Recently, friends and family alike have all said in one form or another that I need to make sure I take some “me time” while dealing with hubby’s decline.
My stock, somewhat tongue in cheek reply is “Can I get that on Amazon? I have Prime, so I could have it in, like, two days.”
While I’m sure that the “me time” advice is being offered out of love and concern – I am obliged to point out that there is no such thing.
You see, when you’re dealing with a terminally ill spouse (or, I would suppose, a critically ill child) – “taking care of them time” and “me time” can not possibly exist in the same time/space continuum.
In my dreams, “me time” would be some fantastic heady combination of pepperoni pizza, Tanqueray and Tonic, a bubble bath, soft jazz music on the iPod and a sappy movie or two on NetFlix.
In real life, I am dealing with a very physically weak, suddenly frail, horribly scared person whose condition changes minute by minute. “Good days” are those where he can sleep a lot, joke with me (yes, he still cracks some of the worst jokes on the planet), eat meals together and maybe watch some football.
“Not so good” days are the ones where he’s in pain, having panic attacks, completely wiped out from dialysis, or furious with himself because he can no longer do the things he used to be able to do like wash his hair, put on his shoes.
And a good day can become a not so good day in the blink of an eye.
He is also not at all comfortable with strangers (neither am I for that matter), and the initial parade of people we had traipsing in and out of our home when he first got back from the hospital were more irritating to him than helpful, to be honest. How many times can you squeeze someone’s fingers, get your blood pressure taken and answer the same questions over and over and over again before you get a wee bit perturbed?
Yes, we have family here in town. But they all have lives and obligations of their own. And there would be the inevitable guilt if something happened while I’m not here.
When he cries out, it’s for me. When he needs his medicines, I know where they are – it would take longer to tell someone where everything is and how he likes things than it would take for me to just do it myself.
So, it’s me. By default.
What I have gotten quite proficient at is not “Me Time” but being more efficient at “My Time”.
I’ve learned to fill the extra oxygen tank as soon as I get him back in the house from his three times a week treatments.
I’ve mapped out the city and can take care of all of the shopping, client visiting and bill paying during the four hours while he is in dialysis.
I’ve learned that I am capable of recharging the air conditioner in the truck all by myself instead of sitting at a shop for hours.
I’ve learned how to measure intake and output (although I’ve yet to figure out how to classily disguise a urinal).
I’ve learned how to fold up a wheelchair and a walker and the best way to sling it sideways to get it up into the back of the truck.
I’ve learned that doing one small load of laundry a day makes more sense than trying to do it all on one Saturday afternoon.
I’ve learned that sleep is overrated.
I’ve learned that pepperoni pizza will always be there, Tanqueray and Tonic will still hopefully be legal, and a bubble bath, soft jazz music on the iPod and a sappy movie or two on NetFlix can wait until someday.
When we got married nearly a quarter of a century ago, I remember saying “In Sickness and in Health, for Better or Worse” – not “Whenever it’s convenient for me”. This was part of the deal long ago – or, as hubby cracks with a wry smile “the fine print on the marriage license you neglected to read”.
So, friends – I love you, and your concern is appreciated, but for right now, I’m happy to forego “Me Time” for “We Time”.