Finding Time for Normal

Finding Time for Normal

I usually write my blogs on Saturdays because it’s the only time I don’t immediately have another obligation once I’m freed up from routine caregiving.  Today is beautiful outside-the sun is shining, the air is warm, no clouds on the horizon.  I see a few bees buzzing around and there are daffodils peeking out of the stems that survived the late season snows we had this year. As I look around, I yearn to go outside and create hanging baskets of bright colored flowers and set out other flowers bordering my house but as I think of indulging myself in those activities, I look at the clock on my computer…it’s already 1:11 p.m. Lynn will be up from his nap soon and need to eat.  I have clothes washing that will soon need to go into the dryer.  I have “x” number of reports to write for work, this blog to get out today, and I need to put away several boxes of supplies that arrived this week before my grandson visits in the morning.  I also wonder if I’ll have time to get to the library before it closes at 2 and I have a DVD to drop off (that is already on day five of late rentals).  Oh well, maybe another day I’ll be able to get outside.

Unfortunately, that’s how must days go for me.  I find it almost impossible to participate in the non-essential but normal routines of life. If it were not for the kindness of one of our friends, our yard would likely only get mowed once a summer when it absolutely had to be mowed in order for us to find the driveway.  I don’t actually plant flowers anymore because live plants require watering, feeding, and other care.  I don’t have time for that so I sit out artificial ones.  Artificial plants may be tacky by some people’s standards, but for me, it makes the place look cheery so I don’t really care if it’s tacky.

Another normal I don’t have time for is cleaning the house.  I wipe down space based on where I am when I have a fairly clean damp cloth.  I don’t vacuum or dust and spring cleaning…forget about it! Fortunately, I have found someone who will clean my home for a price I can currently afford and she comes every other week.  However, what she doesn’t touch; doesn’t get cleaned.  I just don’t have time to deal with what is not essential so I clean to prevent food poisoning; not to make my home look good.

Shopping; another normal Saturday activity—no can do.  To leave the house for any length of time means making sure Lynn is up in his chair (can’t leave him in bed sleeping because if there was a fire, he could not get out), see to his food and hydration needs, make sure he’s got what he needs either for entertainment or to work on his writing; put in an indwelling catheter (can’t risk something happening to keep me from getting back or his bladder could be damaged), and then shift my other duties around so I can make time for the store. This is an essential though, at least once a week, but truthfully, I try to do it when I have to be out for other reasons and, other than groceries, I do all my shopping on line—UPS and FedEx has me as a regular stop on their route, I believe.

Case in point, when I wrote the above, it was 1:30 p.m. Lynn called to get up from resting and it’s now 3:16 p.m and I’m just getting back to writing.  No, I didn’t make it to the library or to return the movie and certainly won’t make it to the store.  I have however, moved the laundry to the drier, moved the supplies to another room for storage, gotten Lynn up and settled at his workstation (about a 30 minute adventure) and fed him his breakfast (yes, this late) which also included preparation, feeding and clean up.  Oh, yeah, and I’ve cathed him twice so I’ve been busy with necessary caregiving; still no time for what everyone else would view as normal Saturday activities.

The reality is our “normal” is not normal to everyone else.  For us, “normal” is focused on essentials, comfort, and preparation for the next necessary event.  I’ve let go the expectation to have a clean house, made beds, folded clothes, stored away supplies, and dishes placed out of the way into the dishwasher prior to the end of the day.  That’s our normal and what it takes to survive without being frenzied. It takes some getting used to though.  I still like the other ways better but I’m learning to let go…some…of the wants and wishes of having that other “normal” be an option.

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Comments

View Comments (6)
  • mario lobo
    5 years ago

    Hi Donna.
    Thanks for consistently and eloquently putting into words the way that we MS caregivers feel, but often can’t explain. I feel overwhelmed much of the time, wishing that I could simplify my life and carve out more discretionary time. I happened to see these guys http://www.theminimalists.com/
    discussing minimalism on Book TV. I think they take the minimalist lifestyle to an extreme…an extreme that would add to, not reduce, my stress. But a lot of their ideas, taken individually, have been helpful to me. For example, they inspired me to try to go paperless at home. I’m just in the beginning phases but already I feel like I’m wresting control from those ever building piles of paper!
    Good luck and please keep the articles coming!
    Mario

  • Donna Steigleder moderator author
    5 years ago

    That’s a good point. I went paperless on my bills. I set up automatic payments on absolutely everything I could so I wouldn’t have to remember to write out a check or if he was in the hospital, I would know that was already taken care of. It really helps me to keep up.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski
    5 years ago

    Maintaining ‘House Beautiful’ standards was never high on my list before -it is definitely more of a challenge with the MS. Like you, I manage to stay ahead of where the health department needs to be called for an intervention. Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one who can de-prioritize dusting and vacuuming. Laura

  • Donna Steigleder moderator author
    5 years ago

    Yep, I try to keep the critters at bay and the odor below the level that Febreeze can’t cover…well maybe not quite that bad.

  • Kim Dolce moderator
    5 years ago

    Donna,

    Thanks for giving us yet another intimate and achingly honest glimpse into your life as a caregiver. Your strength and dedication are enviable.

    Kim

  • Donna Steigleder moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thanks Kim for always saying such nice things.

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