Believe it or not in the last 6 weeks (or 42 days not that I am counting), I have left the house only one day before 10 a.m. and been to only 3 out-of-office meetings. In a nutshell, I have been a Caregiver — with a capital C!
Of course, compared to the millions of other caregivers, my role is luckily, only a temporary one. None the less, it has been exhausting, frustrating, exasperating, maddening and (did I mention) exhausting. While Carol has tackled the daunting recovery from shoulder surgery, I basically have tackled EVERYTHING ELSE and it’s been quite a learning curve. (I thought I was Captain America when I mastered her ponytail — boy, was I delusional.)
First let me say, Carol is very, very right-handed and the surgery was on just about everything in her right shoulder. She left the hospital in a space-age sling complete with an attached abduction pillow guaranteed to keep her arm at the appropriate angle (talk about a wide load!) So basically her upper-right torso could not move, be touched, and if I remember that first week correctly – even a little breeze blowing on it evoked a yelp. Yet, because it was arthroscopic the doctor was keen to have her get in the shower as soon as she was discharged from the hospital. Obviously, he’s never attempted this part of the “caregiver” routine. Our morning routine was a minimum of an hour and a half. Not only did I have to literally balance her in the shower, she couldn’t even get the soap on a sponge, much less wash her own hair. And don’t even get me started on the drying process. (Inserting her briefly into a large microwave was very tempting.) Then, after the moisturizing, resting, hair combing, resting, hair drying, resting, the real fun started.
In my defense I am left handed. It truly took me nearly 4 weeks to figure out which armhole to gather so I could actually get her dressed in the morning. You wouldn’t begin to believe how many mornings we mutually decided wearing clothes backwards or inside-out really wasn’t so terrible.
But probably for her, sleeping has been the most challenging part of the whole recovery. As suggested, we started her out in the recliner, but after 4 successive nights of sleeplessness, we realized we had to figure out a way for her to actually sleep sitting upright in bed. So each night I’ve built her a nest of pillows (which upon completion I compare to the saved photo on my iPhone for accuracy) and position her in bed.
But enough about me, seriously some thanks are in order to the many who asked how she was doing, volunteered to help out if needed and were so understanding when she would answer the phone but was incapable of even taking a message. To our family who’ve tried to pick up the slack, been ferrying her to PT three times a week, and my sister-in-law Bobbi who rode to the rescue that first week and kept me from killing her.
I know we’re not out of the woods yet — she still is a non-driver, can’t really open a bottle of water or put her hair into a ponytail, but at least we see little improvements each day. And through it all, Carol hasn’t even blinked when I’ve escaped to Best Buy or Tiger Direct. I guess being a caregiver does have its (electronic) fringe benefits.