Terry was able to return to church on Sunday. His first day back since the first Sunday of October. What a long, strange month it has been, but we have both learned lessons as we continue this trek through healing and rehabilitation. Terry appreciated the warm welcome he received from our church family. Many have been by our sides all the way through this, and we appreciate their love and concern.
If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen another monumental step that I posted Monday morning: Terry made pancakes. Another task he can again do.
I used apricot preserves I had made in July on top of my pancake. Along with a cup of hot, strong coffee, it was the perfect breakfast.
Terry’s surgery and recuperation have taught me a few things about caregiving. The main takeaway for me:
- Trust the process.
- Trust that it will be lengthy.
- Text friends with updates so that they know where you are in the process.
- Be kind to everyone around you: medical staff, friends, and most of all, the patient. Reach out to those around you.
- Take your vitamins, eat well, get plenty of rest, even though that last one is pretty impossible.
I’ve also learned things to do for the caregiver, some of which was done for me. That’s the real learning.
- If you say you will visit the patient in the hospital, do so. If you said you would, and you didn’t, call and check to see how the patient is doing.
- While the patient is hospitalized, offer to drive the caregiver to the hospital to visit.
- Send a card. It does wonders for the patient’s morale.
- Take a meal to the patient’s home, even if it’s a quart of soup. Meals are a real tangible proof that you care.
- Phone calls to check on the patient are nice, but texts or messenger are better.
- A bag of fruit, a basket of muffins, a box of candy…they all do wonders for the caregiver and the patient.
Those are just a few of the lessons of this past month. There are others that I am still processing. As I said in that first point, trust the process. It’s very much a learning experience.
Did you know Moen Fixtures will replace any faucet that wears out?
Our kitchen faucet started squeaking just about the time Terry went in for his surgery. I noticed it but just kept going. When Terry got home and heard the squeak, he said the faucet needed a plumber. Sure enough, when our trusted plumbing company came out the next week, they not only said it needed fixing, it needed to be replaced, and because it was a Moen, we could get a free replacement. The plumber even did the calling and informing Moen of the serial numbers.
In a week’s time, the new faucet arrived, and this afternoon the plumbing company returned to install it. The fixture was without cost, but the work to replace it has to be paid for, but that’s okay. We really appreciate good craftsmen, and this plumbing company has been the best over the years we have lived in this house (38 now). I appreciate reliability. I appreciate the fact that the servicemen take off their shoes (it’s called The Barefoot Plumber). I appreciate the knowledge (like knowing Moen will replace the faucet). And all of that costs money.
Even with the addition of an hour to my week, it still went too fast. I’m thrilled with the end of daylight savings time, but it appears California voters approved a change to year-round daylight savings time. I can only guess that most people do not have to be up early in the mornings and they like to have lots of light at night in which to do their “thing.” I like my daylight in the morning, which is when I’m getting it now. By 5:30 p.m., when it’s now dark, I’m ready for the day to be over. Just fixing dinner can be too much on some days when I’ve been on the go since 6 a.m.
Although Terry doesn’t need fresh linens and clothing every day, I am still doing lots of laundry as I do change out the linens every other day, fresh washcloths every day, and clean pajamas and daytime knit wear are washed three times a week. And then there is my laundry. Still lots of hand washing, too, which makes the skin on my fingers dry and brittle.
To keep track of all the tasks I must accomplish, on top of my usual ones, I have started keeping a detailed list of what must be done for the next few days. Some lists overlap another since not everything gets done around here in a timely manner. Some days feel like a whirlwind and even though I’ve accomplished so much, there is still so much following behind me, undone. I collapse into bed, every night, and fall immediately to sleep.
Terry was up just a bit past six this morning, and when I realized the time, I wanted to cry. I did not want to become fully awake and get out of the warm, comfortable bed. It’s now cold here in the mornings. But, I had a long list of tasks to be accomplished today so knew I had to sit up, swing my legs out from under the warm covers, and get going. Much of what I have to accomplish must be done before noon when we are expecting the plumber to come install a new kitchen sink faucet. I’m heading out the door when I finish this post to run all the errands that have piled up the past two days while I was at Columbia, telling stories to first and second graders.
This is the weekend that we change our clocks back to standard time. I wish it could just stay at standard time all of the time. For the past few weeks I have been getting up in the dark, turning lights on for a couple of hours, because the sun doesn’t come up here in central California until after 7 a.m.
This morning, waking before 6 a.m., I decided that I would turn my clock back right then. I would make it 5 a.m. and go back to sleep for another hour. It worked well because by the time I got out of bed and was dressed, it was light enough to run the sprinklers in the yards. Saturday is now the only day we can water until March when the schedule returns to watering two days a week.
When teaching, I always changed my clocks on Saturday of the weekend of the time change. Saturday was when I could either afford to lose an hour, or use the extra hour to get more done. It also helped me get adjusted to the new time so I was ready to take on the day when the new school week started. I would run around, Saturday morning, changing all of the clocks I could. Of course, then, like now, my computer and phone follow the rules and change at 2 a.m. on Sunday. So, when using either device, I just change the hour in my mind and keep going. It makes me more cognizant of time, unlike my usual days where I sort of glance at the clock and am shocked at how fast the day is going.
Terry is still recuperating. His body is healing fine, and he is realizing his spirit is in healing mode, too. He had hoped that as he felt better and his body healed, that he would go right back to being the guy he was before the surgery. It’s not that simple. Having one’s heart cut open changes a person more than just an incision of one’s skin. His energy is not like it was and that influences his spirit.
It’s been less than four weeks since surgery and three weeks back at home. We have a rhythm to our days now, but it’s much different than it was pre-surgery. There are times of activity, like morning or evening routines, and then lots of quiet and rest in between. This season’s time change won’t have as much effect as those in the past.
While waiting on Monday at the hospital for some tests Terry would need for his surgeon’s followup appointment, we were chatting with one of the staff members about various foods served in the hospital as well as the diet of many heart patients. She informed us that the problem the hospital is seeing is with 20-somethings who drink large amounts of energy drinks. These heavy drinkers (4 or more drinks a day) are destroying their heart valves. I was shocked.
Then on Tuesday, the plumber who came to replace our kitchen faucet told us about what his wife is seeing at Kaiser Hospital. Young people are dying due to overdoing the energy drinks. His wife is the person who checks the bodies out to funeral homes and too many have been young people. She did some investigating and found that their hearts were literally beating themselves to death.
I like coffee and have been drinking a cup each morning. Maybe I’ll cut back. We can’t have two heart patients in this house!
Terry got good news at the heart surgeon’s office yesterday. His chest X-ray was also deemed “X-Ray of the Week.” It was that clear and clean.
Terry was given the go-ahead to drive again and to sleep in his own bed. His blood pressure is low and so he may feel tired more quickly. He is doing more chores around the house, but nothing that involves lifting or stretching. He will start cardiac rehab the first week of December and have a followup appointment with the surgeon a week before Christmas. Yes, the year is quickly wrapping up.
I’m trying to keep my days loose and fluid so as to be prepared for any incident or emergency. Monday was the first day in two weeks that I had not done at least one load of laundry. Usually, it’s two loads–linens and clothing. The doctor said we no longer had to be so cautious with clean linens and freshly laundered clothes for the incision has healed well and should be fine from here on in. Some of you, dear Readers, may remember that I have always done lots of laundry so it’s not really too different from my usual amount; however, I do feel less stressed about keeping up with the laundry. You know, keeping ahead of the game has always been my habit.
Speaking of which, I am hopeful I can return to Columbia and my storytelling this week. I sure missed it last week and I know the first graders missed me. I will have some explaining to do.