Life is just full of surprises.

Jim was released from the hospital last Monday.

We expected to step slowly back into our old normal. Well no. Tuesday morning Jim collapsed in the shower and someday it will be a funny story to tell ... it was a Laurel and Hardy routine getting him back on his feet. Clearly something was amiss and they had missed it in the hospital.

This was an MS attack ...we recognize them. more than that we needed help...and he was discharged without orders for in-home assistance. Fortunately Jim's Primary Care doctor intervened and now we do have PT and an OT coming to our home, an occasional nurse, and an aide three times a week to help Jim in the shower.

And Me.

Let me tell you ... The first few days were a nightmare as I worked to get some kind of routine that included all the medical stuff Jim did for himself, taking care of him and all the other stuff that goes along with eating three meals a day and having clean clothes. You know multi-tasking on the grand scale.
Our kids have been wonderful
and we could not have managed without them.

I have learned a few things to share:

Write everything down. Not just the calendar but the daily list of medications you give, medical instructions, grocery lists - the works. Don't rely just on memory. My old itty bitty bit of incompleted nurses training at Johns Hopkins is coming back - so far as charting is concerned. As well as the experience learned from being a professional "coordinator". So ---- this is why I had those jobs.

Think ahead. Allow extra time to get to outside doctor appointments and don't leave things to the last minute because someone who has balance issues cannot move as fast on you do.

Cancel as many things as you can that you had planned to do before all this happened. You cannot leave someone who is a "fall risk" on their own.

Be prepared to do everything in the house yourself while your partner recovers. For instance I am pretty proud that now I can make a decent fire in the wood stove in the den - makes me feel like a pioneer woman.

Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!

Look around for options to make the home situation more recovery friendly. We are fortunate we have a ground level back entrance and rooms Jim used as his office reception area and consultation room with a full bath and the utility room on the same floor. Using a blow-up bed on legs, which is quite comfortable, the consultation room quickly transformed into a bedroom and the reception room is a pleasant living room with a wood stove.

Be realistic. I keep thinking I will get some writing done or practice storytelling or other things. Doesn't happen. The days are filled with routine tasks that are the nuts and bolts of medical recovery.

Be patient. Somedays that is really hard for me. I keep telling myself I am not the first and won't be the last person to face these challenges.

Try to keep laughing!  Yesterday I called my bestest friend in PA. She and I have known each other since we were Girl Scouts together in Charlotte, NC. She knows me like few do.

When I was telling her how sweet our neighbor has been - pushing the trash cans up the drive and other things - I said "I feel like I should make a cake to thank."

"oh, Lord Ellouise, how Southern of you. You sound like my mother. Well-- all I can say is -  if you do make that cake - - don't forget to crack the coconut yourself and don't scrape your knuckles on the grater and spill blood on the cake as you sprinkle the coconut on the top of the white icing."

We burst out laughing - and laughed and laughed. And I felt better.

Friends are the balm that heals.


Ellie said...

Sending all good thoughts your way. Sounds like you are being very, very sensible at a tricky time. My best wishes to Jim.

Granny Sue said...

You amaze me. I laughed at the picture of you and the wood stove and I bet you have it down to an art already. Flexibility should be your middle name. Lady, you know how to prioritize. This too shall pass, but the things you have learned will stand you in good stead.

Peggy Schoettler said...

Oh, Ellouise, make sure you find something to laugh about every day and something that Jim will find funny too. It helps you keep your sanity, and I think laughter is the best medicine of all. MS & PD are a royal pain for the patient and the family. I know. Thank God for family. Wish we were closer, but the left coast is praying like crazy for both of you.

Mary said...

Laughter -- yes! My mom's nurses remarked that we had the same sense of humor; it's how to survive.
I feel I should cross-stitch this "Friends are the balm that heals." (but being careful not to prick my finger . .)