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The Epitome of Love

September 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Let me preface this by saying that I am the happiest I have been in a long time. However, that does not preclude the fact that life takes twists and turns that are both good and bad, expected and unexpected. As I posted before, and updated many times on Facebook (for those of you who follow my posts), I am dating again, and things have gotten pretty serious. And if you have been following along, you also know that George and I got into a jet ski accident, and in that accident, he tore up his knee.

Yesterday George had his first surgery to repair the damage. The surgery reconstructed his Lateral Collateral Ligament, repaired the muscles and tendons, and decompressed and removed scar tissue from the peroneal nerve (which controls the foot movement). There was about a four-inch section of the nerve that was scarred. The nerve itself was not torn, but it was all stretched out and twisted up with the damaged ligaments, tendons and muscles. The doctor said that it would have been better if it had torn. The stretching will take a VERY long time to heal (if it actually heals on its own). The nerves regenerate at about 1 mm per day which equates to about 1 inch a month. The nerve will need to regenerate from the site of injury which is close to the knee cap and go all the way down to the big toe. That’s going to be a lot of healing time. The doctor told us that there is a 50/50 chance of recovery on its own. If it does not show improvement (after a nerve test is performed), they will consider tendon transfer surgery as another option.

This morning the occupational therapist came in to see George to teach him how to move around without putting any weight on his leg. He will be using a walker because he does not want to use crutches. There is a chance he will get out of the hospital today, and his mom will simply drive him to my home, and I will meet them there rather than driving back up to University Hospital in Newark to go get him.

He will be staying at my home for the majority of his recovery. We all decided that it would be best for him because I have a single floor home so there are no stairs. I am close enough to my office so that I can be home for lunch and get home if he needs me.  He also expressed that he wants to be with me, so we think that will help his recovery.

So how do I really feel about this? Well, I never EVER thought that I would be back in the shoes of being a caregiver only 8 months (6 if you consider that the accident happened in August) after Mark died. It was not something that I even considered at this point, But as the saying goes, “shit happens.”

After much thinking about this whole situation from different points of views, I have realized that I am fine with taking care of George while he is recovering. I never ever hated caring for Mark. That was never the issue. Yes, it was exhausting. It was demanding. It was lonely (only because I had ZERO support from his family). But I did it for about six years. I was very good at it. I was patient (about 95% of the time) and even though I needed to vent (which is completely normal), I knew it was what I wanted and needed to do.

I love George, and I have no doubt whatsoever that he loves me. And with that being said, I am ready, willing, and able to take care of him. It is what I want to do. It is what I need to do. And it is going to be what I WILL do. I will adapt… (so haters, just deal with it!)

I’m not sure what the future holds, but I am ready to face it head on. In the last six weeks (since the jet ski accident), I have realized the extent of my relationship with George. We have become very close on many different levels. We have pushed through the fears, and we have learned the fine art of trusting another person implicitly. Not only did I gain a boyfriend, but I also gained a family. I have been spending quite of lot of time with George’s mom and she is a wonderful person. I feel like I can talk to her. We have shared a lot and the best part is that we can laugh. She has a great sense of humor, and when we laugh, we laugh so hard that tears roll down our cheeks! Even George’s dad is a good guy. He is a typical man and he is rough around the edges, but he has been very kind to me as well.

With a full day of sitting in a hospital, we all did a lot of talking together. Mostly it was me and his mom, Sue, but his dad, George (although in conversation I refer to him as “Big George”) often talked as well. I’ve come to realize that I am completely accepted into the immediate family. Both of George’s parents are great to me, and I feel very comfortable with them. They both told me that they are happy that George has found someone like me. From what I have been told, his previous girlfriends left a lot to be desired, and the ones that his parents knew about, they were not very thrilled with. They have expressed to me that they would love for me to continue to be part of their family. They are appreciative that I am so involved in George’s care. I must reiterate that I am happy that I have a gained a family!

I did really feel bad for Sue yesterday because when we were getting George prepped for surgery, they only allowed one person at a time to be in the surgical prep area at a time. George requested that I come in first. I wanted to switch out so his mom could get a chance to spend some time with her son, but George wanted me to stay with him. I didn’t want to “step on toes” by not letting his mom get her share of time. When they took George back to surgery, I went out to the waiting room and apologized to Sue for not letting her have her time. She was not upset, and she was happy that he was with someone who loved him, and that he was calm and happy with me there.

Another time I expressed that I did not want to step on toes by going along to all of George’s doctor appointments and consults. I told Sue that I was appreciative that she didn’t mind that I went along. She told me that she and Big George were appreciative of ME for wanting to be a part of George’s care.

I am guessing all is good in this case. I just never want to be disrespectful or step on the toes of his family. But then again, George is a grown man, and he can say who he wants in the room with him and who he wants to take care of him. I do feel honored (is that the right word???) that he wants to be with me as opposed to his family. (But then again, that “Jewish Guilt” makes me feel badly for his mom and dad!)

As far as being a caregiver goes, I thought long and hard about what I am doing. I know that with the three broken bones in my own foot (yes, originally there were two, but the fifth metatarsal broke in another place, and now I am in an air cast for EIGHT WEEKS) I need to take care of myself. I know that I need to stay healthy and get my rest. I know that I need to function and life does not stop just because I am taking care of someone. I know that some of you are wondering why I would care for George when he is not my husband. I know that taking care of someone who is sick or injured is tough. Yet, as I can personally attest, caring for someone is one of THE most rewarding and selfless things a person can do for someone he/she loves. It is the epitome of love. And love is what George and I share.

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The long and winding road!

September 8, 2013 Leave a comment

I’ve been posting cryptic Facebook status messages for a while, and only a select few people really have any idea what’s been going on in my life.  I don’t like to share my whole life with the world until I sort through it and put it in some semblance of order.

It’s not like I have any thing to hide. Damn, when Mark died, my life became an open book. So much of my dirty laundry (that I tried for YEARS to hide) was put out there for everyone to see. Did I like it? Hell no! It made me too vulnerable — especially at that time. Everyone knew my business and got to see some of my skeletons that were hidden in my closet.

So what’s been going on with me and my life? Well, on August 17th things changed. Would I say for the better? No, not exactly, but it certainly was not for the worst. It’s just different from how it was three weeks ago.

Here’s what’s happened in a nutshell….

On August 17th, we went out on the jet ski, and we hooked up with some other people who were going to go out to the Statue of Liberty. To make a very long story short, we got caught up in a rough wave, went 5 feet in the air and crashed into the water. George protected me from getting hurt, but in doing so, he dislocated his knee, and tore 3 ligaments, frayed two tendons, and stretched (tore??) the nerve that controls the movement to raise the foot and toes. He will need surgery to repair the damage.

The next day, while getting ice out of the freezer for George, I had a food avalanche, and a gallon sized bag of frozen food fell on my foot. My foot swelled, my toes turned purple, and it hurt like hell to walk. After a week, I finally went to the doctor and got an xray. There are two broken bones in my foot, and I’m in a walking boot for about 6-8 weeks.

In regards to George, I have been coordinating with his parents regarding his care. He’s in some pain and having trouble moving around. He can’t get up the two flights of stairs to get to the bedroom and shower at his parent’s home, so he sleeps at my house since I am one level. Well, for those of you who know the status of our relationship will know that is not the only reason he stays at my house.

In the morning before work, I drive him to his parents who care for him until I get out of work and get back there (about 5:45). On most nights, I have dinner with the family, we hang out for a bit, and then we go back to my house until we do it again in the morning. Some of my friends think that it will become too much for me to handle, but they don’t realize that I have much more endurance that anyone could imagine, and I have dealt with much more difficult “caregiver” situations than this one!

Also because of his injury, he can’t get in and out of my Eclipse (too low and small) so we have been using his pick up (a huge ass Chevy Silverado).  Never thought I would drive a truck that large. George would always ask me if I wanted to drive it, and I would tell him no. I was afraid to drive it because of its height and size. But once George got injured, I had very few options but to learn to drive it, and like most things I fear, once I do it, I can put that fear behind me.

George gave me an “out” of our relationship, but I didn’t take it. How could I? I didn’t plan on meeting George. I didn’t plan on loving him.  In the beginning I wanted to him. I wanted a man to do things with this summer. I wanted someone to take me out to the movies and dinner. I wanted to be able to have someone to cook for and have quiet dinners with. I wanted someone to hold my hand. I wanted a boyfriend. I got what I wanted. I had a great summer with George. Yet while I was out having fun with him, my heart decided that it had a mind of its own. In the process of hanging out with George, I fell in love with the man who he was. I went from wanting him in my life to loving him to needing him to be in my life.

Do I regret it? Absolutely not! I have a found a man with whom I am compatible, and who has a good heart. He listens to me, he cares about me, he loves me, and he is kind, sensitive, and gentle (although he does not show that side to many people). I’m happy – I can’t remember the last time that I said that.

So now that you all know how I feel, here’s what George and I are in for in the next year or so. After seeing multiple doctors, we finally saw one who could help him. He is an orthopedic surgeon who will do the repair of the ligaments. The first operation, which we hope will be in the next week or so, will consist of repairing the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) which connects the thigh bone to the fibula, the smaller bone of the lower leg on the lateral or outer side of the knee.

While he is repairing that, another surgeon will evaluate the nerve damage that George has that is causing the “foot drop”. They will evaluate what needs to be done so that his foot and toes can move normally. It really depends on what the damage looks like as to what course of action will be taken. The options can include nerve reconstruction surgery, using a donor nerve, or re-routing a nerve. The prognosis for the foot drop/nerve damage is not the best, but we won’t know anything until after the surgery.

The second surgery will consist of repairing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) (one of the two major ligaments in the knee. It connects the thigh bone to the shin bone in the knee) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) (the second major ligament in the knee connecting the thigh bone to the shin bone in the knee).

We were told that the recovery for this type of injury can be a year or more. It’s going to be a long road for George (and for me and his parents). We are still trying to work out the logistics of how his after care will work out. It’s obvious that he can’t get around in his parent’s home, so for the most part, he will be with me. Do I have a problem with that? None at all. I’m fine with caring for him.  For the haters who will call me a sucker or make comments about my life and how I choose to live it, you don’t know me at all. I am extremely loyal and I put those I love above all other priorities in my life. I know why that is. It’s because when I love, I love with ALL of my heart, and not just a part of it.

I will stand by George’s side for as long as his recovery takes (or for as long as he wants me there — which I hope will be forever). I will work with his parent’s to be sure that we give him the best care that we can, and to be sure that we keep his spirits up and his mind occupied. I’m so grateful that he has such wonderful parents, and I am grateful that they are allowing me to so involved in George’s care. His mom says she is very happy that I want to support George because she says that she’s never seen him so happy, and she feels that he waited his whole life for me.

As many of you recall, whenever Mark was sick or hospitalized, I always had to deal with decisions, hospital stays, surgeries, after care, and everything else that is involved with someone who had a chronic illness all by myself and alone. While I had my friends to vent to, there is nothing like family to support you through the tough times. Mark’s family never EVER once offered to help me with his care, nor did they EVER come to the hospital to visit him or sit with me during any of his many surgeries.

This situation is a whole different scenario. I won’t say it will be easy, but anything worth having is worth fighting for. And he is definitely worth having!