Wednesday, July 9, 2008

When Is "Just Good Enough" Actually Good Enough?

As most of you know, I am constantly harping on Keith to exercise. I am always on his case about how good working out is for PWP and how beneficial the stretches alone can be. Keith does work out some on his weight machine, but not enough to really justify owning it. (in my opinion - I'm sure he would disagree) He always tells me that because of his job he is quite mobile and active and that what little he does do on the weight machine is just good enough, thank you! I've never been satisfied with that. It's just not good enough. I want daily stretches and workouts, weekly visits to the Y, maybe a membership to a local gym. Basically, I want it all - for him. But then I noticed something today that changed my mind.

Keith is off work today and spent most of the morning working in the shop. He had the garage door open so I was able to watch what he was doing. He was doing a lot more than I've ever really given him credit for. He was bending, reaching, twisting and turning to reach things, pushing and pulling various heavy pieces of something I can only assume is (or was!) a car (it had two big wheels on it, other than that, I'm lost!) He was pressure-washing stuff and toting buckets and getting a pretty good workout in general. It made me stop and realize that maybe his version of good enough actually IS good enough. Maybe I need to step back and trust my husband a little more. Maybe he really DOES know more about what his body is capable of than I do. That's really hard for me to admit, though I know how horrible that sounds. I guess I'm just way too overprotective of him when it comes to PD.

I've learned today that trust and compromise come in many forms. I have learned that I don't always know what's best for my husband, and that I really do need to let him decided what course of action he wants to take to fight this disease. Keith is very active in spite of having PD, and that is good enough for me.


One Life said...

I understand what you mean. It's hard to step back when what we *really* want is to FIX it, to do anything that it takes to make it go away so that our loved ones don't have to be hurt anymore. It's in our nature as women... as nurturers.

We too have had to come to terms in our household. I mentioned exercise several times to B, until I realized that his two to three times a week lawnmowing habit was actually his form of motion therapy, and maybe did just as much for him as structured exercises. (After all, he's getting his heart rate up, he's bending, twisting, balancing, moving, pushing... asking his body to do all those things that he needs to do to keep it in good working order.) I felt a little bit foolish; what I fell in love with originally was his brilliance and levelheaded practicality, and I should have trusted him with his own body. It's been ten years he's struggled with this disease, and he knows far more than I how to cope.

At his stage of the game, I've decided to observe. I watch to be sure that he's taking his meds, that he's steady and strong, and not getting overtired. We have had some setbacks and some scary moments when he's gone outside his boundaries, but at least now we know where they lie.

I carry my cell phone with his med times programmed on my alarm; I am the steadying arm in the shower when he needs one; I am the 'big meanie' who extricates him from social obligations that run past his schedule. I am his backup, but for his dignity, I have to remember not to be his babysitter. :-) It's been hard to squash the maternal instinct, but I think I'm making progress. (LOL - About the time I perfect this mindset will probably be about the time I NEED to take over as caregiver!)

Keep looking for insights. We are growing every day, with every new situation. You are doing a great job, and Keith is lucky to have you. Cheers!

Patient On-line said...

Mary, I read your new posting and found it very thoughtful. Your care for Keith and for his best, along with your willingness to be flexible and catch a glimpse of his perspective are inspiring. Those of us fortunate enough to have such a wonderful and dedicated spouse or family caregiver, are blessed beyond words. I am thankful for those like you-- which include my wife who stands by me through it all. You keep it up. Your blog is a source of strength and valuable understanding! Dan

Mary said...

One Life - you are so right about the maternal instinct! I suppose some would see it as trying to control Keith, but that is not the case at all. It really is an almost overwhelming urge to nurture and protect and "fix it" much like we do with our children. It is very frustrating to know that I can't just "fix it."

Maybe if I worked out in the yard a little more myself I would learn the hard way just how physical it is. LOL!

Yes, we do need to trust that our men know how to cope better than we do. ;) I too, am in the observation mode right now. It's a fine like to walk altogether, when it's important to leave their dignity intact. Good point!

Mary said...

Dan - your kind words bring tears to my eyes! We have God to thank for giving us the strenght to keep it going. You are Blessed, indeed, to have such a supportive wife! Thank you!