We’ve completed week 3 of our life with Mom and I am so thankful that self-hypnosis is free! Now, don’t get me wrong, almost none of the new stress in our life is about Mom. It is an honor to have Mom with us and we are so thankful to have had her with us for Christmas. But, living with and caring for someone who is 88 has its own stress and then you add in the holidays and it can begin to feel over whelming. Hypnosis helps keep everything in perspective and helps us to remain calm.

Overall, Mom had a good week. No trips to the ER this week but her back and chest pain since her fall have persisted. The ER X-Rays didn’t show any fractures, but the MD said it was difficult to tell because of her age and poor condition of her spine. Christmas Eve morning Mom hurt so much that she couldn’t get out of bed on her own, which is scary since she wants to move back into her house. She seemed to feel better as the day progressed and did very well when the kids and grand kids descended upon us for dinner and opening of gifts. Christmas Day Mom got up on her own and went to our oldest son’s home for brunch and more gift opening. When we got home, I put in Christmas Vacation and I got a good laugh watching Mom laugh her way through the movie. At times she laughed so much that it really did hurt her.

Sunday we all just crashed and took it easy and Mom beat me in 2 games of cribbage. Monday I took Mom back to the doctors office to have her checked again because of the pain. This MD looked at everything from the ER and previous visit and is thinking that she probably does have a new fracture, and that there isn’t a lot they can do. She can wait it out for another couple weeks (which is the route she chose) or have an injection which at 88 years old, may or may not help. Monday night on a moment’s notice we jumped in the car and on the ferry to Seattle to have dinner with family to celebrate my youngest granddaughter’s 3rd birthday. Even though it was cold and raining we had a great time at Red Robin and then we drove to Candy Cane Lane and looked at Christmas lights. Of course that made us 3 minutes late for the 9:00 PM ferry and we had to wait for the 10:05. It was 11:00 before we got home. Mom has always been a night owl and loves to be up late out on the town or even watching old movies.

Tuesday morning proved to be on the stressful side for me. Mom needs a hearing exam and probably a device. All her friends have told her to go to Costco and I had set that up for January 3rd when she first arrived. I got to thinking more about it and started checking on insurance. After more than 2 hours on the phone, the appointment for the hearing exam is canceled and she has to wait until she returns home. (Long story. Believe me, you do not want to hear the details!) There were times when a part of me wanted to jump through the phone and strangle the voice on the other end. Self-hypnosis was a godsend that kept me sane, patient and as pleasant as I could muster.

Brittany, Mom’s caregiver, is a sweetheart. She’s young, bubbly and makes Mom walk without her walker and has her doing a variety of exercises to build her strength and stamina. Having a caregiver is a mixed blessing. She exercises Mom and takes her shopping or out on a walk when the weather is nice. Brittany cleans Mom’s bathroom, trims her toe nails, helps her with her shower and is sweet, gentle and loving. The challenge is Brittany’s schedule. She is often available mid to late afternoon which can make it difficult to take Mom anywhere and go and do something. And then I plan my schedule around Brittany, only to have her change it! The other challenge is that Brittany talks a lot. That’s great for Mom, but for Marilyn and I trying to work or have a few moments of quiet, it’s tough. Our house isn’t big enough.

I am learning that I have to stop babying Mom. Marilyn has pointed out that she plays me. Mom will be talking and seemingly just fine until I come home. Suddenly the aches, pains and sad face come out and I fall for it. Mom can get up out of her chair just fine all day and I come home and she needs me to lift her. Over the weekend I was walking Mom around the house and I thought I was pushing her at 2 laps and let her sit down. On Monday I discover that Brittany has her going 5 laps and she did just fine with that!

Tuesday, I had the conversation with Mom about doing things on her own – like making her own lunch. When Marilyn or I make our own lunch, it is easy (and quicker) to make Mom’s. But, Mom want’s to continue living on her own and it is important that she keep up her skills for daily living. For us, and especially for me, finding that balance of being loving, gentle and kind and pushing her to do more as a caregiver is a challenge that is unfolding.

Another minor challenge is Mom’s weight and the food that she eats. Since Dad died, Mom has put on a lot of weight. I watch her eat for emotional comfort and in Colorado she eats a lot of McDonald’s and other greasy, fatty food. Ice Cream is one of her comfort foods. Mom approached me and said she wanted to lose at least 20 pounds and asked if I would help her. I of course said “yes” and that I also refused to be the food police. If she wants to eat candy, I am not going to tell her that she can’t. I know that she knows what she is doing and what she is eating. For years we have discussed healthy eating and talked about her arthritis and that dairy products and processed foods like the lunch meats that she eats contribute to swelling and inflammation, obesity and other health risks. So this one will take some time to figure out.

We are loving having Mom here. She fun and funny and always up for an adventure. (In her late 60’s I took her boogie boarding on Maui.) The stressors aren’t Mom – it’s all the insurance issues. The 2 hours I spent on the phone is 2 hours of work that did not get done. It’s a good thing that self-hypnosis is free! My mantra is, I am patient and relaxed.

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