Sunday, July 29, 2012

Advice Needed!

Phew!  I have finally been able to stay at home for the last two weeks and I am trying to rest up.  See, I have been on a “lovely” vacation for the past seven weeks.  I have run up and down the interstate seeing the scenery of farm land, rivers, and various creatures of the wild.  The accommodations had been interesting and the service fair.  Almost hourly someone knocks on the door and brings “delicious” meals and ask if there is anything they can do for you. There is always family and friends to fellowship with.

Okay, I am being sarcastic.  My summer vacation began Memorial Day weekend when my recently widowed father entered the hospital with acute pneumonia.  My brother and I have tagged teamed  each other making sure one of us was close by to talk with doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.  Believe me, this is not what I call a vacation.

If you have an aging parent and have dealt with the issues and stresses involved in the care of them, I could use your advice.  How do you keep it together emotionally and mentally as you deal with the constant ups and downs of your parent’s health?   As a minister’s wife, how do you manage to stay in touch with your congregation and still feel like you are a part of the church family?  How do you manage to encourage and support your minister husband when you cannot be there?  How do you manage to take care of yourself?

Two weeks ago I was able to finally check my dad out of the hospital.  My brother and I made the decision to temporarily move Dad to a skilled nursing rehab center which is only ten minutes from my brother.  This has allowed us to get a little rest and we actually have felt the stress leaving us.  This move is not the final one.  We still have major decisions to make, hurdles to climb, and paperwork to complete.  However, my brother and I are finally able to start having time with our families. 

Through my mom’s illness and death and now the issues that Dad has, I have discovered I am a lot stronger than I imagined.  God has been leading my family through a desert complete with trials.  Some days I feel like the Israelites whining “why me?”  Other days I can feel God’s presence so much that it takes my breath away.

I do not have a lot of expert advice but I can share what I have learned during this desert walk:

*If you are away from home, talk to your family daily.  When you are home try to have a normal life (LOL!  Ministry normal? Never).

*Take time for yourself even if it is to walk outside of the hospital or away from the patient for five minutes of fresh air.

*Attempt to eat some fruit and veggies (and dark chocolate).  Unfortunately, fast food is sometimes all you get.

*Sleep, sleep, sleep!

*Realize your stress level and walk away when necessary.

*Realize a parent will be frustrated because they have to rely on you.  Let them know it is okay.

*Find something/someone who can make you laugh and do it.  Laughter is a good stress buster.

*If you feel things are not being communicated well or that your parent is not receiving great care, make your voice heard.  Visit with the case worker, nurse, doctor, etc.

*Find a moment to compliment the nurse, doctor, or other care givers who go the extra mile in caring for your parent.  For example, Dad’s drug tech sweet smile always made his day brighter. 

If you are dealing with an ill or again parent I hope some of these ideas help you.  Again, I ask if you have some advice on this matter, I would love for you to share with me and the others who may be walking this road as well.


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