For the past fourteen months, I’ve been going from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what ails me. Specialists I’ve seen included wonderfully competent people immersed in their individual disciplines of nephrology, cardiology, rheumatology, and neurology. At long last, the neurologist diagnosed my condition (accurately, I believe), and I’m slated to have surgery in July.
I’m overjoyed to finally have a diagnosis, with a positive prognosis no less, offered to me. My everyday life has become more and more constricted over this past year. I can’t walk far without pain. I can’t stay in one position for long without pain. I can’t practice yoga without pain. I can’t do those everyday chores—grocery shopping, vacuuming, laundry, scrubbing the bathroom, and washing dishes—without pain. Pain wakes me throughout the night as I attempt to sleep.
I do have concerns about how well I’ll tolerate the upcoming surgical procedure, but am even more concerned about my recovery period. For six weeks after the procedure: No lifting. No bending. No twisting. No exercise except for frequent, short walks. How will I ever manage?
Continue reading “Surviving My Recovery by Esther Nelson”
This has been another hard month. I don’t feel it to be hard. I just know objectively that it is. The typical challenge of balancing my work with the children’s needs and the management of a household has been intensified by the onset of a serious medical condition in my family. I now enter that phase of elder care, which I understand is more or less bound to bankrupt the average household. I have become the much-begrudged adult child, compelled to make decisions for other people’s lives and regarded in the fog of suspicion. My intentions are now under scrutiny; my time is usurped; my efforts are thankless. I’m not complaining really. I am just describing.
In the midst of things, I have managed to take my older son to the seeming ends of the earth to visit potential high schools. I am managing a Destination Imagination team for my fourth grade son’s class. I am teaching six courses, and my home is relatively clean. I am running a weekly lecture series, I volunteered at the Church this month, and no one has missed any meals. I even managed to sew a blanket for a friend’s new baby. There are many more serious family, medical, and economic issues that underlie my day-to-day, but along with everyone else, and perhaps a little more so than some others, I just accept that I am amazingly over-extended.
Continue reading “A Precious Gift by Natalie Weaver”
I was asked recently to present my work on shame and guilt for a documentary about the experience of being in a caregiving relationship. Initially, I felt concerned. My conceptualization of the idea of caregiving circulated around 1) aspects of parenthood and 2) the inevitable life situation of witnessing a parent’s death. I have no experience with either of these. I expressed my concern to the producer and one of the cameramen as we discussed the protocol for the shoot. They suggested I try to tell stories. This perplexed me a little further. Then, in order to offer me a context, they posed questions about times I might have cared for people in the past. Their inquiry uncovered a large range of possible, personal caregiving experiences upon which I could draw. For me, these include experiences involving my in-laws, my aunt’s dying of cancer when I was a child, and, most currently, my tending to a friend who had a massive stroke at the brain stem at the age of 40.
What struck me most during the conversation was the way that I eschewed being called a “caregiver.” The cameraman noted that this was not an unusual phenomenon. Apparently, people consider the word “caregiver” somehow stigmatizing and resist its use. AARP has tried to come up with an alternative term but has not been successful. (As an aside, AARP’s website has useful resources for the caregiver.) The stigma undulating beneath the undertaking of caregiving aligns it with the experience of shame. Continue reading “Shame and the Caregiving Relationship by Stephanie Arel”