Hospice takes care of the whole family, not just the patient. Odyssey Hospice has a 12 bed nursing facility in Conroe used mostly for those patients who are close to the "end" but don't have family capable of giving the care needed at home. [That's not Paul's situation as far as I'm concerned.] But whenever they do have beds available, they offer the at-home caregivers who might be approaching burnout up to 5 days of "Respite Care" per month. Elaine (our hospice nurse) has offered this to me very often but I have turned it down each time, thinking love and determination will get us through. Whenever people ask how I'm doing, I think "What's wrong with them, I'm not the one who's dying?" And sometimes I feel guilty that's it's Paul and not me. And then that swirls into anger because Paul has already "given" enough, like 31 years in the military, plus his son. If ever there was a man who doesn't deserve this, it's Paul Hunter Terhune.
Next week marks the 6th month since the brain tumor diagnosis (on November 15, 2010). I've been away only once (March 4-9) while Paul was in a rehab hospital, and was worried about him constantly. But on Wednesday evening I finally HAD to admit that I needed a break. [Yes, I am stubborn, just ask my family!] A break being a "caregiver" and even a break from Rocky our dog. I had nothing left to give. I called both of our mothers who totally convinced me that I was doing the right thing and that I had the family's complete understanding and support. So I called Elaine to ask for a "time out"; it was a Blessing that they had an available bed. I won't go into explaining how very hard this caregiver job is because someone might think I'm complaining. I am not. I'll just say it was necessary that I get a few days off or foolishly end up needing care myself.
So on Thursday I followed an ambulance, again. I used to drive ambulances, not follow them crying.
After getting Paul situated I drove "Rocky" to the kennel for boarding. (Will pick him up right before Paul gets transported home.) Went straight home and slept the rest of Thursday. When I woke up the guilt was almost overwhelming. (Guilt is evil.) I know how Paul hates those hospital-type environments. Felt like I had abandoned ship. Felt like I had abandoned Paul. Was really questioning my decision. Even though my logical mind KNOWS without doubt that he is being well taken care of, well, it's just not the same type of care. I love the man, they don't really even know him. It's just their job. He's my whole life now. I know him.
Trying to redirect my thoughts and feelings I did a late night run to the Apple store to replace my keyboard which had died. It helped. Just being able to leave the house cuz I needed something was liberating. Felt much better when I got home and went to bed, sleeping without keeping one eye and one ear open.
Woke up early this morning refreshed, with a milder sense of guilt. Gee, don't even have to worry about taking Rocky outside lickety-split as soon as I wake up! It was really nice not having anything I HAD to do, just only what I WANTED to do. So I baked a batch of Paul's favorite cookies. Packed up a "goody bag" and hauled booty to see Paul. I arrive and the nurse says, "What are YOU doing here?!! You're supposed to be relaxing!!" LOL. I mention something about "Nurse Ratchett" and she laughs and eases off! I stay only about 30 minutes, long enough to clean his nails, tell him about how yesterday Rocky thought he was the "Stud" of the daycare group at the kennel (even though he's been fixed), offer to shave him, which he rejects saying he'll do it tomorrow, offer to peel the orange I brought him, which he also rejects. It's almost noon so they bring his lunch and I cut up the meatloaf, and he eats. I kiss him goodbye, climb into the van, and sob like there's no tomorrow. I do that a lot.
Wipe away the tears. Don't know where to go. Feel lost not being needed. It's noon. Oh, I'm hungry! Stop at IHOP, eat like a horse. Full tummy, yawn.
I've got a massage scheduled for 3:00p.m. (A gift certificate from my son and his wife, Ben and Shawna, for my birthday last February 5.) (Have tried several times to schedule that massage but ambulances keep coming into our lives and had to cancel 2 appointments.) Think I can squeeze in a nap before the massage. NOT. On the way home I'm driving beside an ambulance and watch in amazement as it hits something in the road which explodes and comes flying towards me! I smell paint. What? Oh Oh. Turns out the ambulance had hit a can of brown spray paint. We pull over.
Do you smell paint? Yup, sure do! Hey guys, it's all over your ambulance!!
Hey Lady!! You got a little paint too! We're SORRY!
These pics are better than the ones I took at the "scene".
Oh, and it's dark brown enamel paint.
I don't think they make water soluble paint in spray cans.
There are probably ten thousand white Toyota vans in the Houston area. I'll NEVER have trouble finding our van in a parking lot again! Mine is the one that looks like a Dalmatian. Don't tell Paul!! I'll just handle it.
On second thought, I WILL tell Paul. Oughtta get a good belly laugh from him!! They do say laughter heals. [This paint situation is not in any "caregiver" book I've read!] Ya gotta just laugh. There's no other way to handle it. LOL. Laughing feels so good...try it.
Well, I did make it to my massage! Awwwwwwwwwww. I could hardly walk or talk after it ended. Feel like jello. Massages should come with free ambulance rides home! I don't DO my nails, toes, hair, waxes, tans, or all those types of things girls do nowadays. But NOW I wanna be a massage queen!
It's been a Blessed day.