When the caregiver goes down

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I have written a few times about how I have been helping one of Marti’s co-workers with Women of Vision deal with services needed for her invalid husband. She has been her husband’s 24/7 caregiver since he fell last summer and a subsequent operation rendered him bedridden.

Marie is an amazing woman. Optimistic. Hard-working. Willing to put up with the most humiliating of tasks in caring for her husband without complaint. And bull-headed.

Well, one morning last week, the caregiver went down. She was walking her dog, a rather energetic large puppy, who took a leap and yanked her toward the street causing her to trip over a curb and take a tumble that ended in a broken pelvis. Now there are two down and suddenly 24/7 care is required for two people and I stepped in to be that person until she could find someone on a more permanent basis.

So here I am helping Marie in and out of a wheelchair (she cannot be on her feet) and wheeling her around while she instructs me on what to do for her husband, which alone is a full-time job. I told her not to worry about her caregiving job; I would be her hands and feet. Just tell me what to do. Suddenly I have a new take on what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Marie and my wife, in some areas, are cut from the same mold. Neither is very patient. And did I mention she was bull-headed? Marie’s five-hour wait at the hospital for an X-ray, the result of which was already a forgone conclusion, was unacceptable. She was ready to have me wheel her out of there in her hospital gown with no official discharge, and I would have, had not the doctor finally shown up to diagnose the problem which turned out to be exactly as she had already suspected — a fractured pelvis. “Nothing you can do but take these painkillers and stay off your feet for 6 – 8 weeks.” Thank you very much.

That was last Wednesday. I had just gotten the Catch out when I got the call. So I turned out to be the new caregiving resident at Arnold and Marie’s house until their son came to take over late Friday night. All along I’ve been thinking, I will work in a Catch edgewise and let everyone know what’s been going on. Well, I never found that edge. It was 24/7 care in the truest sense. I can hardly remember putting my head down on a pillow. Plus, whenever I got a chance to rest, I was icing a bad knee that decided to flare up at the same time I needed it the most.

It’s impossible to capture all that went on during those 60 hours I was on duty, except to grab a little of the humor. Did I mention Marie was bull-headed? Well not only that, she, like Marti, expects you to read her mind and know what she wants without her saying it. (Thank goodness I was used to this.) I was often chided for not knowing what I couldn’t have known, and to her credit, she almost always apologized for her impatience later when she realized that. It became a sort of standing joke. As did our initial attempts to deal with modesty which we soon realized had to be done away with in order to get the job done. There were some situations where laughter was simply the best medicine.

But by far, the best medicine of all was hearing these words out of the mouth of Marie’s husband, Arnold, as I was getting ready to leave Friday night: “Will you pray for me and Marie?” This, from a man who has been an atheist for most of his eighty-plus years, whom Marie warned me about trying to preach to because it would only make him mad. So I prayed. I have no idea what I said, but the Holy Spirit did. It was His moment. Now we have the joy of finding out where this is going to go. Pray for Arnold. He cracked the door open, and as far as I know, he left it that way.

For more on this last week, check out our church service yesterday. It was recorded live last night with lots of people commenting. If you haven’t been to our church yet, you really should check this out. Go to www.facebook.com/thecatch and click on the word “POSTS” under my profile picture.

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9 Responses to When the caregiver goes down

  1. Thank you, John Fischer, for posting this story- in your signature full of hope, always realistic style. 😎 I needed to read this today.

  2. Oh that is awesome! Being a caretaker can be really hard. Especially when the other person complains a lot. You feel like you’re not doing anything quite right. You learn a lot of lessons in a really short period of time. Praying for this couple and also for your knee.

  3. Markus says:

    Sometimes weakness and imperfections are better witnesses than raw strength.

  4. Lois Taylor says:

    Praying for Arnold who left the door open for it! Praise the Lord!

  5. Mark Seguin says:

    Praying for Arnold & Marie ❤

  6. Carole Oglesbee says:

    There isn’t a tougher or more wonder-filled role than that of being a caregiver, and I speak from 11 years experience caring for my mom. The first few years were really a breeze in retrospect, as Mom was still able to do many of the things she had always done, and I think she kind of enjoyed “supervising” me in those things she couldn’t manage. “Well, THAT’s not the way I do it,” became her oft-repeated refrain, and more often than not, her way was better. The result of that was a small plaque that says “If at first you don’t succeed, do it like your mom told you.” It sits next to her urn now…I STILL need reminding every once in a while, you know. Her final two years were much harder – I still can’t sleep for more than 2 to 3 hours straight, even tho Mom went Home 6 1/2 years ago. And yet, my worst days with Mom were 100 times better than my best days are without her. Looking back, I think it had to be harder on her than on me – she had always been so self-reliant and organized, and here she was at the mercy of her daughter, who was (and still is) a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal. Now that I’m older and am having my own health issues, I am seeing things from what must have been Mom’s perspective: no longer in control of one’s own destiny (or at least FEELING like one is); the embarrassment of not being able to attend to one’s own personal needs (I’m not there yet, but will be for a time after my next surgery); the frustration of things not being done the way YOU would do them makes it hard to be grateful that they are done at all; the humiliation of having to ASK for help when YOU have always been the askee and never the asker. I am beginning to understand first hand the truth of John21:18: “Truly, truly I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” The scariest part is that I have no children to step in and have no idea WHO will be “girding” me. If a new caregiver is reading this, understand that THESE are the reasons your charge may be snappish or downright mean at times. It doesn’t mean your patient isn’t thankful for you, just that he/she hates having to be dependent on someone else. Be patient with him or her and overlook much of what’s said – your turn is coming, and trust me, you, too, will WISH the roles were reversed.

  7. jwfisch says:

    Much wisdom here. Thank you, Carole.

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