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Friday, May 24, 2013

Walking a Difficult Path

My life path these days is difficult. Not necessarily all that different overall than that of many others, women and men, I am sure, but in the details perhaps a little more different and certainly a challenge.

I am partnered with someone younger than I, who has been in ill health -- or at least fighting chronic conditions -- as long as I have known him. So it's not like I walked into this and got blindsided, yanno?  However it's still a challenge.

He wants, heck he NEEDS to help, to be useful, to DO stuff around the house and on the farm even though he is officially disabled. However, his pain levels, his energy levels and his mental acuity and memory all vary from day to day and even moment to moment, with nothing improving and no real likelyhood of it. He has been diabetic since the 70s, untreated part of that time and unmedicated for much of it, due to poverty. It has affected his ability to walk and to feel. He has had mental issues for Gods only know how long; he was seriously abused/abandoned/neglected as a child and has spent much of his life trying to be perfect... to meet or exceed everyone's expectations.. to be accepted... to fill the hole in his psyche and heart with a real family. This has led him to make many bad decisions, which thanks to the counseling and medical care which he has been able to get since being declared disabled, he is aware of and working to put into the past. Lots 'o baggage, yeah.

After years of saying "I'm not a farmer" he had really gotten into it. Driving and working on the tractor (I gotta make him a t shirt:" If I'm not working on the tractor" (graphic of fellow driving pulling implement behind) on the front and "I'm working on the tractor" (graphic of machine with its hood raised, guy bent over and tools flying everywhere) on the back), keeping the weeds down between rows, mowing, opening new fields, tending fowl and bunnies... even when he can barely walk or move and doesn't even get started until mid-morning. If he is late with chores, he mentally "beats himself up." If he looses a day to fatigue, pain, whatever... even more so.

And I know, and he knows though he is not really facing it, that his ability to "push through" will continue to decline.

I am not a spring bird either; my knees plague me and give me a lot of pain. I've recently fought my way back from near death by anemia and gotten through a bout of shingles (with relatively little pain, I thank the Gods) and this year have the energy to at least walk the rows in the garden, hoe a bit and have acquired tools to help make my garden time less painful and more productive (a sitting on, rolling stool and a "baby" garden cart that is much easier for me to pull back up to the house than the "mama" size one we originally bought. Of course, I use both, but the baby one for everything possible.

I wish there were someone I could talk to, someone who had walked this path before. I could surely use some guidance trying to find a decent route, or at least a "yeah, I understand" and a pat on the shoulder. 

This morning is typical in an atypical way. He awakened near first light or a bit before, to the sounds of fussing ducks. Nothing obvious was amiss, they were just fussing, but in attempting to check it out, as we have had serious predation issues this past year, he was awake and unable to go back to sleep so he got up and I went back to catching up on missed sleep.

Oh, did I mention that not only do I grow veggies for us and for sale, have a small design business (Vision IPD)  and sell my art (hex signs) on the web, I have a part time job in town? All of my business ventures have always been undercapitalized and the part time job is my hedge against the  ups and downs of the market.  And that job was extremely stressful this week, due to things beyond my control, leading to lack of sleep and extreme stress. In fact, had this week happened next year at this time, I would have quit and walked off the job Monday, with no notice. Next year, you see, by this month, I will be able to collect my Social Security pittance, which amounts to just about what I am making by working part time. 

Anyway, when I finally rolled out around 6, he decided to go back to bed, as he was sleepy. Usually he stays up, tries to get something done and usually does then after lunch when I go back to projects, he wants "just a few minutes more" to rest, and several hours later I find him still sawing logs in the recliner, awakening in time for supper (sometimes with my nagging) and more "beating himself up" mentally for not having completed what he had planned for the afternoon.

So rather than waiting breakfast on my first day off (my town job starts a 6 AM so I am up at 4 and leave here shortly after 5, with a cuppa coffee under my belt and breakfast in my bag to eat during my morning break; on days off, I cook a more appropriate country breakfast) and setting my day way behind, I cooked and ate and am about to start my day.

It is an ongoing challenge to get done what needs doing, in a timely manner, and without making him feel worse than useless. I know it would be a challenge, as well, to do it ALL myself but at least that is a challenge that would be totally under my control. It is frustrating, knowing stuff that needs to be done, that he considers "his chore" may not happen (a) when it needs to or (b) at all, thanks to his worsening memory.

Sigh.

The dishes call, the fowl and bunnies need fed and watered (well, at least the bunnies need water, I think Ma Nature took care of the fowl last night, it's been raining for hours!) and I have house pick up and cleaning, mending and darning and hex painting to do. Better get at it. Thanks for "listening."