17 July 2015

Respite Care: Exploring An "Interval of Relief"...

"A delay or cessation for a time, especially of anything distressing or trying; an interval of relief."

Last night after getting dinner prepared and served for my parents, I took the opportunity to give Cleo a much needed bath in the kiddie pool. You haven't lived until you've given a 110 pound Newfoundland mix a bath, especially one that doesn't care too much for water. Of course, I got in the kiddie pool with her. Having mowed the lawn a couple of hours earlier, I was in need of some cleaning up myself so I thought why not just have fun with it?

Cleo unhappily, but dutifully, submitted herself to a good lathering and rinse and I submitted myself to several showers as she shook herself multiple times during the process. It was all good clean fun...she emerged smelling better and I came out of it with her black fur sticking to every exposed part of my skin. 

While my parents were eating their dinner, I cracked open the patio door and asked them not to open the doors to the backyard because Cleo needed to dry and I didn't want her in the house until she did. Sailor was watching wistfully through the door, so after a five minute iced tea break I decided he could use a good washing, too. For Sailor, this is not a problem or a fight. I took him to the steps of the pool and without any fight or fuss, his bath was a mere ten minute process. So both dogs were laying on the patio and, again, I cracked open the kitchen/patio door to remind my parents to please not open the doors because the dogs were too wet to go inside. They nodded as if they understood these instructions but I still kept an eye on the doors because my parents collective attention span doesn't quite stretch to five minutes.

I then decided to hop in the pool and vacuum the bottom. The water felt warm and wonderful and I did a few flips to stretch out my back; nothing unwinds my body, mind and soul like being in the water and the time between 6 - 8:30 is a delicious time to be in the pool - the light is golden, the sun is less punishing and it's just a very zen time to be a mermaid. 

I got the pool vacuumed in short order and decided to swim some laps, execute some flips and just float on my back and look up at the emerging stars in a dusky, summer sky. 

About fifteen minutes after reminding my parents to please not open the doors leading to the back door, just like clock work, my Dad opened the door wide open and out he came to take up his position on the swing, no doubt because my Mom had sent him out there to "watch" me in the pool. As he stepped out, Sailor and Cleo made a fast retreat inside, still wet, and honestly, I pretty much lost it. 

I climbed the steps out of the pool, muttered a few expletives under my breath and shook my head. I grabbed my towel, my iPhone and extreme irritation (I'm being kind - the truth is I was completely pissed off), and I asked my dad why he did that after I'd asked him not to? He calmly looked at me as if he had no idea what I was talking about. "I just came out here to sit down and drink my coffee". I was livid but I held it together...just barely. I walked toward the door and he asked me where I was going? I told him I'd planned on enjoying a quiet swim alone but since that had obviously been interrupted, I was going inside. And with that, I went inside. Steaming, seething, dripping and frustrated.

I climbed the stairs, headed for the shower and made a very serious realization: I am in serious need of a break. I need a break from being a pharmacist, nurse, chief (and only) cook, house cleaner, lawn keeper, remote control repair-person, laundress and the few thousand other jobs I do in the course of a week.

Lower Cape Fear Hospice most kindly offers a five day respite care option for in home caregivers every quarter and we are into our second quarter of hospice care. I've resisted the notion of taking advantage of this incredible opportunity because I've made the mistake of thinking I didn't need it; that I could handle this just fine and there was no reason to relocate my parents into a facility for five days in order to take some kind of silly break.

I was wrong. 

I'll be honest, I'm scared and nervous and stressed out at the very notion of taking this step but I'm even more scared, nervous and stressed out by not taking it. I'm beat, tired and spent. 

Today I'm going to call our wonderful Social Worker Kim, and see what I need to do to get the wheels in motion to make this happen. I'm not sure what all is involved but I feel secure that LCFH will guide me in the right direction and we'll all survive this new experience.

My close friends and a few family members have been encouraging me to do this but, of course, I've resisted and thrown out many excuses as to why I don't really need it but after last night, all I could think of was a million reasons why I do. 

I'll post more after discussing this with Kim. The fact that I've actually arrived at this conclusion is a huge step for me. Feel free to send me some good thoughts. 

In the meantime, after my shower last night I ran down to the garage, fired up my reciprocating saw and fashioned two 34 inch wide boards which I can now install on the track of the patio doors which will prevent anyone from opening the back doors when I'm outside in the evenings looking for a little peace in pool. Elder-proofing is a continuous, never-ending process. At least tonight, I can swim in peace for an hour or so. 

I need an "interval of relief". Here's hoping.