Trapped – a Little Escape

I was reminded today of how people can feel trapped – trapped in their own bodies, after serious illness or disability strikes; trapped in their situation, as they are cared for or as they care for a loved one; or trapped by their longings for how life used to be.

I appreciate affirmation and physical touch more than gifts. I am so thankful Don is exceptionally good at affirming my worth. However, he usually likes to sit alone in his recliner, and he loses his balance easily when he stands, so he almost never initiates tender touch on his own during the day. I really miss the chance to sit by him and feel close. Both Don and I soak in peace and joy from lying close to each other in bed at night. We can’t see the changes to Don’s body; he can’t lose his balance and fall; and if we just lie there, we don’t miscommunicate. We can briefly forget or ignore that life is the way it is. It’s a little escape from the traps that sometimes confine us.

We also have difficulty thinking of things we can both enjoy doing together. The last two nights we have looked at slides we took back in the 70s. It was fun to remember our adventures, our first son as a baby, our friends and family.

What helps us cope and gives us hope: We make up for our loss of touch during the day by lying close before we go to sleep. We remember old times together in pictures.

Questions for our readers: Do you sometimes feel trapped? What helps you cope?

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Too Much Sugar

“If you have sugar for breakfast, and sugar and lunch, and sugar for afternoon tea, you know you’re bound to puke sometime.”

Don heard this statement years ago when he attended a music camp. The conductor said it to encourage his students to round out their lives with interests beyond their love for music. Don has applied the concept in life, as advice for people he counseled, and in our marriage – especially since his stroke.

We love each other as husband and wife. We enjoy being together and are proud of each other. However, too much “being together” can be unhealthy. Immediately after Don’s stroke, I could not leave him alone. As Don recovered, I progressed so that I could leave him, with a measure of apprehension. Eventually I became comfortable leaving him or having him leave me.

I can now leave Don home alone for a week, if I travel to another part of the country to visit our son and his family. Traveling is difficult for Don, so he encourages me to go alone. Both of us have our own friends with whom we spend time. We both think it benefits our relationship to be apart. We then appreciate each other more when we are together.

What helps us cope and gives us hope? We work at ways to cultivate our own identity and allow ourselves time to be apart. It refreshes our relationship.

Questions for our readers: Are you able to create time apart as a couple or as a patient and family caregiver? What are your challenges in doing this? How do you make it happen?

“LEAVE A COMMENT” below to join a public conversation. We moderate responses to our blog to avoid spam and language or comments we consider inappropriate, so there will be a delay (hopefully short) before your comments are visible.

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