Sunday, April 27, 2014

Crowded thoughts

I just finished three days of training on mediating with elders - that is, how to facilitate "the conversation" between elders and their families. My husband Art and I have wills and a trust and we have expressed our intentions and our wishes to our blended family of eight grown children. We have designated a power of attorney for finances and one for health care. We have long-term-care insurance and a financial planner. We set out to be organized about our life together - we were in our 40s when we met - and for the most part we've been successful - and lucky.

The training included all those things, but focused on the conversations that need to happen when a parent is healthy and then when the normal aging process begins to take its toll. The "four pillars" of such conversations might be Home, Health, Finances, and Legal.

I've participated in numerous mediation trainings, both before I was certified as a mediator and since that time. This one was the hardest for me, for a couple of reasons. First, I'm an elder myself now. And second, Art had a health event in January that got me thinking about the next stage of life. I've already been through the decline and passing of both my parents, so I could evaluate those processes in the light of my training this weekend. For the most part, our family did okay, but not as well as we could have.

I've been thinking about whether we might be experiencing "the new normal". Art recuperated well from his cardiac arrest, but still has very occasional arrhythmias that have been picked up by his pacemaker. Our home medical team wants to find out what's going on. So Art had an appointment with a cardiologist last week, and he has upcoming ones with an internal medicine person for his low potassium and with a cardiac physiotherapist for the arrhythmia. I'm grateful for the excellent medical services available where we live and I have confidence in his medical team. But I am a worrier about health and an inveterate question asker. I have a list of questions in my head for each of the docs to be seen in the next two weeks.

The hitch is that I have an opportunity to be part of a team of facilitator/mediators to be "fourth responders" to victims of the Oso mudslide. We get required FEMA training on Thursday and Friday of this week, then more flexible work assignments in the community for at least the month of May and possibly extending to August. It would be a nearly full time, paid job. As soon as I heard about this project I signed up to learn more about it. Like the universe sent it my way, you know.  But I want to go to Art's appointments with him. I wondered whether the universe wants to distract me from health worries by putting me in a place where I'm needed and where I can make a difference. So far I don't know. There's an orientation meeting tomorrow and I'll find out more then. I told Art I need to know the questions and the answers from his Thursday appointment, when he'll be in Bellevue at the clinic and I'll be in Darrington at the FEMA training. He said he'll think about how to do that for me. I know he wants me to do the FEMA thing, so I expect he'll come up with something.

It's a two and a half hour drive to Darrington. I've decided to stay in a motel up there for two nights this week. I have energy and stamina, but I think 13-hour days (including the drive) might do me in.

And on about May 15 my sister Alyx and her husband Virgil arrive from Anchorage in their motorhome. Alyx has a new job here and Virgil is just about to secure one. They were ready to leave Alaska and want to live closer to us. They'll be parking their RV on our property for three to six months while they get situated. We have never lived close to each other so it's an exciting but scary time. 

Crowded thoughts!

14 comments:

DJan said...

You have a VERY full plate, Linda. I'm not sure anybody would feel differently than you do, too many choices and not enough information. I know you will do the right thing, whatever it is. I look forward to hearing more. Good luck! Sending you lots of virtual hugs. :-)

Terra said...

These are big decisions for you, and potentially big commitments of time and focus. Could you use your skills in a volunteer unpaid way that would give you more flexibility and time with your hubby, and sister? Just my 2 cents worth.

rosaria williams said...

Yes, these are big decisions and big changes coming up. Best of luck.

#1Nana said...

I hope you figure out a way to do it all. You are fortunate that Art will work with you on finding a solution that you can live with. You know the strategies to decide...what does the chart say? It's exciting that Alyx is moving close, but that's stressful too. I hope it all works out for you my friend.

Weekend-Windup said...

It is not enough to attend training about these things it is the mind of the people to get changed and the way to behave to the elders!

Olga Hebert said...

You have a full and rich life in your retirement and you are fortunate to have a supportive partner in your life as well. I would trust the universe to guide you on this one.

Meryl Baer said...

Opportunities and difficult choices, but you are trained and prepared to evaluate and make the best decisions for you and Art. Good luck!

Perpetua said...

Gosh, there's a lot happening and a lot to think about, Linda. Good luck with the decision-making.

Retired English Teacher said...

That is a lot to think about. I understand where you are coming from on this one. Life sure does get interesting as we age, doesn't it.

I bet you are so excited about your sis moving there, but yes, that will mean more changes and adaptations for you all.

Linda Reeder said...

Lots coming on all at once. When it rains, it pours. But then you never let any moss gather on you. We'll be waiting to hear how you sort it all out.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

These are interesting times, aren't they? I so understand being eager to do all you can in terms of reaching out to others and, at the same time, wanting to be there for your husband and to enjoy and adjust to your sister's new presence in a few weeks. I'm sure life will sort itself out for you, but, in the meantime, it's a lot all at once, isn't it?

Friko said...

I could sure use someone like you around here. The only people who can give advise are solicitors and they costs a huge amount.

It might only be necessary to ask initial questions; we could easily do what you and Art have done.

I hope you can deal with both meetings in turn, Art’s health people and your training.

Good luck.

Grandmother (Mary) said...

I'm late to your post but I was struck by how important the issues you bring up are. What a great mediation to be able to do for elders and their families. Also, with the victims of the devastating mudslides. Hope all turns out well with Art.

Barbara Torris said...

Linda, I sat and read many of your posts on my ipad at a leisurely pace last night. The way you are writing is just so perfect. I love the emotional attachment to each idea. Hope you are doing well. Good luck with the Oso situation and give Art our best. You are very lucky people to have found each other.

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