Preparing for the Week Ahead

Always be Prepared.  That was the Scout motto when I was a kid and one I’ve taken to heart for survival purposes now that I’m a caregiver. The need to always have a “plan B” keeps me on my toes and planning ahead for the “just in case” life I now live.

Today is Saturday.  So far this morning, I’ve spent the majority of my time cooking large pots of vegetables.  I try to keep several containers of all the essential foods Lynn has to eat each week in the freezer.  By cooking in large quantities, I can work up to the last minute and pull a meal together out of the refrigerator or freezer without needing too much lead time. In fact, I have a freezer in the garage devoted to his food.  I usually cook about 15-20 servings of something at a time and put them in individual sized plastic containers. I then slap on a label of what’s in it and when I cooked it and off it goes to the freezer to be stacked with the others of its kind.  I do the same with my meats. I fill my oven with the meat of choice then create 3-4 ounce servings for use at a later time.  Then for the meal, I pull containers, dump them on a plate, cover in tin foil and wa la, I have a meal to throw into the oven to slowly heat till I’m ready to serve.

I’ve got a similar process for clothing.  Lynn has certain clothing that he prefers to wear. After discovering what styles and fabrics don’t annoy him due to binding here or a twist there, I buy lots of them to have on hand so I only have to wash clothes twice a week.  He doesn’t have much variety but he doesn’t seem bothered by that.  He’s into comfort and I’m into ease of care and together, it works out well for us both.  Therefore, I have a drawer full of gray toe socks (individual warmth for each toe), button V neck ¾ length sleeve baseball-style T-shirts, and stretch base-ball slider shorts that have slight padding on each side which protects his skin as he moves in the wheelchair.  Each part of his wardrobe is specifically designed to accommodate his special needs.

For short trips to the doctor (which is about the only place we go anymore), I have a tote bag that comes along.  Much like the diaper bag Moms carry for their young, I have a bag full of necessities.  I carry enough catheter kits and supplies for the number of times I expect he will need to have his bladder emptied while we are gone. But I also carry two extra of everything, just in case, AND an indwelling catheter insertion kit and catheter in case the car breaks down and I have to use up my spare intermittent catheter supplies. Besides catheter supplies, I carry a spare change of clothes, wipes, and an air pump in case the air cushion he sits on springs a leak. (For longer trip, I actually take an extra air cushion with me.)

Whenever I order something that he needs, I order two—one to use and a back up. I have a variety of bandages and wound care products, lotions, splints, pads, tapes, etc. that I keep on hand so I have what I need at the time I need it. I have found that what works on one open skin area doesn’t always work on another.

I’ve also started having an extra medication tray.  I always put together the weekly medication box on Friday night but recently I decided it would be a good idea to have a spare.  That way if I’m sick or hurt, his meds are already set to go.

As you can see, I have to always be thinking ahead.  What I need this minute may be entirely different the next and like a good Girl Scout, I want to be prepared.

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