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Home > Blogs > Caring for Siblings > Trish's Blog > Traveling and Caregiving: Yes, There are Similarities

Traveling and Caregiving: Yes, There are Similarities

I had an amazing vacation (and can’t thank Other Brother enough for his help in “underwriting” this trip).  If only I could have brought back one of these delicious and artful gelatos for all of you!  (Who am I kidding – I wouldn’t have because this deliciousness was too wonderful!).  I did miss everyone though!

I did realize, however, I am a terrible traveler.

Addicted to Gelato

It’s not that I don’t love traveling because every time I go on a trip I scheme to figure out some way I could do it as a career.  (As long as my entire family could tag along since we all need to try as many flavors of gelato as possible).I don’t travel often enough to be a confident traveler.  One thing I have going for me, though, is that I’m flexible.  An hour delay on the tarmac in Dallas (to fix a light bulb in the cockpit) wasn’t a huge deal to me.  Hubby and I kept ourselves entertained with an episode or two of NCIS which he had downloaded onto his iPad (his patience with the light bulb issue was a little less than mine).

I have to admit, though, once we finally made it to London and had to make a mad dash to our connecting flight to Rome, I was also cursing the darn light bulb.

While I wasn’t caregiving for Robert during this vacation, caregiving was on my mind.  Caregiving requires a great deal of flexibility too. When I notice Robert is dragging his foot more and is sleepier than normal, I allow more time for appointments or I let him sleep in and keep a sharp eye on him.

What I’m not so good at when traveling or caregiving is recognizing my own needs.

If I’m thirsty, I don’t realize it until my mouth is parched and I’m way past dehydrated.

If I’m hungry, it isn’t until I start eating a meal at 9:30 p.m. and realize all I’ve eaten that day was a muffin, half a spring roll and a piece of chocolate (oh that’s healthy!).

Caregiving can put the blinders on my eyes as far as my own needs are concerned too.  Many times, I don’t realize I need a break until I snap at Robert for getting his pajamas on too slowly.

Why am I really frustrated?  Because I’m tired and want to go to bed but can’t until Robert is dressed, shaved and medicated.

I might get short with Robert if a doctor appointment has run long and I haven’t yet eaten lunch.  Whose fault is that?  Oh, yeah.  NOT Robert’s.

Caregivers are told to “take a break” or “Put your oxygen mask on first.” (I cringe when I hear that!)

Caregivers will be the first to tell you that’s a nice idea but not practical.  If Robert is having a seizure or is in the hospital or actually needs to be getting ready for bed (at his glacial pace), I can’t just stop caring for him because I need a break.

What I can do is be better about recognizing my own needs before my lack of doing so makes me cranky/hungry/tired/a raving beatch.

I can bring a (healthy) snack to appointments or do some quick exercises while Robert is dressing at bedtime.

I need to recognize when my bucket is running empty and realize I need to refill it on a regular basis (when it doesn’t interfere with caregiving).

I also need to drink a lot more water whether I want to or think I need to!

And I definitely need to eat more gelato . . .

About Trish

Avatar of Trish
I am Robert’s older sister and a freelance writer and am also a full-time Legal Administrator for a wonderful law firm (no, that is not an oxymoron). I am the caregiver for my youngest brother, Robert, who has suffered from uncontrolled epilepsy his entire life. In his late-40s now, he lives with me and my husband. I have somehow managed to navigate the maze of social services and government programs available to help Robert and continue to be amazed at the amount of time and persistence that is needed to do so. Robert finds happiness in simple pleasures like doing word search puzzles and watching his favorite shows (Family Feud and Jeopardy, of course!)

6 comments

  1. Avatar of

    Hi Trish,

    Welcome back! Glad you had a wonderful time away.

    Thank you for the reminder of the importance of thinking ahead – just the right distance.

    I think we improve in traveling the more we do it – so, maybe just a start for you…always fun to look forward to (:

    Hoping for a good week for you.

  2. Avatar of Denise

    Hi Trish–I love your insight: What I can do is be better about recognizing my own needs before my lack of doing so makes me cranky/hungry/tired/a raving beatch.

    How did Robert do while you were away? And, I hope we will more about your trip, particularly your favorite part. :)

    We missed you!!!!

  3. My favorite part of the trip? You mean, aside from the gelato?? :-)

    (More details to come . . . )

  4. Avatar of ejourneys

    Welcome back, Trish!

    During what I call my “cycling year,” one piece of advice I took to heart was, “Drink before you’re thirsty, eat before you’re hungry, rest before you’re tired.” That was after I had gotten a good lesson in what it means to be dehydrated. (Funny, I didn’t feel thirsty…)

    Applying that to caregiving is tricky. I love the idea of advance prep: having water and good snacks on hand, and finding ways to use the time otherwise spent waiting for someone who lives by a different clock. And recognizing our own red flags when they pop up. It’s hard to say, “I need…” when one is hardwired differently. :-)

    Looking forward to your trip report! :D

  5. Avatar of Kathy

    Welcome back!!!

    Glad you enjoyed yourselves! And glad you found a yummy treat. Do they have gelato in the US?
    Was Robert happy to see you when you returned? How was his birthday celebration?

    I’ll stop asking questions now.

  6. Avatar of G-J

    Welcome back, Trish! That’s too bad that your luggage was lost. The same thing happened to my brother and his partner when they were taking a trip to Europe for Christmas. Not fun.

    I have realized that no matter how many water bottles I own, I drink more if I grab a plastic bottle of water. I know buy it by the case and keep it in the garage so it’s right by the door as I’m leaving the house. In Southern California, it’s rare to see someone without their water bottle. Well, adults that is!

    Steve has always been a person who when he needs food, needs it instantly. I have learned to carry some type of bar in my purse that won’t melt or get squished. We find the Kidz Cliff bars work very well for this. We do pack food for vacations as well so we always have snacks available.

    In addition to water and a snack, my Mom’s pre-packed hospital bag for those times my Dad had to go there included a sweater, a deck of cards and a word search book. Not a bad idea.

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