Saturday, June 30, 2012

1000 fires

Since I am now Dean's recognized caregiver through the VA's caregiver program, I was told I could have respite care. That means I can have a person come to my house and help Dean so that I can have some designated time to get other things done and not be interrupted by Dean's needs.

So our respite provider started last week, his name is David. The first day he was here was a great first day because although Dean looks and mostly talks like he has nothing wrong with him, David got to see what our life is like and why I seem to be in chaos all the time and need a respite helper. He was so observant that he gave me a great analogy for it. He said what keeps me from getting my own things done is all the fires I'm putting out. He is SO right! That is what I do all day, every day! It's all the little things that you can't put on a schedule that happen when a brain injured husband has all the freedom in the world to fix things, see things that need fixed, want things, tries to research things, tries to buy things, etc.

  • Here's a good example: Dean has many projects and we've created some folders to help him remember what he's working on at the moment with each of his projects. So on this day he's in the middle of gardening (and I was getting my own things done) when he gets a phone call from a guy who is selling a piece of reloading equipment. Dean had left a message with him on some other day. The guys says if Dean can meet him in an hour and a half he'd sell it to Dean. So now Dean needs to know what's on our agenda this evening and can we drive to meet him. I ask some questions and figure out that the guy is an hour away, we have David here on his first day, and we'd have to leave in 30 minutes and I am in the middle of making dinner. I'm trying to now make a deer in the headlights decision while Dean is on the phone with this guy. I ask him if he could call him back to let him know so we can talk about it. Now I have to ask some more questions because Dean gets in these "buying sprees" and gets kind of out of control. {This week already he spent his entire account on a rifle scope. He'd been saving this money for months to use on his car for some upgrades and now he's convinced me that this is more important. I said, "it's your money". Also this week he's spent $87 at BiMart for a bunch of things we don't need, $37 on some other reloading equipment on ebay, and now he wants to spend $30 on this equipment today. I have to explain to him that this money is coming from our house account and he can't keep doing this.} He needs to have money in his account before he can keep spending. I feel so bad telling him that he shouldn't be buying things (like a mom has to explain to her child) because he gets so down about it. So I ask him to explain the entire topic of "reloading" to me and how this piece of equipment fits into it all. He has compelling reasons for these actions....this is something that costs $120 brand new and this guy is selling his for $30. But that is always the trap I get in with him. He finds an infinite number of things that are a great deal but he doesn't have an infinite amount of money to buy it all. That is the part he can't reason. He can't take all the facts into account and make a good decision. So I have to control the money and spending and help him make decisions about it. And sometimes he makes the wrong one and will have to accept the consequences of it...but this is very hard as the wife to grown man husband :(  All of this is happening in front of David and while I'm making dinner with little Dean dancing and singing louder and louder 6 feet away. So I've stepped away from the kitchen and am now sitting to hear his explanation and to lay things out for him to understand where I stand on the issue. Thankfully, the guy called back a few minutes later and said the first guy that wanted it is on his way there and so he felt obligated to sell to the first guy. But you can see how this "fire" was something I had to tend with at that very moment.
I have these fires all throughout the day. Dean needs help moving something in the garage. Dean's garden needs something and we have to go to the store (and we have to discuss "need" vs. "want" and whether there are alternatives so he doesn't have to BUY something else). Dean can't get his computer to do something. Dean can't remember where he put his wrench. Dean wants to have me remind him of something so he doesn't forget and I remind him to "write it in his folder" (this is a new system and so we have to be diligent to have it become a habit). Dean is about to fall over because he's overdoing it outside. Dean needs to eat something and I can tell by the look on his face (he doesn't feel hunger). The list of things goes on and on and I'm constantly "on call" to his needs. If he doesn't do something the moment he thinks about it, he'll forget, and they will come back another day. I feel like I spiral around bumping into objects in a pinball machine!

My hope is to have David be the fire putter outer two days a have David help Dean to write his ideas/wants/needs/to do's in his have David help Dean open a folder and work on one project at a time. I hope David can do this two days a week so I can know that on those days I can get my work done.

We will see?  

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