Now I know why it’s best that women have their babies while they’re young. You’ve got to be young and resilient to be able to function all day after having to get up and attend to a baby’s needs so many times during the night. And all after having gone through the birth process not too long before that. I once asked my mother how she managed four children, one with special needs, and an invalid husband, injured during World War II. Her answer: “I was young.” Oh, yes, now I get it. You’ve got to be young. I am 75, no longer young.
About a month ago, Frank twisted and fell and suffered a compression fracture of one of his vertebrae. Seeing as how he wasn’t in tiptop shape, after two small strokes and at the age of 86, he did need a lot of tending once he was home from the hospital.
Tending to dressing him, tending to his back brace that keeps moving up, tending to going to get whatever it was he needed – I’ve been walking my legs off. Above all, the hardest thing is tending to helping him in and out of bed all night when he has to “use the facilities.” For a while there, that was every hour or two. It’s getting better in that respect. He no longer has to wear the brace all night, so he is more comfortable, and most nights he’s awakening only twice. My sleep has been affected because I am alert to whatever noises he makes that will indicate to me to whatever he needs. I often know he wants to go to the bathroom before he does.
It was the same last night, but - yay team! – this morning he got up and out of bed alone. He’d said he thought he could do it on his own, and he proved himself to be correct. For a while there, we’d been going two steps forward and one step back. Now it seems like every day is another step forward.
You do whatever needs to be done, and I’ve been caregiving since Frank had his first stroke, but never with this intensity. Friends have told me to watch out for my own well-being during this time of extra effort. They say that too many caregivers succumb before their spouses. I can see the truth in that, because there have been a few times when I was so tired and frustrated that just wanted to sit down and go on strike – and maybe utter a few choice words. Whew!
My thoughts go out to both young mothers and old caregivers. Hang in here, and take care of yourself.