Ch.19. I’m Scared to Travel Away from Pat.
Pat and I have spent the great majority of time together since we both retired and Pat was diagnosed with Lewy Body. That’s good. But I’ve now realized that I am afraid to leave her.
Here’s what happened. About a week ago I received a call asking me to develop a state-wide anger management program for counselors at a large state’s prisons. I would be the trainer. This would be a great opportunity to teach prison workers how to help prisoners prevent, contain and resolve their anger – and maybe help someone out there stay alive by doing so.
But… I would have to travel to the training site, do the training, and fly back home. That would take three to four days. Nothing I haven’t done probably 50 times before. But… all those trips preceded Pat’s diagnosis. I never had to worry before about whether Pat could safely cook a meal or walk the dogs without falling or handle the remote to watch her favorite shows.
Furthermore, I’ve been proud that I haven’t needed much help from my children, friends or neighbors. Too proud, I now realize. I should have accepted a few of their offers to stay with Pat. I guess I saw accepting help as a sign of weakness. But the result is that I’m psychologically unprepared to travel. My fear threatens to join us at the hip, something Pat certainly doesn’t want or need.
I brought my situation to our couple’s support group in St. Paul. The other caregivers there understood my dilemma. They’ve all gone through the same thing. One man had to force himself to go deer hunting and could only stay away one day. A woman talked about trying to keep track of her husband to make sure he was ok. But they strongly encouraged me to accept this opportunity to take some time for myself. They reminded me that Pat has family, friends and neighbors in her support system and that we could also hire professional aides if need be. I heard them say these perfectly rational statements. My head agreed with them. Meanwhile, my gut was screaming “No, no, something bad will happen. Don’t go. She needs you to protect her.”
I’ve made the decision to accept the training gig if it is offered. However, I expect this inner debate to rage on indefinitely. In the meantime, I will become a problem solver, contacting all the members of Pat’s support team to ask them to discuss with Pat what kind of support she wants and needs. I almost said I will make all these arrangements, but I think I better trust them to do it themselves. Probably what I need to do is arrange for my support network so I can leave Pat for a few days without suffering a panic attack.
Pat’s comments on I’m Scared to Travel Away from Pat.
I will feel fine with Ron’s travelling away if I can reach him by phone at times so we can talk. I don’t want to call him in order to make sure he doesn’t go away and I do want to know when he plans to come home. We need to make a list of the things I must take care of while he’s away so I have a list I can follow and so I don’t miss things that are important to get done. If I know what I am supposed to do and if I know I can find back up in case of problems with insulin or other difficulties I will be fine.
I’m not afraid of being here on my own. This is my home environment. I can always ask for help and I know people will call to offer help.
Josh and Jenny both have offered for me to stay with them. I can do that but the dogs needs are important too. I don’t have a solution yet. And I don’t drive so I can’t take the dogs. And cat. And horse. I can ask if I can bring the animals with me but I don’t know the answer yet. Those are answers I still have to find.
If Ron gets all scared and calls me up because he’s worried about me I will tell him whether he needs to be worried at that time or not.