The ice bucket challenge this summer raised a lot of money for a good cause, but I was more interested in the unplugged for a day challenge from our OUTLOOK blogger Teresa Thompson, who is a full time caregiver for her husband. Dean suffered a traumatic brain injury in a tractor accident 17 years ago and as a result, Teresa says, he misses out on a lot in life.
“His senses are numbed and he struggles to perform simple tasks like taking a shower,” says Teresa. “He can’t remember what he did just a few minutes ago—like whether or not he took his medication. And just interacting normally with others is a daily challenge.”
According to Teresa’s blog Dean’s greatest desire is to interact socially with his friends, and this has become more and more difficult as dementia takes over his life. He misses this activity as much as people would miss their computers, phones or TV programs.
In a sense, he has become unplugged, living without access to information (think no Google), without contact with friends (no Facebook), without news (no Twitter or CNN). All sources of information, entertainment, socializing—gone.
Harder than ice
I recently accepted Teresa’s challenge to unplug for a day and also made a contribution in her honor to www.biane.org (Brain Injury Association of Nebraska). Unplugging is much harder than being doused with cold water for a few seconds! I had to take a vacation day from work and let my family know I would not be answering my phone or texts.
I didn’t try to avoid using electricity, but I did spend most of my day outside. It was lovely weather and I totally enjoyed watching the sun both rise and set and working blissfully in our garden and flowerbeds—with no worries of what was happening at work or in the world beyond.
I fed the wild birds that frequent our backyard habitat, transplanted wayward groundcover, dined on fresh garden produce under the patio umbrella, and admired the variegated foliage of the hydrangea bushes. I also spent time playing the piano and cuddling our cat, who never seems to get enough attention.
Since I’m basically an introvert, I didn’t find it terribly hard to ignore my phone and iPad for a day. And I rarely watch TV anyway. What could rival being immersed in the soul-nourishing beauty of nature when you have that opportunity?
At the end of the day I felt so peaceful, creative and energized that I decided to extend my media fast for another day and turn this into the ultimate staycation.