Caretaking Of A Loved One and Finding Work Balance

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Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 2.26.41 PMOne of the reasons I opted for a home office type set-up was because I knew as some point, I would be the most flexible person in our family to help with my Mom aka #instagramma. At 85-years young, she is as sassy and feisty as ever, but in the last few months, her health had taken a big turn. She experienced a terrible reaction to an old medicine that doctors typically give to patients who develop gout. This was the first time she ever had gout so we were surprised. Turned out that her immune system is quite sensitive (much like mine) and the poor thing broke out in a hive like rash over her entire body. Now, at 45 years of age, it is much more manageable, but at her age, it is ultra frustrating to deal with.

I’ve spent about three days a week over the last two months taking Mom back and forth to various doctors because her health is quite complicated- diabetes, kidney issues, and sciatic nerve issues. Balancing all of the meds out so that one doesn’t hurt the other is a challenge in itself. At first, I started taking doctor notes in my Note app in my iPhone. It has now morphed into detailed emails from time to time to the entire family so that everyone understands what she is really going through. I do quicker updates to family via a group message on FB when I’m sitting at my computer. For Mom, I’ve created a journal so that she can track what she eats all day, when she takes her meds, when she tests her blood sugar, and also to detail when she is having any weird symptoms such as “Today my feet are really swollen” or “I had no energy today to do anything” (these are Mom’s words).

Recently, Mom received her diagnosis: Plaque Psoriasis. An autoimmune disorder of the skin, which totally explained why just putting topical creams and ointments didn’t work as the body’s inflammation comes from the inside. The funny thing is that I have been managing my Lupus for almost 20 years now and also learning to manage my Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) during this past year. I am the expert and able to help educate my Mom as to what this new journey will be like for her. I remember being in the doctor office with her when the (third dermatologist) looked at me and said, “Does anyone else in your family have any autoimmune issues?” and I said, “Yes, ME.” I thought to myself, “Wow… this is why having what I have will now come in handy… I can help HER!” Now, educating someone on this new lifestyle of managing meds and diet is not easy. I just took her grocery shopping yesterday and we had to negotiate on why she can only have a kosher hot dog once in a while (meat = inflammation) and why she will have to eat certain ancient grains vs. white rice  (hello quinoa cooked with veggie broth).

Taking care of a loved one may be a frustrating thing for many, and to be honest, it is for me at times. But I find it to be more of a privilege everyday, especially since I was living in LA when my Dad passed away. I wanted to be “around” for my Mom. Luckily, having a home office helps so that I can get my work done in an efficient manner and at the same time, keep an eye out on Mom, who is sort of in this unbalanced “let’s fall down” phase (sigh). Carving out time for yourself to rest and relax is important too, so try to fit that in by setting an appointment in your calendar, even if it is just to go for a walk on the beach or sit in a quiet cafe to just BE. Still, I am grateful everyday to have our Mom/Gramma/GG in our lives. In the coming months, I will be working on writing a book with tips and tricks to help others who may be finding themselves in the same position as me. But for now, enjoy your parent while you can and know that you’re not alone. Help is on the way;)

 

Lessons.

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I gotta tell you. The last six months of 2015 was rough. A friend of mine said that it was right around the time that all of the planets aligned and with it, brings a crazy type of energy that makes everything happen all at the same time. Whatever it was, it brought a case of the shingles on the left side of my face and head, surgery, roof damage, Mom’s spinal stenosis confirmation, new Lupus joint pain, and a robbery right before Thanksgiving (yea, the burglar was STILL in the house when we came home). I ended the year quietly at home taking care of Mom and having a beautiful meal accompanied by a glass of red wine. I watched Ryan Seacrest’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve for a bit, then passed out. Earlier in the day, I smudged the entire house with a brand new bundle of White Sage.

Only a few weeks into 2016, I can tell you that the lessons of 2015 remain. They are reminders to be better prepared and strengthen the muscles so that you can weather the storms. Many say that God only gives you what you can handle, so I’m guessing that he must have an enormous amount of faith in me to give me so much in such a short amount of time. That’s where my church comes in. Anchor Church (formerly known as Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay) has been my beacon of hope and Sunday school, if you will. I am re-learning my spiritual side and learning to have faith in all that life throws at you. I am so thankful for the loving staff and team, and especially Pastor Carl, Pastor Tom, and Pastor Tami, who somehow find the right message to share with me at the right time.

Still with everything that’s happened, I won’t back down. I wake up each day and try again. Many who have their ups and downs like me do the same. So whatever path life has you on whether smooth or somewhat rocky, still get out there. Take each day as it comes and just do your best. I’m cheering you on, as I know you would for me. Let’s make 2016 a healthy, happy, and prosperous one.

“…May this new year be a time of deep spiritual growth for us,

A time of welcoming your graces and gifts,

A time for forgiving freely and unconditionally,

A time for growing in virtue and goodness….”