Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tenderness encouraged

2:08 p.m. Today's project was to purchase some groceries at Vons, my favorite store, enjoying an hour to myself while Steve stayed busy at Care Connexxus adult daycare. It's been a blessing that he enjoys the bus ride and generally comes home in a cheerful mood.

It really is better now if I shop alone if the store is large and my list is long. Yesterday, we made an companionable outing of buying odds and ends at CVS pharmacy in conjunction with picking up his anti-tremor medication. Having to steer Steve along with the shopping cart, and physically turn his body into each aisle, was exhausting for me, though I got through it by the grace of God and with a cheerful, encouraging attitude. Psalm 54:4 says, "Behold, God is my helper," and indeed He is!

It just occurred to me why I was awake during the night with serious joint and arm pain: having to move Steve around during the day, and helping him get prepared for bed in the early evening! He is not oppositional, by any means, but has to be turned by the elbow toward our bedroom; then helped with every aspect of getting ready. For example, if I (or a caregiver) ask him to raise his arms to pull off a pullover shirt, or bend his elbow to remove a button-up shirt, he just stands like a mannequin. Speaking and pointing don't work, nor does demonstrating, so we all end up needing to slightly move the arm in the right direction, which Steve only resists rarely. Unless you have cared for an ambulatory adult with physical strength but no comprehension of  simple directions, you cannot imagine the sadness, strain and frustration experienced by both parties.

My arthritis hasn't flared up for a few years, but now is hurting me. Heal, Lord, I pray, my physical weakness and pain, and Steve's mind!! As I learned in our caregiver classes, no one is helped if the family caregiver is injured. Wisdom, skill, timing, and daily courage are needed.

All went well for me emotionally until an old friend from Harvest Christian Fellowship, a checker, asked me in great detail about Steve's condition. She said, "I used to see him come in here with you." I told her that Steve still goes to some stores with me. Since my order was large and her line wasn't busy, we talked for several minutes about his condition, deterioration, and the arrangements I am currently making. She has been praying for us, since she is a friend on Facebook who keeps up with my posts, and as I took my receipt, encouraged me with "You're a good wife, Dana!"  I would debate that at times, like any wife who is human, but it was a very warm and loving thing to say.

Glad to see the sun come back out, I began loading my bags of groceries. Suddenly tears burst forth, as they often do after I explain what is happening in our family. Even though my reality is very real every day and there's no denial happening, somehow explaining it all to a concerned friend is different than explaining the daily difficulties to a medical practitioner. Their emotions of sorrow and shock amplify my own, and those emotions must be released--God's made tears that mechanism. Close friends have told me they were crying for both of us--very moving, the way that God puts such love and compassion in His children's hearts for one another. And I feel the same about the serious trials they are going through.

Ephesians 4:32a says,

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted...

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