LIFE TOSSED ME A CURVE BALL

Life Tossed Me A Curve Ball
Slice of Life
by – Sheri de Grom

I haven’t been a good blogging friend the past two months. Life tossed me a curve ball when I wasn’t looking. And then another, and another—and would you believe—yetimages2B82J903 another came around the bend. I had no idea that darn ball was even on its way!

My husband developed a nasty sinus infection six weeks ago. Tom’s cough continues to grip him as if the devil had taken possession of his body. Worse, the racking cough results in Tom falling more frequently and it’s even more difficult for him to eat or sleep.

After two weeks of antibiotics and cough syrup with codeine, at my request so he could at least rest, Tom didn’t improve.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so exhausted, yet I continued to push myself.

I’m my own worst enemy. Friends offered help and I assured them, “No, I have this covered.”

Tom’s sinus infection turned into bronchitis and I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia the same day. A week later my doc added strep throat to my diagnoses. Normally I can ‘soldier-on through’ anything but I had a nagging suspicion I wasn’t winning at whatever war had invaded my body.

Fellow caregivers, if you are reading this, please don’t ignore your own symptoms. What made me think I was so special that my compromised immune system would hang strong until the end of time?

The saying below I’ve borrowed, with permission, from our dear friend Ajaytao. If you aren’t following Ajaytao, you’re missing out on one of the most sensitive and beautiful blogs on the internet. Ajaytao is a loyal follower to thousands of us and I have no idea how he’s able to add cheer to so many on a daily basis. I encourage you to visit his blog at http://ajaytao2010.wordpress.com.

Provided by Ajaytao

Provided by Ajaytao

 

My health saga continued with my being diagnosed at the end of last week with a sinus infection. I’d really had enough of this nonsense. I’d never had a sinus infection in my entire life. Never. Not one time. I told my doc he had to be wrong and he asked, “Where did you get your white coat?” It’s a running joke with us but I’m still unhappy with the diagnoses.

I continue in the tired and run down mode and it seems as though I’m putting one foot in front of the other. I cannot deny this is a wake-up call not only to me but to all caregivers. We must remember to take care of ourselves. We are always on first.

Most of you know Tom was diagnosed as bipolar not long after we married and that my

Blog for Mental Health 2014

Blog for Mental Health 2014

advocacy has to spread the awareness that a couple can maintain a marriage and have it be solid even when the disease itself is raging out of control. The spouse of the partner with bipolar disorder must dig deep within their core to find ways of understanding their spouse. I’ve said before: bipolar disorder is a third partner in any marriage and the disease demands respect. Vigilance is required or the marriage will not survive.

Others have asked me, “How can you stay?” My answer is always the same. “How can I not?”

Living with a mentally ill loved one is a colossal burden. The greater the symptoms, the greater the impact their illness has on the caregiver. Every aspect of my life has been affected: my emotions, my career, my leisure, my financial status, my health, my relationships with extended family, friends and neighbors and any sense of control over my desires and goals.

Every moment, every day delivers one guessing game after another. Is Tom simply so enraged that he can’t handle life? I am aware of being abandoned. Each episode captures progressively more from me until I am too worn out to pursue any of my pleasures.

A gentle prayer ends with me feeling enraged and crazed that the man I love with every fiber of my being is now a hollow shell of his former self. My partner no longer exists. Just as a robin’s egg is defenseless to predators, Tom is forever in imminent danger.

I’ll never forget the exact moment I got it; I knew I would be on first for taking care of my Prince Charming for the remainder of our lives. I was gardening at our California home, planting honeysuckle and enjoying romantic thoughts of how wonderful the scent would be floating through an open window on a summer’s eve. Suddenly, I thought of the fairytale, Cinderella. My Prince Charming had materialized in my life and swept me off my feet, but I’m now obligated to feed and care for the white horse that brought my Prince Charming to me. No matter how often I drop the reigns, I must still lead the horse and guide the rider.

One of the biggest obstacles in caregiving for anyone is recognizing they are a caregiver, and that includes me. I recognize the reason my body finally shut down and said enough is enough.

I’d set myself aside for well over two years. I’d reached the point where most days I’d do well if I finished half of my breakfast by the time most people were having dinner. I’d joke around and say, “Just think of all the time I’ve saved. Now I don’t have to make lunch.”

Sleep and exercise were something from my past and I knew I’d once had interests but they seemed far away.

If I don’t care for Tom, who will? I owe it to both of us to take care of myself.

Thankfully, Tom insisted all those years ago that I find a therapist. I was certain I didn’t need one then and I’m positive I couldn’t survive without Elizabeth now. Thank you, Elizabeth.

The days are becoming brighter within my mind and I’ve seen glimpses of my inner-child. She’ll appear again with my next blog. I’ve titled it ‘When A Man Loves A Woman.’ Until then, have a wonderful week.

 

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About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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203 Responses to LIFE TOSSED ME A CURVE BALL

  1. M-R says:

    This is the first time I have found someone’s writing of the thing that most terrified me about my utterly beloved husband’s being diagnosed with cancer. I wasn’t even able to write about it in my book: I didn’t have the ability to put it into words as you have just done. The total reversal of our rôles I don’t think I ever came to terms with; and although I cared for him as well as I was able, it wasn’t nearly well enough.

    • M-R, Your dreams were shattered as were mine when our lives were turned upside down by a whole new world we never expected. I started reading your blog today but the love for your husband comes through loud and clear. He’s no longer here with you on the physical level but he is here in your words and your memories.
      When we are forced into the role of caregiving it’s tough, there’s no other way to look at or feel the experience. Each day becomes one guessing game after another. I went through the same process with my father, my own personal John Wayne. He passed from this earth after battling cancer for eleven years.
      Know you did the very best you knew how and the main ingredient in any caregiver’s package is love for the person you are caring for. Sheri

  2. inesephoto says:

    Thank you for following my humble blog. Reading your story I almost feel like I am just chilling my way through life… Yet, I am familiar with tragedy and sorrow of mental illness. My best wishes to you!

    • I also have days when I’m chilling through life. Sometimes they are far apart and sometimes they are close together such as right now. My total aim in writing about our struggle with my husband’s bipolar disorder is that there are so many misconceptions about the disease. If an individual only watched ‘Law and Order’ and ‘The Mentalist’ and other dramas on television, the public would believe all bipolar individuals only want to create chaos and go around killing people. Nothing could be further from the truth. If a gun or other weapon is involved and the individual is bipolar, you can almost bet the weapon is for suicide.

      Surviving the disease with your marriage intact and loving each other unconditionally is possible. When others ask me if they should marry someone because after all, the other person is bipolar, my answer is always no. Had I known Tom was bipolar before we married I would still have married him. As my father liked to remind me, it took me 40 years to finally get it right!

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  3. Laura Best says:

    I came over from Florence’s blog. A very touching post, very emotional. Your strength shines through. We do what life calls us to do. It’s not always easy, in fact, quite often it isn’t. Taking care of ourselves is so important especially when others are relying upon us.

    • Laura – Thanks for coming over from Florence’s blog. Florence and I have been together in this world of blogging from the beginning of time on wordpress, for me. She’s been one of my best supporters and I consider her one of the finest wordsmiths I’ve met in blogging.
      I’ve always taken her comments seriously because they always help me focus and stay on track. Thank you for stopping by to read with me. I’m on my way to discover your blog. Sheri

  4. mihrank says:

    Reblogged this on mihran Kalaydjian and commented:
    LIFE TOSSED ME A CURVE BALL

  5. Sweet Sheri, the wife who truly meant her vows, thru sickness and health for better or worse. You are a glimpse of hope to those who feel hopeless; a ray of sunshine, for those who feel dreary and cold; you are an inspiration to those who need a hero! I have just asked my entire family to pray for you that God heals you and continues to give you rejuvenated strength so that you can continue to take care of the man you love, but also, to never forget yourself!!!
    Me….I’m past the point of searching for an answer…..heck, I don’t even need one. What is nice, is to be able to relate to someone who clearly understands the battle. Though this may sound strange, it’s nice to know that this terrible illness hasn’t singled us out and wreaked havoc on my spouse abducting him and our lives as if by Alien force and leaving us dazed, confused and scared!

    Lastly Sheri, you should truly consider writing a book, on this subject as your posts show such wisdom and soul that it would be a shame not to pass this gift on to others. I particularly loved this post, and the way you compared your life to Cinderella and her Prince Charming on his noble white steed. I too feel that way about my husband who swept me off my feet and made me feel like a Princess. Now…I feel like a reversed Cinderella. As if the fairy tale started with the ending and the last pages finishes with the beginning. Me as a Princess, the beautiful stagecoach, glass slippers and a handsome, young prince. Thanks to the Bipolar disorder, my glass slippers have been displaced my stagecoach turned back into a pumpkin and my dress mere rags covered in cinder from the caregiving I handle when taking care of my Prince. My evil stepmother, I find holding me hostage and ruining my chance at ever getting my prince back can only be described as the health care system. All I need now, is to find my fairy Godmother once again, so she can begin to wave her magical wand. Perhaps that is what you are my dear. Waving the wand and helping me get through one more day! xoxox thanks for the post!!

    • I’ve waited to reply to your honest and heartfelt blog. I’m far from a hero. You haven’t seen the number of times I’ve fallen flat and felt so inadequate in the face of Tom’s pain. What I do care about, ten thousand times over, is that I hear from precious individuals such as yourself who walk the walk with me and you understand. Your analogy of the white horse in Cinderella is exactly what our government health care plan is–it offers nothing in the way of help for those that need it the most.
      Obama pretends he has brought parity to mental health care but that’s a total fabrication and you and I both know nothing is further from the truth. Mental health parity has once again been kicked further down the list. Thus, the fight continues.
      Thank you for your thoughtful and heart tugging response.

  6. So sorry you got tossed this horrible curve ball, Sheri! Caregivers like you and my wife are angels. You’re in my prayers, my friend.

    • Bill, Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving me a ray of sunshine. I hadn’t felt that bad in so long, I guess I needed a shake up call. I’ve spent 3 hours in the garden this evening and I do my best ‘talking with God’ while I’m there. There’s something about being in the midst of the dirt and admiring what had the strength to survive the brutal winter we had. Smiles to you and the angel that loves and cares for you.

  7. HansHB says:

    Interesting to read Your post>!

  8. mihrank says:

    Good Afternoon Sheri;

    Please allow me to thank you for your kindest compliments and words, I am humbled. I am finalizing with my musical band our CD, I will make sure to sent you.

    • Mihran – How very kind of you. I love music as does my husband. We have many friends that love all types of music. I recently learned from Barbara at http://thedeparturelounge.co about how singing is good for the lungs. Taking her suggestion and running with it, I decided to incorporate her suggestion into our daily schedule and the extra deep breathing has done wonders for both our lungs and the way we feel about life in general. I went to ‘Rhapsody’ last night and selected several songs by Chris Rea for Tom and I to listen and enjoy. We ended up paying for the download of 2 full sets of tracks we like his music so much. Thank you for your introduction to him. Sheri

  9. The entire year from March of 2013 to March of 2014 was like that for me. It seemed like one disaster after another befell me or someone close to me. Good thoughts on the way to you Sheri. You will turn a corner.

    • Renee, Hello and how are you doing. I’ve been trying to get over to your ‘house.’ I’ve been an absentee blogging friend. I hope to spend this next week visiting friends (you included). I hope to turn that corner soon. I can’t remember feeling this tired and unorganized in my entire life. I’m happy to hear that you are out of the line of fire. Thanks so much for the positive reinforcements. Sheri

      • You’re welcome anytime. It is always good to hear from you and I understand how life gets busy and finding time for a shower is at a premium, much less wandering through cyber space. Stay well.

  10. Ajaytao2010 says:

    So wonderful a person you are dear, you are such a compassionate caregiver, you have the beauty of your soul oozing out of you dear

    thanks for sharing this wonderful post 🙂

  11. http://thedeparturelounge.co/flight-attendants/
    Sheri, you have inspired me to open a VIP Lounge for carers! Nothing but the best.
    Wishing you and Tom more happy days. It’s a pleasure to visit here.

  12. I have seldom come across a more empowering and faith-hugging post. What a see showing up in your writings is this wonderful attitude and gratitude which I am sure you deeply within you. Gratitude does have this wonderful ability to show up aspects in our life positively. It also shifts us into that wonderful space of “standing in the cause of the matter” and away from that ‘blame and victim-hood’ space so prevalent all around.

    I wish that you perceive more positivity as you go forward in life.

    Shakti

    • Shakti – You’ve left me a comment with much material to contemplate. Thank you for taking the time to do so. I read through your comment earlier today and am now coming back this evening to read again before preparing my reply to you. I so appreciate it when another blogger provides me material to take a good hard look at what I’ve written before. Thank you, Shakti. Sheri

  13. So glad you have your garden as a refuge. And I LOVE the idea of someone being in “charge of capes.” Sometimes caregiving is a challenge…but you are doing a brilliant job of finding ways to recharge yourself. I admire the woman you are.

    • Hello to my wing command. I do hope you are feeling better and I think we’d better get in an order for a “cape” for you as well.
      I’m delighted you took the time necessary to pay attention to your body.
      My accomplishments for yesterday included sitting down a full hour while I had a breakfast of a latte, fresh fruit, 1 slice sprouted 7 grain bread with peanut butter and 1 soft boiled egg. I also spent 3 hours in the garden last night. Oh, yes, Barbara Farrally over at http://thedeparturelounge.co taught me the value of singing, to aid in opening up the lungs, and Tom and i’ve incorporated 30 minutes into deep breathing and singing loudly each evening. Then we top that off with dancing to some of our favorite songs. I continually learn from others I follow in this wonderful world of blogging.
      I also carved out 3 hours to work in what I call my entryway English garden. Hope to have photos soon. Sheri

      • Ohhh…Sheri, singing sounds so lovely! I hadn’t heard of the value of singing before, but I do know that I love the human voice and how important it is to own that voice. Thanks for telling me about it! I’ll be sure to check out Barbara’s site!

        You inspire me with your great eating. I’ll shall have to work on that this week.

        And even the thought of a cape makes me smile….What is it about capes that make us feel like super heroes?

        Hang in there super hero Sheri. Have a great weekend. I’m off to a GRAND Writing retreat!

  14. Herman says:

    Sheri, I’m so sorry to read about all things you’re going through. Please take care, I’m wishing you all the best.

    • Herman – I responded to your post and then deleted it due to my reply not falling in the space I wanted. I decided I shouldn’t be as picky as Mr. Bowie. He is such a fine feline. I adore your photos of him and the imaginative adventures you come up with day after day.
      Thanks for stopping by. I’m doing much better, Thank you.

  15. Reagan K Reynolds says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts as a caregiver. I have been treated for depression, and I recognize my husband’s role as a caregiver in our relationship. We have had to dig deep and establish boundaries that we both recognize are set out of love and care for each other and enable us to work together simultaneously–through within and without of the fog of depression. My father is bipolar and now, also, schizophrenic so I understand well the unpredictable behavior that comes with the every day dance around such disorders.

    Good luck to you. Thank you for reading my review of Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. I always appreciate it when you stop by.

    Best,
    Reagan

    • Regan, Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. It’s often hard for a caregiver to know when they are helping and when they are hurting. It’s great that you’ve established the boundaries and that should help your husband know when you are safe. That’s always been my biggest fear. Sheri

      • Reagan K Reynolds says:

        My husband sometimes is afraid, but I remind him that the beauty of this life and living is that it is mine to discover, just as his life is his to discover. His fear recognizes that this life belongs to me, but signals that he wants to control it. When he lets go it feels like he is recognizing my ownership of my own life and is trusting me with it. I don’t know if that makes sense. Easier said, than done.

        • Regan, It makes perfect sense. Those of us loving and living with an individual with depression or any mental issue has a hard time keeping ourselves at a certain safe distance (the safe distance is for both individuals). Our concern for the individual we love is so great, we often become so involved our partners can feel they cannot continue to grow and be the person they are or want to become. Tom and I made a contract that if he feels he is going to harm himself, he will tell me and I have the final decision on if he should go to the hospital or not. If I make the decision that he should go, he does not have veto power. It’s been harder now that his body has been at war with itself, but I do everything possible to allow him to elect when it’s time to check in with the medical authorities. It’s great to have someone to bounce thoughts off of that’s not in the caregiving role. Thank you so much for sharing with me and others that read the comments. Sheri

  16. Sheri, I was having a battle with my own body and am remiss that I have not written sooner. My admiration for your courage and loyalty cannot be measured. There are no words. There is only the knowing that as a care-giver to your loving Tom, you have faced many challenges. I can only trust that you will try to take better care of yourself. We need you 🙂

  17. Dearest Sheri, I was grateful for your extra nudge to get to the doctor. Yes, I finally went yesterday. I wasn’t going to reply back to you until I had. I heard the mommy tone in your voice. hee hee (My husband was grateful because he thought I had walking pneumonia since the cough had gotten so bad.) Thanks for taking the time out to care give to a fellow blogger when you have so much on your plate. But I am glad you did. It’s just a serious sinus infection and gave me the nasty whooping cough vaccine and antibiotics because of my little first grade population. ;0) No pneumonia! Yay! Again, thank you!

    • Marie – There’s no such thing as ‘just’ a serious sinus infection. When you tack the word infection on the end of anything, it’s time to worry. I try not to nag, however I honestly believe the day will come when we’ll face the situation of antibiotics not working because we’ve had to take them so often. If I need to nag I will. Life is too short for us not to take care of ourselves. (You do hear me, right).

  18. mihrank says:

    Smiles, thank you! Mihran

  19. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    SHE AND I HAVE A COUPLE OF THINGS IN COMMON. i AM A CAREGIVER TOO, OF A SPOUSE WHO IN THE PAST HAS HAD BIPOLAR EPISODES AND IS NOW DISABLED…AND I AM STRUGGLING WITH MY OWN HAVING TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF MYSELF…! 🙂

    • Jonathan – Thank you so much for reblogging my post. It means a lot to me. This business of being a caregiver to a spouse with a mental disorder is not easy in any sense of the word, but then you already know that. Why do we have such a hard time taking the time to care for ourselves when we’ll jump tall buildings in a single bound for the one we love?
      I’m using my stern voice here. I challenge you to take good care of yourself all day (24 little hours) after you read this. That means food, exercise, mental, spiritual and on and on. Sometimes I have to agree to tackle just one aspect and that’s good. It sure beats doing nothing for ourselves. Sheri

      • SHERI—Thank you for answering and your appreciation of our mutual situations. As you are also aware, if you’d read any of my recent poetry, I tried but couldn’t get the ball rooling for myself—so asked my doctor for help and she is helping! Gonna start some sort of counseling soon. Thanks for being there—and not just for me! 🙂

        • Jonathan – I felt bad that I was so late in my thank you. I’ve read some of your poetry and it’s excellent. You do good work and I was pleased that you had an outlet. I’m now following you, I want to watch your progress. Our own medical care is all important and I’m delighted you plan to start counseling soon. If you have a problem finding someone to partner with on the counseling, please shoot me an e-mail at sheri@sheridegrom.com and I’ll send you some things I’ve done when I’ve been in sticky situations and needed someone to talk with. I could not and I repeat, could not have survived this journey without the help of therapy. We can all make it through this caregiving business and we do not have to do it alone.

  20. kanzensakura says:

    Wow. You have run the gamut but thankfully, still alive and telling the tale. I took care of my mom for months and finally…..she got better and moved to Florida! Life can be strange. But not forgetting to breathe, to take care of yourself as well….those are true lessons. I found out today Ajaytao has a new blog in addition to his regular one – botanical photos and thoughts. Incredible, beautiful, serene….After 10 minutes, I felt like I was on vacation. I had life altering stuff two months ago. I was downsized at work because of my age and some other things. After being deeply depressed a couple of weeks, I decided….life threw me lemons. by golly, I was gonna throw ’em back, 98 mph fastball. So now, I am working on a new phase of my life. I am going to explore your blog further. I just want to say, I am so glad you found me and came to visit and decided to follow. Two of your followers, Huntie and Tess, are dear to me and I have much respect for them. I hope you will visit often. I do thank you so much for following my blog. You will notice I have posted an Inner Peace Award. if you read on my About page, you’ll find out why it is posted of all the awards I have received. I want people to feel welcomed, be blessed, have a good giggle, share some recipes, and be friends. Take care of yourself. I look forward to another visit.

    • Kanzen, How on earth did I get through the comments section and not leave a comment for your wonderful response. I know I’ve read it a couple of times but guess that’s what I get when I haven’t had a full stretch to do something without lots of interruptions.
      Life did throw you not only curve balls but a gunny sack full of lemons also. The business of downsizing is horrendous and companies seem to make up their own rules as they go along. I’ve seen them let their most knowledgeable, seasoned employees go only to keep the more junior employees in order to cut on payroll. However, what happens in the end is that customers still expect the same quality of work and it doesn’t happen and eventually the business closes.
      I applaud you for going back to school and redesigning yourself. The opportunity to learn and be in a educational environment was always one of my favorite places to be.
      I apologize for taking so long to respond to your thoughtful comment. I’ll try to do better next time. Sheri

      • kanzensakura says:

        No problemo. I know folks get busy, distracted, or just don’t feel a reply is necessary. I have not replied to argumentativr or downright mean comments. I’ve even deleted them! I.truly appreciate your courtesy. I have heard through a source, the kid knows jack about.some things and if he can’t solve something w/o using a canned computer program, someone else has to correct and oversee. I just shrug my shoulders go, oh well! My husband reminds me life is not fair and I am starting to accept it. However, I grin in advance thinking of a certain Japanese customer, very diificult and ready to cut yoi to pieces if you blink…he found out I had “retired” and sent a congratulatory note and requst for lunch, as we have become friends in the past couple of years. He said, they fool no one. I know what has happened. Your culture does not always honor wisdom and age ad it should. For the sake of honor, they have one chance. I am already looking elsewhere. My friend, it is hard. You know the mountain though has no pity and the rain falls on all. You will continue to climb and shake off the rain. And then he grinned and said, and now we can jusy be friends! So, lost a job, gsined a new friend. Good and bad in all things. We move forward or we become rooted to one spot. Folk like you and I keep going onward and upward! 🙂

  21. huntmode says:

    Hi. You commented on one of mine and it was so thoughtful, I wanted to come pay you a visit and found this entry immediately. Oh, my new friend, I do get this. The body will defend itself and shut you down if you’re not paying attention. That much I’ve learned and relearned (!) again and again. Grin. Sounds like you’ve tracked the problem and are working on some solutions. May you heal quickly and Tom, too. Best ~ Huntie

  22. babsje says:

    I hope you are on the mend, and applaud you for this smart and sensitive post. There’s an admonition for parents of small children when flyng on airplanes – if the oxygen masks deploy, the first order of business for the parents is to put on their own masks, and then after that, attend to the children, because if the parent passes out, who can help the child? The same applies to any caregiver. It is in the nature of caregivers to sacrifice themselves while caring for others, and so often the caregiver gets depleted, worn down. You are smart to be gentle to youself, to take care if yourself while caring for your husband.

    • Babsje – Thanks for stopping in. I just missed you or we could have had a latte together. I was especially proud of the fact that I not only made an extra special one just for myself (I like them with not only the steamed milk going through the espresso but also lots of foam on top) and I did all of that just for myself. But wait, there’s more. I took my latte and sat in my recliner in the living room and enjoyed it in the quiet. Normally I rush through making my coffee and bring it back to the office and return to work.
      You are right, it’s so hard to do those things for ourselves that we know we are supposed to do on a regular basis. I thought I would make a grocery store run today but we have plenty in the house so that’s a chore for another day.
      I plan to take another break in about 30 minutes and walk through my gardens. I have both roses and iris in bloom and other perennials are about to burst forth. Gardening is something I do for relaxation and I definitely plan to do some tomorrow. Sheri

      • babsje says:

        Thanks for the offer of a latte, sounds delist, and a nice treat. Your garden sounds lovely – there is something sustaining about working with the earth, tending growing things. If you’re not averse to cutting off a stem, I imagine a lovely iris would be a fine grace-note fir your desk, like sending flowers to yourself. Enjoy the ret of your weekend. Best, Babsje

  23. First, I wanted to say I admire you for your journey and courage and stamina. Caregiving is not an easy process…but it is loving people like you who make the world a better place. Secondly, I deserved to read this today. I am a caregiver too…and I’ve been staving off a nasty infection for weeks…my husband asks me to go to the doctor, and I say I’m fine…only to put it off again. I was contemplating going when I read this. Thanks for the reminder that we get to take care of ourselves so we are our best selves for those we are in care of. Bless you.

    And Michael…thanks for the tip of Elderberry syrup! Someone was telling me Oregano oil as well.

    • Thank you for stopping in to read with me. It never ceases to amaze me how many of us caregivers forget the simplest things. As Mae Clair wrote below, it’s rather like the safety rules we’ve heard for years when we travel by air. ‘Always put your oxygen mask on first and then that of someone that needs assistance.’ We are so busy taking care of the one we love, we forget to put our own oxygen mask.
      I’d drug myself around for at least two months before I went to the doctor and by then I’d put my immune system at risk. (Never wise). I hope I hear you’ve gone to the doctor and he or she has assessed your situation and that you also listen to whatever instructions you are given about rest, taking care of yourself, etc.
      Along with Michael’s Elderberry Syrup, another blogging friend of mine, http://atempleton.wordpress.com suggested making hot lemonade out of frozen concentrate and then sipping on it. It works wonders for sore throats and I have a dry mouth, so severe, I cannot eat hundreds of foods I used to take for granted. I found the no sugar added kind as Tom and I are both diabetic.
      Please, visit your doctor pronto. Tom’s infection turned into bronchitis, he was free of nasty germs and could actually stand up for two days and then was struck down by another sinus infection. We have terrible pollen this year and he’s always been highly susceptible to sinus infections.
      Do not pass go – I would like to hear from you once you’ve been to the doctor. I’ve learned to check in on my caregiving friends. We have to stick together in order to remind each other of what we are supposed to be doing to care for ourselves and it’s honestly okay when we do need to see someone for ourselves. Sheri

  24. Bonnie says:

    Please take care of your health.

    • Bonnie: Thank you for stopping in to remind me of my first priority. Without my health, I cannot care for Tom or myself. It’s a daily reminder for me to eat properly, get fresh air, engage in activities that feed my soul and allow me to unwind and feel at peace with the universe. Somehow I’d set those thoughts aside. I now keep a set of reminders written on nicely colored notepaper in several locations throughout the house. On the notepaper, I list a minimum of five activities or actions I must remember for being healthy for that day.
      I hope you are well and the universe is being kind to you. Sheri

  25. Elyse says:

    I’m late in reading, Sheri. I hope that you are feeling better by now. And do keep away from baseball!

    • Elyse, I’m so far behind in reading, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever catch up with all the marvelous blogs that come my way.
      Yes, I’m doing much better but still use my kitchen timer a lot to make sure I don’t spend longer than I’m supposed to at any given task. Thus far I’m doing good but not up to where I want to be.
      Thank you so much for stopping by and checking on me. You’ll never know how much I appreciate your presence in my blogging world. Sheri

  26. Sheri – One day I will share this with my best friend who has just married her bipolar love who also has macular degeneration and is now legally blind. My heart goes out to both of you as loving caregivers.

    • Mary – I count you as an oh so very dear friend. Tom loves it when he catches your incoming phone call. I think it’s all about his calling out, “It’s Mary from Canada.” I’m not sure why it gives him so much pleasure but he does know how much I enjoy our conversations and I always stop whatever it is that I’m racing about doing and sit down and actually relax when we are talking. I don’t think our conversation’s have ever been interrupted by him needing anything other than perhaps letting the dogs out.
      BTW – the lemon pledge worked on the ants. Who would have thought. You never cease to amaze me with your home remedies. There’s a book in there, Mary. I feel it! I’ve passed on your suggestion to friends from Maine to Florida and around through San Antonio not to mention up and down the West Coast. You’ve passed on so many home alternatives that haven’t required me to go out and buy some expensive chemical and I think the ants have built a tolerance to the ant poison.
      If I may, I’d pass on to your best friend, the best thing I’ve learned is to establish myself as the primary point person when it comes to Tom’s medical care. Nothing much happens unless I agree. Doctors like to keep throwing pills and we know how well that doesn’t work. Tom’s current psychiatrist (and we’ve had him going on 9 years) is the first doc that cared enough about Tom the client and then Tom the person to find the 2 medications that work best for Tom.

  27. Elaine says:

    Sheri I am so sorry to hear that you and Tom have been ill! Praying for you both. Wish I had read this earlier when you first posted it. I’ve gotten very behind in reading ! Hope you are now feeling a lot better!

    • Elaine, please never feel a need to apologize when responding to one of my post. I’m so far behind at the present time and I’ve so missed reading everyone’s blogs. Thank you for all the prayers, Tom and I are both grateful. I’m definitely on the mend but God did a good job in reminding me that He’s in charge and not me. I hadn’t been down like that in a very long time. Tom was infection clear for all of 2 days and now another sinus infection has invaded his body. Tom has zero immune defense and we always have to be on extreme observance for him. His sinus issues have always been a problem but this year they seem to have him in their grip and don’t want to let go. Thank you ever so much for the prayers. There’s nothing that works better.

  28. Patty B says:

    I am so sorry that you have been so sick. You were on my mind so much these past few weeks, and I listened to the Spirits prodding and have kept you lifted up to God in prayer. Please take care of yourself – may God bless you and Tom with renewed health and restored energy.

    • Patty – As always, thank you for the prayers and kind thoughts. God has indeed been listening. Once I started listening to him and not shoving myself over the proverbial cliff at every opportunity, I’ve begun to gain my strength back. I’ve set limits on myself and as you know, it’s not easy to follow those limits sometimes but I’m really trying to follow what I believe is the right path for me in order to gain my health back. I’d allowed myself to become a bankrupt caregiver and I cannot allow that to happen again. Tom needs me but I also need me.
      I’ve thought of you so often this week and how you are going through the anniversary of your Tom’s passage into heaven. How I wish I could have been near to you physically, but I found great comfort in knowing God was was walking with with you every step of the way. With love and admiration. You are a strong woman and one for all Christians and military families to look to for strength and guidance. With love and prayers, Sheri

      • Patty B says:

        Thank you for kind words and I am thankful you are taking care of yourself. We all need you! Like you said it is not easy to live by the limits we place on ourselves, I learned that today working in my front yard. I feel as if I could sleep for a week!! lol May God continue to be with you and bless you and Tom like you have blessed me.

        • Patty – Due to the limits put on me by my neurologist (nerve damage in right hand and arm) and too many TBIs, he said I could work in the garden no more than 2 hours at a time and that was stretching it. He started at 1 hour at a time. I take the kitchen timer to the garden with me and know I must follow the rules.
          Perhaps my dear friend, it’s time you should be following the same rules. We must take good care of our bodies – they tell me we aren’t going to get a do-over. We’re off to the doctors today but hope to garden and write when I return home. Prayers and hugs to you my dear friend.

          • Patty B says:

            I agree and now limit my time to 30 minutes and that seems just perfect, but who knows by the end of summer I may be up to an hour!! lol That plot of dirt will be there and I am in hurry so it will get done when it gets done. The older I get the more I am learning patience. 10 yrs ago I would have had to have it done the same day I started.

  29. Lynn Garrett says:

    There are almost no words to say. It hurts to see you pour your heart out, and yet it is healing to do so. Soak in the sunshine and flowers and heal from the inside.

  30. jbw0123 says:

    I’m going to wave this in the face of a dear friend whose husband is in year 12 post-Parkinson’s diagnosis. She knows how important it is to care for herself and let others in, but still struggles with accepting help.

    May your sinuses clear (and Tom’s as well), may you find renewal and strength, may your love buoy your spirits, and the scent of honeysuckle bring you the joy you dreamed it would.

    • Julia – It’s so hard to accept help or even own up to the fact that I need it. I know I must learn to do this and I must also learn not to feel guilty when I do turn over the reigns. Your friend is going to need to learn the same thing. You might want to pass on the statistic that 33% of caregivers die before the individuals they care for.
      I surprised myself today when I actually sat down with my breakfast and thumbed through my two favorite catalogs from today’s mail.
      My sinuses have cleared up but Tom has yet another infection going again. I hope we are on top of it early enough that it won’t go into bronchitis on us.
      I actually spent a couple of hours in the garden yesterday. A few roses are blooming and I do believe I’ll plant another honeysuckle here. I miss living on the central coast of California but we won’t be returning their to live as all of our medical care is first rate here in central Arkansas. (Who would have thought we’d find the best medical care we’d ever had anywhere). Neither of us had ever planned to retire in Arkansas.

      • jbw0123 says:

        Good medical care in Arkansas! What do you know? California is too expensive to live anyway. Bet you have fireflies, too. Glad you are feeling better, and hope Tom does not get bronchitis!

        • Julia – I know – We have some world class physicians here. We were on our way back to the central coast of California (Carmel/Monterey) to retire when Tom became very ill just after we had passed Little Rock. I immediately turned around and asked for guidance from above that I would pick the right emergency room to go through as he needed immediate medical attention. We’d always thought we were going back to the Central Coast to retire but those plans were radically changed as Tom’s body started falling apart from all the psychiatric drugs that had been thrown at him for so many years.
          Our stop wasn’t for psychiatric purposes but we landed in an ER wherein the hospital has all hospitalaist (sp?) and they were they were the ones that discovered the numerous holes in Tom’s organs caused by so many psychiatric drugs actually at war in his body.
          Might I add, this was the first emergency room where I felt confident to set my purse on the floor where I didn’t think I’d pick up some super bug.
          The hospital doctors laid out a plan for us to consider and it meant we would be in Arkansas a minimum of 6 months while Tom was in the hospital – but what’s six months when you’ve found someone that might be able to help you. We engaged in the program and wow – they were terrific.
          My internist was formerly a diagnostician at Mayo and settled here about 10 years ago along with his wife (also from Mayo clinic) and a world renown heart surgeon (Tom’s her patient). I’ve worked hard to get us hooked up with the best of the best. I’ve had to ferret out a few docs and ancillary providers that don’t measure up but the care is far superior that we’ve received anywhere else in the world.
          My roses are blooming, the iris are starting to open, other gardens are bursting through the ground and I can’t wait to get out and dig in the dirt. I’m on a 2 hour restriction when it comes to being outside actually doing hard labor, by that time, my shih tzu is willing to come out and sit with me while I read or write. And yes, we have fire flies and all kinds of other interesting creatures to swoon after. I still find it hard to believe I live in Arkansas but it really is a progressive state in so many respects. We live in Conway – about 24 miles from LR and we have a population rapidly approaching 60,000. University of Central Arkansas is here and they bring in fabulous Broadway Productions and other entertainment, there’s also Hendrix, a private university for the brainy group and then Baptist College which is struggling in the Bible Belt (not surprising).
          Okay, I’m off to start the day’s activities. Thanks for allowing me to once again remind me of all the reasons we don’t move on to Carmel/Monterey. It would not be a good environment for Tom’s health.

  31. Emily Grace says:

    Sheri your circumstance speaks to me as a caregiver of a very ill spouse in the past and a woman overwhelmed with acreage and herds and family history to care for. Your reminder for caretakers is duly noted. I, too, am my own worst enemy in self-care. Thanks for sharing. This is exceptional food for thought.

    Best,
    Emily Grace

    • Hello, Emily and welcome. There’s something about us caregivers that drives us past all levels of endurance known to mankind. We are smart women. We are fully aware of what happens when we don’t take care of our bodies, our faith, our friendships, our own free time and the list goes on and on. It’s almost as if we disregard who we are and throw ourselves under a bus, all the while knowing exactly what we’re doing.
      I know of what you speak when you talk of being overwhelmed with acreage and herds and family history. That’s more than enough to put anyone down and more than 10 ft. However, having read several of your past blogs, I know how much you love the land and the animals and your way of life. You have my genuine respect for you have the hardest and most demanding job of all.
      The years I worked in DC and the weather shut-down government, my father always liked to remind me a cattleman never shut down for weather. Matter of fact, those were the days when he had to work the hardest.
      Among my peer group in DC, we liked to call the Department of Agriculture the last great plantation! The 3 piece suites didn’t have a clue of what it took to raise a crop or operate a ranch and heaven forbid they should get their hands dirty!

  32. NotDownOrOut says:

    Hang in there, Sheri. Take your rest and your medicine. You matter, too.

  33. willowdot21 says:

    So glad to have you back Sheri , I am so sorry to hear of all the awful bad health luck that you and your Tom have been been dealt! Be well soon! xxxxxx

    • Hi Willow – Yes, it’s good to rejoin the human race. I’m still taking it slow but with one step at a time, I’m gaining strength again. I couldn’t believe it when I slept 12 hours last night. I constantly battle insomnia and to sleep straight through left me with energy when I got up. I’m trying to space my activities out for the day and as you well know, that can often be a challenge. I’m on the mend but poor Tom, he has another nasty sinus infection. I think our pollen is worse than ever this year. Thanks for stopping in for a chat. Sheri

  34. Oh Sheri, I recognise me in this post. I only cared for my mother for 4 years (and in that time I never really categorised myself as a caregiver), but I soon had my own breakdown where I went to work one day and just couldn’t stop crying. It took that to make me realise I had to look after myself – but I’ve never found it easy to ask for help. Take care of yourself.

    • Andrea – Many of us are of a generation without an acceptable guideline. My mother worked hard but not outside of the home. I have no idea what it would have cost to hire more than one individual to accomplish what she did–and I left the idea of ever being a Kansas farm wife far behind when I departed for college. Don’t get me wrong, I have the highest respect for the men and women who have the courage to stay in a career wherein they love the land so much they can’t leave.
      I saw my mother and her farm wife friends work so very hard at home and yes, when needed they served as caregivers but mother was able to set aside her role as a homemaker when she needed to be in charge of medical care for my brother.
      What I didn’t have was a role model to reference how I was supposed to juggle everything. I worked full time in a demanding field and once Tom became ill, I’ve always been on first for everything.
      I’ve always expected myself to be able to do it all, but guess what, I can’t. Not any longer. As you said, after you mother no longer needed you, then your own body fell apart and you had no control. I’m convinced our bodies know when we have to set our own limits because we never learned how.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Sheri

  35. Easier said than done. Sorry to hear you’ve been carrying a double load. The sinus infection seems to be making the rounds this year. I don’t have to look after anyone but myself and I was flat on my back last week with the same problem. I had drugs but it’s just starting to behave.

    Do, DO take care of yourself first, Sheri. If you don’t and you end up in the hospital, what then? Sending your positive vibes for a quick return to good health. 😉

    • Tess: Your back! I must, I must get over to your blog and read. I’ve thought of you so many times and hoped everything was going well.
      I’m on the mend, not up to full speed, but definitely on the mend.
      Tom’s bronchitis was finally conquered and he had one good day before another sinus infection hit his hard and now his dog has one also. When I took his dog to the vet I had no idea that was the problem.
      I have roses and iris blooming and just received the go ahead from my doctor that I can garden for an hour every day and two hours if I’m not overly tired.
      Thanks for your support and wisdom and I’m so glad you are home. Sheri

      • Thank you, Sheri. I’m glad to be home safe and happy to be back here again. I missed you all.
        It’s heartwarming to hear you’re on the mend. Terrible that Tom got kicked twice. Can a dog get sick from a human?
        I hear this sinus and bronchitis is the flavor of the season. Everyone I talk to either has had one or the other or knows someone who has.
        Do work in your garden for the fresh air but do take it easy on yourself as well.

        • Tess – I just came in from the garden and it was wonderful. I have to take the kitchen timer with me, otherwise I don’t know when to come in! Welcome home.

          • Thank you. My mother was like that. She’d go out into the garden in the morning and forget to come in till after lunch when she became hungry. Small steps, yes?

            • Tess – I forgot to ask, how did your furry friend make out while you were away? You may have written about it on one of your blogs. I must get over your way soon. Sheri

              • Lady Gaga was well looked after. She bonded with the whole family. I hadn’t allowed her upstairs before because I try to keep my daughter and her family’s space separate from mine. They are a marriage and I don’t want to be that close that I’m in on everything. When I arrived home, I picked up Lady G but she wasn’t having it. Thought she was giving me the cold shoulder. My daughter picked her up and handed the cat to me and she settled in on my shoulder at once. I guess she recognized her favorite spot.
                Since my trip, she doesn’t try to escape for a visit upstairs like she had before. I guess she’s glad mommy’s home. ~(*_*)~~

                • Tess – I’m happy, happy, happy that Lady Gaga received wonderful care and bonded easily with the family. It’s always a delicate balance. I thank them in my heart for taking good care of her in your absence. I’ve been worried about pets more often than once when we’ve had to make a quick run for family emergencies and that type of thing. I know the two of you are ever so happy to be united once again.

  36. A good blogging friend isn’t determined by quantity, but the quality of their words and the inspiration they engender. In that, you are a wonderful cyber friend. Take care of you and know that a lot of us friends out here are holding you in our hearts. Love, Paulette

    • Pauline – Thank you dear blogging friend. You are so kind with your words. I’m on the mend and feel a little better each day.
      I thought of you when I recently attended a banquet in honor of a dear friend of ours. She’s rescued over 5,000 Shih Tzu’s to date and if other dogs are present that need to be rescued at the time, she takes them also. She’s rescued another 2,076 of other breeds to include really big dogs and found them their rightful rescue homes.
      At 79, she said she was retiring. However, she’ll be hanging out with us sometime next week as she picks up 9 Shih Tzu’s from local shelters that no one has claimed and would otherwise be put to death.
      We of course have adopted both of our dogs from her. Adopting through rescue is the only way to go, in my opinion.
      Thank you for stopping in to read with me.
      Sheri

  37. Sheri, I’m so sorry to hear about all the illnesses. Sending you both healing energy and trust that all will be better soon.

    • Hi, Julaina: Thanks for the healing energy. I’m sure I used up everything that was sent my way. I’m happy to report that I’m on the mend and gradually am moving into a more reasonable expectation of myself.
      Tom was home free for a couple of days and then another sinus infection set in. His immune system is shot and he’s always had a hard time with pollen and any other tiny organism floating around in the air.

  38. Mae Clair says:

    So sorry to hear you are feeling badly too. As I’m sure you’ve heard many times, caregivers have to look after themselves in order to care for others. It’s kind of like securing your oxygen mask first in an airplane, so you’ll be able to help those around you. Sometimes we forget how important it is to take care of ourselves, especially when consumed with worry and love for the person we’re caring for. Please take care of yourself, Sherri. Tom needs your strength, but you need it too. Hoping you are both feeling better soon.

    • Mae – Thank you. Yes, you are so right and how could I forget. I knew I was pushing myself too hard but it seemed life was requiring more and more. You provide an excellent example by using the oxygen mask first on an airplane. I’m definitely on the mend and am pacing myself as I move into recovery. I now have permission to spend a bit of time in my garden and can’t wait to see if the fairies are ready to dance. If they danced today for the May Pole when I wasn’t looking, I’m positive they wouldn’t have thrown trash down while they danced and I was away at the dentist!

  39. Lignum Draco says:

    Sorry to hear of this new set of woes. I’ve said it before, but you need to look after yourself, if not for yourself, then for your husband. I think you know what I mean.

  40. atempleton says:

    So glad you can still find the light inside you. Everything you said about caregivers is so true. Take care of yourself. For whatever it’s worth, hot lemonade (can be just frozen concentrate, made up and boiled) is a wonderful thing to sip when you have a sore throat. I raise a glass of it to you and Tom.

    • Thanks so much for the tip about the hot lemonade. I picked up a can last night and between the two of us, we finished the entire amount. Today I bought 6 cans. You gave me a brilliant idea as not only does it help with the throat but I have an especially dry mouth at all times. Sipping the hot lemonade brings more relief than anything I’ve tried so far and I’ve tried lots of different ideas.

      • atempleton says:

        Oh, good. I’m glad it’s helping. It’s an old remedy that my uncle and my mom used to favor. My uncle would buy the lemonade and bring it to our house and my mom would make it and give it to us whenever we were sick. And it worked! I always think of them whenever I recommend it.

  41. Arlene says:

    Hang in there Sheri. Sounds like some major curveballs indeed but you’ll get through this! Take care of yourself and get well so you will have the physical strength to focus on Tom. I’m sending you both good vibes and good health!!

  42. Jane Sadek says:

    You’ve been missed! I knew something had to be up, so you’ve been getting extra prayers from me – not that they seem too effective yet! DO take care of you. That’s one of the most important lessons I learned during my caregiving journey. You’re not dong your loved one any good when you ignore yourself, but I guess you’ve figured that out now.

    • Jane: Thanks for checking in on us after the tornado. That one was too close for comfort and they are getting more violent every year.
      I’m gaining ground each day with a little more energy. It’s been slow going. I spent two hours (my allowed amount of time) in the garden today and it felt really good. I was not ready to come in. Of course I never am and that’s one of my problems. I do hope all is going well in your world.

      • Jane Sadek says:

        Hunky Dory – writer’s conference here in DFW tomorrow. Pitching my book to an agent with fingers crossed. Next stop self-publication, but that’s not the way I wanted to do it.

        • Jane – How did the pitch go? I pray all went well. Don’t give up on landing your book with an agent or publishing house that’s small. If you didn’t land an agent, etc., send me an e-mail and I’ll send you info on a small press that continues to look for quality work. You may also call me. We’re in the phone book. Sheri

  43. Sheri–At your recommendation, I just followed Ajaytao. I hope this week finds you and Tom BOTH doing better and feeling more hope-filled. –John

  44. gpcox says:

    Once again, you and I agree. I am a follower of Ajaytao, I have no problem with saying Thank you or I’m sorry – but asking for help puts a knot inside my stomach even an Eagle couldn’t untie. I’ve been thru several sinus infections, but nothing along with Tom’s other complications. You are amazing for not only your understanding and endurance, but for your love.
    As always please give my best to Tom and a big hello to the vets – next time you see them – or even if they’re reading this now – HELLO!

    • Hi G.P.: Thanks for dropping by. I’m on the mend and actually went to the garden for two hours this afternoon. Pure heaven.
      Poor Tom, he was declared clear of the bronchitis and 2 days later here came another sinus infection. His immune system is simply gone.
      I have a great volunteer standing in for me at the VA. I’m getting great feedback but wouldn’t have left her in charge if I hadn’t felt confident of her commitment. Tom and I have a lot of catching up to do on our reading. My guess is that he’s way ahead of me because every time I go to look for my i-Pad, he has it! Sheri

      • gpcox says:

        It breaks my heart to know you and Tom are suffering so. I’m glad you were able to get out in the fresh air for awhile in the garden. I’m certain your volunteers are quite capable at the VA and you must miss the vets. If I yell out a personal hello to the vets in Arkansas – will they see it?

        • G.P.: You are so kind to offer. If you do a shout out to the vets in Arkansas on your site, they will definitely see it. They don’t have access to my blog unless they find it on their own. Most everyone knows I write a blog but I don’t advertise it among that particular population. I never want to post a blog having to do with the Veterans Administration and be the cause of the Veteran’s ever feeling less than. Our Veterans are to receive total warm fuzzes all the way.
          You know, those guys are so special and I’ve become attached to all of them. I appreciate the women veterans just as much, I simply haven’t been working with them as long. The latest victory for the women veterans is one of the volunteer wives (her husband is deployed of course) has located enough plush salons in Little Rock that all of the women may have their hair done (it can include color, special treatments they might need, cutting for a new style, and then a styling. The women may also have a manicure and pedicure if they wish. I am so pleased she was able to work out the logistics on this for 102 women.
          The volunteer came up with the idea on her own and went out and found the salons and they are good to go.
          Now the men want to go ‘out’ for hair cuts! Sheri

          • gpcox says:

            Sounds terrific! Just don’t get a Mohawk or Mullet for a WWII vet – I don’t think it would look too swift! Do you want a PS. added to my shout out from you and Tom?

            • G.P. – You are too kind. I’ve always made the Veteran activities about the Veterans and it’s your blog that started everything that’s going on. Tom and I have been a vessel to carry your work forward and it’s been perfect. I believe the shout out to the Veterans will be wonderful and let’s let them have all the glory. They more than deserve it.

              • gpcox says:

                You’ll need to give me their address for a Christmas card at least?

                • I’ll do that. I’ve been requested to put together a packet to train the remainder of the VA hospitals in AR, plus other states have been asking about the program. Look what you started! You’re positively a genius.

                  • gpcox says:

                    I read and write the posts – you applied everything into a program – talk about genius!!

                    • No, G.P. I’m not a genius by any sense of the word. I’m so proud of the men and women from the PTSD units. A few months ago, with the approval of the doc running the program, I challenged everyone that was physically able to look for places they could volunteer. Well, the level 4 tornado that came through here and destroyed so much, has the help of over 150 hospitalized veterans. The ones that are physically able are helping with clean-up and other things. Many have specialized skills they learned in the military and are having a chance to show civilian contractors and other important job related individuals just how talented and responsible they are. Other veterans that have lost limbs but are able to use iPads, etc. are filling out paper work for hundreds of people to help categorize what the most urgent needs are then passes that information on to a command post. I so hope the community as a whole will recognize these men and women making these valuable contributions and open up opportunities for employment.
                      G.P. – The beginning started with you and look at what’s going on now. It’s positively amazing. Veterans in wheelchairs with only 1 arm are passing out cold bottles of water! That young man is not feeling sorry for himself. He’s building his core muscles and that will enable him to go home to his young family that much sooner and re-engage with society.

                    • gpcox says:

                      Please forgive me, I do not have the words to express what I’m feeling right now. Thank you so much for telling me all this, but in my heart – I know – that kind of courage was within each one of those veterans long before I showed up! Maybe my site just reminded them who they were – our heroes! (I hope they saw the shout out, maybe I should put another?)

                    • G.P. – I promised Tom we’d catch up on reading your blogs this weekend – I am far behind. The messages left on our phone is that everyone is happy, happy. I hope to get to the VA one day next week. Sheri

                    • gpcox says:

                      I just received the AARP Bulletin and in it are letters from soldiers of different wars, their LAST ones, so sad, I decided NOT to post them on the site. But, in a little box back on page 36 is the address to nominate volunteers for the AARP Andrus Award for Community Service. Don’t you think we could nominate the vets? I don’t even know the hospital’s name, but these forms are due 1 June. at aarp.org/andrus This box was located beneath an article “Boomers Can Help in a Major Disaster” but is only about a Florida volunteer group.
                      What do you think?

                    • What a wonderful idea. Let me check with the psychiatrist in charge of the unit. I haven’t had hands-on with this particular adventure but have received glowing reports. We had heavy rains set in late yesterday afternoon and threat of tornado’s yesterday afternoon and night. It’s still raining. I’ll check and get an e-mail to you this weekend. TX for your support. The Vets are at the Little Rock VA Hospital known as Fort Roots.

  45. Hello, Michael – I took my i-Pad out to the patio last night and found peace in reading your poetry. I didn’t sleep all night but my body finally gave up the ghost of insomnia and I went to bed at 10:30 a.m. today. Elderberry syrup (my grandmother used to make it and she would stir it into our hot tea whenever she thought we needed it)! I think I’ll ask a friend at my local health food store to check for sugar free syrup for me. At this point I’m willing to try most anything. I hope to be back in the game soon.
    We escaped the F-8 tornado this evening by 9 miles. Thanks for reminding me of the Elderberry syrup. I thought it was simply a quirk of my grandmother’s but I also always knew she was the smartest woman I’d ever met. Have a great week. Sheri

  46. Gallivanta says:

    Oh my…..I do hope you are having some time to recover. The health and well-being of the caregiver is so important and yet so easy to push on to “I’ll take care of that later” list. Sending healing good wishes to you both.

  47. Life in this upside down world–hope you find peace in the mess. Lord, help.

  48. Oh Sheri, I am so sorry to hear your struggle has been even more complicated recently. Take care of yourself and be sure you are truly well. We will wait patiently for those welcome words. *thinking of you*

  49. Oh, Sheri, I am sorry to hear of your physical maladies. You just got your wake-up call, I guess, to take care of yourself. Otherwise how can you take care of Tom? Such a Catch-22 and such a difficult road you walk. And I understand your answer to the question, “How can you stay?”
    How can you not.

  50. Terry says:

    I kept seeing me the caregiver in your post. People kept telling me I was stong . Maybe I was emotionally but physically I wasn’ t. Today I am taking a medication from my doctor. Trying to let go of what I have been doing the past 8 years and to relearn how to live is very difficult for me now that Al has passes. Please take care of yourself. Rest when you can. Do not forget who you are. Hugs

    • Terry, How are you holding up my dear caregiving friend. Yes, Al has passed but it will take a very long time before your world will return to anything that resembles normal. Your entire day revolved around Al’s needs and there was no time left for you. I know how it is. It’s so easy to give ourselves away. There’s so much truth in that old saying, ‘loving someone more than life itself.’
      Take care of yourself Terry. I know it’s hard. Sometimes we have to do it 10 minutes at a time. With love, Sheri

  51. cindy knoke says:

    Oh Sheri I am so sorry. This sounds incredibly hard, draining and dispiriting. I am sending empathy, healing hopes, prayers and thoughts your way. Oh, and hugz too~

  52. Well, well sweet caregiver friend, I know this you speak of. Every bit of it. This year has been rough for me as well. We do march on no matter what but our bodies do suffer as a caregiver you always think just one more time and then I’ll rest. Then as you said your body makes you stop. I too have taken a rest from a lot of things and my girl right along with me. I put a lot of things/people out of my life that cause me undo stress and it has helped me to focus more on resting, praying and writing more. I too have been exercising more on purpose and then also eating right and getting some ME time. I’m so happy to read that you have given in to letting Sheri have some Sheri time. I love this post. I’ll be praying for you and Tom. Love and blessings to you sweet Sheri! ❤ 🙂

    • Michelle – Thank you for sharing your own experiences. Isn’t it strange what we allow ourselves to go through? I over-extended myself my entire career and took care of Tom also but I keep telling myself, ‘hey, you are retired now. It’s okay not to run from one room to another or it’s okay if I don’t fold that load of clothes right now.’ I was being far too hard on myself. It’s still difficult when I tell myself I must slow down but I know I must.
      Together, we will slow down. I will allow myself time to get adequate sleep, prepare the proper food, find the time to exercise and most of all – carve out time for the activities I honestly love.

  53. Hope you both are on the mend

  54. mihrank says:

    well done – wow – Something happens that you would never have expected. I guess that’s the whole point of calling the “unexpected” a curve ball… huh?

    • Yep – that’s the very reason it’s called a curve ball and the darn thing hurt. You know how we are supposed to give up on the idea of being invincible when we grow-up? Well, evidently I didn’t get that particular message and continued to march to the beating drums as if everything was normal. Now I have to admit to my blogging friends that I don’t always do what’s the best thing for me.
      Thank you for checking in and I’ll be back reading and commenting on blogs soon.

      • mihrank says:

        Sheri;

        Please allow me to thank you for responding back to me. You are in my prayers wishing you the best joyful and cheerful days to come. I look forward to hearing from you

        • Thank you. I’m mending and learning to pace myself a bit better. I find myself racing from one chore to another but at least I recognize what I’m doing and am able to stop myself. Thank you for the prayers and yes indeed, joyful and cheerful days are upon me. My garden is alive with roses in full bloom and iris are starting to open. Gardening gives me time to reflect on life and simply be alone with my thoughts.
          I do hope life is treating you well.

  55. Strong women (you being one of the strongest I’ve ever met in this blogosphere) think they are invincible. A commendable trait but it will burn out because…damnit….we just didn’t get the cape!
    Please let a friend give you a little break….be well. 🙂

    • Wouldn’t it be grand if someone was in charge of giving out capes to those of us who are starting to have a melt-down. Perhaps we could have a mini-cape in the early days of adult-hood because we ‘know’ anything is possible. But, by the time I was 45, I know I was more than eligible for a full-sized cape.
      I think perhaps you may have just come up with a great new idea for a cottage industry! After all, women make up 70% of all the cottage industries that survive beyond 10 years. I read that statistic just last night and found it intriguing.
      The same way wee-one’s love their blankets and carry them everywhere for years after they should have given them up (says society), we’d be able to promise little girls that someday they would earn a cape to use in any way they wanted.
      I want my cape to be washable then we could have a picnic near the Pacific Ocean along the Central Coast of California!

  56. ksbeth says:

    wow. sheri, wow. and please do take care of yourself. be a caretaker for yourself. hugs)

    • Beth – Thanks for the hugs and yes, I’m taking care of myself. I’m having to relearn and retrain myself all the things that kept me 100% healthy from back before I became a full-time caregiver. I’m not up to full-speed but I’ve learned that it doesn’t really matter if I have dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. They’ll still be there when I feel like loading the dish washer.

  57. You’re a much braver human than most of your species, and you’re worth more than gold. Take care of yourself like the treasure you are! *(purrs)* (and get a kat….. You need the help)!♥

    • Hi there: Thank you so much for stopping by. You are so right, I do need a cat. I’ve always had cats, as an adult, and then 3 years ago we lost all 3 of our cats 1 month apart. We honestly thought we were going to die. They were all rescues from when we lived in DC and we’d move them every time my work moved us.
      You are so right, I do need the help. I told a friend last night that I miss having a cat that will sit real close and not mind if you wiggle in your chair or lean a book up against them or any other sort of thing. I dearly love my shih tzu, and she loves to cuddle, but it has to be on her terms.
      Tom’s shih tzu is now the alpha animal. Before we lost Tom’s cat, Miss Scarlet O’Hara, she was the alpha animal in the house and she had no qualms of batting Scotter if she was unhappy with him. I’m afriad if we rescue another cat, Scotter would think he could chase it and I can’t allow that to happen.
      Thanks for dropping in, I feel better just getting to talk with someone that believes I need the help of a cat. I agree 150%!

  58. Thanks you for showing us unconditional love up close and personal. Blessings

    • Ann, Thank you so much for stopping in to say hello. In reading your posts and those of many of my Christian ‘friends’ I finally understood that I had taken back from God what I thought I could do better. My mantra has always been, God’s will be done. Somewhere in the past two years I had taken back the power bit by bit and I made all the decisions about Tom’s health and my own self-care. We can see how well that worked out, can’t we.
      I’ve been more tired than I can remember in years, but once I listened to the quite that surrounded me, I began to understand again, I do not have to do this alone. In my mind, church bells rang out. No, I wasn’t hallucinating. I simply gave back to God the ultimate responsibility that belonged to Him all along.
      How I forgot that all important Christian message? I have no idea. But, one thing I know for sure: God’s will be done. He’s in control at the de Grom household.

  59. Joel says:

    Sheri, my sister learned that lesson a couple years ago. She had been taking care of our mother and then took on the brunt of taking care of our dad after mom passed. Pneumonia is no fun. Add to that your other maladies and it sounds like your body was just crying uncle. Do take care of yourself. I know a lot of people will recognize themselves in your post. I’m praying for you.

    • Joel: Thank you for reading with me and most of all for the prayers. Caregiving is not for the faint of heart but it is for the love contained in the heart for those of us that love. I used to be a workaholic and took much of my frustration out on the cases I worked. I knew I was tired then, but this is an entirely different tired. Thank you so much for the positive thoughts, I’m working hard to turn both my physical and mental energy back into God’s hands. I’ve always done better when I’ve prayed my simple mantra of God’s will be done. It took years for me to finally realize I had to turn Tom’s disease to God. I cannot change the disease, I’m here to orchestrate His divine plan.

  60. . says:

    You have my heart and my compassion. we will be here for you, Love katie

  61. You are strong woman. It’s apparent your love made you the woman you are. You’re right you must take care of yourself. Glad you’re on the mend and thanks for letting us know what’s been going on.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words. I so wanted to blog something sooner but the energy was gone. I thought my brain had become wrapped in fog, everything was fuzzy and Tom still needed my help. I’ve taken the time to examine where I went off track and recognize I’m not good for me or anyone else at the pace and expectations I’d set for myself. I read some of your postings on the WordPress Class 201. I’d signed up before I started feeling so bad. I’ve read along here and there and have learned a lot. I need to read everything before the site goes down. It was really nice seeing your familiar face there.

      • I understand about not recognizing the signs your body is shutting down. Especially if you have a high tolerance to pain. I don’t know if blogging 201 is helping with readership. I get more people reading my poems instead of the responses to those nosey questions. Take time and heal.

  62. Too much to say to all of this. As usual, your feelings run the gamut and I am dragged through relictantly, but gratefuly in the end. Take care. Elderberry syrup works better than anything (i have this on the best authority). 🙂

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