Thursday, March 17, 2011

How to Manage Worry

Perhaps some people do not want to read this blog because it might cause them to worry.  What if this happens to my loved one? What if I get Alzheimer's and how will my spouse manage? I must confess that last year about this time my worry blossomed big time.

Then I started instead to learn all I could about the disease and make the best possible situation for DH (dear husband). I began going to an Alzheimer's Association support group once a month. Slowly I have begun to live for the moment--we camp now and we even went dancing with Jake and Sally! Bob on the Alzheimer's Reading Room advises to live your life as you always have. I became concerned for the concerns of others. Today DH and I  visited Sue whose husband has both Alzheimer's and cancer. The life of a caregiver is not all about worry. Some call changes the new normal.

I am determined to not be a worry wart. I have been immersing myself in Scripture. How does Scripture help me? It  helps me, for one thing,  accept my imperfections, my sin, and do something about it. Scripture helps me not to be proud about anything I can do, be, or become and gives me guidelines to help me live out my faith, to be obedient and content with my calling as a caregiver. Scripture helps me cope. I post Scripture highlights on my Facebook notes every day now since the beginning of January.

Last Monday morning I was going to substitute teach at two schools (one in the AM and one in the PM) and had too much to do to get out of the house. I started feeling sorry for myself (sinning), barking orders at DH--get my watch, plant flowers today so they won't die, don't forget to take your pills, eat your breakfast and please make your lunch--I don't have time! He can't handle all those verbal orders and inside of me I knew that I needed to be calm with him. I was as angry at all I was having to do just as I read earlier that morning about Balaam in the Old Testament book of Numbers.  Balaam beat his donkey for not obeying him. But with the Scripture reading I saw that Balaam had to learn to do ONLY what God wanted him to do. To get through to Balaam God even had to have his donkey talk to him! I had to see that I can only do so much and it's okay--what does God want me to do or not do?  I called DH and apologized for my short-tempered barking out of orders to him.  Everything worked out fine on Monday and even when I came home my husband, who is often unmotivated, had put flowers in the planter boxes! Christ uses Scripture to work out sancification (His best) in my life and helps me calm down with input such as the story o Balaam.

Isn't worry justifiable, understandable, for the caregiver?  I am taking a class on anger, worry and depression. One of the books for the course is called Down, But Not Out: How to Get Up When Life Knocks You Down, by Wayne A. Mack. Mack has the nerve to call worry a sin but says we can overcome it! We learn first that the foundation for overcoming anxiety is a personal, vital relationship with Jesus Christ, he writes. Putting struggles in perspective he continues:

As believers, we have trusted God for our salvation, for forgiveness of sins, and for a guarantee of eternity in heaven. Why then are we not willing to trust Him for our food and clothes and health and all these other things [a husband with Alzheimer's] that are of infinitely less important than our salvation? (p. 72) . . . When we experience anxiety, we need to make sure that we surround ourselves with godly people who can encourage and admonish us. In other words, people who can lift our spirits but who can rightly point out our sin in a loving manner. (p. 77)
So many people who comment here do lift my caregiver's spirits. Above all,  God can be trusted with the road ahead and my worry will not add to the outcome. The Lord has led in the past. There is nothing He and I cannot handle together.

Wonderful Scripture supports this peace the believer can have.  Mack himself expounds on Philippians 4:6, 7:
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. New Living Translation
Worry can be managed, folks. What Scripture or techniques help you?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Care and Comments

I am reading a book called Down, But Not Out for a counseling class I am taking, hoping to get some insight. I need to write about my own down times and receive counsel and prayer. Alzheimer's is not going away--it is a slow death and certainly stressful for us caregivers. They say Facebook is in and blogging is out. However, friends and family, did you ever think that blogging is the best way for caregivers and for Alzheimer's sufferers such as Joe--trust me on this. Blogging gives caring people opportunities to pray specifically. We say thank you, LORD, when someone comments.

This morning I read in Numbers 11 how Moses cried out to the LORD,

I can't carry all these people by myself. The load is far too heavy!

The LORD listened to Moses and told him to find seventy leaders to help and that they will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone. Even Moses needed support though he had wonderful communication the LORD.  Maybe it is okay to try to recruit more followers who will pray, care and comment on Plant City Lady and Friends--followers who will say sometimes,

"Carol, Sally, Dolores, Sue, and Lynn, is there anything we can do?"

Anyone out there? We need you.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Saga Ten

Jake and Sally are experienced campers and they have sold us their 1987 Jayco popup camper for only $50 with the hopes that both couples can camp together. I have arranged, in the last month, for the popup to get new tires and have attempted to repair the canvas. On order from Jayco are clamps to keep the roof down while traveling.

The two couples plan a camping trip to a nearby campground for Friday through Sunday, March 4th-6th, to test out the used popup. All week long Sally and I wonder how the camping trip will go.  I wonder if this will be the time that DH will wander away and someone will notice his ID bracelet and contact me.

Sewing Didn't Work and So a Duck Tape Try
Tuesday before camping.  It rains while the raised popup is up in our backyard. There are still leaks that I took note of. Then while using a hair dryer to soak up some rain in the popup, the electricity goes out. Jake fixed this before and so I would ask him again to do this on the camp out. I buy extra fuses. I do what I can to patch. Still I don't know if this trip will happen.

Thursday. Tension.  DH wakes up and wants to know if Jayco has installed the clamps. "We aren't going if you don't have those clamps. You are trying to pull something over on me," he says.  Meanwhile the same day Jake does not pass his Alzheimer's DriveABLE test although he is scheduled to pull their camping trailer that next morning. (This is the yearly test that my husband passed in October and will need to take again in the fall.)  Will this trip actually happen? The park has no reservations and so we have to get there at 8 am the next morning to be sure we get sites. Thursday night we assume that DH will drive for Sally and Jake and I will pull our popup. Jake doesn't trust Sally's driving. He sputters about not being able to drive.

Friday--first camping day.  DH does not want to drive our popup to Sally and Jake's home and leave it in the street because he can't move it into their yard. We decide that we will go to Sally and Jake's home without our popup.  Sally comes with me back to our home in our car.  DH and Jake follow with DH driving. Jake is livid about not driving, but helps DH hook up our popup to our car. Reluctantly Jake agrees to let Sally drive their car and pull the trailer, saying that some official is crazy for not letting him drive. Both men are in the passenger seat now and on the way to the campground  Jake tells Sally it looks like the women drive now. My husband meanwhile sympathizes with Jake and the men are able to discuss those driving tests later. (DH could have pulled our popup legally, but we wanted to support Sally driving by my driving.) 

What else will upset our husbands? We have our husbands back up the campers to the site and it looks like we might actually have an enjoyable three days. It becomes just that and also a time for the men to tell each other the same stories over and over because neither one remembers the stories of the other. Sally and I are able to observe a lot about our husbands and also share a lot with each other on our private walks. Jake is able to forget his not driving and enjoy himself, althought DH is able to share his feeling about driving with us all. He says he enjoys being driven around now. I am not sure yet if Jake has adjusted to his own not driving.

Saturday we go into town to a craft fair at a church that Jake built when he was a contractor and I take a picture of  him by the sign of that church. Jake cooks hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and makes a fire for us all in the evenings. On this short trip I drive our Expedition--no husbands demanding to drive.

Sally and I basically share the cooking. For the first meal, a lunch, I make toasted cheese sandwiches with coconut oil on the outside of the bread. I also have a simple "Mediterrannean" salad of lettuce, Craisins, walnuts and feta cheese served with light ranch dressing. I loaned Sally The Coconut Oil Miracle and was pleased that Jake liked the toasted coconut oil cheese sandwiches.

While camping we plan two other camping trips with them. They have reintroduced us to camping and I am so happy that my husband loves being retired and doing this now.

We make it through the first night, despite the fact that Jake couldn't repair the electicity in the popup. We do have air conditioning when we want it because that circuit is separate.

DH on the Inside and Me Pushing
on the Outside
Finally we work togeher!
Saturday DH and I repair that leak that he has noticed. We use adhesive fabric spray and canvas. He is not upset this time about the shape of the canvas. We have survived one night, despite no electricity.

Our dog has come along for his first camping trip and he proves to adapt well to this experience until it starts to rain the second night about 1:00 AM.  Buckets of water come down. I wait for drips in the popup, but it appears that we will be dry, although I won't get out of the popup to use the campground bathroom during this rain. (Ask me privately about my funny adventures with using the port-a-potty in the middle of the night and emptying that port-a-potty in the morning.)

Jake tells us that he bets we will upgrade to a better camper shortly, but Sally and I do not know now long we can enjoy camping vacations with our Alzheimer's husbands. I am just glad if this vintage popup will last until the fall, to tell you the truth, and provide "Living in the Moment" happy events. May the LORD be with us.

So they camped or traveled at the LORD's
command, and they did whatever
the LORD told them through Moses.
Numbers 9:23 The Living Translation

Postscript. Sally did drive home. Jake did not object as much as she feared. I guess that the experiences that DH had may have helped Jake, that is, if Jake can remember what DH said.