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The every day is Saturday club

What day is it?

Yes, this is becoming a problem. It’s already January 21, 2019.

Where do the days go? What am I doing? How am I doing?

When I made the decision to be my dad’s full time caregiver I was so confident that I could do this and do it well.

I have all the tools. I went through 2 yoga trainings a 6 month Thai massage course, a reiki course and I taught yoga for over 6 years. I know bodies. I know energy. I am spiritually grounded. I know how to ground myself and raise my vibrations. I am physically strong. I know how to use my body to lift someone else’s body. I understand the importance of self-care.

I have life experiences. I was married for almost twenty years. I went through a long and shitty divorce. I have two kids, ages 25 and 17. I have been through my own abuse, addiction, therapy and recovery. I am mentally strong. I have found love again and remarried in my forties. We opened a bar/restaurant together and if you know anything about running a bar/restaurant, you know how that counts for a lifetime of experience. Again, I know the importance of self-care.

I have the wisdom. I have always been a person who is curious about the world and my place in it. I read, reflect, feel and integrate my experiences. I am grateful for everything this universe throws at me. I try to learn from my mistakes and when I don’t I usually recognize when I am repeating them and I ask questions and seek understanding and evolution. Self-care has been one of those recurring lessons.

I really can’t believe that January 2019 is almost over. I am grateful that I finally woke up!

The past few weeks have been foggy. I returned home to dad after the holidays in Chicago on the 2nd, ready to take it all on. And then I don’t even know what happened or how almost 3 weeks have passed.

My daily routine consists of waking up early to give dad his meds, take him to the bathroom and make him microwave pancakes, he is looking to get into the Guiness Book of Records for most microwave pancakes eaten consecutively. Then he does the pancake pass out and I wait. He comes back alive usually between 8-10am. Today it is 10:30 and he is still sleeping. Then there is usually some type of snack in the form of ice cream, brownies or cookies. After snack time I work on figuring out some real food that he can eat. Proteins are tricky and at this stage his swallowing can be a challenge and also he isn’t wearing his teeth… sooo plant based, soft foods are where I have been focusing. He probably shouldn’t be eating all that ice cream according to the protein article but I am not going to argue with a 100lb dying man when that is half of his diet. Anyways, I like the challenge of finding new recipes and cooking old favorites like the spinach stuffed shells like mom used to make. His eyes lit up when I said I was making those for dinner one day. And some days, I have no clue what to cook and he has no ideas and I am tired of cooking and eating and for those days there is a box of pasta roni and wine and cheese down the street for me. Those days are pretty infrequent since reading menus, recipes and cooking are my favorite things to do. The days of caregiving are long. I am on about 12-14 hours a day before he takes his last dose and I retreat.

Now that I am aware that 3 weeks have gone by and I haven’t been using my tools and I discovered myself in a funk the other day. I am ready to take this one day at a time, mindfully. Yesterday and today I practiced my yoga and I want to try and do that every day. Today I am writing and I intend to keep up with these updates at least once, maybe 2x a week. I’m working on taking my passions of event planning and cooking and creating some new business here so I can still be plugged in to the outside world I love and make some money.

I am heeding the message that I have been given throughout all of my years that I need to take care of myself. I am pretty sure this is the biggest lesson I am supposed to learn in this chapter. Reading through caregiver blogs, attending the caregiver summit and talking to people who have been in my place, self-care is the loudest piece of advice I hear.

So, I’m signing off to take a walk in the sunshine. Take good care of you. Ciao for now!

I’m moving to Florida, holy shit!?

Thanks for joining me as I begin a new chapter of my life in Florida as a caregiver for my dad.

Welcome to JAX

My intention for writing this blog is to document and process my journey as an untrained caregiver in hopes that I can shed some light on the later stages of PD, give other caregivers some hope and reprieve and let family and friends know how dad is doing. 

As I answer this calling, I am leaving my husband, my son, my business, and most of my family and friends in Chicago. My teenage daughter is joining me, if only for a short while. Dad, her, the 2 dogs and I will be living together in a house close to the Atlantic Ocean in Jacksonville Beach. I have two brothers in town, so I’m not totally alone.

I knew this would happen one day. I wanted it to happen. I wanted to be able to take care of my dad when the time came. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s shortly after my mom passed away suddenly in December 2000. He’s told me that he knew before that but didn’t want to worry mom.

He’s been a fighter with this disease over the last 18 years. I thought my mom dying would destroy him. And then he got the diagnosis. And the cocktail of drugs. I am sure that is what kept him out of a deep depression unfortunately he totally swung the other way. It was lunacy for a couple years.

Growing up, he was a hard worker, a truck driver and he supported my mom as a stay at home mom and us 5 kids on his salary. We didn’t have the best of anything but we had food, clothing, shelter and love. We even had a nice 4 bedroom, 2 car garage house with a yard and good schools in the suburbs once we left Chicago. No credit cards, no debt.  But after the Mirapex, all hell broke loose. Essentially, my dad ended up practically gambling the house away and my brother came to rescue him.

And the lunacy continued.

And then he found love again.

And moved to the US Canadian border.

And then in July of 2014 he needed to be rescued again.

And so the Florida chapter began, I like to call it the great Lake Migration. Brother #1 was relocated for work in 2011, dad July 2014, brother #2 November 2015, and now me.

I am calling this blog, “cooking for dad” because I will be cooking for dad and also that is how I care for people, that is how I release stress, it’s a creative outlet, a passion and that has been my vocation for the past 5 years. 

Welcome to the adventure. Hang on, I am sure it will be a thrilling ride!       

Dad ready for a ride 2016