Why we're here...

Love and marriage are the greatest adventures in life, and they point they way to our relationship with the Almighty.

We're honored to be a member of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association...click on their logo to visit them.

undefined

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 314 - Milestones

I'm still in pretty poor shape (as if I'll get better!) and so this post will again be shorter than I would prefer.

But thi is a milestone, of sorts, that my usual writing output has declined. It's just too physically painful, too tiring, and I have not the concentration I had before.

This does point out a reality in the shared lives of patient and caregiving spouse - that there are milestones that mark a deteriorating situation, and may need to be handled with some delicacy.

Some of these are:

  • Leaving the workforce - at some point the patient will be too ill to work, and this can have a huge impact on self image, especially if he or she was the primary breadwinner. It can also have a financial impact in terms of lost income, and lost employer-supplied insurance.
  • Leaving the social circle - if the couple participated in shared physical pursuits (a hiking club, for instance) the day will come when participation will not be possible, and there will be a creeping isolation. Too, many friends will feel uncomfortable, not knowing what to say, and will begin keeping their distance.
  • Having to quit driving - driving is mobility is independence, and losing that facet of independence can be a huge blow to the psyche.
  • No longer being able to have sex - having to forego physical intimacy can be very demeaning; a man may no longer feel ;like a man', nor a woman 'like a woman'.There's also the ear that loss of physical intimacy can lea to loss of emotional intimacyThe blow can be softened by closeness and milder forms of sexual stimulation, but most patient who have passed this point will be able to tell you exactly when they last had intercourse - it can be that big a deal.
  • Becoming housebound - eventually trips that are not vital become too difficult, too uncomfortable, and with incontinence, too potentially humiliating. I am writing this on May 22, 2017; the last time I left the property was November 6, 2016. It should be noted that this also precludes outings and vacations, which are losses in themselves.
  • Switching from treatment to palliative care - when the patient is told (or realizes) that medical support has gone from trying to find a cure to 'improving quality of remaining life', it can be quite a blow. The horizons close in, and the future is bleakly truncated.
  • Incontinence - some illnesses, like mine, eventually bring bladder and bowel incontinence, and it makes one feel just vile. Incontinence anchors you to a fixed radius from a bathroom, and calls for regular - and unpleasant - cleaning. Frequently. Incontinence underscores the feeling that one has moved outside of the normal worl, that one can never go out to dinner, or to church, without worry. (Some individuals, strong ones, become OK with wearing adult diapers; I am not one of those.)
  • Unreliability in financial matters - medication for pain and other symptoms play with the mind, and can make it hard to pay bills on time, and balance a checkbook. They create a netherworld of uncertainty, and there is a time when the trust one's spouse had that even though sick, one can still contribute by paying the mortgage, utilities, and insurance pon time must be surrendered.
  • Hospice care - thank God, there is now in-home hospice, but it's a big threshold to cross, letting well-meaning and ind strangers into the house to provide care that can no longer be handled by the caregiving spouse.
These are just some of the milestones associated with 'circling the drain'. I've personally experienced most of these, all except hospice care, and since there's no insurance, that's not an option. I will write on these individually in coming posts, strength permitting.

But meanwhile...I need your help. If you have any insights into these, or there are others you can add, please mention them in the comments.

We're linked with Messy Marriage's From Messes To Messages - please visit for some great marriage resources.

And our musical theme is from The Traveling Wilburys, with, appropriately, End Of The Line.




Still hoping to get the new and improved version of Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart up and running in the near future. Just haven't had the energy to do it yet...but if you would like to read it, please say so in your comment and I'd be glad to send you a PDF (which should fit your Kindle).

I have another blog, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Mick Jagger) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.



Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

And marley has a Facebook page! Please drop by to see how happy he is today.


If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.









Sunday, May 21, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 313 - Now Is All

I apologise that I am too ill to write much today. Too much pain, too much fatigue, and there is a part of me that wants to go home.

But I don't think of Heaven, not ever. I'm not anticipating it, not looking forward to it'...not wondering what it will be like.

Not because I don't believe. I do. It's simply that there's no way I can predict it, and there's no point is spoiling the now by looking forward to the next.

If nothing else, this illness has taught me, truly, that all is now.

And how I handle now is a pretty good indicator of both my temporal future, and my eternal one.

The present moment is not a seed to be planted for tomorrow's harvest. It's a totally mature git from God, and it can only be enjoyed as it's given.

This moment cannot be hoarded, or traded.

And it deserves to be enjoyed for exactly what it is.


And now for some music...Jimmy Buffett's Come Monday with an introduction by the margaritaville Man himself.




Thursday, May 18, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 312 - And There Is Joy {FMF}

The other night was not pleasant, and I said to Barbara, "I really would prefer not to die."

She replied, "Do you really want to keep suffering?"

Hers was not a rhetorical question. If faces a deep truth. (There's the FMF word, Yay!)

There's enough Scriptural counsel to embrace suffering, to take up one's Cross, and to count it all joy (in your face, Joel Osteen!), but you do get the feeling, that, well, gosh...maybe enough's enough?

Maybe it's OK to be tired of the whole thing, the pain and the unsteadiness and the fatigue and the ever-present need for cleaning supplies and fresh laundry.

Maybe it's OK for a loving caregiver to long for the end of witnessed agony, and I'm using that term deliberately...because a lot of this is agony. I've known lacerations and impalement and burns and broken bones and serious acute illness, and I know that this is far, far worse.

But on the other hand...

There is joy here, like stars winking on as clouds move across a dark and stormy sky. And the strange and unexpected thing is that the joy does not come from a temporary diminution of pain...the pain's a necessary foil, the shadow that defines the light.

For example, I exercise. Every guide to cancer I have ever read says, Exercise to the best of your ability...it'll help you fight the disease.

So I do. Not much, a pathetic shadow of what I once could do, and I lie on the ground crying after every 'workout'...but there is joy there, in knowing that I made it through one more session. There is that small accomplishment. It's a routine that an unfit twelve-year-old would disdain, but it's mine.

And I do it.

And I write. Today I am writing ahead for Five Minute Friday, because it is not certain that I will be able to respond to the keyword when it's revealed, and it IS certain that my response, if it comes, will not be timely. (The word is Truth. It's in here somewhere.)

No matter. One does what one can, and when this post is done...hours from now...it will be done. I will trace the spasms of pain in the lines I write, and see small triumph there...that moment, that flow of words was when I overcame this.

Shadow defining light.

And why bother with this temporal light? Why not just go to the Light?

Because this is something worth sharing. By having my future curtailed I have learned to value and treasure every minute...not for what I can do, but for its own sake.

Because of the coming separation - temporary - from those I love, I have learned to love with a full heart, overlooking the things that give normal life so much friction.

And because I have been asked why I trust a God that has allowed this crucible of pain and despair, I've been forced to examine my faith, and in the flames it has been tempered, and has come out hard and sharp and true.

They say God's Word never returns void.

Neither do our words, if we care - and dare - to submit them to His Will.

One day we will live in the Light; its joy and grace will need no shadows for definition, and we will drink it, breathe it, live it.

But for now, the Light of God's Will working in us is defined by the shadows of hurt, so that those around us can see His Glory.

The musical theme is courtesy Carly Simon...yeah, you guessed it. Let The River Run. Enjoy!


Still hoping to get the new and improved version of Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart up and running in the near future. Just haven't had the energy to do it yet...but if you would like to read it, please say so in your comment and I'd be glad to send you a PDF (which should fit your Kindle).

I have another blog, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Mick Jagger) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.



Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

And marley has a Facebook page! Please drop by to see how happy he is today.


If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.







Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 311 - Frequencies

In his wonderful science-fiction novel Out Of The Silent Planet, C.S. lewis postulated the existence of creatures whose bodies were made up of 'movements', something along the line of atomic vibrations (which isn't so far wrong).

He suggested that bodies which moved at different 'speeds' might have difficulty seeing one another, much as our eyes, designed for the visible spectrum, can't see lower or higher wavelengths of light (infrared or ultraviolet).

This can definitely apply to the caregiver-patient relationship, especially when the caregiving spouse is still in the workforce. barbara has often said to me that she has to slow waaaay down when she comes home; she works in a high-pressure, high-speed environment with a number of high-achieving 'switched-on' people who are used to getting large amounts of work done very quickly and with flawless accuracy.

Segue to home...her normal workaday speed has to be forcibly reduced to what is to her, a crawl. It can't be pleasant, but there's no way that my mind, speech, and movement can match hers.

It's a conundrum that can lead to frustration, misunderstandings, and even hurt feelings...on both sides.

So what can you, as the caregiver, do?

If you're living at a distinctly higher frequency because of the requirements of your job, there's not much you can do. Going from fast to slow and back again is exhausting, and it's an unreasonable demand to make on someone who's having to wear the caregiver and worker hats.

Not much you can do, but there are some things:

  • Share your day with your patient/spouse. Don't boast or complain, but just relate what you've done through the day. It'll slow you down a bit, and let you 'decompress', and will bring your spouse closer to your speed in vicarious participation.
  • Exercise vigorously if you can,even for a short time each day. You'll feel better, and will be more apt to relax.
  • Eat healthy, and or obvious reasons, go easy on caffeine. Reducing sugar and carbs reduces the dynamic tension of restless nervous energy and ennui that can be so exhausting.
  • Pray together daily. It's the best way to match frequencies, even for a few minutes
There are some things that your husband or wife can do, too...even being ill.
  • Exercise to the limit of one's ability. Exercise speeds up the metabolism and makes the body function more efficiently, making it easier to match speed with a high-frequency mate.
  • Remain engaged with the world to the greatest extent possible by keeping up correspondence or social media that adheres to a schedule. If you become a part of a blogging community, you'll be expected by others to show up regularly, and at a certain time of day, and it is important to these your virtual friends that you are there. It also makes it harder to retreat from life, because you're accountable for your participation.
  • Dress and grooming should meet social norms; flip-flops are cargo shorts are fine, but a dressing-gown is not, except if you're bedridden. Appropriate dress begets appropriate thought, and engagement.
  • Be involved in your caregiver/working spouse's life to the degree possible. I try to make sure that Barbara has breakfast and lunch ready to go when she leaves, along with something to drink. I email a day-specific prayer timed to arrive when she arrives at work, and select Scripture for her in an email at lunch. It makes me feel like a part of her day and that I can, at least to some degree, keep up.
What do you think? What are some other ways a caregiving spouse and patient can help match frequencies?



We're linked with Messy marriage's From Messes To Messages - please drop by for some outstanding marriage resources!


Still hoping to get the new and improved version of Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart up and running in the near future. Just haven't had the energy to do it yet...but if you would like to read it, please say so in your comment and I'd be glad to send you a PDF (which should fit your Kindle).

I have another blog, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Mick Jagger) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.



Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

And marley has a Facebook page! Please drop by to see how happy he is today.


If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.






Sunday, May 14, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 310 - Seeking Absolution

Another short post. Kind of sick this weekend.

As a caregiver for a terminally ill husband or wife, you may find that there are things for which you feel the desire or need to atone...while there's time. (And this applies to patients, as well.)

Every marriage has its bad points, from the minor to the devastating. And seeing death coming, you may feel an almost desperate need to try to make it right.

But before you do, ask yourself exactly why you want to go down this road.

If it's to heal a wound that's still open, something that still looms like a wall between you, then do it (preferably in the presence of a counselor). Own up, and try to move on.

But if it's something that's been largely forgotten, or something your spouse didn't know about, then you may be contemplating this action to gain forgiveness for yourself from the one you've wronged.

It's a very human need, but on't forget your position...you're the main support for someone who's dying, and to put it bluntly, he or she may have quite enough burdens in facing death than to have to care for your self-inflicted psychic injuries.

That's harsh, but facing balance of life and death every day is, for your spouse, a harsh schooling.

If you truly need absolution, take your past transgressions to the Lord, either directly or through a pastor or priest. Own up to them, in your own heart, without excuse or explanation.

And then let them go.

Ovr to Linkin park for the musical theme...



A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.



I have another blog, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Mick Jagger) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.



Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

And marley has a Facebook page! Please drop by to see how happy he is today.


If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.






Thursday, May 11, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 309 - Never Go Full Retard {FMF}

Five Minute Friday again, and again I am writing ahead. I will try to work in the keyword when it's revealed. Apologies, but it's just the way it is.

(The word is MOM.)

I have a confession...I almost violated Robert ("I'm just a dude playin' a dude disguised as another dude!) Downey Jr.'s Prime Directive...

Never go full retard.




This post was originally written as  meditation on how I have come to understand the ethos of suicide under extreme conditions. It' was thoughtful and true and empathetic...and totally off the mark for this blog.

Yep. Went full retard.

I wrote it when things were really bad, and I had been spending large part of my time in a foetal position, waiting for the pain to abate, just a little...or waiting for myself to get used to it.

Well, things were that bad, and as I write this are a bit worse, but the thing is...

I have control over my own mental ambience.

It's my choice to look into the abyss, or to raise my eyes unto the hills beyond, whence surely cometh the promised help.

It's human to grapple with despair...but we're supposed to rise above that. We're creatures of Light, caught halfway between dirt and divinity.

We are Mary's heirs, feeling the pain of the labour of God's Mom, birthing Heaven in the manger's mire. (There! The Word!)

We can grovel in the dirt, or raise our hands in hope.

So that's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna...wait for it...


Yes.

Turn the beat around.

For anyone who's interested, I left the original post intact. It was originally called Suicidal. It follows below.

Yeah. Full retard. An exercise in navel-gazing, and perhaps instructive in what not to do when writing a blog post.

But hey, at least you get two musical selections!


Suicidal

Morphine or a bullet.

That is what things have come to here. I spend a lot of each day (as mentioned in my previous post) lying on the floor in a foetal position, waiting for the pain to abate enough to be able to rise again. And perhaps do something worthwhile.

In the past I decried those who chose to end their own lives, considering it a cowardly abnegation of God's gift of life.

I am eating those words. If I could stand removed from myself, and see what others see, I would hand over a cup of hemlock, without qualm. Enough, observed, is enough. Let it end, and God will, most assuredly, understand. Of this I have no doubts; not any more.

But not for me.

Not for me, because I still have accountability that overrides pain, that overrides despair, that overrides hopelessness.

And you, dear Reader, are a part of it.

I promised to bear witness to life being worth living, to God's blessings outweighing pain, to the ultimate hope we witness with everyday kindness tipping the balance against hopelessness.

I promised to care for my wife until death do us part; I can't do much for her except making sure she has food to take to work, occasionally fixing dinner, and moving the refrigerator so she can do the needed repairs. The physical work wipes me out, but I am still far larger than she is, and there is some strength left.

I promised my dogs I would be there for them, to feed them and let them out and love and hold them when the memories of their past abuse, before they came to us, becomes too much to bear.

I am needed, and there is no easy exit.

I am a devout Christian, but I am also a Zen Buddhist, and in my Asian genes is an understanding of the Tokko boys of the Second World War, the Kamikaze.

For a full understanding, please read Mordecai Sheftall's stellar book, Blossoms In The Wind. But know this - these boys who never became men willingly gave their lives for a purpose. They didn't seek death for its own sake, or for vengeance. They were willing to die for those they loved. It was a pitiful misunderstanding of what an Allied victory would bring...but they accepted death with the knowledge they had at the time.

And they were not without humour - Sheftall relates the story of a group of tokko boys whose favourite (female) innkeeper had been jailed by the Imperial secret police, the Kempeitai, for selling liquor out of hours. So they invaded Kempeitai HQ, broke a few heads, and retrieved their beloved mamasan. What were the authorities going to do about it? order them to crash their aeroplanes into an American ship?

And so, I will follow them, in my way. I will work myself to unto death for my wife, and my dogs, and for you, dear Reader.

Life matters, cessation of pain really matters, but honour matters more.

This is the reality. The dirt and the gavel and the pain and the splinters of the Via Dolorosa.

In the words of Robert Frost,

"I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep."

But this isn't all Teutonic Sturm Und Drang.  There's some fun to be had here. Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light orchestra have my back!


A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.


I have another blog, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Mick Jagger) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.



Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

And marley has a Facebook page! Please drop by to see how happy he is today.


If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.







Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Your DYing Spouse 308 - On Being The Miracle

OK, I will admit it now - I spend large parts of the day curled up in a foetal position on the floor, using an empty 2-liter soda bottle as a pillow (it's the right size, and quite pleasant).

Why the floor? I have an aversion to taking to bed in the middle of the day. It gets uncomfortably close to 'bedridden'.

And I jut wait for the pain to subside. There's not much to think about, neither regrets from the past or hopes and fears for the future.

The TV is on (religious programmes only!).

I'm sitting with the pain. It's all I can do.

Of such things do miracles arise.

The miracle lies in understanding pain as neither an enemy nor a 'friend'...yeah, there are people who take Look At The Bright Side a feet feet too far.

Pain is a tool, or perhaps more accurately a vehicle that offers a journey of understanding.

Part of me wants to say, "So what's to understand? It hurts!" Well, yes.

But once there's the acceptance that it dies hurt, and it's going to hurt, there are some paths worth taking.

  • The first thing is the knowledge that pain is, and you can't really escape it. Drugs may offer relief, but it's temporary and comes with a price. Opiate withdrawal is a terrible thing to experience, and it can be necessary when the doses required to the control the pain rise too high for safety. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. So you're left with the elephant in the room, the pain. And you can learn to cope, at least to some degree. I have learned to 'breathe' around it, and to use body positioning and a kind of meditation to hold it in check. It's not perfect, and sometimes doesn't work well, but it is at least a continual challenge, and that has to be good for me!
  • Pain offers insights into one's own behaviour. When I'm hurting, like most people, I get snappish, and on recognizing that can work to at least mitigate the effect. For me, this means adopting an almost elaborate courtesy that is, perhaps irritatingly, magnified when I go through periods of 'less' pain. And there has been another effect - I use a lot less bad language. Used to be, my words could strip paint, but these days I have to avoid anything that leads to harshness, and so I have, for the most part, cleaned up my act.
  • Pain makes time more precious, because it has a way of stretching out the worst hours. You look at the clock, and then again three hours later to find that only five minutes have passed. So I don't waste relatively-good-feeling-time. I'm not hesitant to drop a book that loses my interest, or to skip a movie that I should see but that I find depressing. Life's really too short.
  • Most importantly, pain begets compassion. I wouldn't want anyone to walk this road, and for those who do, I feel a deep sense of empathy. Does it do them any good? Well, there are those who say that adding to the good energy in Creation is always a good and healing thing...and we can all use a little healing.
So I get to be the miracle, I guess.

The miracle of a better me.

And here's the musical theme...perhaps a bit wistful, but I like it.


We;re linked with Messy Marriage's From Messes To Messages - please visit Beth's site for some superb marriage resources.


A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.


I have another blog, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Mick Jagger) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.



Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

And marley has a Facebook page! Please drop by to see how happy he is today.


If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.






Sunday, May 7, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 307 - I'm Still Useful, But...

This will be another short post as I am feeling pretty awful...though I have a good reason. Had to move and fix - at least temporarily - the refrigerator. The evap motor still needs to be changed out.

There was a time when this would have been a trifling episode in a day, and moving the refrigerator itself would have been easy.

Now, it was an achievement - and I'm glad I did it - but it has wiped me out.

It's tempting to look a this and bemoan how far I have fallen.

Or I can take some pleasure in that which I can still accomplish, albeit at some cost.

I think the latter is healthier, don't you?

Still, I think I'll let Barbara replace the motor. I'll cheer from the sidelines.

And now, in the spirit of the day, over to The Traveling Wilburys and Handle With Care





A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.


I have another blog, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Mick Jagger) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.



Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.

WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

And marley has a Facebook page! Please drop by to see how happy he is today.


If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.