wings and things

Early to bed, early to rise!

on September 14, 2014

Obviously it is much easier to get up early in the spring than it is in the winter so today I was able to get a lot more jobs done (just the usual domestic duties of washing and folding and tidying and cleaning that overwhelmed me a bit a couple of months ago) before going into the nursing home.

Today I arrived at 11am and found Anthony sitting outside in the sun. I managed to get him into a wheelchair and we went for a walk down to the beach. I tried this the other day but it was too windy and he feels the cold terribly, so we turned back prematurely. Today we went a bit further so, halfway back (which is uphill), I had to stop and take a rest.

Ants: Do you want me to take over?
Me: And how, exactly, will that work?
Ants: I can help you push me.

Yeah, right – grrr!

Sometimes Anthony sort of disembodies himself and will kiss his own hand, thinking it’s mine, or else turn to the left to speak to me, when I am sitting on the right. His room has a view of a lovely lawn and garden and he will often point out, proudly, that Ming is doing a great job with the calves.

I find it fascinating, and admirable of course, that Anthony keeps wanting to climb out of his illness, and incapacity, in order to help. Once we’d returned to his room from our walk today – him shivering with cold and me drenched in perspiration – one of the nurses came in to give Anthony a pill and had a bit of a rant about the staff she was working with.

Nurse: They’re so useless!
Anthony: We can help you (trying to get up).

Now that I am a volunteer, I have a bit more insight into ‘how it is’ for both residents and staff. Anthony is in the ‘high care’ section for people with mobility problems. In the ‘dementia’ section, where I help out with various activities on the weekends, most of the ten female residents are extremely mobile (we go for walks around the grounds!) but terribly confused. I have taken a liking to all of the women but especially Beatrice who is, at nearly 90, physically fit, beautifully groomed and who carries her handbag with her always. Before I volunteered, I would exchange greetings with these women and the carers and Beatrice seemed the happiest. But now that I know her better, I realize that her bright smile is due to the fact that soon her husband will be picking her up and she is always ready and, unfortunately, always extremely anxious. Her husband must have died years ago.

I am, of course, drawn, emotionally, to this nursing home where Anthony is, but I have also become involved in other residents’ lives, so much so that we have become friends. Even with dementia, where you have to introduce yourself over and over again, the friendship-feeling is solid and ongoing.

I’m extremely grateful to be able to do this volunteering at Anthony’s nursing home because it allows me to come and go from his room as if I were just going to hang out the washing, or cook tea, or make coffee – again, a simulation of sorts.

It is now six weeks since I began volunteering and a further six weeks (I think – will have to check) since bring Ants home. If, indeed, it has been this long since I brought Anthony home, then hopefully he will no longer pine for home and beg to come home – a situation that forces me to become stern and admit to him that I can no longer lift/manage him at home. His response is usually dignified but occasionally he accuses me of being unfair.

For the last couple of days I have been feeling a bit exhausted (not because of Anthony!) and I hate this feeling so maybe getting up earlier is the answer to that – yes! I have to tomorrow anyway so I can meet Dr Nathalie Collins (see previous post) for breakfast!

All of those years that Anthony got up before 5am to milk the cows, like so many dairy farmers still do – my hat is off to them – heroes in so many ways!

As for me, 6am is okay – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

31 responses to “Early to bed, early to rise!

  1. And my hat off to you Julie! Thank you for giving of yourself to benefit others. ❤
    Diana xo

  2. Eli Pacheco says:

    I love the picture you paint here! Such personalities, and the way you immerse yourself there. Seniors are also a treasure because they are our living link to our roots.

  3. Vicki says:

    I have great respect and admiration for your volunteering work. I know I wouldn’t have the patience ….(hmm, maybe I would as I get on better with strangers that people I know – LOL).

    I certainly am much more patient with my own 88yr old Father’s fragility and forgetfulness. I guess I treat the elderly with respect, now that I am less able to lead a normal life myself.

    Take care, dear Julie……don’t get overtired and/or run down yourself. Apart from Anthony, all those fragile people need your love and care as it’s not easy having chronic ill health or dementia.


    • jmgoyder says:

      You are such a fantastic friend and you seem to be able to ‘read’ me, Vicki. I think I might need a bit of a rest soon – so ridiculously tired atm

      • Vicki says:

        I know that ‘ridiculously’ tired feeling. With so many things on your mind these days, perhaps your ‘x’ hours of shut-eye are not deep, restful, restorative sleep hours.

        It was many years before I got an accurate diagnosis in 2006 of my sleep disorder and then again last year that I had….. sleep apnoea, (only) when I slept on my back and entered the REM stage of sleep. I normally sleep on my side due to sciatic pain, but I do toss and turn a lot in the night. RLS (restless leg syndrome) I suspect. Feels like ants crawling under the skin of my lower legs or sometimes that I have a cage of spikes encasing my lower legs (in bed).

        Yes, I probably do ‘read’ you sometimes, because I suspect you’re a kindred spirit.

        But like many of us connected with, or having, chronic health problems, we feel great empathy for our fellow man (or sufferer).

      • jmgoyder says:

        You have always been an inspiration to me Vicki – and the way you deal with chronic illness, adventure out into the streets to take amazing photos of real life, and encourage me and other bloggers/friends too !!! You are an inspiration and I am very sorry the previous sentence was grammatically awful haha!

  4. susanpoozan says:

    I agree with the previous comment, don’t get so overtired that you can’t function as you would like. You are more help to the world when you are fit yourself.

  5. I’m somewhat tired just reading your schedule… not to mention the energy emotionally it takes for what you’re doing. But it seems that you are happy to do it… just don’t forget to take some ‘me’ time too…. Diane

  6. artfulanxiety says:

    I’m going to try and get up earlier tomorrow. I’ve been rising on the other side of 10 am lately and I am always tired for the rest of the day.
    I find it sweet that Ants offers to help. I can see why you fell in love with him.

  7. love reading about your adventures–no wonder you are tired–take a day or two for yourself Julie!

  8. Terry says:

    Even though I don’t like to get up early I have to admit I do better in the day

  9. Actually the way that your volunteering at the rest home has worked out, Anthony may even feel that you are both at home since you pop in and out of his room as if you were doing your normal chores when he was at home. Try not to overtire yourself, the first rule of the caregiver is to take care of the caregiver. You are a true caregiver in every sense of the word Jules 🙂 xox

  10. Getting up early does help but it’s really hard when bed is so nice and cozy. Glad the volunteering is working out and how awesome for the ones you help. Take care of yourself first because you can’t take care of others if you don’t feel well. Thanks for doing what you do.
    peace n health,

  11. I love what you said about Anthony wanting to get out of the disease. What a brilliant observance Julie. I love that he sees so much of his world still going on around him.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Thanks, Colleen – yes, there seems to be this disembodying thing happening – like he doesn’t recognize himself as the incapacitated older man sitting in an armchair in a nursing home. Instead, he ‘re-sees’ himself as the young man who tamed the bull, and lit the fire to make the house warm. But the other day he asked for his ‘Mummy’ and seemed to think he was at the boarding school he was sent to as a small child. My heart breaks over and over again at these references but, now that I am at the nursing home for most of each day, it is easier to adlib, comfort, reassure, and enjoy…. Juliexxx

  12. Sounds like spring is coming just in time for your early rising regime. Hats off to you for fitting so much into your day, for you and others.

  13. janeslog says:

    If you start getting up early it becomes part of your routine.

    • jmgoyder says:

      You are my good example, Jane!

      • janeslog says:

        I always get up at 05.00 – it started when I was working at university and the rest of the staff came in at 07.00 so I did the same. Had to get up at 05.00 to get there in time.

        I am so used to getting up at that time I waken without an alarm clock. it is still dark now at 05.00 – in summer it is light at 03.00.

  14. Yes I find it easy to get up early in the warmer months, although I am good at getting up when I know I have to get up and some days I wake early even though I can sleep in like this morning

  15. lensgirl53 says:

    Julie, you write with such wit and wisdom. I love how you use the exchange of dialog. It is sadly comical. If that makes sense. My mother has dementia and lives almost 1000 miles away. I speak to her on the phone frequently but it is a cycle of the same question over and over.

    When my mother in law was in the nursing home, my sister in law was the nurse. It worked out well for all of us to know that she was being taken care of by family. There were such sad stories like the one you told of the lady waiting for her dead husband. I would go home crying some days. But there were lively and funny experiences, too. I know you are such a blessing to all of those whose lives you touch so selflessly. God bless you.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Thank you so much for your encouragement – SO MUCH! Your story/reality so much more difficult than mine and yet you are generous to me – you are amazing!

  16. Lynda says:

    This change in your routine seems to be helping both of you. xo, ~ L

  17. Julie, you add so many positives to peoples lives! Not just that you volunteer, or that you listen to and treat all as worthy individuals, but then you write about them with such honesty, compassion and insight — giving them a voice which makes them very real to the rest of us. Thank you! and Brava!

  18. beeblu says:

    The home is so fortunate to have you as a volunteer.

  19. Trisha says:

    So sweet of Anthony to offer to help you push him! He and the residents you work with are all lucky to have you. Just remember to get some rest yourself!

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