Confessions of a “Challenged” Care Giver


I’m a septuagenarian and my wife is…well…let’s say she’s much “younger.”


Whenever one of us has surgery the other shoulders the role of “Care Giver.”  It’s an immediate and mandatory assignment.


Together we’ve had a dozen or so out-patient procedures from knees to necks to shoulders over the past ten years.


I admit that a woman’s “nurturing” skills far outweigh a mans’.  It’s not that I don’t have any, I know I do, but finding them is one of my many challenges.


We returned home yesterday from foot surgery, my foot surgery, and within minutes she had two make-shift beds set up for me in our Keeping Room and Den.


What about our Feeding Regimen…?

Later on in the day, I was treated to a hot bowlful of home-made vegetable beef soup, good enough to make a lumberjack slap his grandma.

Then comes corn bread, rich with corn kernels, fresh from the oven and so good I could hear the same lumberjack slap his mother.  But that’s not all, just as I was settling into one of my post-op nests, here she comes with a warm, New York-styled cheesecake topped with almond flavored, freshly made whipped cream.

This prompted me to put a phone call into his wife.

In my defense, when the shoe is on the other foot (literally), I reciprocate.

I go to Trader Joe’s.

Plus, I’m always willing to help her set up temporary beds anywhere in the house she chooses after she’s had surgery.


What about Cleaning Protocols…?

This can be understood in three different venues: Clothes, house and food.

Clothes:  Dirty clothes don’t exist for long when I’m the patient.  I see a few briefly in the morning before they disappear completely.  When my wife is the patient, I have to rent an outbuilding for daily storage and, when she’s back doing housework, we need a conveyor to get them to the washing machine.

I try to follow her example keeping the house clean.  Sparkling clean.  When vacuuming, my nemesis the power cord, keeps tangling my feet until I finally surrender due to its threat of making me fall.  This usually takes about six minutes.  I also try to use a “Swiffer”, but give it up even quicker after a few unproductive swipes.  It wasn’t until my wife resumed using the Swiffer that I witnessed her wrapping a cleaning cloth around the “swiffing” end before using it.


I do my best keeping the kitchen clean and can honestly boast I can handle a trash compactor and dish washer with equal deftness as my wife.  I have learned, slowly however, why she goes through refrigerator, freezer and pantry shelves grabbing items for trash bagging on the eve of trash pick-up day.

My dilatory response to this fact has elevated my appreciation of the term, “Use By”.



Dosage Management for Meds…?

My wife writes up a dosing schedule for my meds and allocates them accordingly. Without failure. She keeps bottles of water at my fingertips along with a freshly charged ice pack, pillows and warm blankets.

I’m good with the water bottles only.


It’s dawning on me now why she dreads having surgery while I’m almost giddy.  I can’t wait.


Considering the cumulative magnitude of my “Care Giving” skills (or lack thereof), I grabbed a hand mirror, secreted off to a bathroom upstairs featuring a full-body mirror and surveilled the back of my neck and upper shoulder area looking for a “Use By” tattoo.

Thank the Lord none was found.

My search for my innate nurturing trait continues, but if “Care Giving” was an Olympic sport, my wife would win the gold.

While she stood atop of the medals podium listening to America’s awe inspiring national anthem, I would be struggling using a Swiffer in the team locker room listening to the Beatles sing, “I’m a Loser.”


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