Les Patterson’s Monday Morning Boost: Ode to the caregivers

  • I’ve experienced over the past several weeks a taste of what it means to be a caregiver to an aging parent. As Dad’s journey with cancer has become more intense, I’ve discovered more about the joy of caring and serving. I’ve also discovered more about the associated hardships.

     

    Elisa and I have spent the last seven days with Dad, both at his home in Richfield and at our home in Hyde Park. We have taken him to visit with several doctors, run errands, pay bills, and visit family and friends. We’ve spent a lot of time with dad traveling, talking, and even laughing a little. We’ve also spent some time stressing, worrying, discussing, and even arguing some.

     

    Dad started out the week strong but each day his strength and mobility significantly decreased. He needed help with dressing, personal care, and attempting to manage the pain. He started the week out walking with a cane, then a walker by midweek and finally a wheelchair by Sunday. Days and nights are long for the person needing care, and for the caregiver. Our ears were constantly tuned to the help he needed, often several times during the night, when the pain was too much or he was unable to get up on his own.

     

    The loss of independence is hard. I experienced some of those feelings twenty years ago when I took my own journey with cancer. But I’m learning it’s something totally different when the loss of independence coincides with the end of life journey.

     

    Several weeks ago we worried Dad may have lost his ability to make independent decisions. For a man who has been fiercely independent since childhood, that was a difficult prospect, for him and for us. Fortunately Dad was able to regain clarity and has been able to help make many decisions and be instrumental in his choice of care. Most importantly, he was able to make the decision required of him last Thursday.

     

    Dad, Marc and I as we dropped Dad off at Stonehenge care facility in Richfield.

     

    After Dad met with his primary oncologist on Tuesday, Dr. Craig Donaldson in Cedar City, he decided to receive a short five-day treatment of intense radiation in hope of easing the pain in his back caused by five tumors growing in his spine. Dad elected to come to Logan for the treatment so we could help out. On Thursday he met with Dr. Leslye Ingersoll to plan out the treatment. We spent most of the day with Dr. Ingersoll as she discovered that the cancer had spread so rapidly that treatment would have little effect. That’s when Dad made the decision to forgo any more treatment and enter into hospice care.

     

    Perhaps no decision is more difficult than to forgo healthcare and allow the end of life to come. Though Dad and I have talked about this decision for the past several years, I was still impressed with Dad’s courage to make the decision.

     

    Dad gave us the gift of allowing us to be his caregivers for a few more days. But when he could see the level of care he needed was quickly outstripping our abilities, he made the decision to return home to Richfield and enter into hospice care at Stonehenge care facility. My brother Marc and I took Dad down on Sunday and spent the evening with him visiting with doctors, nurses, and best of all, family and friends.

     

    Dad’s time is short. He knows that and we know that. It’s been a rich journey being a caregiver, rich and joyful despite the difficulties and the hardships. I leave you with some thoughts from caregiver Cindy Laverty.

     

    I Am a Caregiver Champion!

    Inside of me is a CHAMPION!

    I am force for good, never bad.

    I lead. I advocate on behalf of my loved one.

    I am never pushed around.

    I have the power to DREAM…I DREAM it.

    I have the power to GIVE…I Give it.

    I have the power of FORTITUDE.

    I have the power of COURAGE…and I trust it.

    I let go of yesterday and find new ways to honor my role.

    Temporary setbacks only make me stronger and wiser.

    Every setback gives me an opportunity to grow.

    I am bold and confident, positive and persistent.

    I am kind and respectful and I know when to stop pushing.

    I never give up. I am stronger than I always realize.

    I am a force to be reckoned with.

    I am Empowered in my role.

    I am a CAREGIVER CHAMPION!

     

    As a side note, but not insignificant in the least, Dr. Ingersoll was also my oncologist twenty years ago and it was a pleasure to see her again.

     

    Have a great Monday!  Thanks for letting me share.

     

    Les Patterson

     

    p.s. Take 15 minutes today to share some encouragement, perhaps the poem above, with a caregiver.

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    Les Patterson loves to share stories and the “Monday Morning Boost” is his way of sharing a story or two with family, friends, and clients. Les believes every person, business and organization has a story worth sharing. Since 1997 he has enjoyed finding compelling ways to share those stories through writing and producing radio commercials at the Cache Valley Media Group. Discover how he can help tell your story at www.CacheValleyMediaGroup.com. Feedback and comments are welcome at les@cvradio.com. ©2015, Les Patterson.  All Rights Reserved.

     

    Cache Valley Media Group | www.CacheValleyMediaGroup.com | 810 West 200 North | Logan, Utah 84321

2 comments
  • Rebecca Hunt
    Rebecca Hunt Hello Les,
    Just wanted to thank you for your thoughtful post.  My second job is as a licensed CNA; I work as a home health aide . . . so it's very touching to see your tribute to caregivers.  My best wishes and prayers for you, your dad, and your whole...  more
    January 19, 2015
  • Les Patterson
    Les Patterson Thanks Rebecca for your kind and thoughtful words. Caring for a loved one is a challenging but very rewarding. I’m so very glad to have experienced this part of the journey with my dad. 
    Les
    January 19, 2015