Pressure

Billy Joel wrote a song titled Pressure  that was released in the early ‘80’s. In it he writes that at some point in life you will have to learn how to deal with this, for at first things are good, and then it hits you in the face like loaded guns, you get what is called pressure, and what you feel internally must be dealt with inwardly.

Perhaps Joel was dealing with his own pressure demons of being a songwriter and providing for his family. As others tried to offer him advice, which seems he rejected, writing “here you are with your faith and your Peter Pan advice”, it seems he did not accept that offering.

The thought of all of us having to deal with pressure is a true one. The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes it as “the burden of physical or mental distress.”

Joel writes that you and you alone must deal with it. Though he (it seems) received advice, he doesn’t offer anything in regarding how to deal with pressure and the distress of it all. I presently have some pressure to deal with myself, and the distress of it all is inwardly deafening. Though Joel says one does not know how to handle it, I have a way of dealing with pressure:

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of                                           the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus  might be made manifest in our body. “ II Corinthians 4: 7-10

For the believer we have a treasure for our bodies: it is the excellency of God’s power. Through the life of Jesus and what He did for us shall be made known and understood in those who have the faith to believe in Him.  So sorry Billy, our belief system is not from Peter Pan or “some cosmic rationale’. For me experiencing the stress of caring for someone who for the past three weeks has been argumentative, not remembering at all what we have discussed numerous times, then twisting it into my not doing something at all (and adding huge lack of distrust against me) comes with a deep level of stress. But I am not in despair, not forsaken and definitely am not destroyed, because of what Jesus did for me, because of the power that lives in me. I admit, like the song Pressure says, I have never dealt with pressure like this before, but at the same time I know there are lessons I have learned, and I am sure more tests are coming for me to pass. I have someone I can go to who will provide the strength I need to continue being a caregiver, and continue living life.

Honor Him by Honoring Her

Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.  Ephesians 6: 2,3

Patience wears thin as a caregiver goes about caring for loved ones, in my case, my mother. As I talk to others about what goes on,  I think that the reason I do what I do is because I want to honor her as the Word says. But today was a busy one, as I had errands to do, and continue to pack boxes because the plan is to move in with my mother once she comes home from rehab.  My mother called as she always has since she has been away, confused and agitated, and in the evening sun downing causes the confusion to go deeper into mental disorientation, calling me every five to ten minutes asking me when I am picking her up.  It got to the point that I took the phone off the hook so I wouldn’t be bothered. I had answered the same series of questions with the same answers, but it seemed to no avail, as she called again and again.

Then I listened to a sermon on a Christian network, and guess what the title was? It had the phrase of honoring your mother, coming from the scripture listed above:  AGHHHHH!

I listened to the message just as the pastor was emphasizing the main issue that as you honor her you are also honoring God. Then (of course he had to put this in his message) he spoke of the years she poured into you as she cared for you, and we as children need to do the same in caring for them.  At that point, I stared at my phone that was on the floor with the receiver off the hook.  I put the receiver back, wondering how long it would take before the phone would ring again; it only took five minutes, and her questions were the same.

The goal in carng for my mother is to honor God. Patience is thin, but God gives me enough to get me through answering questions for the fifteenth time, hoping she will understand until the next call rolls around.

As I am willing to do the caring, God provides what I need (patience, in this case) to continue.  May God care for you in the same manner…

“Stop letting circumstances write your story.” – John Gray

The above was an excerpt from John Gray, associate pastor of Lakewood Church, a great line to remember when circumstances are getting a bit challenging. Being a caregiver can be quite challenging, to say the least, particularly when the one you are caring for is getting worse. My mother’s dementia condition is progressing, and I am doing what I can to come to her aid. She is now in rehab, being moved there from the hospital as a way to get her stronger and more steadily mobile. So far she is going along with that, but mentally she has regressed to the late ’70’s, asking me if I drove from Ohio to come see her. During that time I was in college, and I attended Wilberforce University that is located in Ohio. I have learned from past experience not to correct her, as that doesn’t help the situation. Instead, I just go with the flow, and continue on with the conversation. As she has progressed in her condition, I have progressed as well.

I have learned that being in a tough situation can result in going in one way or another. Back in October, 2015 I didn’t know up from down when my mother started talking like she had been on a drug binge. I didn’t know what to do and I felt like my world was falling apart. But eventually, I had to make a decision if I was to remain in that way of living, or try something that would cause me to be on more steady footing. I chose the latter.

The next step was determining how I was to achieve that. Since my mother’s diagnosis days have turned into weeks, months, and years, and what I have learned is when God throws out an invitation to offer help, you’ve got to take Him up on His offer. In what seemed to be the darkest of nights, I had a heart to heart with my Father. First asking for forgiveness for not coming to the throne of grace sooner and asking for help. So many days and nights my head was spinning endlessly, trying to figure out solutions to helping my mother, and keeping myself sane in the process. When I finally came to God in faith (pistis) believing that He could take the my mental reigns and my mother’s circumstance, the peace flowed, and my head got emptied of endless thinking of what to do. The attempt to be in control of a circumstance that you really have no control over  doesn’t help, as it causes confusion, depression, and endless worry that is coupled with the ‘what-ifs’ that further complicate matters. Your attention or emphasis is not on God, but on self.

In the fourteenth chapter of Matthew, Peter was doing great when he took Jesus’ invitation to walk on the water with Him. But when his attention turned to the elements that caused the storm and the boat to be tossed to and fro, he began to sink (a complication of matters). No longer was he able to do what Jesus was doing by walking on water. But I have to give Peter credit. Before he drowned he remembered two words that caused Jesus to reach out and handle the situation: “Save me.”  Immediately, Jesus caught him, but also asked him why he doubted him in the first place as they went back to the boat.

And so I have learned to ask for anything and everything, but in faith believing. My level of pistis does not have to be huge, as Jesus told his disciples that one can have the faith of a grain of a mustard seed (the seed is 0.039 to 0.079 inches in diameter, so imagine how small a grain of that is) and say to the mountain be removed, and it shall be done.

So whatever circumstance you find yourself in, strive not to dwell in it, but find a Source that can guide you to inner peace while waiting on the divine solution. And then witness how God writes your story.

 

The Pistis Diet

If your challenge is to lose weight and get physically healthy, the goal is to exercise and go on a diet to change your eating habits. Many experts say that going on a diet should not be the goal. How many times have we gone on a diet to lose weight, only to gain the weight back once off it? So the experts say change your habits, and develop a lifestyle that you can follow for life.

So I introduce to you the Pistis Diet. Pistis is the Greek word for faith.  If you do a word study on faith, you will find the word has further definition, “faith buddies” if you will, that aid in its description. You will find words like persuasion, confidence, assurance, to name a few. If you try this Pistis Diet, you will develop a foundation of hope. You will discover that faith is the underbelly of a belief system that enables one to move in the direction of being confident and assured, knowing that faith will come through.

Jesus many times used faith in complimenting someone’s actions. Take for example the woman with the issue of blood. She purposed in herself to exercise pistis that enabled her in her weak feeble condition to push her way through the throngs of people to get to Jesus and touch the hem of his garment, the place where the Lord told the children of Israel to look at as a reminder of remembering the commandments, to do them and be holy unto the Lord (Numbers 15: 37-40). As she touched him, Jesus felt virtue or power leave him as she was being healed of her illness. When she explained why she touched him, Jesus called her Daughter (that she was his child), telling her the pistis or faith she was induced to believe of him is what made her whole. Then he told her to go in peace, being made whole and fully restored to health.

So what is your faith foundation? Is it on your own efforts, like trying to lose weight temporarily only to gain the pounds back? How about being fully persuaded that regardless of the state you are in, having the confidence and assurance that God has your back, and will reward you for your level of faith in Him, in His power, by His Word through His works? Try the Pistis Diet and watch your life change.

“And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”  Matthew 5:34

 

Get Better, Not Bitter

Because there was a need to address a health issue with my mother, I took her to her doctor for an appointment.  When I talked to her, I knew she was in a ‘tude. She didn’t want any help (though I heled her anyway), and she wanted to put her walker in the back seat before getting in the car. Once we got to the doctor’s office, her demeanor changed to a more positive speech.  The good news was the pain she was experiencing in her legs and feet was due to a combination of arthritis and lack of blood flow, and the doctor gave her some pointers on what she should do.

Once the doctor visit was over and we got back to the car, her mental confusion returned, and of course I was the reason for it. But I realized something: I did nothing wrong on this day. I stole no money, nor tried to do something slick to cheat her out of something. I was just being the dutiful daughter who was caring for her mother.

And then I realized further that because I did nothing wrong, and her dementia was just rearing its ugly head, there was no need to get angry, no need to react to her comments that would cause an argument. All I had to do was get better at being proactive by not reacting to her. There were times when I did not respond, to eliminate any creation of a hostile atmosphere.  All this is a process, but I am getting better, and I am doing my best not to get hostile.

So to caregivers everywhere, consider this:

  • Be proactive in not creating a hostile environment of throwing negative thoughts to your loved one. It only makes matters worse. What about not responding to the comments? Or how about changing the subject all together?
  • Acknowledge your role is one of caring; it is one thing when you know you said something that was inappropriate. It is quite another when you are fulfilling your role, trying to do the right thing, and being told off for something you did not do. Take the higher road (I know, easier said than done, but strive for it), and continue to love and care for your loved one.

Being bitter for being in the caregiver role only brings strife and angst from within. But fighting for peace within is a much better goal.

Pressurized Yet Empowered

This morning Mom called me saying she knew this will sound unbelievable, but she did not know where she was. She further said she had a dream that she had breakfast with people she didn’t know. Though she knew it was a dream, she still did not know where she was, even though she knew she was in her room.

From there she reverted to what happened in October 2015. As she did then, she asked me this morning if I was with our cousin (who lives in another state), and when we were coming home. It was difficult for her to see that her dream was not reality, and that being in her bedroom was real.

All this made me realize that I need help; help with taking care of her, as I fear she will soon start to wander, another characteristic of dementia.

As for me, I keep flunking the class of finances, I keep spending too much. This adds to my already frustrated state. My reaction to it all is eating. Not eating the right thing, and eating too much of it, as I feel my facial cheeks increase in size.

And yet God does not leave me while in my present state. Through the pressure of it all, He reminds me of the gifts He has placed inside me, and not to forget about them. Because of being a caregiver, I wonder if there will ever be a time when I can present them to the world; He assures me that time will come. But He also gives me another point to consider,

“The greater the pressure, the greater the promise; the greater the pressure, the greater the power.”  When the strength is gone, and you feel empty is when God provides the power needed to continue. Continuing through the tension, and through the pressure.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.  II Corinthians 4: 7-10

Having heard this from Pastor Steven Furtick during his message this morning I am thankful that God encouraged me today. It helps me to continue pursuing and living, and trusting the answers will come. Actually, being pressurized enables me to recognize and focus on God’s power, learning how to be empowered in the process.

You may be going through the same type of pressurization. I hope you grab onto the power God has given while being strengthenized for your journey.

Allowance for Some Fun

I believe that when one is a caregiver, they do not allow themselves time to have fun.  At least that is my opinion about myself. The second thing is when the opportunity presents itself, I tend to feel bad for having done it.

Today was a “free day” for me. My mother told me she would stay home today, so I wouldn’t be rushing to take her to church and bring her home before I went to sing at another church. The day was mine to be free as a bird. 

I visited a church I used to be a member at, and saw some friends I hadn’t seen in months, and got to say a quick hello to the pastor. It was nice for many (who knew I was a caregiver for my mom) to compliment me on how well I looked.

Then it was off to another church for the afternoon to sing, something I love to do. I picked up the choir director, and off we went. The service was great, as was the singing, and afterwards, before taking him home we went out to dinner. The food was good, and I got some ribbing from my friend in the process (figuratively from him teasing me, and literally, as we went to a rib joint), but I had fun and relaxation, not to mention a full stomach from the tasty food I ate.

After taking my friend home, my mind started doing something I had to fight against: I was not out-of-order for wanting to go and sing, or to have dinner out. But I had to fight feeling guilty for doing it.  I suppose that is what others, who are so entrenched in caring for someone go through. But I encourage caregivers everywhere not to relent to that thought. Rather, enjoy your time away from giving of yourself to someone as a caregiver, and enjoy and be present in the moment, even if it is for a few hours; you deserve it, so embrace it.  Soon you will be back in the caregiver trenches of your loved one’s life, and it will come sooner that you know.

Hope you will embrace the opportunity when you can get away, and please, have fun and relaxation, and don’t feel guilty in the process.

Not Reacting to Reactions

At first it was a gloomy rainy morning. I picked up my mother, took her to the hair salon, then we took a ride to the other side of the city to look at an apartment. By then the rain left the atmosphere, and the sun came out. We weren’t able to see the apartment, but were able to get something for lunch. My mother more than once said how much she was enjoying riding in the car and seeing the sights she hadn’t seen in a while.

Lunch was tasty. She appreciated me picking up the tab (including the ice cream for desert). She gave me $5 for the tip, but I charged the meal, took the cash, and added it to the bill, along with my $5 for the tip; so the waitress got $10 in all. While we were waiting to pay for the meal, I decided to offer a solution about living together. Since my lease was up in August (and I had lived with her in her apartment for at least two weeks during the winter), that I would let my lease run out and move in with her.

The day suddenly got very weird.

“Where is the $5 I just gave you?”  Answer: “I’m using my card and added yours and my $5 for the tip.” Response: “You need to tell me what you going to do with the $5. You need to keep me informed!”

Regarding the moving in with her:

“You need to slow down! I just can’t take it! You go too fast! I may have wanted to do something different, but you been thinking about this a long time!”

“I have not! I just thought of this!”

More arguing then I respond:

Response: “As long as God knows I am telling the truth, that’s all that matters.”

“Oh, Now you’re putting God in this.”  Response: “He always has been in it and will continue to be.”

After going back and forth, literally throwing food at each other (actually it was already in carry out containers, but anyway), my inner thermometer went through the roof of my chest. Then I said, “Why do you do this? You always want to argue about everything!” By this point I was feeling the demon of distrust coming from her, and I must admit, I was sick of it. We yelled at each other some more, and when she said she did not want my help with getting her up from her bench, her bellowing out a loud “NO!” I left the restaurant and waited in the car.

The trip home was silent.  The next task was my going to the store to do her grocery shopping, telling her as she got out the car that I needed her to give me money to go shopping. When I got to her apartment, she gave me the money and said she wanted her change (like I have never done that before). I talked over her saying she would get her change and the receipt.

I do not know if she forgot what happened minutes ago or not,  but when I returned (making sure I had her receipt, and telling her she owed me money), the tension seemed to have dissipated…however,

I know this is the disease of dementia talking and reacting, nevertheless for the caregiver it is a challenging part of the process to not react to her reactions to what I consider to be simple solutions to a problem. I told her I would talk to the rental office about my decision, and as is always the case (because of the distrust she has in me) she stated she wanted to be there when I talked to them. So be it, no problem. ” Cause I don’t want you to do something sneaky that they don’t know about.” What she doesn’t understand is I talked to the property when I moved in with her before, and he completely understood, particularly since he was noticing similar issues with his father.

So whether it is the doctors not knowing what they are doing as their goal is to have her spend more money, or regardless of what I do that is loaded with (in her mind) trying to get over in whatever I do, I must continue being her caregiver, no matter what. That will mean being more determined than ever not to react when my mother is the reactor.

God help me…please.

 

The Time Has Come to Consider

Decision: a determination arrived at after consideration

It has been a while since I wrote in the blog. I suppose it’s due to the busyness of being a caregiver. From the past months I have learned the meaning of observation, which is a skill I am cultivating regarding what to say and how to say it to my mother. This also involves acknowledging the sheer fear my mother is experiencing in losing herself.

She knows she is “losing it” regarding the functioning of her mind. She also is frustrated by the fact that the medical doctors and staff tend to refer to me for decision-making, which leaves her out the loop, so to speak. She responds to this by saying something like “they think I’m crazy; the doctor said call the daughter”. This happened today regarding a doctor appointment. She did not tell me but the when I called the office, I was told she called five times, either cancelling the appointment or calling to schedule one.

If I were to tell her this, she would say they were lying, a response she often gives when she has done something that puts her in a bad light.  I, however would believe the staff person I spoke to, as my mother called me at least ten times this morning about a matter, saying the same thing over and over.

I had hoped I would have more time before making a rather firm decision  regarding my mother. I wanted time to get my life matters in order before fully attending to hers. But now that I am noticing she is mentally deteriorating, deep consideration concluding to a big decision on my part needs to be made… and soon.

Should I leave my employment, as I have read many adult children do to care for their parents? Assisted living with a memory care element is too expensive for our combined pocketbooks, and while we started to look for those type of places, why look if is not affordable?  That leave us with moving in together, the more viable and reasonable solution. While that is a perfect solution for her, it would leave me completely engaged in her life, which would mean I would not have one. All my time would be sacrificed, even with the possible help of someone coming a few days a week and caring for her. I have to determine what to do.

This is a situation I have never experienced, with role-reversals from being the daughter to being the mother, and my mother being the child. I have no solution, but…

 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.  Psalm 32:8

What instruction and guidance I need right now.

Last night before midnight I was awakened by severe pain in my stomach. As I stumbled to the bathroom, the pain became worse, and the result was it ‘coming out of both ends’, if you know what I mean. Was it something I ate that caused this, I wondered. When I told a friend, she said it could very well be stress. I must acknowledge I have a lot of stressors right now, but…

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Psalm 18:1 & 6

Even as I felt there was a world war going on in my stomach, God heard my cries for help, and eventually the cold sweats ceased, and the rest of me calmed down, so I could go back to bed for some much-needed sleep.

I wish I could formulate an answer, but right now that is not possible. I have to go to the One who knows what is the solution, the best decision for both my mother and I.

 

 

Don’t Take It Personally..

I have been blessed with friends that have gone through what I am presently experiencing: dealing with their parents who suffered with dementia. In 100% or the our conversations, they have all said to me at one time or another ‘don’t take what she says to you personally’. It has proved to be priceless advice. But here’s the problem.

After recently undergoing hip replacement surgery, my mother is presently in a rehab facility. When I go to visit her, I never know what behavior to expect. Will it be the personality of the mother I am used to seeing,  or will it be the dementia type personality, full of paranoia, anger and distrust? The last time I visited with her, it was the latter.

Here’s the problem I experience when it is the latter. First, it takes a while before I realize which personality I’m experiencing. By the time I figure that out, I feel my inner thermometer starting to rise, and when that happens, I react. That means I have allowed myself to be pulled into the paranoia, and the advice I received about not taking it personally is completely forgotten.

If I had remembered it I would not be so drawn in. There have been times when I remained not drawn into her anger, and for me that is good. For my mother, she takes it as my talking to her in a condescending manner, and I admit that makes me feel like I just can’t win, even when it is in the attempt to have a decent conversation with her.

So here is the thought for caregivers everywhere:  a) Don’t be drawn in to your loved one’s negative behavior. b) Be proactive, not reactive. Proactive action keeps you sane; reactive tendencies keep you in a negative plight.

This will take time to develop, as I am learning there is an art to it, but I am encouraged I can master it while learning not to take my mother’s behavior of negative untrue statements to heart, and not take it personally. It is part of the disease, not part of the true essence of her.