Think About It: Bothered and bewildered

The hospice nurse got my attention when she said I was showing signs of “caregiver fatigue.” I am not sure what gave me away but suspect it had to do with having my hair cut so short, it requires little time and no effort.

Alas, the most revealing sign is the sudden appearance of tears when I talk about Paul and the many changes we have experienced. The possibility of tears falling at any moment reminds me of last summer when we learned Paul’s prognosis and I issued a warning to all visitors that I could cry at any moment and to not feel responsible. You may recall the column in which I recounted crying in the arms of the caring wine clerk at the grocery store.

I must admit the nurse’s observation brought me to the realization that I needed to recognize my fatigue and do something about it. So, I did what I always do when I have a problem to solve. I talked with Paul.

I knew he would feel responsible. I easily reassured him he would do the same for me and honestly asked for his help. Together we planned.

First, we would take time to grieve and cry together to relieve the weight of unexpressed grief. My suppressed tears were sadness which felt to me like an enormous pressure surrounding my heart and choking my voice as life goes on around us. We both felt better.

The second plan was to reduce the time on chores, and we chose at my urging to cut down time in the kitchen, searching out more meals that were “convenient”. I have so far discovered that 80 percent of convenience dinners and salads have chicken in them. Paul was raised in Arkansas during the depression and ate lots of chicken. He does not want any more chicken!

The third plan was to move the noisy heat producing oxygen concentrator out of our small library next to our living room to allow me to write in a quiet room without holding the laptop on my lap and still be close to Paul. The concentrator now shares the room with the washer and dryer with the door to garage open to allow more air circulation.


Of course, harder to control are those things out of our control. As much as technology has improved our ability to communicate, it has polluted our lives with communication we never asked to receive and takes up valuable time.

Most of our snail mail and my email — not texts because I refuse to allow it — are solicitations from causes and people running for elected office. It takes time to sort it.

Most causes include a “gift” of calendars, greeting cards, address labels and an occasional poster. All are designed to engender responsibility to pay for the items, but who needs ten calendars.

I maintain they all have the same consultant or attended the same industry conference session that advised them on effective ways to raise money. They also rely on each other to share mailing lists which increases the load in my mail and inboxes.

I had enough when we received duplicates from one cause, one addressed to Paul and Bertha, the other to Bertha and Paul. I sent back solicitations to inform them, even wrote to the CEO with a promise never to contribute again if duplicates were not stopped. Of course, they did not and now I do not.

One of my labor and aggravation savings acts was to stop all cause donations except to local causes until I have time to analyze the value. Those left out have not noticed or missed us because they continue to send mail which I continue to toss in recycle.

I have done something similar with campaign solicitations who employ similar tactics of urgency and fear, only without gifts, about our country’s current instabilities.


I know the sense of instability and uncertainty in our country but must not use valuable time and energy when I am short of both, yet, it worries me — how could it not? But should it drain me?

I came upon a protective strategy while reading a column by Nicholas Kristof (“It’s easy to feel righteous, but liberals beware,” Peninsula Daily News, June 23).

I like Nicholas Kristof and see him as a wise commentator. And he lives in Oregon, unlike the million other pundits who live in East Standard Time.

In the column about balancing the rights and wrong of the rights and lefts, he referred to “… liberal’s penchant for renaming things (as) counterproductive.” One example he uses was referring to “people with uteruses” instead of women which left “many Americans feeling bewildered and excluded.”

Whoa, I am not alone except for the urge to laugh. No, not at those who prefer gender neutrality, but at what it brings to my imagination.

Beyond that, I just cannot call a woman delighting in her pregnancy a pregnant people or myself a people with a uterus. To do otherwise is bewildering — and silly.

What comfort it is in being bewildered!

I will not list all the things that bewilder me in the world today because it is just about everything. For the moment it is where my mind wants to stop to rest, to write a column about caregiver fatigue, mountains of bothersome email and mail and preferring bewilderment to fear or anger or resignation with a tiny bit of humor.

I am getting better already.

Bertha Cooper, an award-winning featured columnist with the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation and it the author of the award-winning “Women, We’re Only Old Once.” Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 20 years. Reach her at