Friday, November 25, 2016

Keeping Up with Caring

Being a Carer of a loved one (LO) is hard.  At times it can be physically taxing, mentally exhausting, and fraught with all kinds of emotions.  You ride two emotional rollercoasters, yours and LO's. As the support person, you hold their hand as their mood swings from happy, to sad, anxious to sanguine and everything in between.  While doing this you are experiencing your own feelings of joy, sorrow, frustration, fear, grief and excitement.  Everyday can include triumphs and challenges.  Caring is like juggling two lives, yours and LO's.  Often Carers have so many "balls in the air" that they drop things simply to keep up.  Unfortunately, they stop caring for themselves.  They forget that if they are not firing at 100%, it is not only their world, but LO's world that will come crashing down. 

Are you thoroughly confused by all those metaphors yet?  My point.  If you are a carer you need to care for yourself as well.  Emotional/ Mental wellbeing is just as important as Physical wellbeing and as carers this is a difficult subject to discuss with others.  It makes sense to do exercises for your back or learn techniques to preserve your physical strength when assisting with transfers, hygiene, meal preparation and medications.  For many of the 'older' carers out there - let's face it, the majority of us are over 30, over 50, over 60.. etc - emotional/ mental health is one of those 'we don't talk about that' topics.  I'm not saying you have to shout it from the roof tops when you are having a bad day; in fact, you would be standing on the roof a lot if you did that.  I'm just saying, it isn't indulgent or silly to take time for your soul as well as your body and mind.  Here are some quotes that help me to stay calm and carry on (so to speak). 

"You can do anything.... but you cannot do everything!"

"Caring is being there, even when you want to be somewhere else."

"What's comin' will come and we'll meet it when it does." - Hagrid from the Harry Potter Series

"You cannot pour from an empty cup, look after yourself first."

You might also like to check out my new Pinterest Board devoted to CARING

Everything really will be okay.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Princess and The Cupcake... a Remake!

A break from the latest themes of AGT to revisit a silly story I wrote 5 years ago.   Enjoy!

This story was originally posted on A Great Title on 16 September 2011.

Dedicated to the BFF, the provider of the cupcake, my sunshine.

Once upon a time in a land much like this one, a beautiful princess woke up and glided towards the kitchen of her house.
She was listening to the talking fridge and considering what to have for breakfast when she heard.... a very small squeaky little voice... she couldn't quite make out what it was saying, so she followed the sound until she found the owner of the small high pitched chatter. 
Image result for princess clipart

The beautiful princess searched and searched and was quite amazed when she saw that the little voice was owned by...a cupcake.  Yes, a cupcake.

Do you know what the cupcake was saying?
It looked up at the adorable princess and said, "My Fair Lady... please, please rescue me from my miserable existence!"
Shocked, the stunning princess picked up the cupcake and said, "miserable existence? you are a cupcake what is so miserable about that?"
The cupcake frowned and explained, "well, Princess, I have lots of friends... we have been friends for a long time... well in cupcake time it is ages.  We were mixed together and spooned out together and we were even baked togetherThen we were frosted together and decorated with sugary jelly bits."

The princess was quite perplexed.  It sounded to her that the cupcake had a fairly ordinary sort of life, for a cupcake.  It didnt seem all that miserable to her, especially when the cupcake had undergone all these major life events surrounded by awesome friends.
"Then... a terrible thing happened" continued the cupcake.  "My friends started leaving me."
"Oh, no!" gasped the princess, "Why?"
"My friends, were being eaten!" replied the cupcake. "They were all moving on to the great pattypan in the sky"

"Oh, dear," said the princess, "all your friends left you?! Well, no wonder you are living a miserable existence.  But what can I do?" she asked.

"Fair Lady, Dear Princess, there is only one thing you can do." 

The princess and the cupcake looked into each other's eyes.  A great tingle swept over the princess as she realised what the cupcake was suggesting.

"I couldn't possibly!"
"But Princess, you must! Please, Princess, you must eat me! You must eat me, so that I can follow my friends and we can be together once more."

The princess nodded.  While she wasn't in the habit of eating cupcakes, especially talking ones, she knew what she had to do.  She closed her eyes and opened her mouth.
The cupcake jumped inside and the princess chewed him up and swallowed him.

She shed a tear for the suicidal cupcake and made herself a slice of toast.

Then, they both lived happily ever after. 


Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembrance Day 2016

Today is Remembrance Day in Australia. 
This is also known as Armistice Day when, all over the world, we commemorate the end of World War 1.  At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (every year) we take a minute to be silent and remember those who died in armed conflicts. 
In 2013, I wrote a poem for ANZAC day (25th April) to remember the brave soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Many of the men who landed at Gallipoli on 25/04/1915, died there.  11 November marks the end of World War 1, unfortunately, it was not the end of armed conflict around the world.  Wars, police actions, invasions and 'peace keeping missions' have continued to be waged between nations.  War is a sad thing caused by greed, arrogance, fear, oppression and hate (not necessarily in that order).  Today, I hope and pray for peace in our time. 

This poem was originally published on A Great Title, 25 April 2013

(ANZAC DAY 2013)

Thank you for the ANZACs
Thank you for the boys
Who bravely disembarked the ships-
Ambushed on Turkey's shores.

Thank you for the soldiers 
Thank you for those kids
They volunteered and defended
Our freedom-never stripped.

Thank you for their courage
Thank you for those men
Fighting for freedom and for peace
Their stories ended then.

Thank you for Survivors
Thank you for their safe return
They tell us of their hell on earth
From this we hope to learn

We are very lucky
We never will forget
The sacrifice of millions
For Peace - we don't have yet!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Medication Management: Caring and Medicine

If you are caring for a Loved One (LO) either part time or full time it is very likely that you will be involved in managing their medications.  The level of care you provide and the reasons your LO needs care will determine how involved you are with medications. The lists below will help you work out what level of support you are providing in this area and then read the tips for each level. 

Minimal Support

On the most part your LO is managing their medications independently while you support them with other daily tasks such as housework, transport, meal preparation etc.  You might be:
  • getting prescriptions filled at the pharmacy.
  • aware of which medications your LO is taking.
  • aware of the medical conditions that your LO has that are being managed with medication.
  • aware of major changes to medications (new medications or ceased medications).
  • gently reminding your LO to take their medication on some occasions.

Tips for this level of care

  • Get to know the pharmacist and ensure they understand your relationship to LO- this will be helpful if and when the level of support you are providing increases.
  • Encourage LO to have an easily accessible list of their medications, what each medication is used for and the daily dose of each.  Keep a copy of this for your own reference.
  • Make sure you are aware of the potential side effects of new medications and how you should respond if these side effects arise. 
  • Look out for signs that LO is struggling to manage their own medications as you might need to increase your level of assistance. Signs may include: skipping doses, losing track of prescriptions needing to be filled, mixing up different medications, you find medications in unlabelled containers or not contained at all. 

Assisting Support

You are assisting your LO with medications while trying to promote their independence in their daily life.  You are probably:
  • using a weekly sorting system that lays out dosage by time each day (or a Webster pack) so LO can independently retrieve each dose at appropriate times.
  • maintaining a list of the medications your LO is using, what the medications are used to treat and recommended doses.
  • assisting your LO with storing medications appropriately.
  • ensuring ceased medications are disposed of correctly.
  • checking that doses are not missed.
  • helping your LO manage the use of "as needed" medications.
  • knowledgeable about side effects of medications and changes made by doctors. 
Webster Packs (available through most pharmacies)
allow you to receive your prescribed medications
already set out showing when to take them. 

Tips for this level of care

  • I know I'm repeating myself, I'm doing it on purpose!  Get to know your pharmacist.  Make sure they know you and your relationship to LO as well as your role in caring.
  • If you don't already, get to know your LO's GP and other professionals who are involved in treatments for medical conditions. This will certainly come in handy in the future. 
  • Be gentle! Your LO needs as much independence as possible and letting go of any independence will be difficult for them. 
    This pill sorter allows you to organise medications yourself,
    like a Webster pack, but you have more control.

Care and Management

You have taken control of all medications for your LO.  You administer all medications and keep track of maximum doses.  Medical professionals consider you the advocate for LO and while LO is included in conversations about medication (and health treatments) you are the decision maker.  You are probably:
  • Administering any and all medications at all hours of the day.
  • Organising medications into regular doses- such as a Webster Pack.
  • Recording what medications LO is taking and when they are taking them.
  • Knowledgeable about medical conditions and which of these each medication is treating. 
  • Speaking regularly with LO's GP, pharmacist and other members of the medical team. 

Tips for this level of care

  • Use Webster Packs or a sorting system.
  • Keep a record of medications being taken and the time taken everyday.  This helps you keep track of 'as needed' medications and stick to daily limits. Record side effects, pain levels, vital signs and other observations you make.  This is especially helpful if/ when you are discussing LO's wellness with medical professionals.  Having this system also makes it easier to leave LO with a different carer, as you know all relevant information will be recorded in your absence and substitute carer can refer back to previous days for guidance. 
  • Tell LO what they are taking when you administer medications.
  • Remind LO what each medication is used for... this is helpful when LO questions why they are taking so many tablets! 
  • Be gentle and patient.  If LO refuses a medication, assess their mood before trying to explain why it is important to take the tablet.  If they are agitated, worried or anxious, no amount of reasoning will help. Let LO miss the one dose.  Ensure it is included in the next round of medications.    Discuss it calmly with LO when they are in a better mood.  If refusal continues, record this and discuss it with a health professional at your next appointment. 

At all levels...

Remember that managing one's own medication is, for some, equal to brushing your teeth or combing your hair.  It is a personal aspect of health care and often it is the only thing that any patient is able to control themselves.  Sharing this responsibility and eventually handing it over to someone else is a huge step for anyone to take, so be mindful of this.  You have a huge responsibility now, but you can do this.