Monthly Archives: September 2014

Caregiving: Keeping Track of it All

I spent last week at Mom’s. Again. She had been in the hospital the week before, and was still pretty sick. We had lots of doctor appointments, as well as an urgent care appointment and lots of diagnostic tests. I felt like a juggler. How do I keep track of everything?

Doctor and Patient

Keep Track of All That Happens in the Doctor’s Office
Photo Credit: DIBP Images

Over the years, I’ve tried several methods to keep records of what happens at each appointment. Most of those have been paper based. But with the number of appointments Mom has (and Hubby and I for that matter), the binders became too heavy to carry and too unwieldy to manage. Recently I’ve gone electronic.

Evernote is my Foundation

I use Evernote on my iPad to manage all medical files. Evernote is a free application that syncs to my computer, my phone, and my iPad. It allows me to create unlimited notebooks and unlimited notes within each notebook. So I have a notebook called “Health & Medical: Mom” and another called “Health & Medical: Hubby.” Within each notebook, I create a note for each physician, with a running commentary on all that is done during each appointment. Prior to the appointment, I can make a list of questions I want to remember to ask. While in the appointment, I make notes on vitals, discussions, orders, and treatments. It’s easy to pull up info from other doctors to compare or provide information.

Scan Diagnostic Reports

For lab and x-ray reports, I also create Evernote files—one for each report. I can move them into Evernote by scanning them and then emailing them to Evernote, (easy using a document scanner) or I can use the Evernote web clipper to copy the file to Evernote. Since Evernote sorts alphabetically, I label each file Lab-<Name of study> <date> or X-ray-<Name of study> <date>. That makes it easy to sequence repeated studies.

Using Evernote on my iPad, I have everything at my fingertips, without carrying an anvil. What do you use to keep track of your parents’ medical appointments? Or your own? (I use the same system for my own appointments).

Staying Flexible | Long Distance Caregiving

Life for the long distance caregiver is never dull. Or predictable…

Ya' Gotta Stay Flexible Contortionits

Ya’ Gotta Stay Flexible
Photo Credit: Bob Jagendorf

We got back from our trip to Houston late Wednesday night. While there, Mom was beginning to have some GI problems, so Thursday I spent much of the day trying to get her a GI appointment for when I’m there this week (which of course meant rescheduling other appointments). Friday I called and she was in the middle of an emergency situation. Her assisted living caregivers and I decided she needed to go to the ER. I called my sister, who was able to drive her (to save the many hundred dollar ambulance fee for less than a mile) and stay with her until they got her settled.

They kept her overnight and the next day transferred her to a larger hospital in Sacramento since there was no GI specialist on call in her area over the weekend. (Note to caregivers: these things always happen on weekends. Just expect it.). Problem is, by the time we got home from Houston, I had the full-blown cold the family had been sharing. Not something I wanted to share with an immune-compromised Mom. Called my brother who lives a couple of hours from her, and thanks to his recent retirement, he was available to go. And thanks to his recent months of hospital duty with his MIL, he was experienced. Who could ask for anything more?

So he’s been at the hospital, coordinating with the docs and nurses. Keeping Mom calm. Keeping all of us informed. Meanwhile I’ve been home coughing my lungs out and keeping the tissue companies in business. Sometimes things don’t go as we plan. Sometimes we move to Plan B. As a caregiver, flexibility is a critical trait to cultivate if you want to be splendid.

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It is What It Is – And It’s All Good

We just got back from a week with our kids in the Houston area. When we visit them, I always have so much planned, so much I’d like to do. Far more than is probably realistic under any circumstances, and with a 22 month old and a 3 month old, ….

Sikora Family in San Antonio

Sikora Family in San Antonio
Photo Credit: Random Stranger

On the flight out, both Hubby and I got sick. There were animals on our flight, and I’m terribly allergic, so my immune system was compromised by the time we got there. For some reason, he got full-blown sick while I just diddled around the edge with sore throat and sniffles. The weather in Houston was “stay home hot,” but of course, Grandma wanted to take the toddler to the playground. We paid for it the biggest crop of mosquito bites I’ve ever had.

On top of the usual, we planned a three-day adventure to San Antonio to celebrate DIL’s 30th birthday. We headed to San Antonio with a forecast of 70s and clear. We arrived in a downpour that remained until Sunday morning. And we didn’t take jackets for any of us.

Nonetheless, we celebrated DIL’s birthday in style. We visited the Alamo and the grownups took advantage of the kids’ naptime. Sure, both girls had meltdowns during DIL’s birthday dinner Saturday night, relegating Son or myself to the car with them. But Sunday the sun shone and we got to swim and then take a boat ride on the River Walk, followed by a much more leisurely dinner on the River.

Traveling with little ones is different from traveling with the adult kids, which we have always cherished. But this is the season we’re in and we’re loving every minute of it. We are learning to flex, to move to Plan B, and to laugh in the midst of it. We’re building memories with our family. We get to watch the children’s development for a week. We are available to help wherever needed, to give Son and DIL breaks for both personal time and date time. We’re investing in their marriage and their family. We are thankful for the relationship we have with them. We are reaping where we have sowed. It’s all good! And it’s all God!!

Giving Thanks in All Things

How do you face adversity and frustrations? Do you complain or give thanks? 1 Thes. 5:18 commands – yes, commands – us, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” As a young Christian, this concept really confused me. How could I give thanks for everything?

Praying hands In everything give thanks...

In everything give thanks…
Photo Credit: Irina Patrascu

But note that Paul doesn’t say to give thanks for everything, but rather, in everything. Yes, there is a huge difference. We may not be grateful for the thing that is happening to us, and that often makes sense. There are a lot of awful things happening in our world and our individual lives today. But when those things happen, we have a choice. We can complain and whine that God is being mean to us. Or we can assume that he is our good father, caring for us even better than the best of earthly fathers. And if we can believe that, we can give thanks in those circumstances for this care, even if we don’t like the circumstances.

How do we do that?

  • We can thank him that he is carrying us in the midst of the adversity.
  • We can thank him that it isn’t worse than it is. (Yep, it could always be worse).
  • We can thank him for what we are learning — or are going to learn when we calm down.
  • We can thank him that as others see our thankful reaction, they will be amazed at how good our God is.
  • We can thank him that we are being strengthened for the next trial.
  • We can thank him that we are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

So take a minute right now and thank God in the middle of your circumstances. Praise him. Trust him. Then you will see much more clearly.

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Lessons on Living to 104

Aida Hedson recently celebrated her 104th birthday. In an interview with Market Watch she reflects on her journey, crediting her longevity to her positive attitude and enjoyment of life. But basically, she just lives without thinking a lot about it.

Aida Hedson at 104

Aida Hedson at 104
Photo Credit: MarketWatch

MarketWatch: Did you ever think you’d make it to 104?

Hedson: The years have passed – and I got here.

MarketWatch: Any plans for your 105th?

Hedson: It will come. If not, I will probably pass away before it! I think I have kept my health good and I look forward to doing what I did up to now.

I love this attitude. I know too many older people, years younger than her, who are just marking time, waiting to die, and wondering why the grim reaper is taking so long. I understand. If you live with pain and your family is gone or far away, it’s hard to find the joie de vivre. But if you don’t find a way to find it, life can be a drag. I love being around older people who just go on living, in spite of it all.

How about you? Are you living life to the fullest?

The Myth of Happiness: A Follow-Up

A few weeks ago I published an article on The Myth of Happiness as an obstacle to healing. It was quite popular, and it seems, timely. I’ve seen a couple of articles this week that have confirmed my point and taken it a step or two further.

Happy dancers

Let’s Just Be Happy!
Photo Credit: sima dimitric

The first, Why God Doesn’t Care if You’re Happy by Joseph Mattera, could have been a take-off on my article. It reinforces the idea that God has much bigger goals than my happiness. The second, The Osteen Predicament: Mere Happiness Cannot Bear the Weight of the Gospel, is one of many articles being published on the statements by Victoria Osteen, wife of Joel Osteen, who declared that it’s our happiness that give God his greatest joy. Author Albert Mohler takes both the Osteens and the Prosperity Gospel to task. When we focus on our own personal happiness, we degrade the true Gospel and discount the blood of the martyrs over the two millennia of Christendom.

Despite this, many American Christians simply can’t wrap their heads around the idea that their individual happiness isn’t foremost in God’s heart and mind. If we as a Church hope to have any effectiveness in a post-Christian culture, we need to seriously rethink our personal theology. We need to value conformity to the image of Christ far more than our personal happiness.

Your thoughts?

 

How to Get Your Warrior Back | Part 2

Yesterday we looked at two strategies to get your warrior back. Today we’ll conclude with three more.

Warrior woman

It’s Time To get Your Warrior Back!
Photo Credit: Andreas Øverland

Decide

Decide really is the most powerful word in the English language. After being with my big-spirited friends, I was able to DECIDE that I was done. No more depression. No more victim spirit. No more feeling sorry for myself. My God is bigger than that, and I wasn’t going to allow this behavior to continue to insult my God and ruin my life. Deuteronomy 30:19 is a command to choose life, which a decision. I changed my self-talk and my attitude, and my emotions followed.

Change Your Thinking From Victim To Victor

Closely related to deciding was changing my thinking from victim to victor. I implemented a mindset of determination and faith. I refused all temptation to feel sorry for myself. I began to proclaim the power of God. I changed my thinking to the Christus Victor aspect of salvation, which says that because of the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus has already won the victory over sin and death. Therefore, that victory is mine. Changing my thinking isn’t easy, but when I’m consistent, it doesn’t take long to be effective.

Active Praise

Praise always breaks depression. Isaiah 61:3 says the Lord will provide “a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness (KJV). I certainly had a heavy spirit. I found passionate worship music on YouTube and kept it playing all the time. I also took opportunities to actively worship, using my whole body. Singing out loud. Raising my hands. I’ve found that getting my body involved is very important in breaking off depression. The emotions follow the body.

So if you are struggling with feeling totally bowed over, decide it’s time to get your warrior back, and take these simple steps. You’ll be glad you did.

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How to Get Your Warrior Back