Sunday, December 27, 2015

Focus: Taking Care

I remember a time when I had young children, a full time job and took night classes in business. There was rarely a day when I wasn’t busy doing something: cooking dinner, laundry and dishes, making lunches, helping with and doing homework, reading with my kids and putting in my 8 hours at work. Busy times. There was stress, of course, but most of my activities were positive and forward-looking. Raising great kids and furthering my career usually felt good and the stress was short-lived or minimal.

In hindsight, I didn’t always take the best care of myself. I ate too many processed foods and everyone else always came first. These days I rarely eat processed foods but one thing hasn’t changed: everyone else comes first and this has become a big problem for me.

I’ve mentioned my 97 year old mother in the past. I have been caring for her and my father in some capacity for at least 13 years. My father died in December of 2008 and Mom has needed increased care over the past 7 years. We hired caregivers to come into her apartment to care for her but they weren’t able to completely fill her schedule due to our remote location. That has meant that I have needed to step in and be her caregiver. On a good day I’m there once. Other days I’m there as much as 4 times per day. This means that Ray and I are pretty much glued to home. Mom fell a few weeks ago and has had other minor catastrophes that made it obvious that she could no longer stay in her apartment. We found a group assisted living home and we will be moving her there this week. It’s a nice place with nice people. She will have 6 roommates in the house but have her own room with her own furniture. She will be fine but this has been the most difficult decision I have ever made in my life. Worse even than the time I chose to cut my hair in a shag back in the 70s! (I had to lighten the mood a bit.)

During this time my diabetes has taken a back seat. Actually I think it’s been in the trunk under a blanket next to the tire iron. I just haven’t cared much. Ray and I started having a date night once per week just so we could have something to look forward to. I would order whatever sounded good and didn’t worry too much about carbs. Not the best choice but I needed to have something to enjoy! My fasting numbers have been anywhere from the low 130s to the mid 160s. Not grand. Apparently I’m still able to have some decent numbers through the middle of the day. I had an appointment with my PCP. It had been 6 months since I’d seen her because I had been “doing so well!!”. My previously rock-steady A1c had creeped up .3%. Big surprise. It’s close to my all-time high from years ago. I asked her about basal insulin to possibly help with my high morning numbers. Instead she recommended another injectable. I said I’d wait, thank you very much, to see if I can’t swing things back around. She just won’t consider insulin for me. I’m still “well controlled”. Sigh.

So here I sit after Christmas with some truly awful numbers due to stress and too many carby foods. (Interestingly, sweets are not in the least appealing, but those tamales…) I’m at a crossroads and it’s up to me to choose the best path.

I know that January is going to be a tough month for me. I’ll be dealing with guilt about Mom and trying to visit her (35 miles away) as often as I can. I will have to redefine my life and figure out what it will look like from now on. It might sound easy to just start living and doing all those things I’ve been unable to do but I know that there will be some emotional baggage that I will have to deal with. (Oh, and my son and his family just left yesterday to move 3 hours away. They, including my 4 grandsons, have always lived just down the block. I will miss them so much.) So how will I deal with this emotional baggage? Will I sit in the recliner, reading and eating stuff I shouldn’t? Will I tackle that bathroom spruce-up we’ve been putting off? Will I eat everything in sight or go back to watching my carb intake and actually caring about my own health? In reality, it will probably be a little bit of everything. I’m hopeful that my own self-care will take the lead. Once I get used to having some freedom to do whatever the hell I want, I am hopeful that my health will allow me to enjoy that freedom. Trips to see my grandsons! Hanging out with Laddie in Phoenix! Reading to Mom in her new home! Road trip with Ray in the late spring!

My Mom will be fine. My grandsons will thrive. I have much to look forward to and I need to take care of myself in order to make these things happen. I hope that writing this post will help me to take the correct path.