Yesterday gave me an education. I had half expected my wife to come home in a jubilant mood, finally home after three-plus months. That was an unrealistic expectation. Why would I expect that when her return home was so different from the last time she left? The last time she left, she was able to use a walker and ride in our car; she returned in a wheelchair, unable to stand and weaker than I’ve ever seen her. Her time in the hospital and rehab facilities—time essentially in isolation like solitary confinement—took an enormous toll on her, both physically and mentally. She is depressed, though it perhaps is not as severe as it has been, thanks to a mood-elevating medication. But she is most assuredly not jubilant.
She slept the vast majority of the day, waking long enough to drink some water and to nibble on some crackers and sample some Mexican food I ordered for take-out. And she was awake through the process, every three hours, of the home aid turning her in bed. The home aid was here from 11 in the morning until about 7:30 last night; during that time, she did the hard work of turning my wife in bed (to prevent bed sores and ensure better circulation). After she left, though, those tasks and changes were up to her sister and me. So, every three hours—at 9, midnight, 3, and 6—I attempted to do what I was ostensibly trained to do; I was inept, though. I think I succeeded in about half my responsibilities.
The admonition that my wife needs 24/7 care finally hit me. It will be impossible for me to do it myself. And I cannot expect any friends, no matter how generous or close, to do it with me, not even for short periods. The money I am paying for twenty-four hours of home health assistance over the weekend is astronomical; I cannot possibly afford 24/7 care; I cannot even afford a few hours every day. And I know I cannot long do even the basics by myself; especially given the need for repositioning my wife every three hours she is in bed.
I do not know what I will do. I will manage somehow, but how that will be is beyond me at the moment. My wife deserves to be at home, but she deserves far better care than I can give her at home. And she does not deserve to be in an institution, being “cared” for by people who are paid minimum wage and who resent it. Reality is a monstrous beast. Suddenly, life seems horribly, impossibly, unacceptably unfair; my wife deserves so much better than reality is willing to give.