President_Roosevelt“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt, who is quoted above, also once said that he “did not envy a life of ease.”

Here I sit at the beginning of a new year, and I am dealing with the same difficult situation that I have been dealing with for months. Being shorthanded on caregivers is hard for me in more ways than I can articulate. Spending so much time by myself means that I am in an almost constant state of unease. Will I fall? Lose my balance during a transfer? Will I spill something that is dangerous for my service dog on the floor and not be able to clean it up on my own? What situation will arise that I might not be able to handle? And I determined a long time ago that it is not safe for me to get in and out of the shower unless somebody else is in the house. There is just too much that can go wrong. Every night I literally thank God for my back up caregivers who come every chance that they get. Andrea and Patti are my saving grace right now.

Most of what created this situation is beyond my control. As I have said before, people I’ve hired have gotten very ill, had family problems or anxiety issues, or been offered other jobs that included health benefits. They had to go. Some couldn’t continue working for me when their coursework got too intense. For a few, it was determined early on that being a caregiver was just not the right job for them. That’s okay. In fact, it works out better when I know that sooner rather than later. I just don’t like what that means for me day to day. But it all falls into the “It is what it is” category.

Very well-meaning people who care about me a great deal have suggested that I simply go through an agency to get my caregiving needs met. I’ve tried. I really have. But that has not worked out. Paperwork is holding up the process indefinitely. Besides, that is never going to be my first choice. I know my psyche. And I know how I would feel if someone who I never met and had no say in hiring had to see me naked and vulnerable every time I needed a shower. With some other stranger coming in for the next shift. I might as well be in a nursing home sitting in a corner. No thanks. I don’t care for that visual. Not while I am I still in my 40’s. Just not my style. And my 32 years of hiring and managing caregivers has taught me multitudes about what works for me and what doesn’t. In the last few months, I have tried most of the latter things again. Lo and behold, they still don’t work. That is good information for me to know.

Some days I feel like throwing in the towel. Especially when a new caregiver quits without notice. Again. But that isn’t my style either. I have to be in the arena, continuing to fight, with my face marred with dust and sweat and blood. I am going to make mistakes, (like sometimes hiring the wrong people)  and I am going to have lots of critics. It doesn’t matter. Because the independent, productive life that I want to live is worth fighting for, and in order to make it work, I need a full team of reliable, compassionate caregivers. I have come up short, again and again, but I have had exceptional caregivers before. I know that they are out there. And I will fight with everything inside me to find them so that I can live my best life possible.

I have never really been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. In the past, I have been unrealistic and set my goals too high, and then kicked myself in the butt for not reaching them. Not a good plan. So, this year, instead of setting goals or coming up with a word or a theme for the months ahead, I am going to simply make myself a promise.

I am going to stay in the arena, striving valiantly for a worthy cause. Because in the end, whether I know high achievement or I fail while daring greatly; at least I will never be one of the cold, timid souls who settles and says, “I am okay with less than I deserve.”

I think Theodore Roosevelt might envy my life. And I am okay with that.

My next caregiver interview is on Monday night at 6 p.m.

Happy 2018 everybody!