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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 302 - I'm Not Me Anymore

"Well, you know me..."

Such a common expression, and one used often to explain one's actions.

It's an expression I can never use, because illness has taken so much that I'm not sure of what me is.

My career is gone, and the avocations which used to define me are sliding out of reach. Some days, all I can do is rest, between feeding the dogs and letting them out. I watch a lot of DVDs; I read a lot. And these days concentration is so hard (along with the physical act of typing) that it's all I can do to maintain this blog.

I'm not who I was; I am who I am. And I don't know who that is.

If you're a caregiver for a terminally ill spouse, especially one who is no longer in the workforce and is simply existing between medical treatments and pain, it's something you'll have to address, because you're the only one who can help.

But how can you help? Here are some suggestions; they may not work for everyone but I'm pretty sure some may be useful.

  • First and foremost, observe. Has a driven and purposeful spouse become suddenly listless, using expressions like "It doesn't matter" and "Whatever"? If so, you can be pretty sure that there's a problem.
  • Encourage identity-building activities -  For an athlete, rugby or tennis or even golf may be out, but if there's any indication that your mate still wants to participate vicariously, try to find a way to make it happen, if only getting a cable subscription to ESPN. I'e lately been watching the Ken Burns documentary on baseball, and it's lifted my spirits far more than I might have guessed.
  • Be interested in what your husband or wife can still do -  if your spouse has enjoyed scrapbooking, make sure he or she still has the supplies to continue, and ask about it. Be involved, and interest...and, if needed, offer help.
  • Keep sex on the table - I was reluctant to include this, but being physically desirable to one's spouse is a basic need for every man and woman. You may have to modify what can be done, but that does leave open a lot of things that are sexual in nature, and that give the right message. Letting the marriage relationship become a formal 'caregiving' one, in which physical intimacy isn't encouraged, can be devastating for the patient.
  • Participate in activities that your mate still can enjoy - If your husband was an avid hunter, go to a rifle range (and perhaps let him teach you to shoot better). If your wife was restoring a n antique car, go with her to a car show, even if you're not that fired up about automobiles.
There are also some things not to do:
  • Don't schedule social events with other caregiving spouses with only a shared 'caregiver' status - it's kind of dehumanizing for the patient to be placed into a situation of making small-talk with another person on the basis of a shared terminal diagnosis.
  • Don't push the thought that there is Identity In Christ -  your spouse nows this, and if that's not currently helping, you're adding lack of faith to their other burdens.
  • If your spouse admits to feeling lost, don't try to fix it immediately by pointing out what he or she still does - the grieving process is needed; your spouse needs to grieve the loss of his or her old life. Listen first, and then gently point out some of the positives that remain. If you get pushback, stop - they're not ready to hear it. Wait  bit, and then try again.
What do you think? Are these good strategies? Can you offer some others?

We're linked with Messy Marriage's From Messes To Messages - please drop by for some great 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, April 23, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 301 - The Red Road Home

I'll have to ask your indulgence and prayers. I was far too ill, this weekend, to write. It's getting rather discouraging.

Discouragement. The breaking down of heart, I think, rooted in the French word, cour.

We're told not to be discouraged, and given lots of reasons in Scripture. But the pain is so bad right now that a lot of them don't ring true.

I suspect God knew that would be the case.

Perhaps that is why Jesus' blood was pumped overboard by his failing human heart, to show us the red road that leads home.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 300 - Bucket List Fulfilled {FMF}

Once again, Five Minute Friday.

I don't know how long I can keep this up, but I will try to work in the Word. (it's SING.)

It's been a bad week, with ned adventures. Check here if you're interested. But I am fading.

Anyway, to begin...

Wow. Three hundred posts.

I was going to tie this into the Spartans' stand at Thermopylae, the Three Hundred under King Leonidas holding off a million Persians.

When Leonidas was told that the Persian archers' arrows would darken the sun, his reply was, "So much the better. We shall fight in the shade."

Cool attitude, and great moto.

But I have something more mundane to say, and it's about Bucket Lists.

I've stood on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and the colours and the space and the air lifted my heart in a way that no place has ever done. I felt God there.

I'd like to see it again.

But now, even though I live only a few hours away by car, it's unreachable. I don't have the health to support an out-and-back trip. And travel by airline is out; I'm not well enough to be carried as a commercial passenger. And I can't afford it.

So, there was an offer from a friend, to create a GoFundMe page to charter a plane to Flagstaff, and a medical transport company to run me 'up the hill' to the Rim. It could be done in a day.

Yes, it could. And it's appealing.

But I'd lose one day here, in my home. I'd lose the company of the dogs for a day, and an evening spent with Barbara, watching a rerun of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

The days are precious now. A day at the Canyon gained is a day here, lost.

A day without the dogs singing, melodious howling for no known reason except perhaps jot.

It's not worth it.

This isn't pride. If I absolutely had to see the Canyon one more time, I'd gratefully accept any and all help to get there. I can't do it on my own, not in the time that's left.

So I guess I have fulfilled my Bucket List, and it's around me every day. I love my life, and I'm not willing to sacrifice a second for any epiphany.

I have my epiphany.

(Those who might be revisiting here may notice that there's something missing...I had mentioned in this spot that I was in need of a pair of Clark Desert Boots to fit my swollen feet - they're the only boots that work for me - and I had asked if anyone might have a used pair, as they are, new, out of my price range.

Well...two early readers have gone to the unexpected trouble and expense of ordering a pair for me, and I am simply bowled over by her generosity. Susan and Christy, we are so humbly grateful for this; You've made a huge, huge difference here. I can stay somewhat more mobile through this lovely gift. Thank you so very, very much.)

And for the musical theme...I won't pretend that it's been a good week. Things are deteriorating, and what was possible a mere seven days ago is now a wistful memory. Nonetheless, John Fogerty delivers a good sharp stick into death's eye with Almost Saturday Night - please give it a listen, if you want to know my heart. I want you to know my heart. It's all I have left.


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, April 18, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 299 - SERIOUSLY? My PROSTATE. Too???

It's one of those you've GOT to be kidding moments.

With everything else, my prostate's acting up. As if dying weren't enough, now I have to go a-dribblin' to the grave. (Hang on, guys, this is both kind of clinical, and dead serious.)

Sheesh.

The symptoms are there. Needing to pee yet being unable to finish, slow cutoff of 'the stream', and excess dribbling (that word again!). About the only one I'm missing is an impaired romantic life, but I'm so far past being able to worry about that, it's almost funny. Almost.

The main issue...pardon the pun...is that I have to use the facilities at odd times, and in an odd way. I'm used to standing, and getting it done.

But standing for any period hurts too much to be possible, so...wait for it, ladies, here's your revenge...I have to sit.

And wait. And wait.

But sometimes that isn't enough, so the next step is...let's all shout it together...EXTERNAL PROSTATE MASSAGE!

It's not fun when you're healthy, but I run out of energy all too quick, and..."Uh, Barb?"

No pre-nuptial counselor ever mentioned this.

Barb's a trouper, and that's good., because worse is to come.

Yep. Internal prostate massage.

Bring a rubber glove. An enema helps.

Funny thing. Humiliation isn't half as humiliating when you can laugh about it.

A fitting musical accompaniment might be CCR's Who'll Stop The Rain? Along with a turned-on tap, it may help.


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

And...messes? Sheesh.


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, April 16, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 298 - Scary Days

This will be a short post, as the past few days have been intensely painful and frightening. Not only is it hard to talk, it's become hard to swallow, and any exertion runs me out of breath, and retching.

I know that the most oft-repeated phrase in the Bible is "don't be afraid", but I'm scared.

I'm scared of how bad this can get. I'm scared of the pain that doesn't seem to know when to say, Enough, already, he's had it!

I'm scared of the effect this has on my outlook, making me cynical and sometimes bitter. When I hear a TV preacher saying that we only need a tiny amount of faith to provide miraculous healing...that of the proverbial mustard seed...I see red.

Because my faith is much smaller than that. The mustard seed is all-in, in trust. Its faith is focused.

I'm human, and I'm not.

Statements like that are a slap in the face, bringing bitterness to boil. I don't want to be like that.

And I'm afraid of losing the hope that keeps me waiting for the new day. I don't want to lose that feeling of anticipation that something good may happen.

Perhaps there is a time to give up earthly hope, and to turn to the expectation of Heaven.

But I'm not ready!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 297 - Easter Rising, And The Incredible Lightness Of Dying {FMF}

Time to join Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday linkup, the timed keyword-driven writing challenge that produces so much awesome work...please drop by!

This has been written ahead of the keyword reveal; I have no choice, but will try to work the word in when I have it. (It's EMPTY, and fits the last line quite well.)

Life breaks us, and God remakes us.

The World broke His Son on the Cross, and three days later, we all rose, for all time.

I wonder how it felt for Jesus, that Rising?

He was remade to defy the Gravity of the Grave, and as He folded His wrappings (always the good guest) before leaving the tomb, I wonder if His Feet were touching the floor?

I wonder if He felt that so many things were behind Him, and for the moment He could just be?

I wonder if He felt the rising of all those who would die in Him?

I wonder if He felt the soaring hope?

I feel a little of this, I think. As things go from merely awful straight through to levels of horrendous I could not have imagined, there is a lightening of spirit.

As my body is more bound to its eventual embrace of the dust, my heart is moving along higher and wider paths.

The work I wanted to complete isn't finished. I wanted to pass it on as my legacy, but no matter, it's done. I'll pick up those tools again one day, in a place where they never need sharpening.

Those around me are moving ahead with their lives; plans that don't include me, and that's OK. No point in taking along someone who's not going to show up, not in this life. We'll catch up with one another, in a different place and in a time where all times are one.

The places that heard my voice and felt my steps won't hold me any more, but I'm sure I'll see their reality, incorruptible, in heaven.

There's lightness here. Life is letting me go, and I am returning the favour.

Please don't read into this that I'm giving up and letting death take me. I'm pushing as hard as ever to stay ahead of that onrushing wave, but it's neither in defiance nor fear.

It's fun, to see how far up the beach I can run before that emerald wall of water takes me to its roiling heart, and deposits me on a beach in Galilee, where I expect to hear the words:

"Dude, about time. We were about to drink your beer, and leave you the empties to police up."

Just for fun, here's Bryan Adams with the musical theme, Summer Of '69...



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, April 11, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 265 - Caregiver Lessons From Dogs

This post was suggested by my service dogs, Sylvia and Ladron, and their assistants - Red, Strawberry, and Chris.

Everyone intuitively understands that dogs make splendid companions, and that they can provide a degree of caregiving far beyond what we might expect - look at seeing eye dogs, for example, and dogs trained to recognize the onset of epileptic fits...and trained to call 911.

But what about the nuts and bolts of caregiving? What, in the day-to-day stuff, can a human caregiver learn from a dog?

Plenty, and again, it's not necessarily that which you would expect.

  • Be there - one of the most important things dogs know how to do - which can be hard for people - is just being there without trying to improve the situation. A dog will not ask if you need something to drink, or whether you want the channel changed, or note that you're looking depressed and do you want to talk about it? Not that these aren't good caregiving actions - they are. But more often than you may think, the best thing to lend is your presence. Illness, especially terminal illness, is a terribly lonely road. A quiet companion who's content to stay with you is wonderful
  • Gentle touch - when watching a DVD, i sit on the floor - chairs are far too uncomfortable now. One of the dogs will sit near me, with a paw lightly touching. It isn't intrusive, and I think it serves two purposes. First, it's a warning mechanism, in case I lose consciousness. But I think there's more, a desire to say, Hey, I'm here. For your husband or wife, a hand resting lightly on a knee or shoulder would be, I think, greatly appreciated. And so would an affectionate and light touch as you walk past.
  • Be a little bit demanding - when I got worse, Ladron, who never rolls on her back for anyone (she's a Red Heeler, and they don't do that) suddenly decided she needed belly rubs from me. She didn't ask Barbara. This is Ladron's way of keeping me involved, and making me feel like I have a responsibility right back to her.
  • Commiserate - the process I'm going through is frightening, and sometimes I cry in private. The dogs will come and cry with me. They don't try to make it better, they don't suggest that I look on the bright side ("You'll see Jesus soon!"), and they don't judge ("It's good you can finally cry!" Which makes me not want to.)
  • Offer to play - though you, as a human caregiver, might not wish to walk around with a tennis ball in your mouth, in the hope that your mate will throw it for you, it's good to recognize that play may be more important than ever in your spouse's life, and in your relationship.  Board games can be a lot of fun, and a challenge, and (so I am told) can video games. Puzzles can offer fun and companionship as well. And if your sick husband or wife is ambulatory, how about some miniature golf...or a game of pool?
What do you think? Are there any other canine-taught tips you'd like to add?

We're linked with Messy Marriage's From Messes To Messages - please drop by for some great 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.