February 21, 2019
About this time last year, I was working full time, care providing full time, worrying about not being everything to everyone full time and unable to slow down and take a deep breath. I leap over every hurdle that was thrown at me, telling me to slow down. Until one fateful day, I lost a race down the stairs with 2 large dogs and broke my ankle. This loss landed me in a boot, crutches, scooter for months and I still didn’t slow down, I was just slower. There is a big difference.
Then, I met a social worker named Kiki in my Mom’s Palliative Care Clinic that changed my life. Kiki pulled me into a room separate from my Mom and gave me a questionnaire to complete. I could have lied and gotten out of the room quickly, but her gentleness of spirit and caring ways made me want to BE REAL with her. She asked the tough questions and demanded the tough answers. She helped me sort through priorities as a care provider, which ultimately led to the correct, yet difficult decision for our family, to take an early retirement and care for my Mom, Rosemary full time.
Kiki also spoke to me about self-care, which I had always viewed as a selfish act I simply didn’t have time for. I was too busy taking care of others to even think about taking care of myself. She gave me resources, strategies and encouraged me to talk to my extended family about respite care. She gave me permission to feel, to love and to even grieve in advance because care providing for my Mom will end with death. Terms like “compassion fatigue” were talked about and I was overwhelmed with feeling supported and understood.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to care for someone full time, this all may seem strange to you, but it is all so very real. I love my mother and I want to provide the best care I can for her during this final season of her life, but I have also recognized that to do so, I need to take care of me. I am finally able to cope with the idea of placing the oxygen on myself before providing care for others.
So, I have been taking positive steps forward. I have seen my physician for my own wellness checks more than I have in the past. I have my annual mammogram, saw the dentist for much overdue dental work, I am eating better and exercising more (Thank you BLESSING BIKE) and am taking time to BREATHE every day outside in the fresh air with our dog Cooper. I recently also visited my dermatologist; hence the picture above. A basil cell carcinoma was found on my forehead and removed. There will likely be a lasting scar.
I will wear it with pride.