Two years ago this week, my husband suffered a severe, unexpected stroke. We should have been on our boat in the San Juan Islands. Instead we were home, waiting for a delayed repair to be completed.
This post focuses on life after a medical emergency, whether it’s a parent, a child, a spouse or a beloved pet.
We all lead busy lives. We show up for our kids at their recitals and sports events. We volunteer and we work. Sometimes one activity gets in the way of another, but we’re smart. We figure out how to squeeze in as much as we can without collapsing.
When emotions are involved we have to remain calm and to have our brain working at full speed and clarity. We have to be super-organized and stick to the schedule we’ve set up so we don’t break down. The emotional drain can be heavy. You want to be there, you want to help, but you can’t always. Here are a few suggestions to consider:
• Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Your loved one needs you to be healthy. You can’t help them if you get sick or run-down.
• Try to develop a schedule and stick to it. If you are taking over tasks the loved one did, you need to add them to your own. Write them down. Figure out when best to do them. Try not to feel overwhelmed. If you do, get help.
• If you work outside the home, don’t neglect your job. I always said I could deal with problems at work if everything is good at home and vice versa. Both at once is stressful. Unless you have family leave, you need to work. Plus, work can distract you. Your brain needs this time away from personal anxiety.
• If you work at home, you have a double whammy because you may feel like you have to do everything yourself. You don’t. When family or friends visit, use the time to run errands or just get away and find a peaceful place for yourself for an hour.
• When disaster struck I spent ten hours a day in a hospital room. I edited a book while sitting bedside. I had interruptions, but saved my work and wrote during my husband’s naps, therapy, and meals.
• If you become a caregiver, write things down as you think of them, and create a calendar just for the new activities that will pop up.
Many of us have experienced family emergencies. Others will face them in the future. We can’t predict the future. But most of us discover we are stronger than we think.
And if you’re a writer like I am, you will meet those deadlines and get that next book out.