We were on vacation when I wrote this blog this week. I was not able to post a blog this week because, unknown to us, the condo we use changed their practice this past year and each home owner is now required to provide their own internet service to their renters. The home-owner for the one we rented, apparently decided internet access was a non-essential amenity for their guests (I found out later that most initially believed that to be the case but most are changing their minds now with all the complaints). Fortunately, the condo office allows you to come to their lobby and “borrow” access while there. Unfortunately, for some reason, I could not get my computer to work with their service (probably my limited knowledge of computers being the “fault” in this case.)
Every year I look forward to vacation and being at the beach. Lynn’s son and fiancé, goes with us as well as my daughter, her husband, and this year we have the addition of our new grandson. The family time is wonderful and something I really look forward to but vacations now are very different from years gone by.
First off, the preparation is different…all preparation, along with all the daily activities of our home-life are my responsibility. Periodically, Lynn would provide instructions like…”don’t forget my small white fishing rod,” (which I forgot) and “I want to bring the red and blue weights to use to work out…no change that to the small and large gray ones…no I think the red and blue ones will be enough…” By the time I finished packing, I had ½ a suitcase of clothing for myself, my computer, and a few books (none of which I had the opportunity to read other than a few chapters in one) and everything else was about Lynn. I brought an extra-large cooler for all his specially prepared food; clothes for hot, cool, cold, and warm conditions plus layers for in-between; exercise equipment; shower and toileting equipment; his medication and supplements (which aren’t a few); his peddler (plus a spare in case one broke); his foot massager; catheter supplies; nebulizer and supplies; spare wheelchair; spare cushion for power chair; charges for all aforementioned equipment; a microwave for our room; and many other miscellaneous supplies. Yes, I packed our house. I barely had room for us in the van!
Then the drive down is very different. He used to do all the driving because I get very sleepy when I drive. Now I do all the driving and just being the passenger is extremely tiring for him. It’s a debate whether to stop and let him out of the van to rest or to keep going so he can lie down when we get there. Since we were traveling with a new baby in the car behind us, we stopped a few times for feeding and coffee for me so I could stay awake before we decided to travel separately. Once we got to the condo, it was time to unpack and arrange everything…no small feat.
It took almost two days for Lynn to recover from the trip. During that time he needed almost constant attention…and he seems to think I’m the only one who can do anything for him. By Monday night, I was in tears. My family vacation was no more than me in a room with the door shut (because Lynn was cold) taking care of Lynn’s every need and him being unhappy because he didn’t have access to the internet, the cable package in the condo was limited, and he felt lousy, exhausted, and miserable. Plus he decided he would try standing up with the help of our son and son-in-law…which didn’t work at all, so he was depressed about that. What a vacation!
I finally spoke up and shared my depression about spending our entire vacation shut up in a room with our children in the next room but inaccessible to me. He realized what he was doing and then it got better. He came out of our room each night after that point for us all to watch a movie together plus I put in an indwelling-catheter two days and managed to go to the pool for an hour (where I slept). In fact, I’ve spent a lot of time on this trip sleeping. I think my body is trying to tell me something.
So after a rough start, things got better. The others put in a lot of effort to make sure I had some “me” time. I had to remind Lynn periodically that others, besides me, could help him when he needed it but he would better at asking others for help when I reminded him of that fact. Plus on Thursday when he tried to stand up again, he actually did better. He could not really stand but he was almost there, so he was more satisfied with his efforts. We also watched “JAWS” together and had a JAWS breakfast in honor of the meal scene in the movie. It was a very nice time of family sharing.
One morning we got up at 5 to go fishing but by the time he could get ready, the sun was too hot and that trip was cancelled. We tried again the next day, skipping some of his morning routine, and he managed to be on the pier for about two hours before he had to come in. He was too tired to hold his own rod though which was a disappointment. He tried twice but just didn’t have the strength to control it.
Today is the day after we got home. I’m exhausted and irritable from the unpacking and trying to get caught up. He’s exhausted and irritable from the traveling and being very needy but I guess things will settle in soon. It’s good to be home though where at least he can get on the internet to entertain himself and watch his favorite programs.
So, “Was this vacation?” Yes, it was…and one was able to enjoy periodically. Different from the ones in years gone by but one still full of family and love and occasionally relaxation…just different from what we did in the past.
… Just another adaptation that comes with being a family caregiver.