Saturday, June 9, 2012


*Please Know*
*I am in no way patting myself on the back.
*I am in no way insinuating that I am the only person who cares for my in-laws.
*The intent of this post was to say that I don't understand all the "pats on the back" that I seem to get when in medical offices and hospitals and such.
*This is MY blog, from MY viewpoint, and MY thoughts. 
*Again, this post was not intended to be one that was made to list that I am wonderful, for if you know my well, you know that it is my horns that hold up my halo!  :)
I had a boss one time that I really respected (until he threw me right under that proverbial bus, that is) and he said some wise things. One thing he taught me was to look at things as a gift, if you will, rather than a "have to". For instance: Abby: "I have to go and...blah blah blah...." We'll call the boss Mr. T. Mr. T.: "Did you mean to say you have the opportunity to.....?" And you know, it stuck. You can turn anything into an opportunity if you look hard enough. Sometimes you may not be able to see it at the moment, but later, you can look back and it jumps right out at you, making you say, "Ah ha! So THAT is what the opportunity was in _________ situation!" Or some such exclamation. (That is very similar to what I learned *later* about the opportunity that came from the bus-throwing incident.)

I think that line of thought is similar to that which I tried to instill in my troublemakers: I belieave that in any situation, you can come up with an "at least" which makes the situation better than it could be. It used to anger them, I think, until they figured out that I was being serious and that this school of thought was one that I lived by daily. There's no telling how many times I've muttered those two words. No telling. After they were done being angry, they would catch themselves muttering those words as well.

At this point, you are probably wondering what in the world made me think to post a story about an old boss and the words "at least," so this is the point at which I will tell you.

I wanted to name the title of this post "Because I Should Can" but Blogger wouldn't let me use the strikethrough in the title area.

It's no secret that my in-laws have had a ton of unfortunate health incidents within the last year and a half or so. When they do it, they do it up good, too. We didn't get just a fractured hip when Papa fell. Nope. We got a crushed hip. The kind that the ER doctor said no one except a doctor at Vanderbilt could fix. And so we ended up at Vanderbilt for weeks on end, waiting on Papa's crushed hip to heal enough he could leave the hospital and get into a rehabilitation program. He stayed at the nursing home getting rehab for many more weeks. When we brought him home, he needed a walker, then eventually, we got him so that he was able to use a cane a lot, instead of the bulky walker in their small house.

During the time that we were working on Papa being able to be more mobile, we also made a major change for Barbara: we got her on a new insulin pump, and we got her to go to a diabetes specialist instead of just her family doctor. Her bloodsugars were in the target range, and she became excited to check her blood, like a kid on Christmas morning, because the numbers were what they were supposed to be. I need to write a whole nother post on the "D" word.

Working chronologically, we'll go on to the next unfortunate accident: Barb's fall. This has been the incident that has impacted our family the most. We spent 3 months at the hospital. We spent an extra month on that hospital's rehab floor, where she somehow went backwards in her progress instead of forwards. At that point, they had to release her to the nursing home as she could not stand or support herself to walk at all. Of course, at the nursing home, she would continue to get therapy as well. Her fall was in August of last year. It's June now, folks, and she still isn't walking. In fact, she tried to get out of her bed about two weeks ago, and fractured her pelvis. As we have watched her progress go backwards, so has her mental state. This is the most heartbreaking part.

While Barbara was in the hospital and nursing home, Carl's health started to decline, and continued to do so, no matter what we tried to do to keep him healthy. He lost weight. He lost his balance. He lost his appetite. He energy level dropped. He complained of being weak, but not hurting anywhere. His blood sugars would drop so that he needed a glucagon kit, and then it would be so high that it seemed like no amount of insulin would bring it down. And so it went...for a few months. And he grew weaker and weaker and he kept losing his balance and falling. He fell one day in the kitchen and he had to lay there until his granddaughter showed up several hours later. I think that is what made it be "OK" with him when his doctor told him he thought he needed the 24 hour care of being in the nursing home. We wanted to have him work with the rehab people and hopefully build up his strength and bring him back home, but sadly that hasn't happened.

The good news is that at this point, we were able to get Carl into the same home as Barbara (only because of God's grace), and eventually, into the same room. Mostly that's a good thing. :) We are very pleased with the home where they are, and feel very fortunate to have them there, in the same room, and close to home. We love that they are around people, that they have activities to do, that they have three balanced meals a day, and they have snacks. We love that they get therapy, and that they have nurses who love them dearly and take the best care of them...we couldn't ask for better. In so many ways, the nursing home is so much healthier for them than being at home...but alas, I know...there *is* no place like home, to quote Dorothy.

There has been a lot of paperwork to do, as you could imagine. There has been a lot of phone calls to make. A lot of trips to the nursing home. A lot of communication with lawyers, and a lot of questions that have had to be answered. We had to track down their marriage didn't prove to be as difficult as we thought, thank God. We have had a lot of appointments to get to. A lot of bills to pay and banking to do. And this continues on and on, but I'm sure at this point, you know that, right?

I've been the primary person to "head up" their care, make their appointments, take them to their appointments, make sure their medicine is right, handle their telephone calls, and so on. I've stayed at the hospital with Barb countless hours and nights. I've consoled her, and I've been called names by her. I've taken Papa to a lot of appointments. We've done a lot of bonding, he and I, on the way to those appointments, and on the way home. I even got the stamp of approval on my driving skills. That was a big "WOW" moment. :) I've counted his pills, made sure he's taken them, cooked his meals, and so on and so forth. While taking care of all of this and much more is exhausting, I do look at it as an opportunity. It is an opportunity to serve others, to love others, to console others, to take a load off of their only son. I can't think of even one time that I even thought about complaining or having a bad attitude about taking them places and doing things for them. Actually, looking back, I can say I was happy to do those things. Happy from my heart. I wish I didn't have to, because I wish they didn't have to, but they do, and so I do. :) Yep, it's stressful. Yep, it's work. But...yep, it's worth it.

It amazes me how many times (countless, literally) that I have been commended for taking such good care of my inlaws, that I have been commended for being "only" a daughter-in-law who cares enough about her inlaws to stay with them at the hospital, to take them to the doctor, to know so much about their medicines and their care. The list goes on and on, but you get the drift. Every single time that happens, I am dumbfounded. These people are my family, and aren't we supposed to help others? If I was able to do those things for them and chose not to, I don't think I could live with myself. How selfish would that be!?!?!

In some ways, it's "returning the favor"....when I came into this family, I was welcomed with open arms by my inlaws. No questions asked, just welcomed. They treated my children as if they were their grandchildren and had been all their lives. They treated me the same way. Oh, how good they were to me, and at the hardest time in my life I'd ever been through. How could I not take care of them after they loved us like that? But...I don't believe in "tit for tat". I do what I do for them because we are commanded to love one another, and to help one another. I do it because from my heart and soul all the way out, I want to do everything I can for them, and I love them oh, so very much. With each thing we have been through, I've loved them more and more. They've yanked at my heartstrings more and more. I love that I am able to care for them, I am thankful I am able to care for them. Were they not my in-laws, but people that needed help and care, I would hope to think I would do for them just the same.

So, to all those who think that it is amazing that I do so much for my inlaws, when I'm *just* the daughter-in-law, know that I don't do the things I do for them because I *should*, because it is the "right" thing to do, but I do it because I love them and because I CAN. I don't do it to be recognized. I don't do it because I feel like I have to. I do it because I CAN. The opportunity here? Priceless relationships with priceless people.

1 comment:

  1. Amen girl.... It's because of who you are that this is possible. People often remark to me, "Why do you do all this for others. You've GOT to take care of yourself." What they don't realize is that this IS for me. I love taking care of others. the opportunity to learn from and care for others fills my heart with joy. We (you and I) have a desire to serve because it's the nurturing spirit in us. God bless you Abby for who you are, for just doing, for finding the opportunity to love, serve and be a shining light for someone else selflessly. Love you girl!!


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