“Life Interrupted–Navigating the Unexpected”

LifeInterruptedI “borrowed” this post’s title, above, from Priscilla Shirer’s 2011 inspirational book of the same title, as well as the opening description about it:

“From telemarketers to traffic jams to twenty-item shoppers in the ten-item line, our lives are full of interruptions. They’re often aggravating, sometimes infuriating, and can make us want to tell people what we really think about them. But they also tell us something important about ourselves…”

For me, it is what’s most important and where I set my priorities.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed that I try to post regularly and that it has been nearly two weeks since my last post.  My lag between posts is in fact because life interrupted my process of documenting and recording Our Heritage: 12th Century and Beyond–up there on my list of priorities–for me and for my family.  However, even higher on my list of priorities is my parents–their quality of life and our caregiving efforts.  Both of my octogenarian parents suffered health issues these past two weeks requiring mom to be hospitalized for congestive heart failure and pneumonia and my dad to undergo an angiogram in prep for a future arteriogram to add yet more stents into his arteries to return blood flow into his lower extremities.

So yes, our family who primarily lives in three counties in Maryland with some in the Midwest and some in the south, and even one in Korea, lives were interrupted and we have been navigating the best we can under these unexpected events.

When mom was taken to the hospital, about 20 of the family were celebrating a birthday at a local restaurant not too far, in fact, from the hospital.  So after several hours when she was taken from the emergency room bed to a regular hospital room, some of the family came directly to the hospital while others went to the parent’s house to wait for more news–and this is called “navigating the unexpected.”  Over the next couple of days, children and grandchildren took turns with hospital visits and home care for the other parent and their pets.

But… had we been alive three centuries ago when so many of our ancestors were living in the original 13 colonies, life, for the most part, would have been much different, and yes, much simpler–and–we would likely have said our good-bye’s to both our parents many, many years ago.

1800 to today

Yes, life expectancy at birth has doubled from 40 years old in the 1800’s to 80 years old today – in a period of only 10 or so generations! The medical industry attributes improved health care, sanitation, immunizations, access to clean running water and better nutrition.

Today, you seldom hear of diseases that were common in the early 19th century like parasites, typhoid, and infections like rheumatic fever and scarlet fever.

And the following scenario of family life passed with the years. In the 1800’s, families lived their lives together in the same house or on adjacent strips of land.  They managed to eke out their living by farming small pieces of land, raising animals for food and transportation. They used nearby waters for their baths, food preparation, and fishing. They grew and cared for the trees and forests that provided wood for heating stoves, fireplaces, and timber for building their homes and crafting their tools and furniture–nothing wasted–time well spent helping each other toward a common goal–and the young respected and learned from their wise elders.  Time--me me me generationSuch a contrast to today’s reconfigured family units, hectic lifestyles, and the Millennial Generation.

I’d like also to add just one short yet interesting video by Dr. Hans Rosling, a Swedish medical doctor, academic, statistician and public speaker. He is Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute.  This video begins with global statistics starting with the year 1810 and compares global lifespans and income of the poor and sick and the rich and healthy up through 2009 when these huge quantities of public data were last updated.  This animated video very cleverly reveals the story of the world’s past, present, and future development, in just under five minutes, telling the story of the world in 200 countries over 200 years and using 120,000 numbers (2015 will be the next time new numbers are available for updates this video):

Meanwhile, our family is continuing to research and investigate what new technological gadgets and gizmos might be available for caregiving for those seniors classified as “aging in place”–those who prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible, and yet support family connections and a true quality of life in their later years.  I should also call your attention to a recent article in March 2014’s issue of AARP’s Bulletin, pages 20 and 21: Is This the End of The Nursing Home?  It discusses some new technology options the might allow you or your parents to stay in their homes at least a while longer.

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