Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giving thanks

Thursday was American Thanksgiving, so it seems an appropriate time for me to share some of the things for which I am thankful.

1. My health. I’ve been battling a cough for the last 8 weeks, but am on the home stretch now. Even with the cough, I see myself fortunate in that I am well enough to work, to do chores, to exercise with Beth, and to support her physically. My memory isn’t so great, but I think not enough REM sleep does that to a person.

2. Beth is still alive and there are moments where we can be together. There are a lot of ups and downs and neither of us are perfect, but we both want to have a better relationship. And we keep working towards that.

3. BC Palliative Benefits program and hospice. Beth was registered palliative earlier this year, which meant some of her medications were free of charge. This has saved me hundreds of dollars each month – money which I didn’t have to begin with. Beth was registered with the Hospice Society a few months back, and while we haven’t used their services much yet, Beth was able to talk to a counselor for a few weeks. Hopefully, she can do more as she is able.

4. My job. Islands Trust has a mandate to preserve and protect the southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia. It does this by regulating planning and development on the island, and preserving pieces of land in trust. The work has little stress, which is something I appreciate at the moment. The people I work with are great, especially my boss. He is really flexible when it comes to my needing to take time off for care giving as he himself was a primary caregiver a couple of years ago.

5. Family. We don’t have any family in the area, but I appreciate the occasional phone calls from my parents and my sister-in-law. My parents flew me out to visit them this summer and attend my grandparents’ 60th anniversary. It was wonderful to reconnect with them. I am also excited about my cousin moving to Victoria this winter to work at CFB Esquimalt as a military police officer. I haven’t seen him in years.

6. Friends. Words of encouragement are priceless. Beth feels so alienated so any correspondence would help her feel part of the living. I always feel stronger when I know there are people behind me supporting me. Also, while I was unemployed a number of friendly readers reached out and assisted us -people we have corresponded with for years but also complete strangers who to this day we don’t have their address to even send a thank you card. If you are reading this and you were one of them – thank you so much. I don’t know what we would have done without you.

Thank you to those of you who have purchased off the Amazon wishlist (especially when accessed through
Beth’s blog so that she receives a small percentage of what you paid as a credit she can put toward her purchases). Someone has kept us supplied with Florastor which Beth needs to aid her digestion (P.S. I only have half a bottle left). Other medical items on the wishlist we always need restocking are the tegaderm patches (which prevent her pain patches from coming off) and the emla cream or other topical anaesthetic for medical tests. Batteries (AA and AAA) are always needed and my rechargeable ones aren’t recharging any more. The AAA batteries are used for Beth’s noise cancelling headphones which she couldn’t survive without, mp3 players for working through the pain while exercising, flashlights (so I can keep most of the lights off while Beth is sleeping), computer mice and other gadgets.

Purchases for the soul, rather than the body, have been equally important – books and DVDs to help Beth live beyond the pain, books for me to escape for a few hours, and DVDs we watch together as a couple. Those are special times for us together.

Financial donations go towards medications mostly, but also recently have been able to buy Beth some clothes she desperately needed – pajamas, sweats, tshirts and hoodies. Next on the list – warm socks,
wheelchair gloves (hers have split at the seams), more bottoms and a haircut for each of us.

While my job is great, the pay is not. There isn’t enough for extras no matter how nice or needed they might be. One of the reasons Beth did not go to Hospice for respite is that you had to pay for a week – something we really couldn’t do. We have come up with an alternative, which is possible with your help. We’d like to give Beth a two night stay at a local hotel in Victoria. There are some very nice hotels downtown and with winter rates they would be less than $100/night. Beth would still be able to get care workers to come and check on her and make sure she has meals. They could go for walks with her to Starbucks or to the museum. And she’d still have access to the internet. I would be close enough that she could call me in an emergency. We are hoping to give Beth this respite/mini holiday in mid-December before the prices go up. If you could help with that, please click the donate button on the right.

I have my own mini-respite in the first week of December. I am going up to Gabriola Island to do some work in our office there. I’ll be on Gabriola for two days and will spend the night in Nanaimo at a nice hotel where I can relax – go for a walk, read a book, soak in the whirlpool, or whatever else strikes my fancy. It is only one night, but it will be a welcome break.

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