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A Totally Different Life

you-are-always-a-decision-away-from-a-totally-different-lifeReally?  Changing my life is that simple?  It is and it is one decision at a time and one day at a time.  Today I decided to walk outdoors in nature and to get a walking partner.  I will stand myself up when under pressure but I will show up for someone else.  Haven’t figured that one out yet.  If I make one decision  that is really something I can do change begins to take place almost without being noticed.  I can do this.  One of my friends used to say “Do it the easy way” when it was obvious to everyone else I was making more work for myself.

Just for today try making that one decision and see how your life begins to change.

Care Giving Is The Hardest Job I Have Ever Loved

When we are unable to change situation-change self

Have you ever lost yourself while taking care of someone else?  It happens–raising children, taking care of an aging parent, being there for someone who is seriously ill and the one hundred million other scenarios that occur daily.  I watch in awe as one of my neighbors cares for her husband’s elderly mother with kindness and patience daily. I ask myself -does she ever get tired?  does she ever want to quit?

For the past three years I have been the caregiver for my son who has been severely ill and struggling just to stay alive.  Although I posted blogs and notes on my Facebook page I have not written a “real” blog on my own website for over a year.   The lessons learned have been many.  The challenges have been more than I ever dreamed I could manage.  The exhaustion and at times feelings of hopelessness-overwhelming.  The intensity of the entire thing too much for me to even begin to write about.

Never in my wildest imaginings as a self care coach could I fathom the depths that I would be called to go to.  I honestly wondered if specializing in helping others deal with caring for themselves while caring for others would bring me literally to my knees and to a point where I wasn’t sure if I was even capable of working with others because all of my paradigms for self care were gone.  I wasn’t even taking care of myself most of the time.  How could I possibly be a coach for someone else who was struggling with the same issues?

In retrospect I marvel that he and I survived.    He is recovering and doing well (for now-I add that because his illness is serious and will eventually take his life), he is able to move out of my home and live on his own and to resume his own life.   I have a “minute to breathe” and time for myself to write, to go to the gym, to take care of myself  and to return to my own life.  That is a biggie–return to my own life.

I believe both he and I are not even the same person we were when we went into this storm of illness.  I adopted the motto from AA “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Daily it has been baby steps to a new normal.  It has felt like being on the front lines of a war never knowing what each day would bring.

Over the next weeks and months of posting I will be sharing lessons learned and strength gained. Writing my blog is a key element to me taking back my life.   I appreciate those of you who have been there for me–who have prayed for both of us, inquired and responded to my Facebook posts and blogs.  It is my hope that through sharing our growth you will be able to hold on one more day when it is rough and that we can develop the skills needed to live a life of self care regardless of our circumstances.

Blessings and thank you for being there for me.  Colleen

 

 

 

The “Easy Way”

Blog Post August 9, 2015Believe in You

 

Several years ago when I was very ill, my husband, Kevin, told me to “do it the easy way” during my recovery. I am still learning that lesson. I seem to get to reflect on choices when I travel and this lesson has been a hard one. I had an opportunity to have a very dear friend accompany on this twelve hour journey from Utah to Washington state. I misunderstood something another friend shared with me and thought “he really doesn’t want to go” and I would be imposing on him, but he is too kind to tell me. So, in the middle of the night, I woke up (as I usually do anyway) and decided not to inconvenience him. I packed and left on my own. Hard way–I didn’t talk to him directly I assumed he was just too kind to tell me and went with what my friend had shared about his reluctance. It turned out that he really wanted to go with me and had said this jokingly to her and she took it seriously. He felt very disappointed, I made a grueling fourteen hour trip alone and missed a wonderful opportunity to have him travel with me and now am facing another twelve to fourteen hour drive back alone (the cd player quit working and it is rather boring). Lesson for me: Communicate directly and stop being concerned about what comes to me indirectly. Lesson for me: I was provided with an easy way and chose the hard way. I am learning that my core issues of “not wanting to cause a problem for someone else cost me and have cost me “big time”. I look at the old pattern and can only hope for a “do-over” on this one. Sadly, life doesn’t always give us “do-overs” and we often find ourselves learning more from hind sight My clue–Never make a decision in the middle of the night or make a decision when something feels “urgent” unless it is a physical decision regarding health. When working with the steps to our vision, setting goals and following through—tune in to our intuition and inner knowing. I let my fear of “causing a problem” stop me (again). Our old patterns of behavior show up and we blind side ourselves and we end up places we didn’t want to be because we first need clarity within us and then we need to make sure we understand and communicate instead of doing life the hard way. What is the “easy way” to your dreams and plans for your life? I believe we can learn and change old patterns one choice at a time and get to our destination with grace and much more ease than we imagined possible.

I’m Lost. I have gone to find myself. My personal story of Overcare and Critical Change

When we are unable to change situation-change selfColleen’s Blog Post May 7, 2015

 

“I’m lost.”   I have gone to find myself.  If I should return before I get back.  Please ask me to wait.”   I have had this little sign framed and hanging on my wall for over thirty years.  I bought it as a reminder to me that as a busy, young mother I had to take time to “find me daily”.  Little did I know that at 66 it would have more meaning than when I was young.

I seem to have been born with the flaw or gift of wanting people to be happy, to do things for others not for any particular reason but because I just like doing them.  This character attribute has been both a blessing and a curse.

The past two years I have spent taking care of my son first driving in and out of Salt Lake after his extensive dental surgery and then moving him into my home over a year ago following a severe automobile accident where I had to administer daily pic lines, provide food, do laundry daily due to extensive cold sweats from the pneumonia he contracted.  We were barely through that when we were again rear ended by another car—this time his lung collapsed (I was injured too, but basically have ignored that except for visits to the chiropractor).  In the middle of all of this I began having serious female problems resulting in three weekends in the hospital and two surgeries within ten days of one another.

My son has traumatic brain injury which makes him a difficult patient and person (at times) to be around.  I just kept going and giving like the energizer bunny taking care of his needs, the needs of the dog and cat as well as taking care of the house and yard this past year (previous to that I had a friend who traded me room and board and literally was an angel in my life-I had time to take care of me).

Since my surgery I just kept going.  I did take a break and go to Southern California for a visit but returning home I began to realize and feel that this life of being a caregiver had to change.   I didn’t and still don’t know how it is going to change but I know that “I am lost and I am going to find myself”. I am not sure where or how but my it seems my very survival depends on it.  I had no idea how exhausted I was.

My body has been unable to rebuild the iron needed to recover from surgery, my Lyme disease has come out of remission.  When I am not in doctor’s offices for my son, I am there for myself.

Yesterday my doctor literally told me “you cannot do this anymore.  You are going to die and your health is deteriorating”.  He believes I may have had a “silent heart attack” and is running tests to check out that possibility.  Has it had to get this bad for me to see what my friends and family have been telling me for months?   Oprah says that the universe sends us louder and louder messages until we are forced to listen—I am there.

What I feel is that my “happy” is gone and anyone who knows me is aware that for many years I have been known as Pollyanna because I always try to see the good in things.  When I told him I didn’t care if I lived or died and just felt like I wanted to go home to my mother and have someone take care of me —that was a huge clue with his response being “if you don’t do something different you are not going to survive”.

I had heard of caregiver burnout and how caregivers die before their patients.  I can now see why.   Ironically my book for caregivers Taking Care of Me, While Taking Care of You  has lost all its meaning in my own life.  I haven’t followed the steps I outlined for others for myself.  Even my website—“Self Care Life Coach” holds little meaning right now.

I just want to pack my book Gift from the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh and head to the ocean and sit, take walks on the beach, and rest and “find myself” again.  I want to go some place where I can get to friends or family if I need to but I want to just take R & R as they call it in the military.

I am even questioning why I would write my blog about this. I feel vulnerable doing so and it is not comfortable sharing something so personal. Maybe there is someone like me who needs to “repack their life” and who has been doing overcare for a while. It may take a little while to get my journey organized however I am going.   Fortunately due to a very unexpected gift of funds I will be able to take some much needed respite and “return home to myself.”

My invitation as with all of my blogs is: to evaluate your life before a doctor has to tell you to do so and take the self care moments (minutes or months) to take care of yourself.

I’ll be back (it may be a while) and hopefully with the woman who once had dreams and hopes and felt like the rest of her life could be great.  Blessings-Colleen

THE STORIES INSIDE YOU Blog Post April 10, 2015

Little girl standing in front of big book 2THE STORIES INSIDE YOU

Written by Colleen C Uhl-Snow

 

Reflections:   “I am writing a book, well actually two books, maybe more.”

We have books and stories inside of us that need telling.  We have a generation or maybe two growing up without heroes, badly in need of guidance and the return of the storyteller.   In many indigenous cultures throughout the world the “elders” were the teachers sitting and passing on stories and lessons of courage, myth and fables about animals.  Until the advent of television families would often sit together recounting the day, sharing a story and teaching the children.  Raising children was taken very seriously.  “Pretty is, as pretty does” and “in our family we don’t talk about people, “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all”.  Who is carrying on the messages of kindness and community and storytelling for today’s children?   We all know “life is different now”  Really?  Have we turned over the role of story telling to machines—television, video games, and the Internet?  What has happened to the connections of just sitting and talking, of BE-ing with each other?   Is it no wonder that in the worst scenarios our youth turn to gangs for community and sometimes in the wealthiest of families everyone not only has a personal computer, but a television in their room.  Parents come home, too tired from working.  There is nothing left to give to each other, let alone the children.  “Let’s just order pizza and hang out” watching TV is considered a family gathering. 

 

 

Where are our storytellers?  Where are our elders?  What can you do?  What stories are inside of you?  You have at your fingertips the most powerful tool even given for telling your story, even a web to share it with the world, should you desire.   What difference could you make if you brought the heroes of your life to a child?   What if you made a phone call to thank someone for being in your life?  How can you make a difference?

 

 

Guest Post by Tony Wilson-Riding the Dolphin (Emotions)

I am taking a class and one of the students in the class has a wonderful website/blog.  I was so impressed by this post I asked if I could share it on my blog.   You may want to click below and go to his site and subscribe.  Enjoy!  (Colleen)  

  Webpage – www.tonywilsononline.com Twitter – TWilson49 Skype – Tony.Wilson49 Blog – http://tonywilsononline.wordpress.com/ LinkedIn -http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonywilson1

Posted by Tony Wilson in Thoughts on Thoughts

Dolphins I often ask participants in my Life Skills class this question: “If you fell off of a ship in the middle of the ocean, which animal/mammal would you like to show up?”  The overwhelming majority say that they would like a dolphin to show up. When I ask why, they say that the dolphin will take them to safety.

Why do I ask such a question?  Mainly because I think people remember better through analogies.  I liken emotions to dolphins.  If you ride them out, you will eventually arrive safely back to a healthy state of mind.  And arrive much quicker than if you fought them.

Many of us fight our emotions and this only tends to make things worse. Secondary emotions often appear to complicate the situation.  Fighting your emotions is like fighting a dolphin who has come to save you.  Emotions are neither good nor bad. They are just indicators of the quality of our thinking, and they are a gift given to us so that we can, if we choose, go back and look at the thoughts that caused the emotion in the first place.  The thoughts are the cause of our feeling. They are the culprits, not the emotions that the thought cause.

When I find my Self caught up in some unpleasant emotion, I find it helpful to, first, remember that it was my own thinking that caused the emotion.  Second, since my thoughts caused the emotion, if I don’t like the emotion, I can stop focusing on the thoughts that created it.

It is never what someone else says or does that causes us to feel the way we do, it is what we “think” about what they did or said.

If you want to find out why we feel and act the way you do, look at your belief system. That is where the answer lies.

FORGET THE CLOCK-START THE DAY OVER!

wonderful skiesBlog Post Feb. 14, 2015  Colleen Anne Snow, M.A. Ed

Have you ever gotten up and things just seem to be out of whack?   Plans fall through?  Everything you attempt just doesn’t work out?  you feel exhausted and it is only 9 a.m.?  

I had one of those days today and I CHOSE to start my day over.  I had gotten up early with too much to do, no time to take care of myself, and because I am recovering from surgery my energy was low.    I have a morning routine of making my bed, “getting ready” and doing meditation before I head out for the day.   Today all that was neglected because I had too much to do.  Do you ever feel that way?   You are just too busy.  Everyone needs you -Now!  Or maybe you just don’t feel well and decide to just get through everything you have to do.

I managed to muddle through about two hours of errands, my thinking wasn’t clear (as in where was I going?) and I finally gave up and went home.   I had accomplished nothing.  I was tired and cranky.  My attitude was bad and I definitely was off to a bad start.

I decided I needed a ” do over” for the day so I literally put my pajamas back on, snuggled down in bed and went to sleep.  I awoke several hours later and CHOSE in that moment to get up and to have a great day.  I called it February 14 and a half day.

I made my bed, went to the gym, did a brief meditation, watched my Mind Movie, and  ran my errands calmly.
I had taken care of me first.  I am sure the lady at the gym thought I was bonkers when I inadvertently said “good morning” at 2 p.m.  My day was “quality”.  I took the time to observe myself–both in the morning and then again as I was having my “do over”.  The day just flowed and I got more done than I had even planned to do and I felt good about myself.   I put me first -I didn’t ignore me.  Often in the past I would numb out or have a poor attitude.  Today I was observing my behavior and I didn’t like it.  I knew I had the ability to change my behavior and my feelings.

I realize that I can’t go back to bed everyday, but at any time I can change my attitude and give myself the gift of a fresh start.   What a difference!

Invitation:  The next time you are having a “bad day”  take a break, become aware of what you are thinking and feeling, then STOP!  You don’t have to stop for long, even getting a drink of water, turning around in a circle (sounds silly, but it works) and START OVER.  

Back To The Past–Life Path Changed in 6th Grade

Dade-to Photoshop copyMy Grandson, Dade, has chosen me as part of a school project.  His assignment is to write about me–he has 50 questions to ask me and we are on #10 as of this evening.  I think I am getting more out of this than he is.  First of all I feel like I am important to him, that I still matter (some days when one retires we have too much time on our hands and we wonder).  It is really fun to have him asking me questions about my life–we are starting with my childhood-who were my friends, who was my role model, what was my life like as a child.  Ironically I am finding that his assignment seems to be doing so much for me and it is downright fun.  I shared with him the following story as part of one of the answers.  It was too long for him to take notes and so I decided to write it for him.  I wrote about an incident in sixth grade that seemed like the end of the world at the time and yet it put me on my life path in many ways and perhaps is still one of my teachers even today.  I am sharing the entire story I sent to him–I am definitely not a creative writer.  I am sharing it with you in the hope that maybe an experience you have had at some time in your life now that you have more perspective you can see that it put you in a place that changed your life and you are a better person for having gone through what you did.

 

Dade-This is part of the answer to the question about what I wanted to be when I grew up.  This is the story about how sixth grade changed my life.  Hope it is useful.  Thank you, Dade, for the opportunities and the interest you are showing in my life.  It is teaching me that even when we (as grandparents) sometimes feel like we aren’t important, that we matter to you and it is making me feel loved nd appreciated to share my life with you.  Maybe your teacher gives you this assignment not only for you, but for us as well.  I love you-Gram

What did you want to be when you grew up?

“Life’s Lesson-55 years later”

THE SIXTH GRADE INCIDENT –PART ONE

Our entire sixth grade had a Spring music program before the end of school.  I remember how warm it was in the large gym with stairs that  we were all crowded together on a stage and singing a song called “All Through the Night”  (to this day I hear that song and I don’t like it).  I was standing next to another 6th grade girl (Dallas Cross) and she fainted.  I hadn’t ever seen anyone faint and I honestly thought she was dead-her eyes were open, she was down for the count and I was terrified.  The teacher (Miss Anderson) yelled at me in front of the entire sixth grade –I don’t remember what she said, I only remember I was so humiliated and embarrassed that I ran from the room to the girl’s bathroom and I was sobbing.  She came in and yelled some more—then she realized—another student had fainted the day before but….I had been absent.  Evidently on that day other students were scared and upset and the teachers took the time to explain to them that their friend would be all right and not to be upset if it happened and they saw it again someday.  Well, the someday was the next day—all of the other students knew what to do, move back, give the person some air and stay calm.   Unfortunately I hadn’t gotten that message and she had forgotten I had been there.  Recipe for disaster in an 11 year old mind. 

After that I began having panic attacks in school.  One minute I would be fine and the next I would have to get up and walk out in the hall or go to the nurse’s office.  I didn’t understand what was happening to me.  I was already a very shy, quiet, self conscious little girl who came from what appeared to be a normal home.  I say “appeared to be” because my dad had what we now call PTSD or “shell shock” from World War II and would get angry and mean and no one knew when it would happen.  (I mention this because as an adult I realize what was wrong with him and many other veterans from WWII, as a kid it made home very unsafe emotionally, thus adding to my naturally quiet, shy disposition). 

My parents were very concerned with what seemed to be happening to me after this incident practicing for the music program .  They had a good friend who was a therapist and decided to take me to see him.  I remember going but he told my parents I didn’t have much to say (what kid does to someone they barely know and back in the 50’s therapy was not accepted as it is now).  My mother, thinking that the principal would be supportive if she knew what was happening and that my parents were trying very hard to get help for me made the decision to tell the principal she was taking me for therapy.  The principal told her secretary and her secretary told her son (his name was David). 

You can imagine what happened next.  David told the other sixth grade students who then seemed to avoid me.  I had one little girl come up to me (Dorothy Wrenfrow) and tell me her mother said she could not play with me anymore because I was “crazy”.  Another friend and I were playing on the monkey bars and he suddenly asked “Are you crazy?  The kids tell me you are crazy.”  I didn’t even know what crazy meant, but I did know that because of this one incident I became very insecure and even more shy.  I carried this feeling that “something is really wrong with you” throughout Junior High and High School.  I had a small group of about ten friends but I had no self-confidence.   Somewhere I got lost in all of the belief that I wasn’t okay.  I didn’t tell my parents how I felt but I know I had anxiety and felt sad and alone.  In retrospect I can see that I did not do the things I wanted to do because I didn’t believe in me.  I had several awesome teachers Mrs. Gulzow, my eighth grade English teacher who told me I was a great writer and to pursue writing and my ninth grade Science teacher Mr. Janake, who seemed to see the person I had hidden and allowed me to be his student assistant the entire year.  I look back at pictures of me now in High School and I think—“you were pretty”.  I thought I was ugly, I hated myself and I was internally letting a tree of thought grow in my mind that stopped me from being who I could have been

THE DREAM FULFILLED -PART TWO

I had always wanted to be a school teacher, I can’t remember when I didn’t want to be a teacher.  It just felt like I was born to be a teacher.  After some very rebellious, tumultuous years in the late 60’s I went to Brigham Young University and got a degree in teaching.  I married shortly thereafter but everytime I went into a school, my heart pulled me toward my destiny.  When my  youngest son, Tim, went to school I went into education substituting for two years to make sure I wanted to go back into my profession.   I was hired to teach sixth grade (Ironic, huh?) and I taught sixth grade for over twenty years.

I got up every morning, ready to go, excited about the day and what would happen that day.  I loved the miracle of seeing my students learn, I loved what I learned from them.  I got to teach and be with the best kids in the world.  I know that I got to live my childhood dream and to be in the world of kids.  I knew what a hard age 11 and 12 year olds are living.  They exasperate their parents, they question everything, they want to make up their own minds, they question everything a second time, they are becoming aware of each other as boys and girls, the hormones start to come into play, and this is the last safe fort before they venture into the world of Junior High.   It was my goal that every child know that I loved them, I cared about them, I wanted to hear them and to listen to them.  I believed in them and my classroom motto was “I trust you” and I want to create the best learning environment for you.  I want you to come to school and to go home happy everyday.  I want you to know that you or your parents can call me at night (before 9 p.m.) if you need help with something or if you go home upset at me or another student—someone call me—don’t go to sleep upset.  The most important thing to me was that my students believed in themselves and they they knew they had the confidence to “go for their dreams.”  I am sure not all liked me, I know some who didn’t but generally I think for most of my students  sixth grade was a good experience.   Every year I told them the story of what happened to me in sixth grade and why they need to be kind and understanding of each other.  They may never remember the story but it was part of my dream that they be able to see that they were good, beautiful, kind and the most wonderful people with lots of potential.

  I went on to pursue my Masters Degree and ended up with that plus a doctoral equivalent and opportunities to teach other teachers how to teach.  I  was able to work with and for the best of the best in education—Spencer Kagan, Susan Kovalik, and the Galef Institute.  The school district sent me to workshops and I eventually became a member of the National Faculty of Educational Coaches.  (Please note this is stated only as data to give you background).  I chose to remain every year part time in the classroom, job sharing so I could stay in touch with the kids and yet share what I had learned with other teachers.   I am so grateful for this time in my life and I would probably still be teaching sixth grade had I not been diagnosed with Lyme Disease.   I can honestly say that if I died tomorrow, I got to live my dream. 

THE LESSON AND THE LEGACY-PART THREE

Because my grandson, Dade, is interviewing me about my life I have had reason to reflect on his question “What did you want to be when you grew up?” and to add even further meaning to what happened to me and how that experience as an eleven year old girl changed my life and put me on the path to fulfilling my dream.

Would I have been a teacher?  Would I have specifically taught sixth grade where I know without a doubt is exactly where I was supposed to be?  Would I have been able to give my students the environment of acceptance and a safe place to learn had I not experienced the opposite?   Would I ever had the opportunities to travel, to learn from the greatest in my profession and to impact other teachers across the country?  Was all of the struggle something that set my life on a path where I could give the gifts of being a teacher that I was born with?  

What started out as a horrific experience for a child—has in many ways bloomed into a field of tulips and been one of the greatest gifts in my life. 

red tulip and white

 

 

 

 

 

SOARING INTO 2015-3 Easy Steps

today the future beginsI love a “new year”.   As a school teacher for many years, my new year began when school started.  Around the world and in many different cultures a “new year” is symbolic of starting over, trying something new and creating a fresh start.   Many people set New Year’s Resolutions and goals.  I’ve noticed that the local gym I work out at seems to be so crowded from the end of December until about the first part of March, then the  old regulars remain and it gets calm once again.  I have often wondered what happens to those people who start a fitness journey only to drop out within eight weeks.   How does it affect their beliefs and self-esteem?   I learned a long time ago that some of the goals I set were impossible to achieve and I stopped doing the traditional New Years Resolutions in favor of a very simple three step plan.

I’d like to share with you some background and the role models for this easy 3 step plan.  Orville and Wilbur Wright were fascinated with the possibility of human flight.  This fascination with human flight dates back to ancient times.  It seemed that an astrophysicist Samuel Langley would finally win the coveted name in history of the person whose innovations brought flight to man.  Mr. Langley had a huge staff working on his theory of “aerodromes”. They focused all of their energy on building a big engine.

In contrast, the Wright Brothers strategy was simple.  First, they set a clear, specific goal-“to achieve sustained, controlled, powered flight”.  Secondly, they astutely observed those who were successful at flight–eagles, hawks, buzzards, owls, and many other kinds of birds.  They watched the behaviors of the birds-the perfect balance among the forces of lift, drift and gravity.  After breaking the problem into these parts, the Wright Brothers began to solve them one at a time coming up with dynamics and solutions to each problem and creating their flying machine.

Langley’s aerodome crashed, however after years of hard work, on December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers Flying Machine flew into history and they thus opened the doors for the world of flight we know today.

To soar into 2015 you follow the 3 easy steps used by the Wright Brothers.

3 EASY STEPS TO MAKING ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR DREAMS AND GOALS A REALITY

1.  Identify What You Want

2. Find out what it takes to accomplish it.  

3.  Do whatever it takes, one step at a time for as long as it takes, consistently.

Invitation:  Pick one thing you want to accomplish and use these 3 easy steps to achieve it.  E-mail me (colleen@colleenannesnow.com) if I can help you and I want to hear about your successes.  May your 2015 be a year of soaring and accomplishing the things you have always wanted.  Blessings-Colleen

 

 

 

Life Happens While You’re Making Other Plans

Breathe-You're going to be okayLife does happen while you are making other plans.  I had no idea when I started this website and my coaching business that I was about to go through some of the most challenging periods of my life.   My son and I were in two (yes two) automobile accidents-one in May and one in September and at the same time I was having female problems that resulted in 2 surgeries and part of November 2014 spent in the hospital.  I learned about Caregiving in a whole new way.  I hope this post helps you to be more prepared than I was while “making other plans.”

As a result of the first car accident (neither were our fault) my son aspirated water when we were hit as he was drinking a bottle of water.  He ended up in the hospital within 24 hours of what we were told would be his death due to pneumonia had we not gotten him there.  After a horrific week for me, as caregiver, driving back and forth, he was sent home with a pic line and I administered IV antibiotics twice a day for three months.  On top of that we had home health care coming and going and constant medical visits.  In retrospect I thought I knew about caregiving however this was an entirely new experience and taxed me physically, emotionally and mentally.  He would wake up in the night in cold sweats and I would have to do laundry, remake his bed, take hm water, fix all of his meals and do more laundry than I ever imagined.  I learned to monitor and chart like a nurse however by the end of the three months I was so exhausted I could barely function.

One week after the pic line was removed, we were rear ended by a man driving knowingly without brakes at 45 miles an hour, this time he had a collapsed lung (which is still collapsed and waiting surgery) and I had severe whiplash and concusssion that still affect me.  I had surgery for female problems however the problem wasn’t resolved and now I was dealing with more antibiotics and hospital procedures to try to reinflate the lung.  To date they have not been successful.  My learning-taking care of another person when I was also ill and in pain.  The stress levels rose, the tension rose and the lack of patience on both of our parts became extreme.  My other son came home from California in July to help me with the first situation and ended up staying until last week because I desperately needed support.

Third Lesson–Taking care of myelf due to an illness while taking care of myself due to an accident and taking care of another very ill person.  By November it was evident that I would need to have a hysterectomy as I had spent two weekends in the hospital (at my age this is all supposed to be over) and was told that if I lost any more blood and didn’t stay completely down I could “bleed out”.  However I needed a surgery to ensure that I didn’t have cancer before they could do the hysterectomy (so we went though a week of not knowing) and then major surgery.  I am still at home recuperating however I feel better than I have in years.  Catch 22 here is how to take care of my son when I was completely down-my other son had to return to California and Mat and I were on our own with me still in bed (I am currently in my second week of recovery).

Caregiving reached a complete halt when we learned that he needed major surgery and he is allergic to all pain medications plus he had the stress of 6 months of illness, doctor and hospital visits and surgical procedures.  Now he needed the “big guns”.  He totally panicked and is actually in the hospital as I write this due to physical and mental exhaustion.   If I couldn’t breathe I would be as exhausted as he is.

Fourth Lesson–Haven’t gotten there yet.  I apologize for seeming to drop all of you.  I am coming back, slowly and will keep sharing with you.  One of the surprise challenges (and we have an attorney for both of us) is dealing with all of the bill, paperwork, communication and resentment at having to do this.  Needless to say I will be updating my books on caregiving to include tips to help you manage the challenges should they come your way.

Blessings-Colleen

 

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