Caregiving: From just helping to full-time

Creative piece written for and previously published on the Good Samaritan Society’s public website, www.good-sam.com. This was taken from personal experience watching the relationship between my dad and his mother, my grandmother. It is an article about a caregiver’s journey to not only full-time caregiver, but also coming to the realization that he is in fact a caregiver.

A caregiver’s journey: From “just helping” to full-time care

My father’s journey as a caregiver started long before he recognized what he was doing. He simply viewed the errands and other tasks he did for his mother as helping her when she needed her son.

His journey began after his father passed away unexpectedly. Dad and his four brothers began spending more and more time at their mother’s house, they talked more frequently with her on the phone and ran errands. Family members gathered around to provide support and comfort.

As the immediate pain of loss began to reside, however, people began to resume their normal routines. Loneliness began to grow for my grandmother.

Dad’s mom had depended on her husband for many things, including heavy lifting, yard work and being a companion during social events. He was the social one in their relationship. He went to the local gas station not once, but twice a day to drink coffee and “talk smart” with others from his generation. Grandma spent most of her time with her family.

At first, my dad stepped in out of the desire to help and to be there during the grieving process. Eventually, the tasks and errands became ingrained into Dad’s daily schedule, as well as his four brothers’ schedules.

He picked up her mail, shopped for her groceries, took her to appointments and helped her with an assortment of other small jobs like getting her holiday decor from the garage. He simply stated, “It’s just easier if I do it.”

He told me, “She’s my mother. I only have one mother. I knew that if we (Dad and his brothers) didn’t help her some, she wouldn’t be able to be independent. We were caregivers when we were needed.”

As I watched him look out for my Grandma and, at the same time, take care of his own family, I began to see traits and signs of caregiver burnout. Slowly, my dad began to realize that maybe what he was doing was caregiving.

Then, the worst happened.

It was the week of my wedding. Dad, frazzled with a long to-do list, didn’t call Grandma one evening. The next morning, he found his mother on the floor trying to say she had fallen late the night before. She couldn’t move. An ambulance took Grandma to the hospital located an hour away. My Grandma’s speech was jumbled, but one of the things Dad could make out was that a card was on the counter for my wedding.

When I arrived home for my wedding, Dad, with a brave face, gently told me that Grandma was in the hospital after she had fallen. He said the doctors thought it was a stroke. Then, trying desperately to hold it together, he broke down and hugged me.

Quickly, Dad pulled it together. I asked, “Dad, how are you going to handle all of this and the wedding?” Dad stood a little taller and said with a slight smile on his face, “Honey, I live on adrenaline. I can do this.”

Guilt overwhelmed Dad with him thinking, “If I had only called, I would have been able to help sooner.” My family rallied around him in support saying that it wasn’t his fault.

At first, Dad and his brothers struggled to come up with a plan for Grandma. Nursing homes are limited in small towns. After the family discussed it, they all agreed to have her remain in town at the nursing home with her own room. Dad made sure to reiterate,

“It all depends on us to keep her spirits up and whether or not she wants to try to get better.”

Dad now visits his mother about five times a week at the local nursing home.

“I don’t always feel like it, but I go anyway because of my soft heart. I don’t want her to sit alone. I have learned though that I have my own life to live and my own obligations too.”

He works during the day, rushes home for supper and then spends the rest of the early evening reading the paper to Grandma, working on her speech therapy and generally spending time with her. Dad then spends the remainder of the evening unwinding at home before falling asleep in the living room recliner.

Because Dad and the rest of the family continually visit Grandma at the nursing home, she has been striving to get better in both physical and speech therapy, which has significantly been paying off.

“At this time, we don’t know what her outcome will be, but we need to take one day at a time. We don’t know what the future holds. We have to encourage her in her recovery, so she can live the best life she can for the rest of her years.”

DSU English for New Media Promotional Video

For the final project of my Foundations of New Media class, I was to create some sort of media portraying the English for New Media degree. I, as well as two of my classmates, chose to construct a promotional video for the program as it is a fairly new program and the only one of its kind in the country. One of the primary audiences is employers. This major is unheard of for many employers or they just do not know much about it. With this video, it will not only educate employers about the degree, but also potentially create more jobs for graduates. The other primary audience is potential English for New Media students. Why not portray a media degree with media? These future students, or students planning to switch majors, will get a much better idea about what English for New Media is. The video may even recruit more students into the program.

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Gender Roles Portrayed in Disney Princess Films: Depictions of Time Periods

I composed this analysis in my English Informatics class, a textual analysis class. The objective of this assignment was to write a ten page analysis on three different texts. In this case, I analyzed three Disney princess film scripts. I enjoyed researching this topic as well as composing it as I grew up with Disney films. There were moments, however, when I felt my entire childhood views on Disney films, especially princess films, were shattered. There were other moments when I was intrigued by how the portrayal of women has drastically changed in Disney film history.

Carlson_FinalProject_Informatics

Nostalgia for Child’s Play

This poem was composed in my Creative Writing I class. The objective was to write a poem about a place and incorporate all five senses within the poem. I especially enjoyed writing this poem as the lake was one of my favorite places growing up. Not only is it a beautiful environment, but it is also a place full of memories spent with family. This poem holds a special place in my heart as my grandfather also enjoyed spending time fishing and hosting family gatherings with my grandmother at their home on the lake. When my grandfather passed in October 2012, this poem was displayed at his funeral, as I remember him telling me he had tears in his eyes when the poem was read to him.

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Saving the Inner Child

During my Contemporary Rhetoric class, where we discussed rhetoric that applies to today’s society and media, we were to create a public service announcement. The public service announcement could relate to a narrative we had written previously in that class, or something completely different. I chose to reflect the “moral” to my narrative I had written. The story starred my father in his early twenties and how he and some friends caused some shenanigans by throwing tomatoes at cars. The moral to the story was to hold on to the inner child, even into adulthood. I thought this would be a fitting topic as college graduation was soon approaching for me. I wanted to use the metaphor of throwing tomatoes as a way to convey holding on to the inner child. I also wanted to incorporate my father as it was his story to begin with, and he would make an excellent spokesperson.

Internship Final Presentation

 During the summer of 2012 in the Black Hills, I worked as the lead photographer for the Borglum Historical Center, a museum about the man who carved Mt. Rushmore. I took photographs of tour groups in front of Mt. Rushmore, edited and printed them, and delivered the prints to the tour group. I also helped maintained the museum front desk and gift shop.

This presentation completed my required credit for my internship in Keystone, South Dakota. I presented where I worked, what my job entailed, what I learned from Dakota State University that helped me during my internship, what I learned for my future career and what I learned about myself.

Internship Final Presentation