The Care Givers Ride

From Pages’ Past 2004

“I love flipping through cooking magazines, day dreaming about the wonderful meals I am going to prepare. However, I know it is only a dream. I barely have time to get a batch of pancakes thrown on the griddle before my duty, as a caregiver, pulls me in another direction. Is duty even the correct word? Responsibility or love might fit better. I tell myself, “It’s my duty to keep my brother out of the nursing home, it’s my duty to pick up where my mother left off, it is my duty to God to care for my brother. No, maybe love is the better word, I love my brother and mother. I love God. I love family.”

My ride as a caregiver ended in 2014, these are my stories—“The Care Givers Ride, Journaling through the heart of the caregiver.”

As a child, I would write in my diary, then as a young adult I would fill the pages of decorated journals. All those adventures and emotions are now trashed.

However, one batch of my scribbles, remain, my book, “The Unbreakable Cord.” My account of my daughter’s car accident. At the time, the events were so overwhelming, I isolated myself from my feelings and emotions. Using a stuffed dog, Woody, as my voice, I began journaling. I gave the little fluffy dog a personality and I channeled all my fear through him.

Fifteen years later, I was encouraged to share my experience. You may be wondering what does writing a book and care giving must do with each other? looking back they seem the same, not the experience, but the fear, the questions.

Different genres fill the writing field and the same is with caregiving. The dictionary describes genre, “a category of artistic composition.” That is us care givers, artistic composition. We adapt, we paint new pictures, we create. We become the noun in our loved one’s world. (I will share some of the things my family created to help with my brother’s care throughout my blog, and I hope you will also share some of your creations and tips with readers.)

Some of you are beginning your novel while others are in the middle, but some of you are writing the last chapter. Maybe you story is a short story. For others, their caregiving novel is a series, with one character leaving to only be replaced with another.

I lived the pages of a suspense novel, with the main characters, a disabled brother, an injured daughter, and an ageing Mom filling each page of my journal with adventure.

So, in this blog, I am using punctuation to ride through the caregiver’s heart. Punctuation marks tell the reader when to speed up, slow down, when to stop and even what to expect coming. I am starting with the question mark. The writing rules of a question mark: Use after sentence that asks a question, use to mark uncertainty or doubt.

When it was suggested I turn the pages of my scribbles into a book, questions and doubt consumed me. “I can’t write, I can’t even spell correctly, and I sure don’t know how to write a book.” So, I went to a writing conference and words were thrown at me that was never in my daily vocabulary. Different rules—all different depending on your choice of genre. The same with caregiving, no stoke victim or person struggling with Parkinson are the same Was I smart enough to learn the craft? Could I find the time? Was I willing to fail? Looking back, these are the same questions that attacked me when I stepped into the caregiving role of my disabled brother. I didn’t know if I was strong enough to handle the ‘nursy’ thing required of me. My vocabulary filled with new words, Colostomy, bed sores, feeding tubes, and rules again became my guide. I had to ask myself, “Am I willing to give up my dreams to take this ride?” A ride without a roadmap. A ride, I knew that only had one destination.

My support group became doctors and nurses. I asked the nurse questions, made her slow down and explain. Things that were easy for her, I found difficult. My appointment calendar became my journal.

So, when it came to writing my book, I told myself, I can learn the craft. I needed to know the rules. I surrounded myself with writing crique groups and friends who encouraged me through the rejections of my manuscript. I even paid to have my final manuscript edited, some rules I just couldn’t get.

For me caregiving and writing are the same, I could only do my best. I know for myself, focusing on one chapter or one doctor’s visit was all I could manage on some days. As time passed, questions became less and I moved into each assignment with a little more confidence. However, the work didn’t stop.

I think a lot of caregivers are overwhelmed with questions and have no one to ask. I also know there is that spouse out there taking care of their partner and is drowning in loneliness.

My hope is in this weekly blog, The Care Givers Ride, it will be a listening ear for your questions. You may not get an answer, but I know for myself, just bringing that question to the surface is freeing. I invite you to write on this page, sometimes just being able to say, it’s overwhelming, or whatever your heart is feeling. As a past caregiver, I understand. I hope you will join with me and other readers.

Start by using your appointment book as your journal. Use a punctuation mark to note the feeling about that day, that doctors visit, that loneliness. Then when you have five-minutes free time open your journal and expand on that punctuation mark. Be honest with yourself. Remember, a journal is for your eyes only. Do not worry about the rules of writing.

My goal is to post a new blog every Sunday, next week it is on the exclamation point. Thank you for reading my blog and I do look forward to hearing from you.

Journaling through the Care Givers Heart.

My hope is in this weekly blog, The Care Givers Ride, it will be a listening ear for your questions. You may not get an answer, but I know for myself, just bringing that question to the surface is freeing. I invite you to write on this page, sometimes just being able to say, it’s overwhelming, or whatever your heart is feeling. As a past caregiver, I understand. I hope you will join with me and other readers. 

Free E Book: The Unbreakable Cord

Amazon is running a promotion on my book, The Unbreakable Cord. Free E-Book for five days; March 19-March 23. I would appreciate that you post an honest opinion on Amazon, after you read it, but please make sure in your review, you do add the disclaimer, “you received the book for free.” Also please share this with your followers.47095936_5.11 High Resolution Back Cover.6084574

 

 

The Strength of Christmas

Looking for a Christmas gift that shares the strength of the reason we celebrate Christmas? My book, The Unbreakable Cord, is available on Amazon for $10.95

Fifteen years ago, during the Christmas season, I sat bedside of my daughter, as she fought for her life from life threatening injuries caused by a drunk driver. When I returned to my motel room, late Christmas Eve, my mom called with the news, my oldest brother had suffered a heart attack.

That Christmas, I didn’t sit around the Christmas tree and untie colorful ribbons that decorated the packages. My brother laid in one hospital, fighting for his life, and later lost his battle. My daughter clung to life in another hospital.

However, I held closely to my heart the gift of the season. I knew the real reason we celebrated Christmas, Jesus Christ. That is why my book is title The Unbreakable Cord, Jesus is our lifeline, a Christmas ribbon that never breaks.

I hope you will find encouragement as you read the pages of my heart-wrenching journey of pain, healing and forgiveness. This inspiring story offers hope as you hold fast to the knowledge that Christ is always present.

The Unbreakable Cord, A tragic accident leads to a journey of faith.

Bobbie Bomar Brown

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Sneak Preview Continues

The Unbreakable Cord

Soon to be released through Amazon, The Unbreakable Cord. It will be available in paperback or E-book. Here is the first chapter.

The Call

Numbness draped my mind while I sat in the trauma waiting area, desensitized by the endless replays of the nurse’s comment, “The doctors are working on her; get here as quickly as you can.”

My frozen stare finally forced open the triage curtain. A young physician stepped forth and said, “Mr. and Mrs. Kittler.” I hadn’t jumped to that name since our divorce twenty years before. I didn’t bother correcting him. Gary and I listened as he shared the news concerning our daughter.

            “The lacerated kidney will repair itself. The head gash required twenty-six staples. She has multiple fractures of her pelvis, that is our main concern.” He then continued with a slight hesitation in his voice. “It’s a deep bleeder, and she’s already lost a lot of blood. We inserted a central venous catheter.”

            As I braced my buckling knees against the wall, my mind screamed, “What are you talking about? Slow down!”

“What did you say?”

The doctor patted the area below his collar bone and said, “A central venous catheter is a tube inserted into the large vein of the chest. It speeds up blood transfusions.”

            The nurse directed us to her triage room. I gulped, swallowed hard, swallowing the knot in my throat. “Jennifer”—I held her pale hand in mine— “do you remember what happened?”

She spoke in a girlish voice that was unknown to me. Her colorless face rendered a weak smile, and she whispered, “Thanksgiving at your house. Walmart’s Black Friday. I will never do that again for a three-dollar toaster.” With slurred speech, she continued. “I remember leaving this morning after Weight Watchers, and then I met up with my friends. Are they hurt? What happened?”

Jennifer slipped her fingers between her neck and the thick collar, “This hurts. Why do I have it on? I need to go to the bathroom.” She talked without catching her breath and didn’t wait for an answer concerning her friends.

The attending nurse said, “Jennifer, the cervical collar is standard procedure for rear-end collisions. You can’t get up, but you do have a urinary catheter in place.”

While the nurse scooped Jennifer’s bloody clothes off of the floor, I noticed piles of my daughter’s beautiful auburn hair strewn around. Gary moved bedside and asked, “Are you in pain now?”

A little laugh surfaced. “No, I just need to pee really bad.”

The doctor looked up from his chart and said with a firm voice, “You broke your pelvis. You can’t get up. Pee where you are.” Looking at the nurse, he continued. “I want a CT scan of the neck.”

A male nurse removed her neck, tongue, and ear piercings and then said, “Looks like you enjoy tattoos.”

A smile filled her pale face.

We followed as the aide pushed Jennifer to radiology; her silliness didn’t stop, and she continued to ask to pee. Because of the late hour, the doctor allowed us into the viewing room.

“Jennifer, lie still. Don’t move,” the technician said.

She laughed girlishly and said, “Okay.” Nevertheless, the fixation of the lighted oxygen meter on her finger overrode his instructions. The small light found its new home inches from her eyes.

The male nurse who had removed her piercings slipped on a lead vest and stood near her head. He constantly whispered, “Jennifer, don’t move.”

“Finished,” the doctor spoke through the intercom. “Get her to intensive care.” He pointed at the computer on the desk. “Mr. and Mrs. Kittler, let me show you what I see. There’s a thin shadow around the top neck disc, the C1. I don’t think it’s a concern. Discs are like pretzels: if they crack, they break, and I do not see a break.”

Images of Billy, my brain-injured brother, flashed across my mind. I asked the doctor, “What’s wrong with her? Why does she keep asking to pee and waving her hands?”

He interrupted me before I could ask about brain damage. “I know you have lots of questions. The strange behavior could be from the heavy medication or the trauma. Mrs. Kittler, you do know that the first responders used the Jaws of Life to free your daughter. The car was a tangled mess. The next twelve hours are crucial. Let’s get her through them, and then we’ll schedule the pelvis surgery.”

Gary and I rejoined the family in the narrow hall and shared everything the doctor had said.

My son, Rob, said to the nurse, “I’ve noticed two police officers here the entire time. What’s with that?”

“The drunk driver sustained minor injuries and will be arrested when he’s released.”

My son and his wife, Melissa, enclosed me in their arms, and their kisses lingered. I didn’t want to say good-bye. I watched Gary and his wife, Karen, walk down the hall before I returned to Jennifer’s bedside.

By three in the morning, the pain medication had subdued the girlish Jennifer. The cold intensive care unit matched my lonely heart, and the smell of the disinfectant hurled me back fourteen years to a California trauma unit. “Your brother has brain damage and will be a vegetable. The family should discuss removing his ventilator.”

I blinked away my tears and softly cried. “Oh, Jennifer, why didn’t I try harder? Why didn’t I insist that you spend another night and help decorate the Christmas tree?” Please, dear God, heal her brain. I see the life my brother lives daily, and I don’t want that for my daughter. I know to You, twelve hours is only a flash, but to me, it’s forever. Please help me trust You, and give me strength. I’m scared to close my eyes; I’m afraid that she’ll die while I’m sleeping.

***

“Good morning, Mrs. Kittler. Jennifer remains stable. One of the best orthopedic surgeons in the area will be performing her pelvis surgery tomorrow morning, so I’ve ordered another blood transfusion.”

Stepping outside, I asked him about brain damage. “Too early to tell. With the high-speed rear-end impact your daughter endured, it’s lucky that she survived. Let’s focus on one thing at a time. She isn’t out of the woods. Please go home, and get some rest.”

I can’t believe he expects me to leave.

I replied as nicely as I could. “Thank you for your concern.”

The teeter -totter movement of Jen’s hand started immediately when she awoke. The light rested inches from her eyes. The nurse removed the oxygen meter from her finger and said, “Jennifer, let’s move this to your toe. You’ll rest better.” With the offending light motionless, my daughter drifted back to sleep.

Gary and Karen arrived at around eight in the morning. Glancing at Jen’s IV pole, Gary said, “I know the pelvis is a deep bleeder, but you would think that she’d have a little color with all of the blood she’s received.”

I said, “I know. The nurse said she was on her ninth unit.”

Exhaustion tugged at me, so Gary dropped me off at the closest motel. After a brief nap, I returned to the hospital and to reality. The orthopedic doctor was in her room, and he said, “It’s an open-book pelvis break. I’ll be screwing a small metal plate onto the pubic bone and pulling it back together. Surgery is scheduled for nine a.m. tomorrow.”

“Will she walk again?” her dad asked.

“I’m sorry, I can’t guarantee anything; time and rehab will give us the answers. I will see you in the morning.” His firm handshake was comforting.

Gary and Karen stayed until late afternoon. I walked as far as the elevator with them and promised to keep them updated.

Helplessness covered me in the quietness of Jen’s room while I watched my sleeping beauty. My heart cried, seeing her hands restricted. But when they were free, she pulled her chest tubes. She’s so different when she’s awake—she’s giddy and even silly at times. I hope it’s the medication.

“Mrs. Kittler, here’s a toothbrush and toothpaste in case you want to freshen up while we prep Jennifer for surgery.”

“That sounds great, thank you. I’ll run to the coffee shop while you are here and be back in a minute.”

A stuffed black-and-white cat sitting in the gift shop’s window caught my eye and drew me in. It reminded me of Slippers, Jen’s cat. On the way to purchase the fluffy feline, I noticed a stuffed dog. Around his neck hung a little sign that read, “I’m on sale today.” With the cat returned, I counted out ten seventy-five and handed the money to the sales clerk. She stuffed the little doggy into a white box. “Would you like a sack?”

“No, I’m good.” Juggling the little box and my coffee, I rushed to the elevator. The elevator is taking forever. Why did I look around so long?

***

“Jennifer, open wide,” the technician said. “The doc wants a picture looking through your mouth.” As he pulled the cylinder away, he said, “Thanks, Jen. You did great.”

I asked, “Who ordered the X-ray, and why?”

“Doctor Barker ordered it, but we don’t know the reason,” he said as he rolled the portable machine out the door.

I haven’t met Doctor Barker; I wonder what kind of physician he is. I laid the little stuffed dog on her tummy.

“Look what I got from the gift shop. Isn’t he cute? Can you think of a name?”

“Woody, Woody. He looks like a Woody,” the girlish voice said.

“A black-and-white spotted dog doesn’t look like a Woody, but since he’s yours, Woody it will be.” I untied her hands from the bed rails. Jennifer giggled and embraced her new friend. Immediately, she lifted him in the air; I stood there, ready to retrieve her wandering hands.

Thank you for reading my first chapter.

Thank You

Before

ICU

jen 001

I am so thankful for the First Responders who fourteen years ago today pulled my daughter from the crumpled car, and so thankful for all the doctors and nurses God sent to minister to all of her needs.