(8 +1)The Supporting Menorah

last night last night

last night last night (Photo credit: JonathanCohen)

Look at how the the candles are supported. There is a location for each of them that they fit snugly into. That not being enough, they are then tightly affixed to a base, sometimes with additional decoration, sometimes not.

I remember about 20 some years ago when I went in for some outpatient surgery. My concern was that he would worry about me, so (on his end) I kept sending medical personnel out to the lobby area to check up on him. During the surgery (sans anesthesia) they kept me babbling and I did all about how wonderful my “friend” was. Though when things got sticky during the surgery. I later learned that I just about broke the poor nurse’s fingers as they were so slender. Hubby thought that was pretty funny. But then he was all smiles when he saw me after the surgery. The doctors told him to take me home and make me rest for the next several days. I wouldn’t be allowed to pick-up or carry anything.

Hah!  The next thing I knew and clearly saw was that we were not going home. He took me out to lunch and to pick up my paycheck. You should have seen the look on his face–grinning–my then manager was stunned that  I was at the store only two hours after surgery to pick up check. We laughed about that moment for a long time afterwards. Anyway, he then took me to the mall and just flat-out spoiled me. When we got home, he tended to all of my medical needs.

If one asked him for an equivalent, I am guessing he would say, the following morning after arriving back home from his spinal cord accident. At this point I am now five months pregnant and surviving morning sickness. Since we couldn’t get a nurse for another month, I dived right in took care of his morning duties, and had gotten him dressed. But after getting him dressed I had to put on his TED (Thrombo Embolism Deterrent) stockings. They were medical white and went from his toes to his upper thighs. It took me 15 minutes to put each one one and probably about 20 breaks a piece. (My tummy was a bit rounder at that time.)

Oh! I provided him such entertainment! By the time I was done, I swore that I would never ever complain about putting on nylons ever again.  –I haven’t to this day! After that I had to put on his brace. He had to wear his brace to help stabilize the rods and the surgery by keeping him straight. There was a front piece and a back piece. One piece was shaped to cover the torso from just below the neck to the stomach and the other shaped accordingly for the back. They would connect by three velcro straps that wrapped around from back to front over the rib cage sides.

I offered to put it on “backwards and upside down” like the hospital employees sometimes did. Without wasting a beat, “let me get the permanent marker first so you know which end is up and which is the front!!”  e laughed because I kept a permanent marker with me at all times for such “events.”

While he and I gave care to each other, there were also many other supporting players. In the medical community I would have to say it was his two neurosurgeons, his physiatrist, his two primary care physicians and a chiropractor. I still remember when hubby was in the MICU unit recovering from the surgery after the accident. Our chiropractor surprised me by showing up to visit. My heart became immediately touched as I watched his face and tears came down upon him seeing hubby attached to all the tubes and what not. Like a movie I still remember that scene and I remember telling him that a patient could never receive a more higher compliment then having his own doctor come and shed tears of concern for a patient.

Sometimes the support came from the emergency preparedness community. Really?! After all we had been through? Yes! We made friends all over Florida and they would always call to ask how we were doing or what event we were going to speak at or even how to arrange a meeting. As hubby’s health started failing him, especially after moving to Georgia their EP community would start referring us to community programs or getting us access to needed items, networking, support services and anything else that they felt we could use. One family actually adopted us, supported us strongly through his passing and have included us in their family gatherings now. They’ve also affectionately nicknamed us Bulldog for all of our work in emergency preparedness and desire to keep our family just as active as others do.

Another support was, and still is, our temple here in Georgia. They too adopted our family. Once they knew we wanted to actively attend services, they immediately made technical changes to their place of worship so we could attend and I could easily attend to hubby’s needs. The biggest challenge was the cold air. So in the summer we sat in the back and in the winter we sat up front. Throughout the whole time, little one would simply sit where ever she wanted and there were always plenty of “willing to accommodate” laps! Again as hubby’s health was failing the entire congregation would come out to support us. Though one time, I had to stand up to a medical institution on behalf of hubby, with a security guard looming about. The Rabbi came with me to that meeting and stood by me as I looked at them straight in the eye to defend hubby’s life. That took a lot of guts and I’m very grateful. (Okay, I chopped a lot out of that paragraph but that’s a story for another day!) 

Sometimes the sturdy support just came in the form of ears that would listen — and not judge! These were all out of state. But whenever I needed an ear and even now they are right there. I have no desire to count the number of friends and close relatives I have. All I need to know and what they told me is that I can count on them being there when needed. That is worth more to me then any physical item. That is a strength or even force that cannot be reckoned with. Their honesty, compassion, laughter and assistance was and  I know is always still there whenever asked for.  Two families are currently (at my request) are sharing the role of hubby’s “shoes” to help guide both little one and I in our new life.

The one place that support was never expected of or even from was that of our little one. Why? How? I don’t know. But she was fiercely protective of him and he and I would always joke saying, “G-d help the medical staff when she’s a teenager. Maybe we should run, too!” Though she’s only in kindergarten now, until his passing, she took it upon herself to get him things he needed, dropped on the floor, kept him occupied at the computer, screamed at nurses going down the hallway not giving him his meds or washing their hands after working with him and would tenderly put her hand on his or on his cheek letting him know that “everything would be okay.”

Our favorite shared memory would be shortly after he showed her how to use the joystick for a game. We were at store looking at a new manual wheelchair for him and I was instructed to use a power chair for a chair. The next thing I know (at age eight months approx) she had turned on the chair I was sitting in, sending me across the showroom floor. Now she plays with small computerized robots. She’s worth it!

I would be remiss if I also didn’t include all the cheerleaders both here at Caregiving.com and Aftergiving.com. It was never what I expected. Hubby loved to hear all the posts that I wrote on the site. Yes, I read him every single one. He loved that I had found a place that I could share my fears, frustrations, smiles and laughter with that would separate me from addressing his medical needs on a daily basis. Someplace I could just chat and know that I wasn’t being judged. Sometimes the most important caregiving need that a caregiver has is the knowledge that they can go someplace be with others and just feel comfortable that they can be who they are, not who they feel they should be or who others demand them to be.

….

All of these people here are tightly affixed into my home, my heart and my little one’s life. Some are colorful. Some are direct. But all represent support that will never reject us and love that is never ending. Together their strength is the base that will help us move forward.

Hubby always taught me to make sure I have the basics covered before moving onto the complicated stuff. Sometimes that isn’t possible but when it isn’t then I need to go find the resources to build my base of strength so that I can continue to light the lights.

The Roaring Mouse

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About Roaring Mouse

I am a G-d speed caregiver for a spouse who had a spinal cord injury, syringomyelia, autonomic dysreflexia, TBI x 2 (Tramatic Brain Injury), complex regional pain syndrome and two shunts.  I've been with Caregiving.com for over two years now and have actively participated in the Caregifter Essay program. As an Emergency Management Disability Liaison for a nationwide disability disaster response non-profit, I work to engage both disaster responding and the disability communities to network and collaborate on disaster planning while educating and advocate both on the importance of the topic.  In my spare time I volunteer at a local spinal cord rehab therapy center gifting both the clients and the caregivers with resources and silly jokes so they leave with a smile.

2 thoughts on “(8 +1)The Supporting Menorah

  1. Avatar of ejourneysejourneys

    RM, this post brought tears of gratitude to my eyes. The strength and support of community goes beyond valuation. You, too, are a tremendous source of support for me and for so many.

    Reply
  2. Avatar of Roaring MouseRoaring Mouse Post author

    EJ , You are too kind. But I will say that through this challenge that I set up for myself…I’ve had my share of tears too. Don’t sell yourself short…you are an inspiration to me too!

    The Roaring Mouse

    Reply

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