Caregiver Perspective: It's Snowing
It’s been the talk for days. “Have you heard? We might get a foot of snow.” The prediction was for it to start before sunrise on Friday, then changed to 10 a.m., and then to 1 p.m. Two days before the snow was predicted, lines at the grocery store were wrapped around and down aisles. All were preparing for the great storm to come.
For those of you who live in the north, a foot of snow is, “Much to do about nothing,” I’m sure, but for those of us in Central/Eastern Virginia, we rarely get deep snows so for us it’s truly a big event. There’s a mixture of excitement but then also dread for the days after. Our road and power crews do an awesome job and truly do their best to keep everything moving but since snow storms happen so rarely, they only have so much available to them. With this storm in particular, it was predicted to hit all of Virginia so pulling from one area to another is not really a possibility. Therefore, I had to plan for whatever might happen knowing we would be on our own for a while out here in rural Virginia.
How do I prepare for the storm of the decade? Probably like most people but being a caregiver adds a dimension others may not consider. I actually serve as a caregiver to two people now; my spouse and my Mom. My spouse, Lynn, is a functional quadriplegic due to progressive MS and my Mom now has cancer. Mom and Dad live five hours away but come to my house for chemotherapy and other treatment and I oversee their health care from afar. Therefore, as the storm was approaching I also added them to my planning process since they were due to come to my house for chemotherapy three days after the storm was to stop and their area was due to get up to 2 feet of snow. Here’s where my organization skills kick in….
Two days before the big storm was to arrive:
- Made sure all the needed essentials for the generator were in place.
- Moved shovels to the attached garage from the shed.
- Brought in outdoor things that might be impacted by deep snow.
- Made sure the vehicles were fueled and pointed toward the road.
- Filled all gasoline containers in my possession with gas in case the power went out (if you’re prepared, it’s less likely that the power will fail, I’ve discovered).
- Went to the grocery store. (ugh)
One day before the big storm was to arrive:
- I had to go into my work office that day so I picked up things at the other grocery store we used that were not carried by the grocer near my house.
- Made sure I had more than what I thought I’ld need of Lynn’s medical supplies.
- Cooked and froze meals…just in case.
- Filled flashlights with batteries.
- Made sure all his medicines were sufficient in case we were unable to travel for a week.
- Called to check on my parents.
Now, I figured my parents were actually going to be fine. They are more than used to preparing to survive for long periods of time but then again, Mom’s pretty weak now and Dad needs to stay close by so it’s best to be safe rather than sorry, so I called home to check. I knew they recently had an automatic generator connected to their house so if their power failed, they should have heat and if the snow was too deep to come to Richmond for the appointment, we had already cleared with her doctor that we could get it rescheduled.
I’m so glad I called.
The gas company was swamped and they had not been able to get a delivery for the generator. They also did not want to have to reschedule the oncology appointment since Mom has been having some complications from the medication. I could tell Mom was feeling nervous about it all so I suggested that IF they wanted to rush and put some things together, they could beat the storm due the next morning and come stay with us. I knew our generator was ready and we had a freezer full of food just in case. I told them to think about it while I picked up some of Lynn’s supplies and come if they wanted but know it was not essential because we could always reschedule the appointment. Less than five minutes later, I got a call saying they were coming. I added a few essentials to my groceries for them (ice cream, chips, and donuts – my Mom has a sweet tooth) and came home to finish preparations for the next morning.
The night before the big storm:
- Did laundry so clean clothes would not run out for a several days.
- Completed any tasks that might be difficult with limited power (we have a generator but don’t want to use it for nonessentials).
- Waited for Mom and Dad to arrive (they got to my house around 10 pm after driving straight through from their house starting at 6 p.m. so they made excellent time)
- Took our showers and got ready to wake up to snow.
The morning of the big snow, we woke up to none. In fact, there was even a little sun peeking out.
However, as predicted around 11:00 a.m., the snow came and came and came.
As I write this blog, we have been having wintery weather for over 24 hours and have about 9 inches of snow so far. We have power. I’ve canceled all of Lynn’s possible appointments for the next week because there is no way I’m shoveling all that snow off the ramp in order to get him to the van; not to mention that the van rides so low to the ground I would never be able to get us out of the driveway anyway. We are pigging out on junk food (just cooked cinnamon buns and they are delicious) and are leisurely enjoying our snowy afternoon. All my charges are home safe and sound and we’re prepared to endure the storm and aftermath. I’m feeling blessed and content and safe; snow or no snow.
Does your employer provide workplace accommodations due to your MS?