Four Lightbulbs

Cammy in front of cupcake signHi there! Remember me? I’m Cammy, and I used to have a blog here.

What a WEEK!

Mom had her surgery last Wednesday and while all went well, the operation was more extensive and took a lot longer than originally anticipated. Because of that, her initial recovery period has been slow going. But she’s getting better every day and is scheduled to be discharged from the hospital today, drains and all. Good timing for that, because she’s a wee tad bit grumpy this morning. (They woke her up at 5:00 a.m. to teach her how to take care of the drains.)

As the evening, overnight, early-morning caregiver, my days and nights are upside down. I think I went four or five days with about 8 hours sleep total, so I’m dragging. My mother might recover from her surgery before I get myself all straightened out again. :)

But I will get it all sorted out, and even more importantly, so will Mom.

At some point over the past week, I thought about a Hello Internet podcast I’d listened to recently. In it, the hosts discuss work/life balance using the analogy of four lightbulbs to represent the major life areas, such as family, work, social, and health.

4 lightbulbs respresenting home & family, work, self, and socialIn a perfect world, we’d be able to neatly segment our lives so that all areas are fully represented, as in this graphic. Everything that needed to get done to keep us (and our loved ones) healthy and sane would get done.

Unfortunately, we all only have so much time and energy, and life doesn’t usually unfold in a neatly segmented way. Sometimes, one bulb needs a little more wattage so we have to dim (or turn off completely) one or more of the others. This isn’t so bad as a short term solution, but for the longer term, it can surely make life’s corners seem dark and dreary.

4 lightbulbs representing home/family, work, self, and social with uneven distributionThis is more representative of my past week, with most of my time and energy focused on seeing that my parents’ needs were met. I was glad to do it (wouldn’t have it any other way, really), but as the week rolled on, I really started to feel the imbalance, especially when it came taking care of myself properly. For me, “properly” translates to adequate sleep, good nutrition, and regular exercise.

There is no sleeping in a hospital. I knew that going in. What I hadn’t counted on was not being able to sleep well at home during my dad’s shift. I’m not sure why, but I think I just reached a point where I was too tired to sleep. After a couple of hours, my eyes would pop open and I was wide awake again.

I haven’t seen the inside of the gym in over a week, and that’s okay. I was able to work in some functional exercise by taking the stairs to Mom’s room on the 4th floor several times a day, most days. Also, thanks to a sciatica attack midway through, I walked a lot of laps (slowly) around her floor in the middle of the night.

My nutrition suffered from too few leafy greens and too many indulgences. Nothing awful, but more than I should have had. I think this was mostly ‘Eating To Stay Awake’, if that makes any sense. I’m back on track with that now, thank goodness. Everything else will straighten out as I catch up on my sleep. I’m certainly looking forward to it!

All things considered, I’m not UN-happy with my personal ‘balancing of the bulbs’, imperfect as it might have been. Each time it happens, I learn something that helps the next time things need adjusting. And that’s what life is all about.

How do you adjust and prioritize when life requires it?

20 thoughts on “Four Lightbulbs

  1. Oh thank goodness, there you are. I did notice that you hadn’t posted recently. So glad all is improving, and that it was just the tide of life washing over you a bit too forcefully. Your mom being discharged is a great thing! Sending good thoughts for your parents’ speedy recoveries. Don’t think you want my adjusting tips because in the past it involved a lot of ice cream and other delights. I guess it also involved a bit of “just do it” which I hope to use more of when needed in the future.

    • Thanks so much, Jeannie! I didn’t realize a whole week had gone by without posting. It was one of those situations that felt like time was standing still one minute and that the weeks were piling up the next. I’m glad we’re through it…without ice cream. :)

  2. I think sometimes you just have to go into survival mode at least temporarily! I’m glad that your mom is on the road to recovery!!! I hope you are able to get back on track and rested so that you don’t get too run down to care for your mom!!

  3. I’m glad you are on the back side of all this, Cammy and I know you will get all your bulbs back on very soon!

  4. I have been trying to get that light bulb balance thing in line for months and months. Glad your efforts are paying off! Also glad your mom is recovering well.

    I am finding myself stress eating much more often and am glad I have a whole drawer full of low carb things to eat at my desk when filling my mouth instead of speaking my mind!! Crazy clients lately…. Got to have a plan in place and not put too much judgement on ourselves when stuff happens.

    Hope you are home and in your groove soon.

  5. It’s so good to “see” you again! I hope you have a restful weekend with four lighted bulbs :) Many thoughts going up for you and for your mother.

  6. You’ve had a lot going on! I totally get the eating to stay away thing as I’ve done it many times on long trips. I think it becomes increasing harder if the period of disruption goes on for too long but my ONLY trick is to say to myself that I did the best I could under the circumstances that I was in and now that things have settled I “get to” get back on track. No self condemnation allowed, just move into what is better.

    • I do the same thing on long trips, Helen! Thank goodness so many of the truck-stop type places have healthy snacks now, or I’d be in real trouble! :)

  7. Your post brought back a lot of memories from when my mom was in the hospital for her cancer surgery…I did the same thing, sleeping (not) overnight in her room, helping to take care of her, etc etc. You do what you need to do, and then when your life somewhat goes back to normal, it takes (at least it took me) a little while to feel like myself again. So much emotional stuff that went along with the physical…but the good news is that by now, it’s a distant memory for me, and I hope you will have that same realization soon. Rest and indulge in a lot of Cammy-time for now.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Shelley. I’d begun to feel a bit wimp-ish for not handling everything better. It helps to know that it goes with the territory and that it does take time to get back in the swing.

  8. HUGE HUGS Cammy!!!!!! I think we all just do our best when times like this hit us & I am so glad your mom is doing better!! I have had times like this with both my parents – no longer here unfortunately – but I just did what I had to do. Family is first & all else just has to wait.. we do our best……. HUGS!

  9. Raises hand–former night shift nurse here. Yep, I ate to stay awake sometimes.

    I was so glad to see a post from you! I knew about all the parental surgeries, but I had forgotten, and I was getting ready to send the cavalry out to find you!

    I’m afraid I’m a little more selfish than you. Maybe it was my years of being a nurse, esp. on the night shift. I can’t go without sleep any more. I am not a good caregiver when I am sleep deprived.

    Anyway, SOOO glad to hear from you, and glad you are getting a little Cammy time.

  10. It sure is a tough thing to keep balance! I strive to maintain my good habits no matter what life throws at me, because for the most part, exercising less and eating “unclean” just makes everything else even more difficult. I want to be at my top to deal with challenging stuff! That being said, there are exceptions, when you have no choice but to let it go a little bit. For example, I was sick a lot this winter, and my running suffered from that. My whole training plan is one month behind. At first I felt guilty, but eventually I embraced it, because… what else could I do?

    Nice post.

  11. Haven’t been posting or commenting in a long time. Praying your Mom heals quickly. I understand about balance and I have a very hard time finding it.

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