As caregivers, we have many decisions to make in behalf of our loved one’s best interests. The responsibility weighs heavily as we ponder not only what is good, but what is best. How do we know if it’s the best choice? Sometimes we don’t even realize we have choices. For example, it never occurred to me that I could transfer Mark from one hospital to another without him being released. I admit I was young and inexperienced, however, when I was told I had the choice, I didn’t take the decision or the responsibility lightly. I knew I needed to move Mark closer to home because the one hour drive each way was difficult to make daily. My brothers were taking turns on weeknights to stay with Mark so I could go home to be with the kids. It was hard to be away from Mark when I was home and hard to be away from the kids when I was at the hospital. No matter where I was, sixty miles seemed too far away under such crisis.
I had toured three hospitals before choosing Western Rehab, which was close to our Sandy, UT home, but more importantly, they specialized in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I was confident that Western Rehab was the best place for Mark. After I had made the decision, Mark got a terrible a liver infection, which almost took his life. The doctor couldn’t commit to a release date because it felt it was best for Mark to complete the powerful intravenous antibiotic for at least two weeks and make certain no other setbacks occurred. With each passing day that Mark improved, I became increasingly worried and anxious that Western Rehab would fill up all their beds and we’d lose or have to postpone the opportunity to move there. They only had two beds available when I checked them out.
When the doctor told me I could take Mark out of the hospital without his permission, I checked with Western Rehab to make sure they had room for him. Even though I believed this was the best place for Mark and I was anxious for the move, I also knew McKay-Dee Hospital had very competent and skill doctors and nurses. It was harder than I thought it would be to leave the hospital that literally saved Mark’s life at least twice. My appreciation for doctors and nurses along with the security of a hospital family that had seen me through some very worrisome times made it difficult to leave. However, having Mark so far away from home was even harder. I also had faith that a Rehab hospital which specialized in TBI would be a more positive atmosphere, which I believed would help him come out of his coma. These reasons outweighed my reasons to stay. It was difficult taking a new path because I didn’t know for sure where it would lead, but I also knew I couldn’t let the fear of the unknown stop me. I had to give up some good things in order to choose others that were better or best.
- Is it an emotional or logical choice? If it is both, it is best.
- What are the consequences? What could go wrong and how can you protect against it?
- Look at the big picture. Does it have long term benefits or just short term?
As Laura Nordfelt stated in her comment, “We can accomplish more than we realize when our loved ones need and depend on us. We can do things we never imagined.” I would add and make difficult choices.
What steps have you taken in deciding whether you have made a good, better or best choice? Have you ever had a choice and not realized it?
Related Article: Five Steps to Making Good Decisions
We make decisions every day. Some are harder than others and the consequences vary in matter. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were road signs along our path to show us the right way. Sunday I shared the first tough decision I had to make after the car accident—to sell or not to sell our home that was under contract to close in three weeks. My heart wanted to go through with the sale because I had no way of knowing how long Mark would be in a coma. I hoped every day he’d wake up and life could go on as planned. The realtor made a good point that we might need the money from the sale more than ever now. My emotions felt the right thing to do would be to sell our home and stay on the path we had started. My mind knew the timing was wrong. The car accident had messed up our plans to meet with the realtor to write up an offer. Logically I knew we wouldn’t be able to qualify for a new mortgage with Mark’s recovery uncertain, but sometimes it’s hard to think clearly when you really want to complete something you’ve started. My heart told me to move forward with the sale, but my head told me to take an unplanned turn.
- Identify the decision to be made. Calmly and thoughtfully think about the goal and the end result hoped to obtain. High emotions, positive or negative, can impact the ability to make a rational decision. If staying calm seems impossible, I try to put off making the decision until I’m thinking clearly.
- List the options. I like to ask advice of trusted friends and family, especially someone who has made a similar decision. By brainstorming with others, options I hadn’t thought about come up. Some I seriously consider and others I don’t, but I always appreciate getting another viewpoint. However, getting too many views can make the decision process harder and more confusing.
- Study the options. Most decisions are made easier and better when I have enough information to make an informed decision, therefore I get as much information as possible. Important decisions should rely on logic and not emotion, so logically I try to sort out the risks and the gains. However, over thinking the options and outcomes can also become a problem.
- Select the best solution and have a backup plan in preparation for any negative or unplanned outcome. After I’ve made an important choice, I pray and meditate about it. If I feel confused or unsure about my choice, I reevaluate my options. When I feel at peace or confident about my choice, I believe that is confirmation I’ve selected the best solution.
- Evaluate the decision. I think about how my decision will affect other people. Will any of the possible outcomes have a negative effect on the people I care about? How will I feel about the outcome several years from now? If it isn’t a positive outcome I look at the other possible options on the list again, study the option and select a better solution. No matter which decision I make, I’m prepared to accept responsibility for the outcome. Finally, after I’ve acted on the choice and with time, it’s easy to see if it was the right or wrong decision. There is something to learn from every decision whether it turns out for the best or not.
Whenever I’m in the Ogden, UT area, which is very seldom, I like to drive by the home we fell in love with. I’m not sure why I do this, maybe it’s a reality check or just because I’m curious about how the neighborhood has developed over the years. Possibly it’s my way of dealing with the grief of a lost lifestyle, just as some people find solace at the cemetery where their loved one is buried. I do feel sad that our life course changed, but I’m at peace that I made the right decision to stay in our Sandy, UT home where we were surrounded by good friends and neighbors. The security of a familiar home and surroundings proved valuable. It feels great when I can look back on a tough decision and know I made the right choice for the situation. It would be nice if I could always feel this content when I reevaluate every decision I’ve made.
What steps do you take when you’re faced with a tough decision?