The following is a guest post from friend and mentor, Lee Kaplanian. She is a blogger, master networker, and soon-to-be radio host! “Finding the Gifts” airs Tuesdays at 9:30 , starting 9/16/2014, on 1150 AM, KKNW
Lee writes about her experience with Rheumatoid Arthritis on her blog, “The Gift of RA.” How does Lee find gifts in her diagnosis? This is what is so special about Lee, and why we were instant friends. Below is a guest post by Lee that demonstrates one of her lessons, and yet another gift she’s found in her journey with RA and in caring for her mother who suffers from dementia:
For the past 4 years I have been the caretaker for my Mom as she has been slipping into dementia. It hasn’t been easy, not only to see my Mom retreat into childhood, but also to suddenly be responsible for another person. I’m not used to making life and death decisions for another person, especially my Mom. I often wonder if I had had children, it would not seem so scary.
It has been an uncomfortable journey, but I have also noticed there have been gifts along with it. Sometimes they smack me in the face when I least expect it, but they have also helped me break out of some old childhood programs. One particular one has really come to the forefront with Mom.
I had been handling things with Mom on my own with the help of my wonderful husband. Fortunately Mom was still at a point she could shower and dress herself. However, I was getting very tired of answering the same question over and over, plus she would follow me around the house as if she was lost.
It was really getting to me, but then I would think “It’s not that bad.” I know a lot of people were worried about me, especially when she couldn’t be left alone and I had to be there all the time. Finally I was at my breaking point – I knew I was long past overwhelm and way in over my head. I called the Alzheimer’s Association for help and they really came through for me. I was able to arrange to have caregivers so I could have time to myself.
That’s when it hit me in the face – I realized the childhood programing was all about “Don’t ask for help. Don’t bother or burden other people.” Ye Gods and Little Fishes! It then dawned on me it was what I had been doing for 44 years of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I emailed my older sister about it and she knew exactly what I was saying. Her reply was – “I have three words for you, “Ditch it, Girl!”.
Old habits and programs are hard to break, but when I broke my hip a few months later, I had to ask for a lot of help. What amazed me was how much people wanted to help, were willing to help. It has taken a while but I am much better at asking for help now. I have always been the one at the helping end, now I find I am working at both ends.