Crisis Coping

After a recent scare during which Jim was hospitalized, I came up with a few rules “For the Wife Who Has to Take her Husband to the ER.” This is partly as a result of people asking me if I was taking care of myself. How are you supposed to take care of yourself while running back and forth to the hospital, plus taking care of the dog, your work and other issues? Well, this is how.

Rule 1. Buy yourself a pair of new shoes. It doesn’t matter if you need them or not. It doesn’t really matter if you’ll ever wear them. If there’s enough money for the extra costs of illness, and there always is, there is money for a pair of shoes.  For some reason, most women find it impossible to worry while they’re buying shoes. It will give you a good break from caregiving, almost as good as watching “Sleepless in Seattle” for the tenth time.

Rule 2. Particularly if Step One got you a pair of sandals, but even if it didn’t, get a pedicure. A manicure would be good, too. Sitting in a soft chair while your hands and feet soak in warm water feels really good. It’s also hard to worry while someone is massaging your tootsies. Your only decision for the next hour is whether you want pink, red, or purple polish. I opted for purple.

Rule 3. You can eat whatever you want. If the hospitalization of a spouse is good for anything, it’s good for giving you a dispensation to seriously fall off whatever diet you happen to be on. One of the best times I had while Jim was in the hospital last week was sitting on his bed and sharing a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie ice cream with him. Warning: too many lattes can be bad for your nerves.

Rules 4-8. Then there are the good old stand-by rules for difficult times: call on family, let friends help and support you, pray, meditate, and stay in the present. Let me know if you have any other tricks.

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