Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Optimism with no hope?

I was talking today to a CNA that works at a nursing home. She explained a lot to me about how things work out in the civilian world regarding people with problems like Dean has. She really GOT IT....she works with people with brain problems everyday and has been doing it for years....and she gets to see it from such a different vantage point than I do. I have thought about visiting a nursing home type facility to see if they have things set up there that I can mimic here to keep me better organized.

Anyway, at one point she asked me "How do you do it"? I replied with some kind of answer like "I have no choice....I have to just do it". As we continued talking and I told her of some issues I'm having with Dean and him spending money and trying to teach him how to track his spending and not be so impulsive she said something that never occurred to me. As crazy as this never occurred to me!!! She said "What if this is as good as he's going to get and you can never teach him how"? At that point I had the slamming to a halt realization of something that I had not allowed myself to think about. What if there is nothing more I can do, what if I'm not the inept one, what if I'm not doing something wrong, what if I'm doing all I can do and it just isn't going to improve? I have been hanging onto some idea that if I can just get him in a routine, get him to follow some protocols, or teach him some new habits then this could all be more manageable. But what if he will never get into a routine, never follow protocols, and never learn new habits and we are stuck going around the same overwhelming circle over and over and over again?

The deepest sadness hit me.

What if this is it? I am barely hanging on as it is. I can't keep track of another life that has this much freedom and ability. How do I have the same conversations over and over about our future and the decisions I have to make that he doesn't understand? Sometimes it feels like 50 first dates with a 3 year old (and I do NOT say that to be belittling to my husband!) but in a lot of ways it's like he can't see that something won't work, he can't see that he is unable to do something, he can't see the impossiblity of a situation that contains so many facets.

Can one only maintain optimism when there is hope? I guess I will find out.


  1. Oh Karen! This was not my intention at all. I don't know the entire situation and I know nothing of Dean's brain injury. I cannot say whether things will improve or not. Regardless, and therapeutic communication is obviously not my strong point, you have to take care of yourself. I admire your determination to care for your husband. Your efforts to work with him on activities of daily living, in hopes of establishing a routine that he recognizes and follows, are admirable and don't ever think for a moment that they are futile! I am concerned for you. I am concerned about you keeping up a rigorous routine and caring for little Dean. We are all human and we can only handle a certain amount of stress. You recognize Dean's stress intolerance. You have to recognize your own. There will be a day when you feel like you can't handle another moment. Don't let that happen. There are outlets for you. This blog is phenomenal and an excellent way for your to communicate your frustrations and concerns as well as triumphs but you may need to do more, to maintain sanity. Please head my advice and seek out ways to to relieve stress, to vent and to revel in all that is good in your life.

  2. I know that we don't know each other that well but this post WAS therapeutic for me. I can sometimes not see the reality of a situation because I'm solely focused on the positive and then I get mad at myself because I must be doing something wrong. It is therapeutic for me to see the possibility that I may try everything in the world correctly and it may still not work. I need to accept that Dean is hurt and he isn't getting better. I really only allow myself to say that for a few minutes a year and I know that means I'm not really "dealing" with that truth. So please, please, please understand that you did NOTHING wrong the other day by helping me see what I needed to see!!! I LOVED our conversation and hope I didn't take your fun day at the park away by talking about our situation (I know talking about work when you are trying to have a play day isn't probably the most desired thing).

    All that being said, I do try to get a bi-monthly massage. I am trying to take better care of my body. I want to start riding a bike (hoping to find a partner) and being active.

    Thank you so much for being a caring person!