Sean was not adjusting well to being unemployed. He was more moody and irritable than before. His pain was worse and he spent his days laying on the couch when he didn’t have appointments. Since I was working full-time, he had to use the city shuttle service to get to and from most of his appointments in town. I would still take off work to attend his counseling appointments and when he needed to travel to Sioux Falls.
When I was at work Sean would call me four or five times a day in addition to seeing me when I came home at lunch. He would call to check in, to ask where his wallet was, to see when I would be home. It was difficult to manage my first grade classroom with so many interruptions. I decided it was time to find him a job. While it wasn’t reasonable to expect Sean to go back to work, I knew he needed a purpose. With the permission of my principal I started to bring Sean to the school in the afternoons. He helped with clerical work and projects. The kindergarten teachers quickly put him to work several times a week helping with centers in their classrooms. There were two autistic boys in those classes, and Sean was able to help keep them on task. It worked wonderfully. Sean had a reason to get out of the house every day, and I could concentrate on my work and not worry so much about him being home alone.
I was constantly worried about Sean falling and hurting himself. I was afraid he would get confused and leave the house. He would start to cook and forget what he was doing and leave the stove on. Knowing he was safe was a big relief.
Yet it was awkward having him at work. When I went into the lounge at recess, he was there, after work he was in my room. At the end of the day we went home and he was there. I was used to him working 24 hour shifts, or being out of the country. It was a big adjustment for me to have him around all the time. Sometimes it felt like everyone was asking about him and wanting to know how he was doing. . . and we were together so much. . . .and there was no “me.”
The role of caregiver superseded the role of partner. We were no longer a couple, but I felt like I was leading him here and there and taking him with me where ever I went. When I wasn’t taking care of Sean I was taking care of the kids or attending their activities. Three kids in high school brings a lot of extra duties. And when I was not doing that, I was working or planning for school, or doing laundry, cleaning, buying groceries, taking someone to the doctor.
Yet we didn’t have it so bad. There were others much less fortunate coming out of this war. There were others who would never come home.