Lea Wait here. About a month ago, February 21, I posted a blog about caring for my husband, Bob Thomas, who has not been well for the past two years, since he was diagnosed with heart failure, COPD, and then had a stroke.
I really appreciated the hundreds of comments here, and on my Facebook page, and those sent to my email address. People shared their experiences with caregiving, promised thoughts and prayers, two people made food for us, and one reader from Arizona even knit a special prayer shawl for Bob.
We were both overwhelmed. But in the past week I’ve gotten comments and notes asking how Bob and I were doing. I hadn’t been posting on Facebook, and hadn’t followed up with some projects. Bob and I aren’t comfortable with posting daily updates on his condition, but he suggested, even though my post was only a month ago, that I needed to write another blog.
Because our road has taken a turn.
In February Bob became progressively worse. On March 4 I called an ambulance. Bob was in intensive care for nine days. I was with him all but two nights. While we were in the hospital we made plans for the immediate future. He came home last week under Hospice.
Hospice, as many of you know, is a program under which patients who have life expectancies of six months or less can be cared for and treated in their own homes. (Hospice can be extended if necessary, and if it is not possible for a patient to be cared for at home, or no caretaker, similar care may sometimes be arranged in a nursing home.) Care under hospice is palliative; its goal is to make the patient comfortable, not to cure the disease. Under Hospice I will continue to be Bob’s primary care giver, but he will receive regular visits from a nurse, and be supplied with appropriate equipment (e.g. hospital bed, wheelchair, oxygen) as needed.
So far, ironically, our biggest problem has been coping with the fact that while we were in the hospital I picked up germs that turned into pneumonia. Caring for Bob while not contaminating him has been a challenge. Luckily, Bob’s been doing better since he was in the hospital, and he hasn’t caught whatever germs I have.
Although that “six months” is hanging over our heads, we’re still making plans. Plans for Bob’s paintings to be displayed at the Stable Gallery in Damariscotta beginning in May. Plans for me to promote my new mystery series debuting in June. Plans to sit on our porch when the weather is warmer, look out over the river, and watch our spectacular sunsets. Plans to spend time with family or friends who visit.
Our old house has seen life coming and going many times since it was built in 1774. It has seen grief and joy; tears and laughter. We expect the next few months to bring more of all those emotions, as Bob travels a new road. I’ll be with him as far along the way as I can go.
And, we remind each other, sunsets are just as beautiful from his bed on the second floor as on the porch. We’re hoping to see many more of them, together.
Love sometimes means acceptance, and letting go. Every day we may move a little closer to that final letting go, but not to letting go of love.
Note: Yes, Bob read and approved this blog.