The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Roadside Lessons

Clatter, clatter, clatter. Not what we want to hear as we drive or RV from one campsite to another. We stop get out to find our exhaust pipe on the ground, run over by one of our rear tires.  We were miles from any town. A service station and a huge flea market barn are the only buildings in sight. Jim drives the RV, with the pipe dragging underneath and the tire shredded, to the service station. At least, we aren’t parked right on the road.

My call for roadside aid adds to the stress as I try to navigate through a forest of automated choices and long waits only to find that the real person I finally reach is the wrong one. I’m sure that normally, I’d have had no trouble with their system, but now I feel as though they are intentionally trying to make a difficult situation worse. After going through their complicated process several times, I talk to three different people, telling my whole story and over each time, before I reach one who seems to know her business. She tells me if they can find a tow truck big enough to tow a 20,000 pound RV, we’ll likely have to have it stored since it is Saturday and the repair shops aren’t open. And that cost of the tow will be well over what our insurance pays because we are in nowhere land, repair-shop-wise.

We count up the likely expenses as we wait for her to find a tow-truck. They finally put us in contact with a tow company but it will be a while before they can come out. Stress is going up for both of us. How are we going to handle this? Where will we stay if the RV is stored? How will we stretch our budget to pay for the extra cost of the tow? The questions just keep on coming. We are on our own. There isn’t anyone to call for help, except for the insurance people, of course. And we are independent. We prefer not to ask for help anyway. When I worry, I get irritable. And when Jim gets upset, he quits talking. It’s a good thing. Likely, anything he’d say would have set me off. Not the way to support each other, and we both know it, but stress is ruling.

The wait seemed to be taking forever and so I decide to go visit the flea market. A sign offering RV storage prompts me to ask if they have room to store the RV for the weekend.

“Sure,” they say. That part is easy—a business exchange. The hard part is being willing to let go of doing it all—even when I know we can’t.

I take a deep breath and say, “What I really need is someone to crawl under the RV and see what needs to be done so we can move it here.” Then I explain about the exhaust pipe. Years ago, Jim would have done it but those days are over.

They don’t hesitate. “Glad to help,” they say. “And of course, you can stay in your RV in our yard as long as you need to. Oh, and here’s an electric outlet for you to plug into!” Once again, I am reminded how most people love to help. You just have to ask! Quickly I call the tow company and cancel the tow request. It was just in time. The truck was already on its way!

By Monday, with our new friends’ help and advice, we have figured out how to get the RV repaired without having it towed. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t been willing to let go of my stressed out, we have to do it all feeling and ask for help! We are still dealing with the results of the accident but it hasn’t been nearly as expensive as it could have been. And we met some wonderful people!

OK, we aren’t caregivers, but the moral of this story is that anyone can become so stressed that they don’t think clearly. That is, anyone can start exhibiting stress-related dementia symptoms, including people like us who teach about that very thing! But thankfully, I was able to reach out and ask for help. And you can too. Even when you are feeling overly stressed you can do this. Of course, it helps to know who to ask. It pays to plan ahead and have a list of possible helpers handy. You won’t always be lucky enough to have your incident right next to the very help you need.

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

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