As John is doing his best to get himself healthy and accomplishing what is expected of him through Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, I’m doing my best to prepare my home for his return. According to my research, “The staphylococcus aureus bacteria that cause MRSA infections can survive for days to weeks on surfaces. MRSA bacteria can live on surfaces for longer than some other bacteria and viruses because they survive better without moisture. Generally, MRSA bacteria survive for longer on hard surfaces than on soft surfaces.” All the time that John was at home, we were not aware he had MRSA! Can you imagine all the things he touched??!! Every surface that he came in contact with had to be wiped down and disinfected. His bedding, clothing, and any fabric was washed in extremely hot water. When possible, bleach was added and dried on the hottest dryer setting. The nurses at the hospital gave me so much helpful information and I applied all their advice to this task!  Thank You, Lord, for placing these precious angels of mercy in my path! 

They advised taking Clorox spray foam cleaner and spraying it on the mattress itself and spread it all over with a cloth.  This stuff is the best and gets the job done! The bleach would kill and disinfect the mattress and would dry in a couple of days. This worked beautifully!  What a precious find that was indeed! They recommended Clorox wipes which also kill MRSA. I wiped down every door knob, light switch, counter tops, etc. with those! I also bleached the bathroom floors, toilets, vanities, and fixtures. I had so much to do and spent my waking moments taking care of this arduous task so that my home would be ready for my precious husband! Remember, I was also continuing to work full time so each minute was accounted for!

On one of my visits, I believe this was May 3rd at this point, I was informed that John had gained four pounds since his arrival!  He was eating in the dining room with the other residents and finally having some fellowship with people other than his regular visitors and caregivers. If you recall on my devotional back in February when John was at Lake Manassas Rehab for the first time, I wrote about this but it is worth repeating. These small details are all part of your loved one’s healing process. If the mind and spirit do not heal, the body has difficulty healing. All these aspects are taken into consideration here. Their dining room setting is a wonderful idea which encourages a family-type dining experience with other residents. Family members are also welcomed to come eat with the resident to make it feel more like home. This was definitely a blessing!  Man is not meant to be alone and my husband is no different. John got to know a few men who ate at his table and the Lord used me to encourage a dear lady’s heart who was weary of all the caregiving. She was actually living at the rehab center in her husband’s room. She would sleep on a cot beside his bed and would be there to care for his needs in the night because he didn’t want to ask the nurses to help. She only got one day a week off when her daughter would come to stay with her Dad. That day off was not spent resting but getting things taken care of at home. I felt so badly for this dear lady. 

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As I was getting to know her, I reached out  and hugged her. She broke down crying in my arms. Caregivers need encouraging words, a warm heart, a caring ear to listen to his/her problems. Everything revolves around the patient but the caregiver rarely gets the emotional support that is needed. I thank God for this opportunity to minister to caregivers! They may be forgotten but we must remember that their needs are just as important as the patient! Who will care for them? Spiritually, the Lord meets our needs.  However, sometimes we just need “Jesus with skin on” to hold us and love us. If you’re reading this and you’re not a caregiver, won’t you consider being “Jesus with skin on” to someone who is a caregiver?

Caring for your loved one is vital, but don’t neglect taking care of yourself in the process. I was determined to be “super wife” and provide my husband with all that he needed, when he needed it.  I neglected myself by not getting enough rest or proper nourishment. As a result, Mother’s Day came and I had developed a horrible bladder infection.  I had no one to care for me and in the middle of the night, I awoke shivering due to a high fever. I didn’t have the usual UTI symptoms but was experiencing extreme pressure in my bladder and much pain.  I put a sweatshirt over my pajamas, took Tylenol and went back to bed, but there was no rest to be had. Although both my sons live within 30 miles from me, it would take them at least 45 minutes to come get me. I was in too much pain to wait. As soon as Patient First opened, I drove myself there.  The doctor diagnosed me with a bladder infection and gave me an antibiotic called Macrobid. Oh my word, that antibiotic made matters a LOT worse. Diarrhea came within a few hours and now I had two sources of pain instead of just one. I could not even lay down because I kept having to go to the bathroom! I kept calling Patient First to try to get a different antibiotic but that alone was a horrible experience. I was continually reassured that a nurse would take care of it and it never happened. The pharmacy never got the prescription order. I finally asked my son to intercede on my behalf and he was able to get it straightened out. So 24 hours later, I was able to pick up a new prescription with hopes that it would not have the same severe side effects. It’s hard to be alone when you’re in need of someone to care for you.  I don’t know how people can care for themselves when they have no one. I must say that I was so sick for three days that I couldn’t give myself the care that was needed. I kept drinking because I knew that I would dehydrate quickly. It’s only by the grace of God that this finally broke and I awoke the third morning feeling much better – well enough to go back to work. Caregiver, when you don’t get rest and proper nourishment, your body will fight back! I was on the go so much I would not go to the bathroom as frequently as I should and would hold myself until a more convenient time. This is not good for an older woman and I paid the price. Don’t make the same mistake I did.  I thanked the Lord for allowing this illness in my life. Why, you ask? I thanked Him because I needed the rest and the Lord forced me to get it. It taught me a valuable lesson, to say the least.

My beloved and I – How I dreamed this day would come!

Moving back to John, as for the physical aspects, he still can’t look down enough to put his pants/socks on but his mobility is much better. The range of motion in his neck is also better and not quite as painful. Vancomycin is still being administered via the PICC line and keeping MRSA away. Now that I was feeling better, I resumed my normal routine but with much caution! A few days later, May 19th, I took John on a field trip and we went to a local ice cream place called Effee’s. John was gaining weight and starting to look healthier.  His complexion was changing from very dry (almost lizard like roughness) to smooth supple skin. It amazes me how all the parts of the body have to work together to bring health. As you can see, my face is beaming with joy at the thought of having my husband back! John’s face was beginning to show red cheeks and the sagging skin was filling in 🙂 After all, the man had lost 60 pounds and he was now putting it back on! The Nutritionist recommended a high protein and high calorie diet and that was the purpose of our visit to Effee’s, LOL! He splurged and got a huge banana split – it was great seeing him enjoying food once again. The goal is to get his weight back up to the 160-170 range. We have work to do 🙂 Praise the Lord for touching John’s body in every little detail! 

Lord, I cannot put into words how grateful I am to You for all the blessings You have bestowed upon us! I don’t let a day go by without thinking of all that You have done and continue to praise You and give You the glory for each blessing. I can’t say it enough – what a wonderful Father You are! Thank You, Lord!

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