It is interesting that the 1st week of Advent coincided with Ma Crow's first week with us. She was discharged Monday Nov. 30th from the care facility and let me tell you, everything that could go wrong did. First off, the at home equipment that she was supposed to get did not show up and then we learned that the insurance would not approve anything except for a specialized walker. So we scrambled around in the beginning of the week to secure the necessary equipment. Since she did not have a hospital bed, Ma Crow stayed in our bed. JJ slept next to her so he could help her in the middle of the night and I slept on the couch. First time in our marriage either of us has slept on the couch!
The reason why JJ stayed the night close to her is that she was sick from her stomach and started to get a bad cough. She was up every two hours on the dot needing to use the restroom so we were all very sleep deprived... we kind of still are. I upped her probiotic and started giving her bone broth almost daily to help clear all that up. Seriously, you don't feel close to a person until you are checking the status of their poop! For her awful cough, which kept us all up all night, I did what my mom used to do; warm honey and cough medicine. The cough was almost completely gone in less than a week. We also had her breathe in steam to break up any mucus in there. Again, inspecting someone else's bodily fluids makes you feel really close to them.
Dealing with the insurance has been a pain. JJ has been the one dealing with them and I deal with the Drs. and medications. I am so used to taking so many meds and supplements a day that organizing someone else's is not that hard of a job. My main jobs have been meals, meds, laundry, clean up, blood pressure/temp. checker and my favorite: poop inspector. On top of all that, I have been JJ's support when he feels overwhelmed. It is truly God's grace that got us through the first week. At one point JJ and I both said, "Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!". The penance, emptiness and wonder of Advent has been deep within our hearts this year.
This has not been easy at all! Finding the balance between compassion, nurturing and fostering independence is hard. I am so glad God made me who I am as an organizer and scheduler so I have some format to go by. I am constantly trying to problem solve or see how we can make things work better for us all. Don't get me wrong, there are no rose colored glasses about scheduling because it can go out the window at any time. By the grace of God I have been able to keep tabs and remember her meds and my supplements daily without missing any of mine. Again, this has been due to God's grace! There are times where I even feel like I am thriving by doing this! We all have our moments of highs and lows or times where we are annoyed with each other. We are three introverts living together, so it is bound to happen that we get under each other's skin. It has been very difficult for me to have people in my house that I am not used to seeing on a regular basis; whether that be JJ's siblings, my FIL or medical personnel.
This care giving is a 24/7 job. It requires all of me and I am constantly asking God for the grace to get me through. There is no more "just me and JJ"; we have to consider Ma Crow. We have to make sure she is taken care of even when we are not with her. We have noticed that when we do not let her know in advance that one of my SILs will be with her for a few hours while we step out, she is thrown off her routine and we all get a very bad night's sleep. She is not just recovering from a fall or surgery, she is recovering from a major stroke which means there has been some brain damage. Whether that is permanent or not is yet to be determined. There are times where JJ and I have both been at our breaking point and have thought we should not do this anymore, but usually the other is the strongest at that point and we encourage one another to keep going. I think the first two weeks JJ was having a hard time and this past week I have been the one struggling.
Time alone with JJ is a rarity and it has been hard to keep up our communication at this time since there is someone else here when we want to talk. Our 8 year wedding anniversary was spent with Ma Crow and we did not get to have a date alone on that day. We know that was a sacrifice we had to make at the time. My FIL is not my cup of tea as far as personality goes, so I have been having a really hard time with seeing him on a regular basis. There are times where I want to scream, hide or run away to go live with my mom. But that is not what marriage is. JJ and I are a team and this is where God is calling us to be; this is what He is calling us to do. I have realized how weak I am and how strong Jesus is. It is not because I am this great person that I am able to help care for Ma Crow, it is because God is so great that He can allow us to do extraordinary things.
As tough as this is there is so much joy. There is much joy in giving of yourself to God's will for you moment by moment. There is joy in seeing Ma Crow's face after she does something she thought she could not do. It has been so amazing to be a part of her recovery and healing. I have discovered that I like crossword puzzles, thanks to Ma Crow, even though I thought I was not any good at them. My marriage is growing and JJ and I are becoming more in sync as we work as a team. Even though we have not had much time to communicate alone together, the skills we had before are proving to be very valuable as we care for Ma Crow. I cherish the inside jokes that we all have together. I know that JJ and I will not regret this time we spend with Ma Crow as trying as it can be at times.
I have received so much encouragement from family, friends and random strangers for caring for Ma Crow. The lady who processed our order for the medical equipment we borrowed from a local charity gave me a hug and said, "You are such a good daughter in law. Your mother in law is lucky to have you." People at church have stopped me to say that they are encouraged by JJ and I taking care of Ma Crow and my aunt gave me a great big hug at Christmas and told me I was doing a great job. My mom has been so helpful and a wonderful listening ear for me when I need her. She has helped me to get through the roughest patches. These encouragements have helped me to keep going and are confirming that God has me exactly where He wants me. I do not do this perfectly and I don't have a magic formula on how to do this well because there are so many areas I can grow in.
Now Ma Crow has been with us for a whole month! We are not sure how much longer we will be taking care of Ma Crow before she is ready to go home. We take things day by day but we will need to figure out something soon, since we told our landlord that she will be staying with us for 4-6weeks. This has certainly been an adventure and has made us focus on what is important. Our Christmas has been pretty simple, but filled with gratitude. God has been so good to us and I pray He continue to bless us with life giving love. Merry Christmastide!