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Meet Lisa... the Pragmatic Caregiver

· Elder caregiving,Health Professionals,family caregiving

Yesterday (Sunday, February 5) I celebrated a first! I was bold and had my acting debut on Google Hangouts. I was nervous even though I was in front of my computer screen rather than on a stage, with an audience. It is easier to hide than to put ourselves in a vulnerable situation.

However, this is exactly what my presenter friends and I wanted to do. To share our stories and be in the spotlight. There are people with similar tales and they are occurring in many households all over the world. And that is family caregiving. Want to see my performance? Head here to check out the replay: Caregiving, a Six Act, 24-minute Performance.

Denise M. Brown, founder and creator of has wrote a book that continues to evolve as quickly as family caregiving circumstances change. “The Caregiving Years: Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey” brings awareness how the caregiving journey begins all the way through to the passage of the “caree” (a term made to identify the person receiving care).

On Sunday, I shared a 4-minute skit of the fourth stage: The Pragmatic Caregiver. My original outline that I wrote was not what I presented. I changed it after mom’s recent ER visit. 

Saturday, January 29, 2017 started out as a typical day. Frank was out of town meeting with his sisters regarding his mother’s health concerns. Josh had a hockey game in the evening… one of his late ones, 9 pm. Mom complained of being lightheaded, but she has been having these episodes over the last few weeks.

Evening dinner was ready and me and the boys prepared our plates; mom stood up to head to the kitchen, and she “caught” herself. She said she just got dizzy. She did make up her plate and sat down but then immediately asked to go to her room. From there it all went downhill. She began to dry heave continuously. She said this would pass and for me to take Josh to hockey, but I was uncomfortable. The game was at a rink a half hour away, and we were experiencing a lake effect snow burst. Reluctantly, I headed out with Josh.

Once we arrived at the rink I called her and she only could say, “I am so sick” and hung up. I then watched the door for a parent who had a large enough vehicle that could take Josh home with his goalie bag and pads along with their own son’s equipment. My hero, Mike S., walked through the door and I secured Josh’s ride home.

The roads had deteriorated quite a bit on the ride back and it took longer to get home. Mom had not stopped dry heaving since I left. I called the nursing agency and after some discussion, it was decided 911 had to be called.

The crews arrived and they were concerned about a stroke or her heart. Due to the weather and manipulating the stretcher, it took an hour to get her into the ambulance. During the ride there, they even had to pull over due to a white out!

Mom was seen quickly and a CT scan ruled out a stroke. An EKG indicated her heart was stressed. The concern was the spinning room, headache, and nausea that mom was still experiencing since arrival to the emergency department.

After the examination the doctor concluded it was a severe vertigo episode. Within 40-minutes of giving her the medication to treat vertigo, the nausea and the spinning room stopped.

Thank God! I can handle Vertigo.

She was discharged and an ambulance brought her home and got her settled in bed by 5:15 am on Sunday. It had been a long night and early morning for both of us and we were looking forward to some sleep.

This wasn’t my first emergency room visit with mom and naturally, each trip is a cause for concern, but I now know what to ask and how to advocate for mom. And it also doesn’t stop me from moving forward in my life. Earlier in my caregiving experience, I would often put my life on hold. It does not help to just wait for the next incident.

I do, however, need to be flexible for changing circumstances. In a recent class Denise offered called “Enough” we discussed having a back-up plan. Many parents create back-up plans for their kids. That can be simpler than creating one for a caree, who may be confined to a bed and need more hands-on care. It is still a good idea to create one regardless of how difficult it may be to put one together.

Check out my calendar to schedule a time to discuss your caregiving situation. Let me help you create you back-up plan. You will be grateful you did!

Happy Monday!

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