It’s hard to believe that it’s January. It feels like time speeds up as each year passes. 2011 was a year filled with so many trials and tragedy that, at times, I just wanted to curl up in the fetal position and cry.
2011 began for us with a call from my sister-in-law Cathy in Florida with the news that my mother-in-law, Tillie, was found unresponsive and had been put on life support. Her heart was not working properly and required open heart surgery. Her surgery was scheduled for the first Monday in February.
Prior to her surgery my brother-in-law Bob, from Idaho, flew to Florida spend time with her and help Cathy out as my in-laws live with her. While Bob was there he went out for a jog, during which he had a massive heart attack and died on the running trail. Bob was 58 years old.
Since Bob’s death, we experienced the loss of our dog Mimi (those of you who are dog lovers know that this is as traumatic as the death of a family member), my step-mother Helen who died the week before Easter after a 2 year battle with small cell cancer, my godfather John died of a brain tumor and my best friends dad died of congestive heart failure. Added to this were ongoing doctor appointments for my Aunt who is in a constant state of vertigo. Just when I thought we had enough my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and I rang in the New Year putting in raised toilet seats and bath benches to assist my husband Paul who spent the transition into 2012 in the hospital after surgery to replace his hip.
Tired yet? Me too!!
As I peer through the rear-view mirror at 2011, it can be easy to focus on the negative. Any of these events alone could send a sane person over the edge, much less experiencing all of them within a 12 month period.
However; I would be remiss if I did not also focus my review goggles on the positive aspects:
- Tillie, had surgery to repair and replace the valves in her heart, as well as triple bi-pass and is gaining strength as she recovers at home.
- Due to the indescribable generosity of people in our life, my husband and I were able to fly to both Florida and Idaho to attend funerals for Bob and lend support to family on both ends of the country. (Note: because Bob died in Florida, his wife Judy allowed my in-laws, who are both too physically compromised to travel, to have a funeral in Florida before returning his body to Idaho.)
- My Mom’s cancer was found early and, though she will need a few more surgeries, her prognosis is good.
- Paul is out of the chronic pain caused by his hip and should be able to play softball again this summer.
Experiencing the effects of caregiving on and for several family members this year is a reminder of why I have dedicated my life to educate and support family caregivers. With the events of 2011 in mind my company is moving forward on an initiative to create a national platform for sharing education and resources to family caregivers in the workplace.
May your 2012 be filled with love, laughter and joy!