Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Airport Respite

Wow, it was almost too good to be true… and so it was… At Victoria airport enjoying the bliss of the upper observation lounge. When I got here it was sooooooooooooooooooooooooo quiet. Almost the only person here, and total silence. No music. Occasional announcements, but that’s ok. It must be sound proofed, because even the planes seem muted. For about 30 minutes it was like that, and I relaxed. Truly relaxed. It’s something I need. I need more of.

Then 2 women with 2 toddlers arrived. And the silence was shattered. I don’t resent them at all, they have as much of a right to be here as I do – and perhaps even more if they have airport business! I don’t even resent the kids screeching, cuz what else is a kid supposed to do?

But, oh, how I missed the quiet. And I felt a sudden stab of yearning for that silence.

Then a dozen more people. Maybe half that, but if feels ‘full’ in here. Again, no feelings of wishing they would go away (or not much) but just brings to mind how much I crave silence.

Just as I crave time alone.

I don’t know what to do without it.

30 years of living alone.

I misssss it.

______________

What I am doing is taking a mini-respite break. Mom has an evening worker with her tonight: they make her dinner, entertain her (great when they are readers, as tonight’s one is), give her a wash and settle her in for the evening. I am delighted she enjoys them so much. For the most part, these are different workers than the day girls – I’d like to say a different kind of worker – perhaps because they are booked through a private service (subcontracted by the health authority), so I think they are doing it for different reasons. Last night mom had a girl read her poetry. What bliss for her.

I say girls but, of course, they are women. And when there’s enough time to get to know them, really interesting women.

And mom blossoms.

She is a lot more social than she perhaps thought she was.

And they all adore her.

How lucky I am, to be caretaking for such a sweet mom as mine (ours).

___________

Getting noisier by the minute… but I am now in a zone. Liking it as much as if I’d wandered in here and found it like this: busy, alive, noisy – ah, there’s my little cocoon spot in the corner, all mine.

Perhaps best I experienced both extremes tonight, on my first night here, so I will happily accept it when it’s a busy spot – and will really appreciate it when it is quiet.

I think I may be able to find this place empty at times.

I look forward to that.

One of the most interesting challenges of this process for me is going out to relax. As in, there is a care worker in for mom, and I get a break. So… what do I do?

I have always been someone who really does relax at home. What regenerates me is unstructured time alone at home. Or wherever I am hanging my hat at the moment. I have always been like this. Figured it out a long, long time ago.

And while I can stay home when care workers come in – morning or evening – it’s probably more important to get out. I know that. But it can seem artificial sometimes.

Because there really isn’t a perfect place to go.

Mornings I have gone out for breakfast, often taking my laptop and writing to kill time.

To do chores is to, well, do chores. And going to stores doesn’t restore me.

I’ve made it a point to not use the time for household chores or doing things for mom during these times… but as much as I am totally used to being on my own and not even notice it, to get up and get dressed and go out just to be out has an odd awkwardness to it.

Especially at those times when I just want to curl up and sleep.

Sometimes I do. At home.

But I know out is good.

Early on, I had a couple of the careworkers tell me that I really needed to get out. I think they could read it on my face, sense my need to get away. I appreciate their encouragement. It really helped me in the early days.

Now with winter, and now that I am working, it really is easiest to just tuck into my room in the mornings, and either sleep in, or enjoy the radio, or reading, or dig into work.

And when my sister is here, staying home is more the norm than going out in the mornings.

Though I still do get out. I feel like I have a morning rhythm now – even though it’s a little of this and a little of that.

Evenings, well, less so, still getting that worked out. For a few nights when my sister was here, we’d go out for dinner, which was fun… but it gets expensive, and more than once I just found myself wanting to curl up and go to sleep after dinner – just not that easy to do sitting on a bar stool.

Last night, I stayed home. Took some snacks into my room, turned on my radio, chilled. It was very restful, and I was able to separate. But tonight I thought it made sense to go out.

So…. After planespotting for awhile, decided to come hang out here in the airport’s observation lounge. It was the best choice so far. Very comfortable (big leather armchairs), aboriginal art, view of the tarmac and departure lounges – and the taste of travel in the air.

It’s about as close as I get to travelling these days, so it feels good.

And I think I could relax here.

When I think of all the other options, it really is the best. The library is good, but not all the time. Restaurants are ok, but they cost money and you can’t really put your feet up (only metaphorically). A pub is good, but can’t have more than one drink and can get tired of them. Going out for coffee is fine, but you can only do so much of that, and it doesn’t work in Sidney in the evenings!!! (they roll up the sidewalks here by 8…) Have done my share of sleeping in the car. Or driving around crying at others. What a mixed bag. I’d like to be at the point where I am going for a swim, still looking forward to creating that.

But what do you do when you want to relax for an hour. And you can’t be at home? Not complaining, just observing and trying to work it out. Because it is important to be restored when all is said and done.

This is good. And they have a sweet $1 2-hour parking thing going on.

Stepping back, this is one of the things that surprised me most about being a caregiver: what one does to relax when one gets some time off.

I have tried without success to find a crash pad. My dream has been for someone with a spare bedroom, or a studio, or some separate space in their home (or a furnished place empty a few days a week) where I could hang out: crash, read, relax, sleep, watch tv – just like being at home. Well, sort of. But after a year, and a few expressions of interest, still nothing. Of course, I am looking for an angel who will lend that to me, versus paying for it. I won’t give up, but man on man, what a haul.

If you read this, and you have a spot like that, wherever you live, know that there is a caregiver (or 12) in your community who would kill to be able to make use of it. To donate space to a careworker has to be one of the greatest gifts someone can give.

Ok, enough yattering. This place has died down to about ½ the people and ½ the noise, and it’s ok.

________________

Just re-read all that. Interesting jumble of thoughts. But there you go.

There I go.

Great lounge, I was able to see the pilots – I can see pilots right now! – on a plane that pulled up to get 9 here. Kind of cool.

And this lounge just totally emptied out.

I am here totally alone.

Bliss has returned.

I create my own bliss.

But here is a gem.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reflections of a Frustrated Blogger

I described myself in a tweet this morning, as a "frustrated blogger" (@citytravelbug). Hadn't thought of it that way before. But I am currently in limbo waiting for a phone call, so why not dig into that?

I am frustrated because I don't seem to have time to blog these days... but is that really it? I am frustrated because I am not blogging. I don't have a lot of time these days, true, but it's not that hard to do, as long as I have more of a free flowing blog, than a "composed" one. Which I'd planned (ha ha) to do anyways. So, what's stopping me?

Out of the habit is the biggie.

If I am in the habit, then it's no big deal to pop open my laptop and just write. Somewhat journal like. Not so crazy, considering that blog comes from weblog, which is an online log, or journal. Blah blah blah... enough intellectualizing!

Right now I am waiting for a call back about whether I can get a couple more days of respite care at Piercy Respite Hotel for my mom. Breaking all protocol here, but hopefully it will work out. Sometimes you just gotta trust your gut.

Was due to pick up mom this morning, but she had a fall yesterday. Not too serious, but was at the hospital with her for awhile yesterday while they stitched her up and checked her out. While we were doing that, she offered to stay another night or two, to give me a bit more respite time (also had a burst hot water tank this week, hardly real 'turn off the real world' kind of respite!)... I knew they had had a whole whack of time open the other day, as someone cancelled last minute (mom had already stayed one extra day as it was)... so I called the nurse last night. It appears that mom's room is available for 2 more nights, but that can't be confirmed until the booking person looks. Just called, and there's a relief person on, so won't know for a bit. The only thing is, I should have already left and be picking her up right now if they can't keep her longer. So a bit of a pickle of a delay if I hear I need to go get her, but I am crossing my fingers and toes. Anyways, that's the "I gotta trust" part of it.

Oh, on the falls, I was also tweeting this morning about: how do I get used to the falls, how do I keep my heart from getting stuck in my throat each time she has one. She's fine. Me, well, sheesh!!!
This is mom all loaded up to be taken back to Piercy - and the guys put the Christmas lights in the back on for her. Not a clear pic, but it was a nice moment, all 4 of us were laughing: her, me and the 2 paramedics (both cute). On that note, I told mom she didn't have to fall to get attention from some nice young men! She had 4 yesterday, 2 each way. And I told her not to be disappointed when she got women sometimes ;-)

There I go, composing again... the decision to add a couple of pics did it to me...

So........ to the frustrations part of it....

How did I get out of the habit?

It IS partially time, but I realize exactly where it started.

At the end of July my mom had a fall. And I kept it from my sister because: a) mom was "ok", b) mom asked me to, and c) my sister was off to the UK for 6 weeks in September and we both knew she would worry worry worry worry worry to the point of not enjoying her trip if she knew. It killed me a little not to tell her, but agreed to after talking with my brother and sleeping on it. And I agreed to do that as long as I didn't have to stay silent about "everything else".

The world here changed a lot here after that fall. After the first week or so of carrying on alone, totally scared that mom would fall again, and me straining my back as I assisted her, we got help. And the daily morning workers started. And some other adjustments were made around the house. Now we were supposed to get a home care assessment done sometime soon anyways, so I was able to tell my sister about those changes under those auspices (is that the right word? It's one I say but never write... oh well, for once I don't care...). (She never suspected a thing: had a great trip, and was surprised to learn about it afterwards... and totally understood, and appreciated the decision). Glad that bit is over though. Siblings have so much to do in partnership when caretaking a parent, holding something back generally doesn't help. And just felt odd to not speak of it.)

That was all going on about the time I wrote this blog entry: Grace. I had to write about it. I couldn't say nothing. My blog would have felt totally unauthentic to me if I just glossed over what was happening. So I chose my words veeeery carefully. Almost too carefully, I thought, as it felt a bit contrived, but it's also one of the most special posts I've done about my mom, because it captures the spirit of her, her heart, the fun we have (had?). Such a shame, the fall occurred the day after the pictures of this outing were taken. Mom was SO HAPPY that day!!!! She talks of it often. She talks of wanting to go back. But it won't be the same. and it's not that easy. Thinking of how happy it made her makes me all happysad. I start to cry as I write this. Her joy fills me with joy. And I feel so sad sometimes, thinking of her losses.

Okey dokey.....

Anyways... although I got my wish, of being able to share enough with my sister that I didn't feel I was lying to her... and to be able to have enough out in the open that I could blog about how my world was changing... in the end, being careful with my words was really really hard. And as I look back now, I never wrote another blog post after that all fall (well, not the heart stuff anyways).

that brings up a whole other realm of stuff for me, which I'll reflect on later.

For now, I am going to relax a bit, as I got my call back (she can stay), and I got a blog post out, so I am starting the ball rolling. Though who knows what will come! One thing I want to do is share what caregiving is like, to share our journey, and just put stuff out there as I adapt and work stuff out.....

ok, all 4 now...