Three Ways to a Wonderful Life

Tomorrow, November 12th, is Mark’s birthday and as I searched the internet looking for something which describes and honors him, I came up with these three things he does daily to make his life and mine wonderful.

1) Have a sense of humor.
Have HumorMark has a great sense of humor, which makes living with him both enjoyable and entertaining. He makes me laugh in stressful times. No matter where we are he knows how to put strangers at ease with humor. When we left the hospital Friday, two nurses said, “I’m sure going to miss you here. You made me laugh and brought joy to my day.” He was going through a difficult, two day preparation before a colonoscopy, but still made the nurses laugh.

2) Never quit on what you want to achieve.

Never Quit

Mark is a winner because he never quits. He keeps working on and believing in his abilities. His perseverance is an inspiration to all who know him. He works hard at everything he does and when he doesn’t accomplish what he’d hoped to, he works at not letting it get him down. I’m proud of his determination and positive attitude. I consider myself a winner also because I’m married to him.

3) Choose to be happy.

Choose to be Happy Mark definitely chooses to be happy. He has good reason to be sad and disappointed in life, but he chooses not to be. He forgives and forgets thoughtless comments. He’s never demanding and always appreciative of all that he has. He’s a joy to take care of because he has such a grateful heart, which makes it all worthwhile.

For fun pictures of Mark in his youth click here.

What makes your life wonderful?  I’d love to hear your ways.

I hope you have a great day which leads to a wonderful life!

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The Receiving End of Caregiving, Part 2

Thank you, Ann, for sharing the rest of your rewarding experience of being on the receiving end of caregiving, which is good reminder for the professionals, as well as friends and family, on what is important to the ones receiving care.

Written by, Ann McDougall

Ann & Liam in bed

I knew I was in the best place while I was in the hospital. It was where I needed to be at the time and that’s just how it needed to be. I accepted my situation and felt at peace with it. I was lucky enough to have an end in sight because a lot of people with health problems do not.  Every now and then I allowed myself to have a hard day, a down moment, or a good cry (in the bathroom so no one would walk in and see me).  Sometimes I’d feel angry, but then I’d to go back to having a good attitude, because a bad one wouldn’t get me far. I chose how I reacted to my situation. Yes, it was difficult at times, but I knew it didn’t help me to think miserable thoughts.

I had some wonderful nurses in the hospital. They did their best to make sure I felt at home by allowing me to have many comforts, like my own pillow and pictures of my family. My son, niece and nephews would often color pictures and tape them all over my walls and the nurses would comment when they saw a new one.  I appreciated the nurses who took the time to talk to me about my personal life and share a bit about their own instead of just asking the usual medical questions. One nurse, Michelle, sat with me on Pioneer Day and watched fireworks from my window because my family was not able to be there with me.  I loved it when nurses would come into my room just to say hi to me even if I wasn’t their patient that shift. It made me feel important and not forgotten. They were considerate of our family time. My husband, David and son, Liam would usually come to visit in the evenings and if a nurse came in to take my vitals, they always asked if they should come back later. Their kindness made me feel like a person, not just another patient. They celebrated with me each day I stayed pregnant because every day was a big accomplishment. I had a white board across from my bed where we kept track of how far along I was and each morning as we’d change the number, they would congratulate me on making it another day. They called our baby, Ariana by name when checking her heart beat twice a day. They made me feel like I was carrying a precious little one; it wasn’t just another pregnancy.

Meeting others in a similar situation helped me cope. There were a few other ladies who were on hospital bed rest and we were able to meet for lunch once a week to visit with each other in our rooms. It was therapeutic to talk with each other about our struggles and situations. They could empathize with the hardship of being stuck in a hospital bed, leaving our husbands and children at home without us, afraid for our unborn child’s life.

 

Most people like to be busy doing something productive, to feel like they have a purpose. It’s hard to feel productive and purposeful when you are completely relying on others to take care of you. I found it important to find something to focus on, some little thing to do to keep busy. While in the hospital I learned how to crochet. I made many things for our baby, our son and other people, which helped me feel important and needed. It gave my mind a distraction and my hands busy when I couldn’t do many other things I wanted to do.

Ann & LiamI had a lot of time for thought and reflection. I feel like I came home from the hospital ready to be a better parent. I have more patience with my son. I appreciate my husband more than ever. He has always been a great dad, but he showed me how extra ordinary he is by being an even better one. He took care of our house, did the grocery shopping, paid the bills, and took care of the pets while working full time. I was worried about how he would do it all, but he did just fine. He was so thoughtful and loving to me. On occasion he would stop by before work to say hi and surprise me. He did his very best to visit every single day and made sure our son came just as often. We were even able to arrange for our son to sleep over with someone else so that my husband could sleep at the hospital with me every now and then. The time together was important for our relationship.

Ann's kidsI have been blessed by seeing how many people were willing to serve my family. I was able to focus on the pregnancy and not worry so much about if things at home were being taken care of. I was humbled by how much my family was there for me. I knew they loved me, but they showed just how much by all the things they did for me. I loved it when my dad would stop by on his lunch breaks or my sister-in-law would bring her kids by to see me. They all came on Father’s Day and had dinner with me. I’m sure they would have rather been home, but it meant so much they brought the party to me. I have learned I can rely on my family and I hope they know how much I appreciate and love them.

 

 

Finding Relief

Happy

We have all had our share of dark days where grief, worry and sadness overcome us. If you have life and love you can’t escape heart ache. In my article The Blessing of Comfort, I reflected on what got me through the darkest hours after the car accident. The empathy from an EMT, hearing my sister-in-law’s voice say she would make sure my parents knew, the gentle care of nurses and a Priesthood blessing from one man I hardly knew and the other a complete stranger.

I am grateful for caring people who bring comfort and I strive to be this kind of person, as I’m sure most of us do. However, there are times and situations when we are alone in our sadness. We can’t always count on other people to help us feel better. This is why I believe religion is important. Taking time to ponder and pursue what you believe gives inner strength. Your beliefs may be different than mine and that’s okay. I rely on mine to help me past the sorrow and I thank God in my prayers every day for the peace and comfort I find in my religion.

When friends and family can’t be there, where do you find comfort?

We belong to a monthly support group for brain injury survivors and caregivers. A few months ago the topic was on self-care and where we find relief from sadness. Some of the things mentioned were: gardening, reading a good book, bubble baths, mediation, running, swimming, walking, playing sports and other fun physical activities. Of course I mentioned writing, because it’s therapeutic for me and I started when Mark was in rehab.

It is important to actively fill our souls by doing things which bring us enjoyment in life. Sometimes it’s hard to make time, especially when you’re a caregiver, but as stated on the airlines, in a crisis you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help another.

In our busy lives it’s easy to go through a day doing all the tasks which need to be done without thinking about what brings us comfort or joy. If we don’t stop for a minute to contemplate and be thankful for those things which brings light into our life, it becomes dreadful and empty. By recognizing, appreciating, and doing those things which bring happiness, we strengthen in ourselves and increase our ability to fulfill the unwanted tasks in life. Consider what brings you comfort or joy, be grateful for those things and seek opportunities to do them. Make your own bolster list to help you avoid the sadness and on those days when it arises, you will find solace and some respite in doing something you enjoyed.

When you realize what gives you a break from the everyday grind, make it a priority in your life, not to consume your whole day, but to shed the necessary light which will enable you to navigate the journey.

I look forward to reading your thoughts and the actions you take in finding relief in the comment box below. By sharing you might reinforce an idea or give another person a thought which could help them on their pathway through life.

Thanks for reading!