The Long Run

He looks like Gerry, he sounds like him and has the same sense of humor – but I have the nagging feeling that it’s not really my husband sitting in the kitchen or lying next to me in bed. I want to shake him – “Who are you, and what have you done with my husband?” – but that would be useless.

I might as well look into a mirror and ask, “Who am I, and where did Annie go?”

Gerry has so much pain – it runs through his body and announces itself with every movement. He’s taking Oxy, but – being a 12 hour medicine – it tends to get him in trouble. He’ll take it and in an hour or so feel well enough to make plans to do this, or go there.

Then a few hours later the medication begins to wear away and I can see on his face and in his posture how much pain he’s trying to hide.

But he WANTS to do so much – and it’s hard to convince him that he can’t right now. I don’t think it’s a male / emasculating thing (I felt the same way when I was sick, and was ALWAYS being yelled at for going out and mowing the lawn or moving furniture) as much as a feeling that one does NOT want to be considered useless.

Unfortunately, it means more work for me – or, rather, more stress. I feel a bit like I felt when the kids were younger – that they were just old enough to get into a lot of trouble if I didn’t watch them, but I needed to get work done so it was hard to watch them every minute. I worry that Gerry will want to go for a drive, go shopping, mow the lawn, move some furniture – and will wear himself out halfway through.

My fear: He’ll either be in a dangerous situation, or I’ll have to come and finish the job.

Perhaps it’s an unreasonable fear on my part, but I’ve seen how just doing what used to be the most elementary of physical tasks wears him down and makes his pain worse and ruins his focus.

It’s a vicious circle; When I can get him to sit and rest, he feels well enough to do stuff. As he sits and begins to feel better, he ALSO feels useless so he wants to get up get stuff done.

And then he wears out so quickly, his tremendous pain increases, and I have to become involved in some way. The mental wear and tear is harder for me to handle than the physical work – jumping all those emotional hurdles; making him feel needed, strong, necessary – but also making him understand that the way he can be MOST helpful is to rest his body so I can get more work done.

And that sounds like such a slap in the face. I feel like a friggin’ prison warden (hair cut notwithstanding.) Convincing him that he is FAR from useless is a hard dance. I can tell him all day not to do this, or don’t do that – and it just sounds like nagging. The truth is, he has to be the one to give himself permission to slow down a bit, and he has yet to be that kind to himself.

Convincing him that this is NOT HOW THINGS WILL ALWAYS BE is hard. Forcing him – compelling him – allowing him to see that this is just the short run is beyond me many days.

THIS is when I really wish he had some men friends around, who could come over and shoot the sh*t with him, occupy his mind and engage him in some discussions so he’s not talking to the radio all day.

There’s so much to do (and here I am, blogging…) that I can’t really drop everything to drive out to Oakbury to look at a cheap sink for the kitchen and still get my shawl finished. And Gerry can’t go alone (aside from the drive, I can’t see him getting that sink into the car.)

So I feel guilty that he has to call and change the appointment, and he feels guilty for making it without thinking of my deadline (these have never been a problem, but now I’m pushed and pulled in several different directions.) It’s rough.

I wish I could create a second me – there’s so much I need to get done, and so few waking hours in a day.

I’m a nut for sleep, I know that I can’t do without it (and I personally feel that sleep health is one place where most Americans could drastically improve their lives – just by getting a decent amount of sleep!) So I’m not really in danger of burning the candle at both ends.

What I am in danger of is stressing myself with the amount of stuff I NEED to get done.

TODAY I have to finish the VK Shawl – it’s due to NYC on Friday – I will fed-ex it on Thursday. The knitting went pretty quickly, but the duplicate stitching is going s l o w l y.

The new bathroom – we met with the contractor yesterday and got the news. This is the hard part, where I KNOW that if Gerry and I were able to devote our full energy to this we could do much of it ourselves – but also knowing that realistically we DON’T have this energy now (especially not Gerry!) and we do need the bathroom on the ground floor.

We can go one of two ways

  • The expensive contractor with the proven track record who we feel we could trust implicitly to just get the job done with as little fuss and mess as possible.

  • The less expensive contractor is newer, just starting his contracting business, and that concerns us a bit.

We’d budgeted for this – and had anticipated taking out a short term loan for it – so I think our gut feeling is to go with the contractor who has a proven track record.

A decision like this is so hard because it forces us to not just be penny-wise and pound-foolish, but to look at the long-term picture and calls up every ounce of hope that we have. Hope that Gerry will get better, hope that doing the job right will mean eventually when/if we sell our home this addition will be a selling point (not something to hide or apologize for.)

It’s especially hard to be considering an expenditure at a time when finances are blood-chilling scary – but the amazing response to Gerry’s MM Fund has helped us look at the long picture. When we’re honest with ourselves we KNOW that we must do this, and we must do it right or we will pay for it as long as we own the house. It feels very counterintuitive, though.

Money’s tight – so why do this? To save money (and increase Gerry’s quality of life) in the long run.

Envisioning the long run takes hope.

It’s like the blogging.
On the surface it seems so stupid to take time that I can’t spare to write my feelings – outline my days – and talk about how little time I have. But this accounting (to whom?) makes everything a little clearer. It’s like taking the time to look for my glasses.

Or it’s like making a gauge swatch. Not a lot of fun, and feels like a waste of time – but it will save so much time in the long run.

Thank heaven a new knitting friend I met at the guild a few weeks ago has offered to take the kids to the Highland pool today for a few hours with her Max-aged daughter. That will be a relief for the kids, and will give me some uninterrupted, guilt-free time to get more of the damned s l o w embroidery finished.

How we’d all like some more time around here.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!