I’ve been the full-time carer for The Girl for over eleven years now. Some of that, I’ve worked part time, but nothing of late. During the course of this time, my life has changed by small, seemingly insignificant increments. It was only today that I realized how much those changes add up to and how differently I see our world. For example, these days:
A shower in relative peace is a luxury.
Styling my hair consists of aiming the drier at my head while I’m applying makeup/cleaning my teeth/unblocking a drain; and waiting until my hair’s stopped dripping.
Application of said makeup consists of slashing a couple of eyebrows on with a pencil and flicking a mascara wand at my lashes (preferably without blinding myself).
A telephone conversation initiated by me begins with, “Yes, I’d like to make an appointment to see the doctor, please…”
A telephone conversation initiated by someone other than me begins with, “So how’s The Girl today…?”
A family outing is comprised of twenty minutes at a budget hairdresser, twelve minutes at the video store, and seven minutes driving at 10 kph over the speed limit so we can get home before The Girl’s blood sugars crash.
Visitors are people who come to a) deliver packs of adult diapers b) ask if I’d like to change electricity providers c) collect The Girl in an ambulance for another dash to the hospital.
An evening out arises when the company contracted for support sends a sitter so I can do something life affirming, and I wind up wandering around the local mall because I can’t think of anywhere else to go.
My hobbies include housework.
My preferred gardening methodology is termed ‘perma-culture.’ That’s posh for ‘neglected.’
The drapes at the rear of the house are permanently drawn so I can’t see how perma-cultured my back yard is.
The gym is a distant memory. Yoga is a more recent memory. The dog never lets me forget it.
30% of all meals are eaten standing up.
The remaining 70% of all meals eaten while sitting are interrupted by a) a bathroom break b) a coffee spill c) a sudden and inexplicable need to find a CD that’s been lost for seven weeks.
Ironing is something I do on special occasions. I never iron.
It takes me an average of three seconds to locate my gardening shoes, my scuffed and tatty flat shoes, and my sneakers.
My high heels are somewhere in the closet under a layer of dust.
Jeans without holes are the new black.
Jeans that require heels never leave the closet.
Bedtime happens at sundown.
The sun rises an hour after I do. In winter, it’s two hours.
A soft moan in the night means either the dog is dreaming, or the Girl needs Paracetamol.
Cancelling four consecutive lunch dates with the same person due to “unforeseen circumstances” is the norm.
A two-hour shopping excursion results in groceries.
97.6% of all conversations include the words, “blood pressure, blood sugars, medication, and poo.” Often all within one sentence.
Xbox is another word for “Escape.”
Booker Dewitt, the lead character in the game Bioshock Infinite, is counted amongst my friends.
Six hours of unbroken sleep is unheard of.
Socializing requires the phone or the computer.
“High Alert” is standard operating mode.
“Red Alert” is one level above “High Alert.” The consensus is that if “Red Alert” continues to recur at the current rate, it will be downgraded to half a level above “High Alert,” and “Meltdown” will supersede it.
Aspiration has everything to do with the involuntary inhalation of food or liquid particles, resulting in pneumonia, and nothing to do with career goals.
The way I live is of my own choosing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. One day my world will expand again. But one huge part of it will be gone. It’s truly a doubled-edged sword.
If you know someone whose world has contracted while they care for a sick loved one; if there’s someone close to you whose life is dominated by difficult circumstances—even if it’s of their own choosing; do something for me:
Give them a call. Let them know you’re thinking of them. Drop in some small token of your admiration for them. It doesn’t have to be diamonds. A small bunch of flowers, a couple of muffins, a handmade card can make the difference between hope and despair. Let them know the world is still out there for them; that you’re still there for them. And that you’ll be there for as long as it takes.
From one who knows, it’s more appreciated than you could imagine.