Monday, October 27, 2014

Practical Help from Friends and Family

Practical Help from Friends and Family

The Lundy Family, May 2010

I have had dysautonomia for most of my life, but it became especially disabling in 2004. At that point in time Will was attending Bible college and working full time. I was working part time, but by September of 2004 I could no longer keep up with even two days of work per week. We were in Alaska, far away from family. Many friends helped out while we were in Alaska, and friends and family have continued to help us these past 10 years as we navigate family life with a disabling chronic illness.

I am so grateful for those who have reached out to us over the past 10 years with practical help. Today I want to share some of the things that have been especially helpful for us. I hope that this will give ideas to others about unique and practical ways to help a friend or family member with chronic illness.

In the fall of 2004 and winter of 2005, a friend came to my house once a week to visit me and bring supper for us. She also helped me to fill out extensive medical forms when I was too ill to sit up at a computer and type.

In the winter and spring of 2005 a friend came over once a week to play cribbage with me. It was so wonderful to have company, and it was good for me to play a game to help keep my mind as sharp as possible. She kept the visits under one hour because I tired out so quickly.

A neighbor made a dozen meals for us, put them in disposable aluminum containers, and wrote our name and cooking instructions on the aluminum foil. She put the meals in her family’s larger freezer, which was outside of their house (a common thing in Alaska). Whenever Will didn’t have time to cook a meal, he could walk over and grab a meal for us. This was so helpful because Will had very little time to prepare meals. He was working 40 hours a week, plus finishing up college. In addition to that, we never knew when I would have an especially bad day and need extensive help with personal care from Will. Meals ready-to-go whenever we needed them were such a blessing.

We didn’t have a dishwasher, so a neighbor sent her two oldest children over twice a week to wash our dishes. They did this until we moved several months later!

Krista and William

My sister came to live with us for two months in the summer of 2006 to help me care for William when he was a baby. This allowed me to get the rest I needed, and it allowed Will to continue with full time work.

My health began declining again in the fall of 2006 when William was only 8 months old. A friend came over to my house 5 mornings a week for a month. She took care of William while I slept, and she helped with various household tasks. This allowed Will to continue with full time work.

When Will went to seminary, our home church, family, and friends supported us financially. Because I need so much daily help, Will could not attend seminary while also working full-time. The elders of our church supported Will’s decision to attend seminary, and they wisely advised us to go to seminary only with the financial support of the church and others. The Lord provided in such a way that Will was able to graduate from seminary in 3 ½ years. Will did work part-time for a total of a year and a half of his time in seminary, but he never had to work full-time. The support from our church, family, and friends enabled him to focus on seminary full-time while also taking care of the children and me.

In 2010 when I had my bad crash, a neighbor brought supper to us every Wednesday night for 10 months! At this point in time, Will was in seminary full time. He also needed to care for two young children and a nearly completely bed-ridden wife. It was incredibly hard. Monday through Friday were the hardest days because Will had to be gone for classes and didn’t necessarily have time to cook. Each week we pushed through Monday and Tuesday. I would often think, “We just have to make it until Wednesday.” Wednesday brought such relief because we knew that supper was coming and that Will wouldn’t have to cook that night. He could take care of us. When this neighbor brought a meal on Wednesday, she didn’t just bring a meal for one night. There were always leftovers for at least one more meal, if not two or three. Those meals got us through until the weekend.

The same neighbor who brought supper every Wednesday also took care of William and Adelaide every Thursday afternoon. She had three children of her own ages 5 and under, plus a baby on the way! But she gladly invited William and Adelaide to join her children for an afternoon of play. This gave me time to rest in a quiet apartment, and it gave Will an afternoon to work on homework.

In 2009 and 2010 a neighbor family took William to Cubbies at their church on Wednesday night. Our church did not have an AWANA program, and we were thrilled that William had the opportunity to go with friends. This gave Will and me a chance to have some quality time together or a chance for Will to work on homework in a quiet apartment. In 2011 a different neighbor family took William to Cubbies at their church. He was excited to start going to Cubbies again, and we were glad that he had the opportunity to attend this program that we were unable to take him to ourselves.

Over the years many people have helped with childcare in various ways. Friends and family have taken care of William and Adelaide in their homes. Others have given us money that allowed us to hire in-home help for the children and for me. I could not be a good mom without the help I have received from family and friends.

Several people have given gifts that have helped to make my life easier: handicap bars in the bathroom, a lowering showerhead, a recliner, a laptop, lap desks, a lift chair, and a special hand-made table to use while sitting in my lift chair. All of these things have added to my quality of life.

My Parents, William, and Adelaide in 2012

My parents have helped us out in numerous ways over the years, and I do not know where we would be today without them. They have helped us out with shopping, childcare, home repairs, and so much more. They even let us live with them for a year and a half when William was a toddler. My parents have given self-sacrificially, and our family is thriving today in no small part because of the ways they have supported us.

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of ways people have helped us. There have been many more things, probably even more than I can recall. Life with a chronic illness is hard, and it is not something we can do without help. I am so grateful for the family and friends who have helped us out over the years. Some people have helped us out extensively, in ways we will never be able to repay here on earth, but in ways that Jesus will reward in eternity.

Let’s hear from you!

How have you reached out to a family affected by chronic illness? If you have a chronic illness, what is the most helpful thing someone has done for you?

This post is part of the Chronic Illness and Friendship series.

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