At last we have a package in place that includes twice-weekly respite care. This means I am available to spend time with my friends or explore other leisure options for four hours on Tuesday mornings. There is also a shorter Thursday arvo slot, which is meant for shopping and errands. My Darling Husband is going to get some nice male company at home, and I can get out and about without worrying about him.
The package also includes the same amount of housework I was getting from Home Care, but at no cost as opposed to low cost. And we'll get his podiatry treatments (necessary due to his diabetes) for free too. We did anyway, through the 'primary care' program, but now we can switch that to the chiropractor and save a bit more money.
I am stunned to have leisure! I have gradually become unused to that. The woman who interviewed us and put all this in place asked, 'What will you do in your time off?' Apart from the obvious, meeting friends for coffee, I couldn't think! It seems I've been so busy keeping everything together that I have become desensitised to my own needs. But by now I am starting to realise I could get up to Tweed Heads to buy the new shoes I'm needing, or I could see what's on at the Art Gallery, could maybe even visit Crystal Castle occasionally, or get down to Byron Bay to browse in Abraxas Bookshop and eat a Norgen Vaaz rum'n'raisin icecream ... all the things that have gradually dropped off, largely due to DH's deteriorating mobility and the fact that he should not be left alone for long. I could get out to Mt Warning and do some energy work, as guided by the Universe, or visit friends at nearby Uki. Vistas open.
I also think I will spend some time quietly reading and writing over a cup of coffee at one of the cafés in town. I don't get nearly as much time as I'd like for either, especially the reading. I envisage taking my laptop and my e-reader. I did have fantasies of just sneaking out to my garage [library / temple / consulting room] for four hours, to read, write, meditate and do a spot of Tai Chi without interruption — but at such close quarters, I fear interruption might still happen!
Anyway, I have advised local friends and asked them to please get in touch if they are available for coffee, Art Gallery outings, etc. any Tuesday morning.
The respite has already begun. On Thursday a delightful young man turned up and spent a couple of hours chatting to DH about things of mutual interest, looking through old albums together, and so on. I was able to take the cat to the vet for his monthly arthritis injection, drop him back home and then go off and do a bit of shopping. I even had time afterwards for a quick coffee and a read of the Kobo. I have now discovered the only café in our little town which stays open after 4 — and a thriving trade it was doing, too. I got home 15 minutes earlier than expected. When I told the psychologist this, at my Friday session, she suggested I might use any extra time in future to sit in the park and meditate. An excellent idea.
On Friday DH spat the dummy and declared he didn't want to go to the chiropractor and the writers' group. I tried to persuade him it was in his best interests to go, but he was adamant.
'I want to do what I want,' he said.
Fair enough, I thought, but then had to arrange care for him at short notice. I rang Commonnwealth Respite, which does emergency care when I need to go to medical appointments. Luckily they were able to find someone with very little time to spare.That covered my sessions with the chiropractor and psychologist in the morning. She even did my ironing for me, so as not to get bored while DH read and dozed in bed, and she gave him and the cats their lunch.
For the afternoon at the writers' group, which I do rather like to attend as I'm the facilitator, all I could think to do was call on our handyman. He's an old friend too, a very good bloke, and has been a carer for an elderly lady in the past. However, he works for himself and charges a flat rate of $20 an hour, so that ended up costing us $80. Luckily he never minds if I take a while to pay things off, and he did a couple of jobs we'd been needing while he was here, at no extra charge. Even so, they normally wouldn't have cost us that much. Add to that some problems associated with a relocation of our meeting room for the writers' group, and by the end of the afternoon I was so stressed that I cried all the way home. (Not the best way to drive, but I made it home safe.) I probably would have been better to just ask someone else to take the group that day but I was caught on the hop ... and it forced me to address a few things, e.g. I've figured out a solution to the relocation problems.
After some rather emotional discussion, DH and I have now come to an agreement that he will see the chiropractor and attend the writers' group fortnightly, and stay home on alternate weeks to do his own thing. I now have to find some form of funded care for him on alternate Friday afternoons. First port of call on Monday will be the new respite people. Theoretically we're entitled to more hours than they've given us; whether they have staff available at that time might be another question. But I have a Plan B and Plan C, too.