Tuesday, August 22, 2017

On My Own

My daughter and son-in-law moved out this summer, with our blessing and best wishes. This left Kim and I empty-nesters, which changes things.

I didn’t feel the effects until Monday, when Kim went back to work as a middle school guidance counselor after having a couple of months off. My disease is steadily progressing, and my abilities are only declining at the same time less people are around to help me. The challenges resulting from this living arrangement will require a combination of financial investment, ingenuity, and organizational skills. You know — stuff an engineer does.


I’m going to invest in items like automatic door openers, at least for my front and back doors.  Also, I’m going to hire some help — home care professionals — to stop in a few hours a week.


Kim and I are brainstorming ways for her to prepare my lunches in such a way that I can feed myself. Another problem we haven’t figured out yet is how I can put my coat on and take it off once the weather gets colder. If we don’t solve that one, I’ll be stuck in the house during Kim's work hours in the winter — inconvenient but not catastrophic.


I put together a checklist that I’ll look over before Kim leaves for work in the morning, to make sure everything is set up as well as it can be for me. Here’s a partial look at that list:
  • Lunch items all set up for me
  • a drink with a straw in it set up at the table
  • a couple of snacks ready to go
  • eyedrops where I can reach them
  • sunglasses where I can reach them
  • accessible scissors for opening packages
  • remote controls
  • windows open or closed according to the weather
  • make sure I can reach the device I currently wrestle with to get back door opened and closed
  • medications ready
  • dog and cat fed and watered
  • dog has on her invisible fence collar
  • my cell phone in good position and coupled with computer
  • several more items, some of which modesty prevents me from detailing
Note that all these items are addressed only after Kim gets me out of bed, washed, groomed, dressed, and otherwise presentable.

The good news is that Kim is only a few minutes away at work. My goal is to not bother her, but it’s comforting to know she can be home quickly if she needs to.

I’ve managed considerably more complex engineering projects over the years. This should be a piece of cake.


  1. Kudos to yall! Making an almost impossible situation work. I hired a lady to help me, one of the best investments ever. Society doesnt have a clue of how much it costs to try to live a normal life.
    ps. The empty nest was so hard for me to get used to, hope you do ok with it.

    1. yes, being disabled is so damned expensive. Regarding the empty nest — it's not the emotional stress that will bother us, but rather the logistics I explained in the post.

  2. Mitch, this is a unique look at the empty-nest effects. I am on the verge of having 2 of my 3 kids leave for college,a year from now, and I'm itching for it to happen. I smirk at others who talk about feeling blue, probably because my house is busting at the seams and life is so busy. You made me think about all the things my kids do for me that I take for granted, especially as an adult without a disabling condition. Best of luck to you and Kim during this life transition. I will not smirk again!

    1. Please don't stop smirking. As I explained to the commenter above, we fell in the same camp as you regarding our emotional response to the empty nest — bring it on. Yes, you'll have to empty the dishwasher and take out the trash yourselves, but if you're ready for them to go I think you'll find this to be a very rewarding time in your life..

  3. Hah, more solutions coming...I love it when you write from your big engineer's brain!

    1. Have I mentioned that I can't wear "one-size-fits-all" hats? True story..

  4. Mitch - Enjoyed you blog update. You and Kim have been through so much together. Your a warrior and she is a Saint! I have been dealing with Brain Cancer. My wife Theresa has been an amazing caregiver as well.

    Keep up your spirits and have the TV remote close by! God Speed - Paul Freeman (339.222.3362)

    1. Paul, sorry to hear of your cancer. Having an amazing caregiver makes such a difference. So many people are not as fortunate as you and me.

  5. As always a good read.. David is having back surgery in early September

  6. Hey Mitch, if you get the coat thing figured out let me know. I've tried several solutions. Under Armour has a line of coats that use a magnetic zipper, which can make things easier. I have a peacoat that's been altered, with the buttons replaced by Velcro (the buttons are actually still on the coat, so it looks like it's been buttoned up, but it's actually the Velcro that's holding it closed). I've also tried pull over anoraks, but find them impossible to get on in my current condition.

    Actually, I'm finding it impossible to get the other coats on in my current condition as well, which makes the various fasteners of no use.

    Maybe it's time we winter in the tropics? How about the four of us find a place in the Virgin Islands for the winter months?

    Better start playing the lottery now.

    1. Marc, sad but true — we can't worry about fasteners if we're unable to get the coats on the first place. Your other solution, a change in venue, is much more practical. If only our wives didn't have those damn jobs we could already be there.