his wife a widow and alone. Fortunately, my grandmother stepped in and brought her in to live with her and my grandfather. The loss of her spouse was unbearable to my great grandmother as they had been together well over fifty years. Heartbroken, she died less than a year later. As a young man though, I learned the lesson of how the family took care of its own. This is what ultimately drove me to take care of both my wife and mother.

For years, I would wake up early to get some work done on my computer before they woke up. I would then run between homes to take care of them. Fortunately, my mother lived nearby in my neighborhood.

I quickly assumed new responsibilities, such as:

* Preparing their medications and vitamins for the day.

* Preparing and cleaning their nebulizer machines for breathing treatments.

* Maintained their oxygen machines which would from time to time require new lines and filters.

* Helping them get to and from the kitchen, either in a walker or wheelchair.

* Preparing meals for them, including snacks.

* Took them to doctor appointments.

* Entertained them, either through games, newspaper puzzles, rides around town, or just talking with them.

* And a long list of home maintenance chores, such as watering plants, making beds, grocery shopping, washing clothes, car maintenance, paying bills, etc.

In between all of this, I would work out of an office at both houses.

For six years I did this faithfully. Once in a blue moon I would get a chance to escape for a couple of days of fishing, but I would have to rely on relatives to substitute for me which was helpful but difficult for their schedules. Even when I was away, I couldn’t really relax as I kept worrying about them.

I am certainly not looking for accolades as I did this out of devotion to them. Day-in and day-out for six years, I felt like I was on a never-ending treadmill. It finally came to an end recently; my wife passed away just over a year ago, and my mother about a month ago.

Now I can reflect on their passing and what I went through. There really wasn’t much we could do medically for them. All I could do was to try and make them comfortable. Throughout all of this, I got the uneasy feeling they were actually training me to be alone, which is what I am now.

It seems somewhat eerie now as I no longer have a timetable to maintain and can catch up on my sleep. I suspect I can finally slip away for a longer vacation, but it seems odd for me to think this way. I still have this nagging feeling I should be doing something for them, but I now have to challenge myself to find a new direction. It all seems strange to me.

All of the oxygen machines have been turned off and returned to the vendor. I no longer hear their constant hum. I have disposed of all of the medications and processed considerable paperwork. It’s quiet now, deafeningly so.

Being a caregiver can be very demanding. I would often go to bed early as I was mentally exhaused. Occasionally, I would have to get up in the middle of the night to take care of an emergency for them, so I learned to sleep lightly. So, Yes, it is easy to burn yourself out if you are not careful. I found having a good friend to listen to you was incredibly important to maintain your faculties.

In spite of all this, I would give up everything just to talk with my wife or mother again. It was a hell of a lot of work, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Yes, families should take care of their own. If we didn’t, how can we say we honestly loved them?

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – For a listing of my books, click HERE.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2021 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on Spotify, WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; SVA RADIO – “Senior Voice America”, the leading newspaper for active mature adults; or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

6 Responses to “BEING A CAREGIVER”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    A D.S. of Cincinnati, Ohio wrote…

    “Sad but very good writing. Give yourself time to heal and find your way. Not easy.”

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    A D.W. of Clearwater, Florida wrote…

    “Your words, my feelings. Missing my Dad everyday, so very happy he was with us for his last years on this earth. It is such a tough and wonderful process. But nothing like a mother and a wife, can’t even imagine.”

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A W.H. of Boulder, Colorado wrote…

    “First of all, my sincerest sympathy on the recent loss of your wife. I lost my wife of 36 years 18 years ago now, and it simply is a “club” NO ONE wants to join.

    As well, I was my wife’s primary caregiver for almost 20 years while she steadily deteriorated with chronic progressive Multiple Sclerosis. At some point, she required skilled nursing care (which I couldn’t provide) and ended up in a nursing home at 51 years old because I also had to deal with my job (classified work), a young adult daughter in college studying pharmacy out-of-state, and a teenage daughter trying to get out of high school. There were times I didn’t know if I would make it. Obviously, I did.

    As someone who’s been down this road before, I’ll share with you something my late wife’s best friend from her childhood told me. She had lost her first husband at 30 due to brain cancer, leaving her to raise two young daughters on her own. She said, “losing a spouse is ALMOST like losing an arm or a leg. The eyes will tell you without a shred of doubt that the limb in question is gone. The brain, on the other hand, tries to tell you that the eyes are lying to you because … see… I can wiggle my toes/fingers and feel them, so they MUST still be there. Now, this conflict creates some disturbing things for you. You will have a “trigger” – a word, a smell, a sight, a sound, something that reminds you of your late spouse, and it will cause a response that you might not be able to control – but that’s OK – it’s part of the grieving process so just let it happen and roll with it. You’ll eventually get control back and things will return almost to normal. The “not-so-normal” part is that these things will happen when you least expect it, and they may go on for years. Like I said, it’s been 18 years for me, and I still get some of the triggers … BUT … this is important – it will NEVER EVER get “easy” for you – but it will get “easi-ER” over time. You’ll learn to cope and deal with the episodes, and they may even get shorter and further between, but they will happen in response to some sort of trigger. The “trigger” is different for every person, and you may have multiple triggers, and they may happen in different circumstances, making it difficult to try to predict what circumstances might precipitate an episode.

    In my case, my wife hated opera, but I like it. About 2 months after she died, I was shopping at a Best Buy, picked up a number of CD’s and DVD’s along with some stuff for my cell phone. Got in the car, picked a cd at random, put it in the player in the car, and listened to a few bars of the first 3 songs. Sounded nice. But the 4th came on and started with a solo oboe “wailing” like it was crying. I started to well up and couldn’t control myself – it was the first time I had one of those episodes. The singers were classically trained, and they were singing popular songs in an operatic manner, in Italian. I’m not an Italian linguist, but the lyrics just “got to me” and I couldn’t understand it. When I was in the navy, the people I worked with included linguists, so I checked with them to see if any were Italian linguists. Nope, but some had been stationed in Italy and picked up the language while they were there. Their translations of the lyrics didn’t help, because they made “literal” translations instead of colloquial. So, I queried the freemasonry-list where we had international folks participating. One brother, Giovanni Malevolti, from Naples whose written English was impeccable, offered to help. He took the lyrics and returned them to me a couple of days later. What happened? The name of the song was “Vita Mia” which literally translated is “Life Mine.” But, Giovanni said that’s not how it’s used in Italy – it means “sweetheart” or “darling.” Both terms my wife had used with me. Spooky. But, the very last line of the lyrics hit me like a lightning bolt: “Now that I have died, you can begin to live.”

    Then, another song on that same album was Unchained Melody (in Italian). Same drill. This time, the lyrics in Italian have NOTHING to do with the lyrics you and I hear in English. It starts off with “My body is no longer chained.” My wife was in a wheelchair for years, and for the last couple of years was functionally a quadriplegic and unable to do much of anything except for her left thumb and index finger….

    So, there have been other triggers over the years, but those two were my first and absolutely stunned me.”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    A C.H. of Palm Harbor, Florida wrote…

    “You are a good man Tim. Many men would not have done what you did. We do or did what we did out of love and devotion to our loved one. It is not always that way in this day and age. I’m starting to think we are unicorns! You have a heart of gold! Remember you have a cocktail waiting for you anytime!”

    Like

  5. Dorothy said

    Omg. My husband passed from COPD. I took care of him for 5 yrs. no one hospitalization. One time I had 98 coconuts in my bathtub. I opened each one hoping it would help heal his lungs.
    I befriended you on Facebook Bx of politics.
    Hope you are doing well it’s 4 years as a widow

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

 
%d bloggers like this: