sun-622740_640Almost six months have passed since my husband, Hugh, died suddenly. Almost six months have passed since I wrote my last blog entry here as well. Much has happened since July 18th; then again, it seems as though I haven’t accomplished much at all.

I thought my mother’s death hit me hard, but it was nothing compared to how I reacted to my husband’s death. The changes weren’t immediate. Subtle issues began when I visited Dad in October. My hair began to fall out, my normally rock-hard nails began to chip and crack, my eyebrows began to thin, and I was gaining weight rapidly. I went from 130 pounds to 160 pounds within three months–that’s a ten-pound per month gain!

Fortunately, my doctor took one look at me and ordered blood tests, especially for thyroid. He was spot on. My thyroid count was a “10,” and that doesn’t mean it was the best that it could be — a 10 is fairly inactive, which meant that I had developed hypothyroidism. My doctor explained that, although I thought I was doing well, my body was saying, “Uh-oh, honey bunches of oats…we can’t take any more stress!”

Thyroid issues run in my mother’s side of the family, and I always considered myself very lucky to have a happy thyroid. But, the stress of caregiving my mother, that activity’s effect on my marriage, and my husband’s sudden death took a toll. Now, I’m working on regulating my thyroid hormones with medication. While I’m not falling asleep constantly and although my weight has stabilized, I’m still not totally up to par yet.

On top of this illness, I took a nasty fall in mid November. I tripped and landed on my knees on a storm water grate outside a restaurant in town. I didn’t need stitches and I didn’t break any bones, but the cartilage and muscles around my knees are taking their sweet time healing. I’ve stepped up my yoga practice to help strengthen my knees, but it’s a long row to hoe.

When the holidays rolled around, I decided to spend time with Dad. Hugh and I had planned to spend the holidays with him anyway. Those two weeks I spent with Dad were just what the doctor ordered — we spent two weeks sitting on our behinds watching Hallmark movies and Westerns. What a grand way to waste time!

Dad is doing alright, but I can tell that his strength is diminishing a bit. It’s been 1.5 years since Mom’s death, and Dad is now 85 years young. He still fishes, and he still drives. Although he put a bit of a scare into his neighbors and me this week when he didn’t answer his phone for about 24 hours, he is doing great. He just decided he wasn’t going to answer the phone, then he went shopping without letting anyone know he was alright. Fortunately, when I had the police go by and check the house out, one neighbor had seen him leave in the car just an hour or so prior to their visit. So, it was just a matter of tracking him down, and I did.

I’m just happy that the network I put into place for Dad is well-oiled and working. It only took 30 minutes to discover that he was alive and just missing (his defibrillator was working just fine — a good indicator that he was alive!). It took only one hour more to discover where he was. I don’t think he’ll let the phone go unanswered again for a while. This little incident rightly embarrassed him, I think.

I am traveling back and forth to stay with Dad for two-week stretches about three-four times per year now. When I was there over the holidays, we did talk about what Dad was going to do in the future. I think, for now, he’s going to stay in the house. I have a feeling I’ll be spending more time with him as the years roll along and it may even be months before I’ll need to spend more time with him. I’m still playing this long-distance caregiving stint by instinct.

In the meantime, I’m taking care of me. I’m also fixing up the house and prepping it for a new baby. My daughter is expecting her first child — my first grandchild — by the middle of April. Sometimes the suffering and grief we endure is balanced by a world of joy, right? So far everything is going great, and we know it’s a boy.

This grandma to be is going to spoil that kid rotten.

About Linda

Currently I'm writing a memoir about caregiving my mother with a focus on my late husband and how this caregiving affected our marriage. I am also an artist and I have changed my learning lately to more healthful endeavors in an effort to take care of me.

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Denise
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OHHHHHH, am I glad to hear from you!! I have missed you, dear friend.

Congrats on the grandbaby!! The give and take of life always amazes and comforts me.

So much has happened to you in such a short amount of time–it’s not wonder your body screamed, Uncle! I hope the healing continues and brings you to your best health ever.

I thought of your dad at Christmas when I made cookies. I reminded myself not to take the cookies out of the oven and put them back in. 🙂

Please continue to keep us posted. It’s always wonderful to hear from you.

Thedogmama
Member

So glad to hear from you again Linda, I have missed your blogs about your dad and I loved picturing you and him happily watching Hallmark movies while your mind and body were healing from the aftermath of caregiving and grief. Welcome back.

jan
Member

So happy, Linda, to hear you will have a new life to discover new ways to love! Congratulations on your good news. I hope you find real joy in experiencing the preparations for your grandson with your daughter. I hope everything you do brings an opportunity to share with your grandson the love you have for your late husband and how much he is still remembered and a vital part of your lives. I hope sharing this experience with your dad also brings you closer to him. It sounds like you have done everything right to allow him the independence… Read more »

Jean
Member

Linda, so glad to hear from you! I was actually thinking about you a couple days ago… about your listing on etsy which made me wonder how the heck you are doing. Oh, that dreaded low thyroid and instant weight gain… and all those other symptoms… My Synthroid level needed adjusting (up) a few months after mom and mom-in-laws death. I hope it is stabilizing for you. Congrats on your grandson… how exciting! My grandkids are the joys of my life… It’s also good to hear your dad is still doing well. I can only imagine the roller coaster you’ve… Read more »