A Caregiver Sees What It Means to Have things Really Tough

There is a real temptation for me, and perhaps for others, to think that my situation is the worst it can be. I got a lesson in reality the other day.

Things have been tough with my wife. Her speech and understanding has taken a big nose dive, as has her energy. I don’t really understand when she talks, I listen just to try and get a sense of what she might be talking about and then try to circle in on what’s going on. Too often that doesn’t work.

Her energy is low. She has been sleeping a great deal, 11 or 12 hours at night and then often a long nap in the afternoon. She really doesn’t do anything, mostly fuss around a bit, sometimes empty the dish washer or inspect the pots I’ve washed. I vacillate about whether I should do a bad job so she’ll have something to point out. Luckily my natural inability usually wins out and I do a bad job without trying.

She has refused to go out of the house for the last couple of weeks except for a doctor’s appointment. Last night she said something about liking it when there is only the two of us. She won’t answer or talk on the phone and is very upset if I try to get her even to talk to one of our children. It’s difficult for me even to try to force her to do anything she doesn’t want to. Why should I make her unhappy for a trivial improvement?

The only person she even mentions that she’s willing to see is a woman who has worked for us on and off over the last four years, doing house cleaning and staying with my wife when I have to be away. This woman’s husband has been in the last stages of lung cancer for the past 4 months. He shrunk from a handsome, strong man of 190 pounds down to 104 pounds, unable to walk or talk or eat. I saw him only occasionally and, each time I saw him was a terrible shock to see how he had progressed.

The effect on this woman was dramatic as she saw how he suffered yet, in the middle of all this, she always asked about my wife. Her husband died the day before yesterday and my wife somehow found her telephone number and called her to give her sympathy.

My wife had never met him but has a great affection for this woman. I went to the service but my wife wouldn’t go, she said she couldn’t go in that place and started to cry. My guess is that she recognizes her future in some way and was overwhelmed.

Life is just terrible for many people; there is no reason to think that we are first in line or second or tenth in line for amount of suffering to endure. Get along, day by day, get along.

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I do appreciate your reading these blog posts and I hope you will find the time to comment about any, or even all of them.

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