Yesterday (the day after our little "pep talk"), Bob and I were sitting on the front porch. This is our routine: bedbath then up in the wheelchair and out onto the front porch for some fresh air and a chance, for me, to change the bedsheets, etc. While we sat there, I asked him if he was ready for another try walking the rail in the hallway. He replied, "I have... do it... even it hurts."
So that afternoon, we hit the rail once again. Bob walked 17 times. Seventeen times! Without a single complaint. Lately, his best has been 16 times, though last week we were lucky to hit 10 times. So, when he finished number 16, I could tell he was wiped out. I told him, "Give me one more and we'll call it a day." And he said, "All right." Afterward, I heartily applauded him and told him that 17 would be our new record and we would work up from there. And he agreed. And seemed quite proud of himself.
It looks like my little pep talk did the trick. But I've been looking at the comments on my last post, and, jeepers! Perhaps I hadn't made myself clear. I hope you really didn't think I was ready to toss Bob in a nursing home. So let me clarify things here.
A year ago, when Bob came home, I did tell myself that I'd give it a year. Back then, you must remember, Bob was a veritable peeing machine. Seemed all he did was urinate. I was up two, three, sometimes four times each night, changing sheets and getting no sleep. I did wonder what I had gotten myself into, but told myself to hang in there for at least a year. Also, back then, he could barely utter two understandable words. He often threw tantrums that would rival any two year old. He cried a lot. He could not even stand up on his own. So, all in all, he certainly is much better a year later. Much better. And if he hadn't improved this much, if he was still peeing up a storm, keeping me up all night, crying and throwing tantrums and not able to speak, well, I probably would've been seriously thinking "nursing home". But not now. No where near that now.
(Sshh! Don't tell Bob I said that...)
Because I have found out, this past year, that Bob needs constant motivation to keep going. I know it is hard for him and I know it hurts, especially the walking practice, and I also know that, sometimes, he wants to give up and would rather lie around in bed and watch movies... And lately it seemed that he was in a "giving up" mode. Especially with his walking practice.
Two things that motivate him are constant cheerleading, and believe me, I have become a one-woman cheerleading squad, but sometimes even that doesn't do the trick and I have to draw out the big guns...i.e. fear.
I do find that a little bit a fear does the trick, when all the cheerleading in the world falls flat.
So, the other day, I told him that if he didn't start working a bit harder, if he slipped back too far, if he gives up trying to walk, well, he may just end up in nursing home where they certainly would let him lie around all day and watch TV, but did he really want that? And of course he doesn't. His biggest fear is ending up in a place like that. Thus, he starts thinking that he'd better try harder. And he does.
Am I wrong to use this "tough love" strategy?
Well, right or wrong, it certainly worked! Sometimes, I think it's part of a caregiver's job to be a little tough. And to push him a little hard.
So, we'll see how he does today.