They met at a seven-year meditation/philosophy course, which required participants to travel to India each year for the 1st week in April for instruction. It was taught by H E Tai Situ Rinpoche one of the great Meditation Masters.
The seating was cushioning on the floor, he sat in front of her. He was from Germany with limited English and she was from New Zealand (NZ) with limited German but they were able to communicate. They formed a group with the Spanish man that sat next to him and the Taiwanese woman that sat next to her. The group exchanged email addresses and from time to time corresponded. When in India they would all have breakfast together.
After year three of the course, he wrote to say he had to drop out of the course as his 88-year-old mother was sick and he needed to care for her. He wrote about his newly acquired knowledge in gynaecology, breast cancer, podiatry, and dentistry gained from having accompanied his mother to all of her appointments.
She wrote back and gave him some moral support. She also sent a gift from the NZ sheep, woollen socks for both his mother and him.
When we are born we come with nothing and we go with nothing. In between we try to make a contribution to our family, community and the world around us.
The transition to becoming a caregiver is difficult, the biggest challenge is going from having lots of time for yourself and an ability to make plans, to having no time. Much like a mother I guess. I was given a ringside seat into old age and death. Watching the decline, you are forced to confront the mortality of your loved one as well as your own.
High dependency needs mean that no matter how much you love the one you are caring for you get very tired. The forced isolation can be lonely for a lot of people. My experience wasn’t so much the loneliness but more the loss of “me” time. Early in the caregiving role when I was able to go out for a couple of hours I would joke with my friends that my visa was up and I had to get home before my visa was cancelled.
The first time I met the young ladies I had been cross-covering at the hospital, and was taken to see each of them as they both had severe pain and discomfort. They came from completely different backgrounds, had lived completely different lives but somehow ended up on the same journey.
About a week or so later they had both been admitted into our inpatient unit for pain control. Adjustments were made and they became more comfortable, but a few days later pain had returned again, as well as other problems. We had to aim at constantly moving targets, and so it would be over the next three months of their individual roller-coaster rides.
The similarities were startling; the same diagnosis, the same poor response to treatment, and in the end the same prognosis. What was completely different was their individual experiences of the same outcome. Continue reading →
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