Being outside of my usual routine, all of the days seem to run together. Waking up on my little pull out couch in Justin’s hospital room, I witness the hustle and bustle of a Monday… More
We could all use a little GRACE now and then – I’ve definitely been using my fair share over the last few weeks. Here is your Monday morning reminder that you are capable of so many things! More than you can even being to imagine! Dedicate some time to stillness: close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and listen to your body. Give yourself what you you need, even if it’s a little bit of grace.
There are so many layers to caring for a loved one that has an illness or medical issue. I thought I had experienced all of them, figured out and mastered, this role once and for all. It has been five and a half years since Justin’s original diagnosis, in that time he has participated in countless clinical and research trials, went through traditional chemotherapy, and has now spent a year of his life fighting this disease
I thought I was prepared. I thought I had figured out how to deal with the emotional aspect of being the caregiver to someone with cancer. The truth is, I wasn’t dealing with the emotional aspect of my role at all. I was avoiding it.
There is a part of me that shuts down when my husband is gearing up for, going through, or coming down from a treatment process. I become an all-business freight train. Every single thing that happens in my daily life is measured to what Justin is going through, not by him, but by me. I have less patience for nonsense, including my own.
There’s no crying in baseball.
Sometimes being a caregiver means you don’t get the time to deal with your own emotions, because, let’s face it, it’s easier not to. We all know it’s not healthy to ignore your own emotional and physical needs, but I’m here to tell you, as someone who avoided dealing with my own emotional well-being, it catches up to you.
There is this heavy guilt that comes along with taking time for yourself when you are also caring for someone else. It seems selfish to stop, to yell, to cry, to be still – there are so many other things that you could be doing – that you should be doing.
But just like the Delta Flight Attendants tell you: “Put your oxygen mask on first before assisting other passengers.”
Easier said than done.
Going into Justin’s admission I knew that I would stay the first night with him at the hospital but would head home the following night to spend some time with Bruno, our cats, and just get a good night’s sleep in our bed. As soon as, and I’m talking the minute, we walked onto the BMT unit the guilt set in. It was a pit in my stomach, a swarm of butterflies, all erupting at the thought of leaving him here to go back home the following night. The swarming caused this kneejerk reactionary crying that was unstoppable. I tried to hide it, to just swallow it and be present. It didn’t work.
I spent a good portion of our first night in the hospital and most definitely the second day crying about leaving Justin to go home. I asked him repeatedly if he would be okay on his own, knowing that he would say yes, and most likely needed me to get away from him for a few hours. He always said yes. Always.
As the hours ticked by the guilt was crushing me. How could I leave him here? Why am I reacting like this? Why am I not stronger about this? I felt so incredibly sad about him being in the room alone, and me in the car driving away from the hospital.
It’s strange being in the hospital for an extended amount of time. You lose your bearings and grasp on the real world, you forget about everything outside, the hospital campus, the hospital itself, and ultimately live life on a single floor. You forget what is going on around you. The realization of what’s going on out there while you’re stuck inside is paralyzing and overwhelming. I didn’t want to become part of the outside world while Justin was still stuck inside.
After several text message exchanges with my mother, a good friend, and conversations with Justin, I packed up my things for the night. I procrastinated on actually standing up to walk out the door. Started random conversations, putzed around on my phone, smiled at Justin with tears in my eyes. I was a mess.
Finally, I got up the courage to just go. I kissed Justin goodbye, asked him one final time if he would be alright and made him promise to call me, text me, and Facetime me. The waterworks started, he laughed at me, and pushed me out the door. I managed to make it to the car without having a nervous breakdown, drove the 20 miles back home, pulled into the garage, walked into the house, greeted my puppy, and collapsed on the bed crying uncontrollably. Bruno licked my face, laid down next to me, and once I felt like I had sufficiently gotten my emotions out, I set out to make some dinner and get ready for bed.
It wasn’t until the next morning, after getting a full eight hours of sleep, having the luxury of making my own coffee and breakfast, and being able to spend a few hours at home better preparing for my next trip to the unit, that I realized just how necessary that time was. I felt so much more refreshed and prepared to spend another night at the hospital. You see, I wasn’t doing anyone any favors by feeling guilty about needing to take time to recharge. I was nothing but a crying mess for 36 hours, and I’ll tell you what: crying messes are not useful in the bone marrow transplant unit.
I learned a valuable lesson with this new chapter over the weekend: taking care of yourself is imperative, and giving into the guilt is not an option. No one can be “on” all the time, it’s not a realistic expectation and chances are, no one expects you to fill quota anyway. Take time, be still, breath, recharge, and go back in the ring.
Happy Monday Morning!
It’s your last Monday of January – how are you going to use it? I plan on spending some time looking at how January went in terms of my personal, blog, and professional goals and start planning for February. It’s a whole new world for my little family – Justin has officially be admitted and started the treatment process for his bone marrow transplant. So I’ll be coming to ya from my little space inside his BMT (Bone Marrow Transplant) Unit room!
Take ahold of this Monday and DO YOU!
Head over to the Meet and Greet at Dream Big, Dream Often! Meet some new bloggers and find some fun stories to follow! Happy Saturday!
It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!! Strap on your party shoes and join the fun! Ok so here are the rules: Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post. Reblog this post. It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone! Edit your reblog post and […]
I’m just going to leave this here, in case you need it. I know I did.
Thank you to The Fresh Exchange, for the reminder that silence, simplicity, and decluttering opens us up to let creativity in.
The people of our lives can often times be seasonal – swiftly floating into our lives, to again swiftly leave for a new season to take its place. I bet, if you thought about it, you could identify the specific relationships that have had an impact on the person you are today. Whether they are a friend, family member, colleague, or simply an acquaintance – your seasonal relationships came in with a purpose, sometimes their season lasts a lifetime and sometimes, thankfully, their season is short lived.
The older I get, the more confident I am in my ability to identify the influence of the universe in my life, specifically in my relationships with others. I am able to see the invisible connections that have drawn me to individuals, and that awareness makes me so much more appreciative of the lessons I learn, the support I receive, and the positivity that the right people bring out in me.
See, everyone’s got something. Something they have to carry with them day in and day out – you have two choices: you either accept it and move forward, or you let it completely consume your life and relationships. I know, without a doubt, that one of my favorite people was put into my life to remind me that my experiences, no matter how dramatic, are a small part of this universe. She has taught me how to care for others, and to think beyond my little place in this world. We were brought together to care for each other, to support each other, laugh together, roll our eyes together, and to remind each other to get our shit together.
Last week, she sent me a blog post to read. She had been posting about spoons (yes, spoons), and I finally asked what the metaphor meant. She texted me a link, I looked at it and quickly took in the overall concept, but kept going. After a few more posts about her spoons, I decided that I need to better understand – my friend was speaking a different language and while that isn’t quite out of the ordinary, I needed a translator. I read the post and immediately started crying. For the first time, I understood what she was going through, at least I felt like I understood. I’ll never fully understand, you can’t unless you live it. And that concept, I “get”, more than anything.
The gist —> Someone with an “invisible” illness starts each day with a handful of spoons. Each spoon represents one task, one action, one responsibility as they make their way through life. Need to get out of bed? One spoon down. Need to get dressed? Toss another one. Have a meeting at 9am? That’s at least two. Eventually, the little things in life that we take for granted are EVERYTHING. Once you’re out of spoons, that’s it, you’re spent for the day. Some days you have twelve spoons, some days you have three. But the point isn’t how many spoons you have, it’s that you have to think about the spoons at all, things that you’ve never paid attention to before are now more important than ever. Read the entire story here.
I sent off a text to my friend, apologizing for not reading the entire post the first time, for not understanding what she was going through, and really, to offer her all of my spoons. All I wanted to do was help her keep her spoons. She became my motivation to push harder and think beyond my current circumstances. Lesson learned universe, lesson learned.
While I know that she is not going to be a “seasonal” person that is whisked out of my life just as quickly as she came into it, something brought us together and I will forever be grateful for her presence in my life.
Moral of the story? Be mindful of your relationships, thinking beyond just your place in the world. What lesson did the universe intend for you to learn? Be grateful for the lessons, for the support, and for the seasonal people that stick around for a lifetime.
Not one for multiple posts in one day, but I couldn’t go through January 25th without sharing this post. Another year, 17 in total, and it’s still there. Thought a lot about Grandpa over the last week, maybe in preparation for another year with him gone. No new words to describe this day, so sharing last year’s words seemed appropriate.