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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.


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  1. Thank you, Andrew, for continuing to post on these sensitive topics.

    Praying for you, my friend!

    1. Thanks so much, Joe...and most especially for your prayers.

      This was a tough post to write. Too much of my life in it.

  2. Some of what you've described I'm, in a removed way, familiar with since my father was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma that took his life in about 4 months. It was so quick and unexpected, but I remember many of these challenges for his wife (since my mom had already gone and he remarried). I'm very thankful for her help and care for him during those days. It was such a hard time for them and for me to be an observer of it all.

    Prayers are still being lifted up daily for you, Andrew! I wish I could take away your pain, but I'm praying that you feel at least some sense of God's comfort in this valley.

    1. Beth, I'm so sorry you had to live through that, and I hold your heart up in prayer. The pain never truly goes away when we lose someone we love.

      I really appreciate your prayers, and God is indeed holding me up. It seems that the worse I get physically, the better my spirits; my fading strength has brought a true level of fitness.

      Weird, eh? But that's our God!

  3. Andrew, I wish I could ease your valley. Prayers always, my friend.

    1. Cindy, thank you so much! I truly appreciate your prayers; one thing I have learned is that the prayers of friends are truly the wind beneath my wings.

  4. Andrew, this is spot on. Sometimes I think, I can't do this anymore, even a trip to the doctor with either parent is cause for anxiety. I'm learning to go with the flow, to wear my caregiver hat and face it as it comes. There are treasures even in this. Time together is precious. I'm glad for the hours and the way even a small thing can perk up my folks. Mother likes me to read to her, so I do. There is loss, but there is also gain. Andrew, you share with your community what you are gaining in wisdom and understanding. That is a great gift. Life is hard but God is good. That may sound simplistic, but I believe it to be true. God bless you. Still praying.

    1. Norma, you're spot on when you say, "Life is hard but God is good." It's not simplistic at all; it's the granite truth of our lives in the temporal.

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with caring for your parents, and most especially for the prayers.

  5. Where I live there's a non-profit Hospice that provides free care to people who can't afford to pay. I'm sorry you don't have anything similar in your area.

    1. I wish there were one here, Jan. But we're pretty far out in the boonies.

      I do live under God's Great Open sky, and perhaps that is His Own hospice care for me.

  6. Andrew, I have to admit that even as I felt compassion for you while reading your post, I totally lost it listening to The Traveling Wilburys. I think you're an incredibly strong person, and I feel so privileged to have been able to pray for you and Barb on a portion of your own journey....

    I will never know why bad things happen, not in this world anyway, but I do recognize that there is a lesson in all things that He allows, and often a blessing, too.

    Continued love and prayers to you and Barb...

    1. Pat, thank you so much for this lovely, compassionate, and very moving comment. I'm so grateful!

      Indeed there is a purpose to all things. It can be hard to discern, and even harder to accept, but sometimes that tough and abrasive covering hides a very tender and precious core.

      Thank you so much for being here, and for your prayers.