This is the story of Pam and John; she in her early 50’s and John is 62. Pam is a college professor. John taught at a local community college until diagnosed with Parkinson’s in March 2008, then Lewy Body Dementia in April.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

not losing myself

The most common thing people tell me is to take care of myself, not give up the things I do for myself. That comes naturally to me, I put a lot of importance on the things I do for myself, but I feel so much more hemmed in.

Yesterday I ran four miles on the track in the early morning, then did some work by email. I attended a computer conference at work for a couple of hours and then did some errands. I went with John to his first physical therapy appointment, then hurried off to go bicycling with a friend. We pushed ourselves--13 hilly miles in under an hour. I cooked dinner and helped our son reorganize his room for a little while after dinner and then spent time on my computer.

Most days have that kind of balance--a lot of different things to do and not much down time but some significant part of my day is things I am doing for myself and I don't feel horribly pressured. Today I'm having coffee with a friend then a few hours at work, then going to meeting of my spiritual directors group. Some days are busier and more stressful than others--next Wednesday I am hosting a job candidate and appearing at a hearing for a student accused of plagiarism in the morning and have a massage and an appointment with someone who comes to me for spiritual direction in the afternoon. But even then some of what makes my schedule so full is things I am doing for me.

The trouble is, this is summer. I'm not teaching and I'm only working 2 or 3 hours a day at work-related stuff. I don't know how I would do it all if I was actually working full time.

John can still do things alone--I can't image what it will be like when he can't. I found a college student to help him move out of his office at work and reorganize his study at home. That seems to be working well and I am very grateful (I wouldn't have the time or patience to help him myself).

I'm thinking that I need to think of it not only as not losing myself, but also as how do I find myself in this new role? Caring for someone who is dependent has never been my strength. I was happy to be able to go back to work limited hours when my kids were two or three months old and have them in day care 5 or 6 hours a day. I'm hoping that this blog will somehow be a way of finding myself in what I have to do.

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