Mr. Resourceful

I have had the honor and privilege of meeting some of the most amazing and interesting people in my life – whether it be at work or at play.  Here are some of my observations that I will share from time to time.  Don’t worry…names are changed to protect the shy, innocent and everyone else too.  This is just about real people surviving, growing and often inspiring others. Their challenges are significant.  How they respond is often amusing, sometimes even amazing.

Meet Mr. Resourceful…  He is 86 years old, a widower of many years and lives alone in a home he has known for over 55 years.  By the looks of things, it hasn’t been updated since he moved in.  It is small and always clean.  He has someone come in a couple days a week to help out with that. 

When I look at Mr. Resourceful he reminds me of Santa Claus.  His white hair and white beard certainly give this away. His stature does too.  He is tall and has a round belly that moves when he laughs.

 

Santa
Not Mr. Resourceful

 

He walks about 10-20 feet with his walker before having to sit and his standing tolerance is 7 seconds.  How do I know?  He counts this regularly.  When rising from his chair, he takes a bit of time to stand up though he never gets all the way straight.  Years of wear and tear on his knees, hips and spine have led to arthritis and other degenerative changes.  He is no longer a surgical candidate due to other medical issues.  He wants to stay in his home.

He uses a wheelchair for appointments and other outings.  He relies on others to pick him up at his home and drive him to where he needs to go.  There is always someone to help him get to where he needs to go.  You get what you give don’t you think?

He is sharp.  When asked when it was that he last took his medicine, he looks it up in his log he keeps on a daily basis.  “Why that was 6:30 this morning.  I took one.”  “When do you go to the doctor again?”  Out comes the log, “Next Friday, 1:00pm.  So-and-so is taking me.”  Impressive.

I call him Mr. Resourceful because nearly every piece of furniture in his home is placed for a reason.  His kitchen chair is on wheels so he can roll around in the kitchen and make a meal and transport items to different parts of the room.  His cabinets are stocked within reach with what he needs on a daily basis.  His chair is mostly parked at the kitchen table (the table is not on wheels thankfully) and is strategically located between the table and kitchen sink/counter.  You see, he pushes himself up to stand with a lot of arm support on these stable surfaces. 

He has an ottoman in his living room.  It is an old stool with a wrapped-up sleeping bag strapped to it.  It is just the right height and positioned just far enough from his chair so that he can stand between it and the chair and also rest his legs on it when seated.  How do I know this?  I started to move it one day.  “Don’t move that!  It’s right where I want it.”  I should have known, Mr. Resourceful.  “My apologies.”

I asked him if he was an engineer when he worked.  “I was an expediter.  Do you know what that is?”  I responded, “You did things fast?”  He replied, “I had to be efficient, too.”  Efficient he is.  This is how he is still in his home.

Mr. Resourceful is kind and giving.  He told me of overhearing a family at breakfast the other day in a local diner.  He enjoyed hearing the laughter of the children behind him and how they talked to each other during their meal.  He left before they did and anonymously paid the check. 

“I’ll keep living this way until I can’t,” he told me.  “I’m not done yet.”  I believe you Santa.  I believe in you.

To your health,

Nancy Alexander

Hey You!

Hey you!  … yes you!  You don’t have to feel this way.  You know what I’m talking about… thinking that you’re alone with the challenge you’re facing.  Chances are very good you’re not.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet there are many others who are or have been just where you are.  It’s not a great place to be.  I know, I’ve been there.  OK, I’ve been there a few times.  OK, I should get frequent flyer miles for all the times I’ve gone there.  You’ll get through it… and you’ll grow along the way, too.

Truth is, when we are challenged by someone, some situation or even ourselves, we have options.  We may not see them, but we do.  We get so wrapped up in how we should react that we forget to look outside of ourselves.  We just see what we know and what we know how to do… and we keep seeing it over and over again.

For example, when I was caring for my father with dementia I took pride in handling the challenge myself.  “I got this”, “ I can do it… I don’t need any help.”  I adored my father and it was my turn to take care of him.  This was how I could and should honor him.  If I couldn’t do it, it meant failure.  Oh, how the mind can play with us.

I did it until I couldn’t.  You know it when it hits you.  I was exhausted, sad, mad, and desperate.  Poor choices come from this mindset.

I reached out.  I reached out to physicians, nurses, aides, social workers, local organizations, support groups, friends.  It was then that the cavalry arrived.  With the help of others, we found a way to keep my dad happy, engaged, safe and otherwise healthy as long as possible.  The same went for me.  It was a win-win and a valuable learning experience.

Dad with his favorite nurses

I am in another challenge now and my very first thought was, “I got this”, “I know what to do.”  I quickly recognized the error in my reaction and righted the ship.  You can’t know everything.  You only know what you know.  So simple…  So I’m reaching out.  This blog is actually part of it.  It is enormously helpful.

So, do you get the point?  You are not alone.  Challenges will come and go.  You will have challenges come at you your whole life.  Look at them as not an obstacle, but an opportunity.  Nothing is a failure if it is a building block of your growth.  Your perspective means everything.  What do you see?

To your health,

Nancy Alexander