Friday, September 23, 2011


     When I make a diagnosis of chronic kidney failure, patients and their families invariably ask me,”How can we get through this?”  I tell them to take life one day at a time, and we do just that, day after day, year after year.
     Betty Kuhn’s book will be at hand now, when patients leave my office.  In a friendly yet firm manner Betty covers the basics of living well in old age.  None of us wants to address these issues, but infirmity will prevail.  I recommend this book to every family young and old.  An ounce of prevention with Betty’s “words to the wise” could indeed save your loved ones pain and suffering.
     As for the author herself, without her strength and determination, her husband, Wayne, would not have made his remarkable recovery.  I never cease to learn from my patients---they are your best teachers---and Betty Kuhn sets a fine example for us all.
         What do you do when Mom moves in?  I suggest that you grab your suitcase and run out the back door as fast as you can.  Well, that may be exaggerating just a tad, but you’ll feel like fleeing, maybe not at first, but eventually you will.  You’ll want to escape from everything and everyone, hungry for a little solitude.  Luckily these feelings will pass.  If they didn’t you’d go crazy.  But you won’t run, you’ll open your arms and welcome Mom with a big hug.
     The stress of keeping everyone happy (except yourself), and balancing work, home, family, and an extra family member, is overwhelming at times.  the endeavor also has it’s lighter moments, which makes it all worthwhile.
     It can create hardships in a marriage too.  However, if you keep the lines of communication open with your husband, it can help your marriage become stronger, because you need each other and you must pull together to make it all work.
     Caretaking can be very rewarding at times.  The simple fact that you are taking someone you love into your home and preventing them from being placed in a nursing home makes it all worthwhile...well, most of the time.  When your parents need you, it gives you a warm feeling to be able to help them.  After all, they raised you for eighteen years; now it is your turn to raise them.  Sometimes they are like children, so the phrase rings true.
     It isn’t easy though.  It is one of the hardest things we had to face in our forty-seven years of marriage.  But, I’m glad we did it---four times---before my husband himself became critically ill.  Luckily, I had learned a little with each patient, so that I felt confident in my ability as a caregiver when my husband, Wayne, needed me.  After forty-seven years of him taking care of me, now it was my turn.  Perhaps that is why God gave me the task of caring for the others---to prepare me for the monumental task of caring for my husband.
     My biggest surprise was that I couldn’t handle it all myself.  I had been dealing with people for twenty-five years in the banking business, but when we took in my mother-in-law, it was a whole new world for me.  Surely, one little woman wouldn’t get to me.  But she did.  She managed to rub me the wrong way many times during her stay with us.  This woman with whom I had been friends for so many years was about to drive me crazy.  That’s when I knew I needed help.
     I hope that my experiences will help you know what to do when your mom moves in.  Good luck!

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