About three years after Pedro’s stem cell transplant I finally had the courage to search online and for the survival rates for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with central nervous system (CNS) involvement. What I found shocked me. (more…)
Only one person ever told me to take some time for myself during my caregiving journey. And when I took his advice and spent the night in a hotel while a family friend spent the night in the hospital room with Pedro, I paid the price the next day in listening to disgruntled ‘well-wishers’ who felt I should have called them or should never have left Pedro’s side nor ‘wasted’ money on a hotel room. (more…)
“Are you by yourself?” My sister asked me when I answered the phone. I could scarcely hear her over the whine of saws and the pounding of nails as we rushed to finish the house we had started on our lot.
I looked around and gestured (yes, I gesture when I talk on the phone), “Not exactly. What’s up?”
“Could you go somewhere private?”
“Yeah.” I hate conversations that start like this. My stomach chokes me with a sense of dread. My feet feel heavy and my heart pounds. I can’t help but get that, oh-no-I’ve-been-called-into-the-principal’s-office feeling. I went out the unfinished front door, crossed the street and sat on the trailer. (more…)
The pile of hospital bills proclaimed Pedro’s million-dollar-man status (I think I added them up once, and the grand total equaled about 1.5 million dollars). God blessed us through this entire time with steady employment for me, and an outstanding employer provided insurance plan. But the bills still created a burden.
About a year after Pedro returned from the hospital and his successful stem cell transplant, I woke up one morning and decided I’d had enough. Enough moping around the house whining about my weight. Pedro had regained his pre-cancer weight—but I hadn’t lost mine.
I’d walked 10,000 steps a day for a year, and although I felt healthier, I still hadn’t lost a magical ten pounds. I’d lost a measly one pound. I keep of my school picture from that year somewhere (I hide it from myself and only come across it occasionally) because it’s a reminder of who I had become—an unhappy, overweight, grumpy woman who had received so many blessings that she had no reason to look like she’d been sucking on lemons. (more…)
I thought my caregiver journey ended when Pedro came home from the hospital. But it didn’t. Not really. Yes, I had a new focus for my caregiving instincts, and life looked promising and full of hope.
While I acknowledged the incredible blessings in my life, I also continued to experience stress. Money caused the greatest stress—we had wonderful insurance, but insurance doesn’t cover incidental expenses such as travel to and from the hospital (the closest hospital that could adequately treat Pedro’s cancer was almost a thousand miles away), hotel rooms and food. (more…)
Some days, I just wished that Pedro could have stayed in the hospital for a few more months. And this made me feel terribly guilty. I wanted him home, where I could attend to his every need and ensure that he gained weight and made progress—and most of all where I could see that he had, indeed, survived another day.
But oh, my days just seemed to run together in an anxious blur. And no matter how much I hurried and multi-tasked and tried to accomplish things, I felt like the proverbial hamster on the wheel—getting nowhere the faster I went. (more…)
The funny thing about growing up in a conservative Christian community is that I never learned to share my faith—after all everyone I knew already believed the same things I did. I went to church with the same kids I went to school with. We had the same Bible classes from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
If someone asked me what I believed, I always happily shared, but I’ve never been the strike-up-conversations-with-strangers-about-Jesus kind of gal. Frankly, I suffered from fear. Fear of people not understanding. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of saying the wrong thing or offending someone.
It took almost losing my husband to give me confidence to share Jesus with strangers. (more…)
One of the biggest challenges came out of left field a month after Pedro’s successful stem cell transplant. My goal in telling this part of our journey is not to point fingers of blame or launch accusations—I simply want other caregivers (and potential caregivers—so that’s just about everybody) to know that wise people make provisions BEFORE disaster strikes and that harboring hate isn’t part of God’s plan.
We weren’t wise people. (more…)
In the interest of full disclosure, I wouldn’t want anyone to thinks that caregiving contains miracle after miracle and daily evidence of God’s intervention (although those things did happen time and time again).
Nor would I want anyone to think that caregivers live in a sheltered super-power-type world where quotidian concerns fall away while a halo slips into place.
Not at all. (more…)