Archive for August, 2013

A HANC Bucket List

movie poster

In the movie, The Bucket List, two men from opposite edges of the financial spectrum and conflicting life philosophies end up in the same room with the same powerful prognosis, you will die, sooner than you think you should. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman portrayed cancer ward escapees who roamed the world fulfilling their life goals, or what Nicholson’s character called his Bucket List. Together, they fulfilled their singular and united goals and dreams.

bucket overturned

BucketList.org provides an online forum to record lists of things to do before dying, as well as a place to brag about accomplishments and search other lists for ideas.

book with spiralHANCs need bucket lists, too – things to accomplish before the person in our care passes away. Don’t forget the fun things you want to do and then go out and do them, if you can. Of course, one of the reasons you are a HANC is because someone is unable to do things independently. Otherwise, you would not be there. But, you can still talk, dream and plan.

Here’s how I started the conversation one day, as we ate lunch together.

sports car

“Momma, I remember you told me you used to want to drive for NASCAR. Is there anything else you wish you could have done?”

Smiling woman

With the same mischievous grin that stole my father’s heart, she said, “I always wish I could have been the first woman on the moon.”

moon manWe spent some time discussing what she thought she would have seen and what she hoped to find there. She told me how she used to watch the “man in the moon” change expressions and she wondered if she would have been able to walk across the moon and see what caused those changes.

She wasn’t interested in discussing other goals or making plans for the rest of her days.

Woman with puzzle book

“I’ve lived my life,” she said. “I don’t need to go anywhere or do anything but sit in my chair and work my puzzles and wait to die.”

            Some times, that’s how she feels. She’s just waiting to die. Since she enjoys looking at my photos, on days she doesn’t feel like going outside on her scooter, I try to bring the outdoors in for her. There is still so much more I would like to do for and with her.

traffic

My husband and I recently took her on an impromptu road trip to our former home in Florida.

Five local physicians had been unable to resolve a medical issue for me. After months of conflicting treatments, frustrated from the pain and inability to manage some of the simplest tasks, I made an appointment to Skype my Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor who had helped me keep my body, mind and spirit in balance for the past decade. He said he felt this was a major concern and wanted to see me in person as soon as possible.

dry fingers

When everyone else in the family had conflicting schedules, my mother told me to pack a bag for her. Despite her typical reluctance to step outside of her comfort zone, she agreed to take this trip because she knew how much pain I had been enduring since moving in with her.

We filled the car with weekend luggage and all the paraphernalia necessary to make her excursion as comfortable as possible.

 Wheelchair

Walker

Potty Chair

Daily medication

Emergency meds such as nitroglycerin and something for nausea or pain

A list of her medications in case she needed a doctor

Puzzle Books and pens

Pillows and sweaters and lap blankets

ocean view

When we arrived at my in-laws’ home, my mother was apprehensive. She had forgotten she had met them when her health was good. Her trepidation was quickly rested by the genial hospitality of my husband’s folks and despite the serious nature of our trip, she had a great time.

In addition to my HANC chores, I have a HANC bucket list that doesn’t involve out of state trips.
Laugh with her daily.
Laugh at myself as often as necessary.
Listen to her stories.
Tell her my stories.
Take her photograph as often as I can.
Breathe.
Sing – even if it is off key.
Paint.
Play.
Read more, just for fun.
Dance.
Stop over-thinking.
Remember my coping strategies:
Maintain my patience.
Remain composed when provoked.
Don’t allow anyone to provoke me.

Writing

Everyone’s list will be different. Don’t wait until you are facing the end of your life to make yours. More importantly, don’t make the list and think you are finished. Start fulfilling it and enjoy every single moment of your life – especially if you are a HANC. Enjoy your life as a caregiver and remember to be flexible. When you find your support group cannot come to your aid, change your perspective and you’ll find your most precious memories!

See the world differently

What’s on your bucket list?

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