The first 11 days I was running on adrenalin. I arrived in town the night before he came home from a 6-day hospital stay resulting from complications of a severe bout with the flu. Extreme coughing had broken a vertebra in his back and caused a huge hematoma that resulted in a 40% blood loss. All this left him too weak to even stand up. It’s amazing how sick a person can be and still be released from the hospital!
Sleeping on a couch right outside of his bedroom, I heard every cough, every stir, every sound he made. I feared that we could lose him. He was very, very ill. For almost 2 weeks, a heightened seriousness griped my mind that I could not allay. I could not quell the adrenalin rush. I was afraid.
I have always had my dad on a pedestal, the man in a suit who always knew what to do, the smartest man in the world. It was a new experience for me to see him in so much pain, vulnerable, and needing 24/7 care.
It’s been an honor to be caregiver to my 83 year-old dad. It’s been a privilege to take care of him. After all, he took care of me my whole life! He has given me some of my best memories … catching my first fish … getting a hole in one … rocking me when I was broken-hearted … and teaching me about life and the things that are important, like honesty, integrity, and truth.
I put myself in his place. How would I feel if I was dealing with these health issues? How would I feel if suddenly I became dependent on another person in order to live in my own home?
What would it be like to depend on another person for everything? (to go to the bathroom, find things I need, prepare my food, make sure I got the correct medication at the right time, get a blanket when I’m cold, get me a drink, or monitor my blood pressure)
Would I be stressed out? Would I feel frustrated? Would I be depressed? How would I feel if I knew my care giver’s life was being disrupted because of my illness?
Would I be angry because my life had been turned upside down? Would I be grumpy and irritable if I was in pain? How would my health problems affect me emotionally? These are the questions that motivated me to do the best I possibly could – to be loving, kind, and patient.
It’s hard to be those things when you’re sleep-deprived and feeling so much responsibility on your shoulders. Sometimes it was hard to be focused because I was so tired. But I had to get it right. I administered his medication and recorded the times in my computer along with blood pressure readings and notes.
One day ran into another. I just kept going. But after 3 weeks, he was much better and well enough to be alone at night with only wellness checks during the day. I returned home, 450 miles away.
This experience taught me something. The most important thing needed by a caregiver is the empathy that flows from love and respect for the one receiving your care. Caregiving is a gift of love. To me, there is no better reward than knowing I have had the opportunity to give it to someone I love.
PS: On January 7, I celebrated Christmas with my 3 adult children, their spouses, and my 3 grandchildren. It was a very special Christmas, indeed. All the decorations were still up, we exchanged presents, and I was deeply moved by the sweetness of all the love shown to me. I am exceedingly thankful for the blessings God has showered upon me.
Scriptures for Meditation
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Treat men exactly as you would like them to treat you.” Luke 6:31 Phillips
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:34-40 NIV
“In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:30-37 NIV
This Is My Journey Unscripted.
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