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Asking for help!

Posted on: 2015 05 11

Here is a follow-up to Susan's blog from last week! Every Day I'm Shufflin': Needing Help We all need a little help sometimes....some of us more than others. My adult life has been spent as a caregiver: as a mother and as a nurse.  So when I hit the part in the Parkinson's Owner's Manual that read "Caregivers", I thought of myself. When I read further, I was appalled to find that the book was intimating that I would eventually need one!  In fact, shortly after my diagnosis, when Michael J Fox came to Burlington to speak, I went to see him with Jeanne Baker, NP, and Dr. Robert Hamill, both attending as providers.  I was asked, at the reception desk, if I was a provider, a caregiver, or a person with PD.  It was with a sudden stab of anxiety that I answered "person with PD". Wow! How did that happen?  These people were my colleagues! I have always avoided the next chapter in the Owner's Manual (there is no such manual, but it's what I have named the learning process about my affliction)  I shy away from knowing what's next, because, frankly, its frightening. When I entered a research project for Parkinson's,  I had a bit of foreshadowing  in the process that is inevitable in research: the questionnaire. How often do you:          Have trouble rolling over in bed?  (what?) Have trouble with dressing yourself? (you're kidding me?) Have "off" episodes (what are those?) Find yourself falling asleep unexpectedly? (You've got to be joking!) Have difficulty feeding yourself? (OMG) Among the females in my family, which is 75{12470e0fe01d1e6fcc7df4df95300bd13a27d9338be1c3cc41e39732a8d70917} of us, 85{12470e0fe01d1e6fcc7df4df95300bd13a27d9338be1c3cc41e39732a8d70917} if you count our dog, one of our mottos is:" You are a strong, independent woman".  Ha! The other day, I finally gave in to the thought that I might, in the future, need help from the outside, just because of my Parkinson's Disease.   I was diagnosed 15 years ago, and have have fought mightily against any dependence on others, except during surgical recoveries, which have been frequent (11 in the past 4 years) some due to the PD, some unrelated. But,  I hate asking for help, even during the post-op period.  It goes against the grain.  But it was required by my surgeons, and so I asked. My church has a phenomenon called the "Caring Circle". We meet each month to discuss who, inside and outside of the church community, might need some prayers and/or help. We send cards, make phone calls, provide meals, strategize, and help others any way we can. This group has been the base layer of my own assistance so far.  I thank them again for everything they've done for me.... Here's the thing:  people generally like to help others.  I myself thrived on it as a nurse, that feeling of really having done something for another.    I believe it is part of the human condition.  Who am I to deny that honor to another? Especially one who offers? And who am I to expect my husband to do it all?  He does so much, providing for our family. When he comes home from work, providing for me physically is a lot to ask, day after day.  I didn't ask for this affliction, but neither did he.  He sticks by me, but it isn't easy.  And when he wants to do something fun after work, who am I to deny him that? Some things I have learned about asking for help:

  1. ALWAYS say thank you: I keep a stack of note cards next to my chair.  I try to send one to every person who helps me.  This helps me, knowing that that person will have something in their mailbox besides junk mail and bills!
  2. For those who are frequent targets of requests, try this: "the next time you get up, could you.....?" or, catch them when they're near the object of your need, or try humor:" How would you like to be my favorite husband/daughter today?"
  3. Spread the wealth: ask for help from different people, or find a way to do it yourself. My "grabber"(a little gadget that you can grab things at a distance with), saves a lot of requests, as does Amazon.com, from whom I can obtain,  delivered, almost anything I need, at a good price, and promptly. This minimizes sending people out on a myriad of errands.  And, as an added bonus, I get to see a "Chocolate Santa" UPS dude smiling at me on a regular basis.
  4. Try to plan ahead: make sure, when/if you're up and around, make sure, when you sit down, you have your phone, meds, grabber, and anything else you could likely need in the near future, nearby, within grabber's reach. Try to keep a little bit of cash by your side to repay anyone who goes and does an errand for you.
  5. Appreciate others’ talents and habits: If someone has a good sense of humor, tell them you love to talk to them, because they make you   If you have a friend who goes to the grocery store every day(come on, we all know those people...)have them pick that something up for you.  If they go by your house every day, ask them to grab the mail...hopefully it isn't all junk mail and bills!
  6. Don't keep people talking for long, unless they seem inclined. They'll be more likely to come by again, if they don't think they'll be tied up for long periods.
  7. An important one: don't feel guilty; you didn't do anything to bring on this disease, and you'd help another if they were in your shoes, wouldn't you?
  8. Make the most of your own talents: there ARE things you can do. The least and most of these is to be a listening ear.  You'll be surprised at how many people really appreciate that.  You can vote. You can reach out to people. You can learn.  You can love. You have the time most people wish for.  Make the most of it. You can be the change you'd like to see in the world...

So, try to remain that  strong independent person, and at times when you can't, be gracious, polite, and give someone else the honor of helping you.      

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