Well…I am woefully late with this article! So, we will call this June/July’s thoughts.
I typically sit down to write with something specific on my mind. But today I have several voices in my head. I hear the caregivers arriving for boxing who all greet each other with, “How are you today?” To which the universal response is: “EXHAUSTED”! I hear the caregiver at the support group who barely kept the tears from her eyes when she said she can’t even go to the bathroom without being interrupted for something. I hear the caregiver who is afraid of the inevitability of the impending assisted living placement when he promised himself that he would care of his wife himself. I hear the caregivers who all agree they simply are not taking good care of themselves because, who has the time, or energy, seriously! And I hear the love and compassion in every one of these voices for their loved one with PD.
What is the common thread to all of these voices? There are several commonalities: a loved one with PD, a call for assistance, a feeling of loss, a longing for their former lives with their healthy loved one. These are just a few. But I also believe these caregivers are shouting for a pause in their lives from time-to-time, or perhaps daily. A pause to breath, a pause to deal with their owns needs and wants, a pause from being responsible for another’s wellbeing, a pause so they can NOT think for a little slice of time. Just a simple pause.
I do not have a magic wand or pixie dust to make this happen. Perhaps just acknowledging pause as a goal is a small step in the right direction. We each need to create our own pauses in our own ways. I tend to bury myself in books. I find I can tune out (mostly) the outside world and live within the pages of a well written book. Not forever, but for little slices of my week. I am also a life-long and proud night owl. Whereas my husband and my Dad tend to head to bed around 10 p.m., I savor the quiet hours from 10 until 12. Even though I may pay when I crawl out of bed the next morning with everyone else.
There is an interesting book written by a friend of my Dad’s. The book is titled, The Power of Pause, and is written by Terry Hershey. It was not written with caregivers in mind, but it is amazingly relevant nonetheless. The author tells a story at the beginning of the book about an American who traveled to Africa on a safari. The traveler had maps, timetables-an agenda. He hired local tribesmen to carry supplies and navigate. For three days all of them traveled far and fast. On the fourth day the tribesmen simply refused to move. The American was incensed that they were wasting time. Finally, the translator told the American the tribesmen were waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies. The author goes on to discuss how silence and space can heal, can represent sanity. He concludes we all need time to pause, to quit what we are doing in our busy world, to create uncluttered time, for our own sanity.
Give pause a try. And be good to yourself.