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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?

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  1. I love how you care so deeply for Barbara. You work hard to deepen your relationship while learning how to meet your own needs. Thank you for the insight. I was headed this evening to check in on you if you hadn't shown up at Messy Marriage!

    1. Mary, thank you so much for this...I really do try my best, and this kind of affirmation means the world to me.

      And thank you for checking up on me. That's warmed my heart in ways I can't express.

  2. These are wonderful, Andrew. I can see how the ones that you do are so true and helpful to keeping you engaged, active and going at Barbara's speed--at least to a degree. I'm always so astonished at how much you try to be the best spouse you can be given your situation. Very inspiring! Oh, and I love C.S. Lewis but haven't read this book you mention. Sounds very intriguing! Praying for you, my friend!

    1. Beth, please pardon my tardy reply! I truly appreciate and, yea, verily, treasure your comment!

      I would strongly suggest that you read "Out Of The Silent Planet". It's actually the first in a trilogy, but the other books ('perelandra' and 'That Hideous Strength') are nowhere near so good.

      Thank you so much for the prayers!

  3. Andrew, I really like this post. Transitions are hard. Children who go back and forth between their parents have a period of emotional readjustment every time they go from one home to the other. It's hard on them. This is true in group homes and institutions. One year I taught a fourth grade girl whose parents were incarcerated. She was the oldes of three sisters, who were farmed out to three homes of relatives. Every morning she would greet me on 8:00 yard duty and then go find her sisters on the primary playground. They would stay together until the bell rang. They needed that little bit of contact. It always touched my heart.

    1. Norma, I am so sorry for this late reply. And thank you for sharing the story of those sisters...it touched my heart, too.