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Caregiving Roller Coaster

Caregiving Roller Coaster

Greetings one and all…

Today I am a wee bit weary having ridden the caregiving roller coaster for the past few weeks. In my previous post, I shared the sad news that our beloved cat, Micah, was diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease. To be honest, I am somewhat astonished to be writing this reflection with Micah snoozing by my desk. Certainly a testament to his will to live! Since the diagnosis a mere two weeks ago, we have shared some incredible highs and devastating lows. We should all be wearing neck braces for the whiplash experienced on the caregiving roller coaster!

Immediately after the diagnosis, the vet advised us that there really wasn’t much to be done for Micah. There is no hope for a reversal of course much less a cure. The best we can hope for is some quality time with our furry friend. And quality time for us means a high quality of life for Micah. If at any time we sense he is suffering or “is done,” then we will have to make the heart-breaking decision to say goodbye. That responsibility weighs heavy on my heart. I am praying that I will know when it’s time. I am trusting Micah will give me a sign. There have been moments when I sensed we were close, but our big orange guy rallied. Consequently, we morphed from the depths of despair to the heights of hope in a heart beat. He’s not done yet!  

When we know time is limited, it’s amazing how attentive we are to the moment. Each scene becomes of paramount importance. So we attempt to “take it all in,” memorizing the details for future reflections. Often, those memories provide the solace and comfort needed at the end of our journey—sacred memories that sustain us as we grieve and mourn. For example, every day Micah reminds me of the inherent joy derived from the smallest things. Savoring every morsel of food. Drinking cold water with absolute delight. Roaming in the backyard and feeling the breeze brush our cheeks. Enjoying some lap time and heartfelt conversations. Purring at the slightest provocation—just because we can! Being with each other—present, connected, and aware. And giving thanks for every moment shared. Micah is wise indeed!

There are moments when I think Micah is hanging on because he is preparing us for his departure. He still has a few things left to teach us. Needless to say, I am an attentive student. But that’s not to say that the lessons learned are easy or even welcome. The ups and downs, the twists and turns, and the unknown trajectory of the caregiving roller coaster are more than challenging some days. But this is the price we pay for a ticket to ride with those we love until the journey is completed. Yes, we are transformed by the ride, but we need not be destroyed. And that is the message I am receiving from Micah of late. I will be devastated by his death, but I have been and will continue to be blessed by his life. There will be more ups and downs in the hours and days to come—that’s a given since we don’t have the option to exit this ride. But for now, I am choosing to enjoy THIS moment with Micah. These are sacred times indeed.

I look forward to the ongoing conversation. If you have specific questions or concerns related to your caregiving experience, I would love to hear from you. Until the next posting, I wish you and yours countless blessings…jane  

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