Thursday, August 30, 2007

When Life Throws You A Curve!

It seems that when we least expect it, life changes. Sometimes our lives change for the better and sometimes for the worst. Every moment is so precious because we never know when a change is coming. I haven't written for months. In December I had foot surgery and was in a cast for 3-1/2 months and really not able to sit at the computer to write.

No sooner had I become mobile again when my mother became ill. It was a life changing experience. My mother had shingles. We've all known people who have had the disease. The pain is incredible and can last for months or even years. Generally the rash is on the abdomen or around the hips.

Not my mom. She always does things a little better than anyone else. (In this case, it was much worse.) My mom had shingles down her right arm. For those of you who don't know what shingles is, it is herpes zoster. The same disease we know as chicken pox. If one has had chicken pox, as those of us pre vaccine, we have this virus sitting in our bodies ready to attack. It can be brought on by stress and that is usually what brings it on. It is not contagious if you have had chicken pox. However, if you have never had the disease you should not be near anyone with shingles. This applies especially to babies.

Shingles start in the spinal column and then work their way down the nerve endings, ergo the pain. My mom had the rash on her right arm. It was diagnosed very quickly so she never had the blisters that can accompany the disease. However, what happened to her was so much worse than just the pain. Because it went down her arm, she completely lost the use of her right arm. Overnight she went from complete independence to one who was completely dependent on others for her care and the care of my 91 year old dad.

April, May, June and July were lost months for all of us. Every day there were doctors appointments, either for mother or dad. Physical Therapy when she was finally ready for it was 3 days per week. My calendar was filled with appointments daily. My life as I knew it stopped when I became a caretaker.

Everything revolved around their care. Getting them to the doctors, taking notes because she was so drugged up for the pain that she couldn't remember anything, getting them home. Walking the dog, putting out the garbage and recycling for pick-up and all the little things that one does for oneself but can no longer do. By the time I got home at night all I could do was wash my face, brush my teeth and fall into bed, because at 6 or 6:30 the next morning it would begin again.

I have new respect for caretakers. They are truly the unsung heroes. So many adults my age are taking care of aged parents and working and trying to live a life. We don't hear about them but perhaps you know 1 or 2 people who are in this situation. If you do, ask what you can do to help...even if it is only to make a meal to bring in or a cup of coffee. Just the kindness goes a long way.

Happily, as of last week, my mom regained the use of her arm. She is the independent woman she has always been and how wonderful for her and my dad. My life is back to normal as is hers. However, I learned a very important lesson...even in tragedy their can be blessings. It was truly a blessing to be with them every day and to listen to how smart and funny my dad is and how infuriating my mom can be. When life is "normal" we don't spend that much time with the people we love so much.

Therefore, I think the lesson is, spend time with the people you love, as much time as you can because you never know when life is going to throw you a curve.

Counting my blessings,

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