Monday, 18 March 2013

Savour the Moment

I was exhausted this morning when the alarm went off at 7:00am. I tried to get to bed at a decent time last night, but that didn’t happen and I knew I was going to pay for it this morning.  On Sunday nights, we have been watching the mini-series, The Bible, which is fantastic and then Mike has been watching The Vikings after that from 10:00 to 11:00. Then it’s the big push to get to bed. I crush up his meds and feed those to him in yogurt, then I brush his teach and wash his face and then transfer him from his chair to his wheel chair, wheel to the bedroom, transfer him to the edge of the bed, take off his shirt, give him a good back scratch and then swing him up on the bed. Then I take off his shoes and socks and arrange all of his pillows where he likes them and then turn him on his side, I get his arms where he wants them and put on his hand braces. That is about a 30 min process.

I was foolish last night, when I stayed up to check my emails because that put me in bed at about 12:15. I remember looking at the clock at 12:22 when I was finally tucked in. At 12:45 Mike wanted to turn over, at 1:15 he had to go pee and at 2:30 he needed to turn over again. Needless to say, when my alarm went off at 7:00, I laid there for a while talking myself out of rolling over and going back to sleep. In order to get to the Step Interval class I teach on Mondays in time at 9:00am, I have to get Mike up by 8:00. I get him up and out to his chair and give him a little bit of breakfast through his feeding tube, I brush his teeth etc. and make sure he is comfortable. I have to get his lap top in the right place so his one knuckle can click the mouse (believe it or not, that can sometimes take a few minutes), I put on a TV show or some music then I fly out the door.
Yesterday morning I subbed a class for a fellow instructor who was sick. It was a 10:00am class, so that gave us a little more time to get up and ready. The day before that, Saturday, Mike stayed in bed while I went and taught my 9:00am Step class. Sometimes, Mike stays in bed in the morning while I go to my class and then I get him up when I get home between 10:00 and 10:30. He has been doing this a little more often lately and I think it`s good because I`ve noticed his best sleep is from about 5:00am to 10:00.

Anyway, on Saturday after my class, I headed straight back to bed when I got home. It was pouring rain and I was feeling the chill after my workout, so I thought I would snuggle in against my husband`s hot body. Mike is really warm blooded and I am usually cold, so stealing some heat from him is common for me. After taking off his hand braces and removing some pillows, I nuzzled my way in there like our little kitten, Professor Fluffy used to nuzzle her way in under the blankets and into my arms on a cold morning…I think I was purring too, like she did.  It reminded me of what we had, when Mike would wrap his arms around me and pull me close. I took his hand and slowly pulled back his fingers and pressed my palm up against his. For half a minute I forgot about ALS. We listened to the rain, the illness disappeared and I savoured the moment.
I`ve been thinking about the Bachelor Finale that was on TV last week. I`m not a huge fan of the show, but sometimes I tune in for the last four episodes. I`m only interested in who the Bachelor or Bachelorette has narrowed it down to and I particularly liked Sean, he was super cute and seemed like a really nice guy. The finale dilemma is that some unlucky lady goes home with a broken heart and the other gets the knight in shining armour and a shiny rock for her finger. While Sean was proposing and his elated fiancé to be, was quickly finding her way to cloud nine, they talked about their future and how they couldn`t wait to get started with their lives together and eventually grow old together. They mentioned growing old together a few times. It was a beautifully romantic scene and I`m sure most viewers would have been swept away.

We all talk about growing old with the one we love, and we make plans. Mike and I had plans to snuggle together in bed on rainy Saturday mornings for years to come, but now we just live for each day and are grateful for the moments we can still savour.
James 4:14-15 says: You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapour that appears for a while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it’s the Lord will, we will do this or that.”    

I don`t teach a class tomorrow morning, so if it`s the Lord`s will, Mike and I will spend a little more time under the covers and I will put my cold hands and feet against his hot body and he won`t mind…he likes to keep me warm.                                              



Thursday, 7 March 2013

Stormy Weather

The sun came out on Sunday. It was so exciting, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Everyone was smiling, it was like we all won the lottery. That might sound a little exaggerated, but after days of torrential down pour and months of gray clouds and rain, a day of sunshine can change your life. We live in the suburb of Vancouver, Maple Ridge, otherwise known by the locals as “Rainy Haney”. Haney was the original name of the down town core of Maple Ridge, named after Thomas Haney, one of the first settlers. Vancouver and area, including Vancouver Island, has the mildest winters of all of Canada, but the wettest. Those of us drowned rats in Rainy Haney are convinced we are the most  soaked; I guess you could say, we’re all wet. The mountains we are nestled up against the rivers that run through our community are contributing factors. The rain starts early in the fall and by February, gathering pets and building an ark comes to mind. In the spring when we all crawl out from under our umbrellas, we rejoice and agree we live in a special place. Intermittent showers continue throughout the spring and summer, but like Mike always says, ‘’What do you expect, we live in a rain forest.’’

On sunny Sunday, Mike and I went for a three and a half hour walk. We walked to Erin’s and she joined us on our walk to town. We walked and talked and soaked up the warm rays of the sun. It was glorious! We also spent time chatting in the park. Erin told me to have a seat on a bench and she stood behind mike and gave him a shoulder massage. We had a great time; it was just what the doctor ordered, including a desperately needed dose of vitamin D.

The sun shone on Monday as well…bonus, two sunny days in a row! But even though the sun was shining outside, there was a storm brewing inside of me. Mike had home care on Monday and I had plans to meet our friend Karen for a coffee at the beautiful Bonson’s Landing in Pitt Meadows and then run some errands but out of nowhere, the guilt hit me like a ton of bricks. There was grief with the guilt as well. Grief from the losses, and guilt because I can go out; I can drive and walk and talk with a friend on a beautiful day and I am healthy. Plus, I really miss Mike when we are apart. It’s like a tug of war in my heart, I don’t want to go out and leave Mike behind, but I know I have to get out sometimes; I need a break because I have “Caregiver Burnout” which I recently researched at the prompting of Mike’s Respirologist. I learned I have most of the symptoms and no, not Psychologist, but Respirologist. I guess she could see through me at Mike’s last appointment. She spent five minutes explaining Mike’s lung function based on his latest tests, and about twenty five minutes talking about the importance of me being Mike’s wife first and not his number one care giver. I kept smiling, but in my head, I was thinking, how on earth can I do that? By God’s grace, I am both; I have been able to be his primary care giver and still have a loving and passionate relationship with him. She talked about the guilt I was probably experiencing because I wasn’t given a death sentence, and Mike was. She called it ‘’Survivor Guilt’’ and she hit the nail on the head with that one. She also told Mike that he would experience guilt because he probably feels like he is holding me back from growing as a person and moving forward with my life. I knew she knew what she was talking about, but I was thinking how on earth can I grow as a person and move forward with my life when Mike and I are one. We have been married for almost twenty five years and it’s perhaps impossible for us to go in different directions. I must admit, something in me says ‘’Live!’’, but I don’t want to without him. And so the storm in me roared.

In my last blog post, Golden Boy, I said that we are all in the same boat; we all experience troubles of many kinds. Since then I keep thinking about a boat story from the Bible. Luke 8:22-25 says: One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out.  As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

When I got home from my outing on Monday, Mike, with a big smile on his face, asked how my day was. I am probably the only one who would have understood him. And he is probably the only one who would have understood me when the flood gates I was desperately trying to contain burst open as I explained that I missed him so much.

Well, today is Thursday and it’s raining again, but the storm in me has subsided. I called on the Lord and boy, am I glad we’re in the same boat! I suspect there will be more storms, but I’m going to cling to the One who even the winds and waters obey.

I am finishing with a few lines from a really great song by Jars of Clay. It was playing on the radio when I drove to my spin class Monday evening. I watched and listened to the song on YouTube a bunch of times later that night and have been singing it ever since.

And though the pain is an ocean
Tossing us around, around, around
You have calmed greater waters
Higher mountains have come down…I will sing of your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy.
                                                   Sunnier days - Me and Mike on the dike, spring 2011