Saturday, February 2, 2013

Somebody Say Caregiver?

I try to do as much as I can for myself. I am determined to take care of myself and my family as long as I am able to. However I know that being sick may some times call for outside help. It may turn a spouse, a friend, or an adult child into a caregiver. I hope people understand what that means. It is NEVER what a person wants and can be a very hard pill to swallow.

Having to rely on someone else for your everyday needs can be a door to depression, sadness, a loss of independence. If you have been through this then you know what I am talking about. If you haven't then let's imagine what it could be like. After 35 years of working, raising kids, maintaining a household and building a life for yourself you realize many of those things are no longer possible without help. You may be able to keep working but you find that working is all you have the energy to do. Your family still needs your attention. Many of us have obligations to our church, schools, programs, etc,.. 

If you are able to STOP Working that doesn't mean you are able to live caregiver free. Multiple Sclerosis by its self is a frustrating and exhausting illness. It can rob you of so much including your independence. But that doesn't rob you of your dignity. I am learning to look at caregivers as a blessing. My Mother in law and my mother both attend to me on days when I can not help myself.My adult sons are wonderful about looking out for the younger boys and cooking and cleaning when it is needed and I can  not do it. I have brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews that always step up to care for me even if it is only one day out of a week. That is a Blessing!

I am very hands on in my life. So when I started having trouble driving, or needed to get to treatment or doctor's appointments. I tried to push on anyway. I just wanted to do it myself! I wanted to be sure that my children did not see me in the bed all day or having someone help me take baths or get around. I didn't even want to use my cane(pictured below). I would prefer to fall down every ten minutes (ridiculous). Then one day after a fainting episode at church, I gave in. I had been getting help but I tried to act like it was something I allowed people to do for me. I could do it if I wanted too.

Nope, that was not the case. The case was I was over doing it, wearing myself out, and probably headed to a nursing home if I did not humble myself, be honest with myself, and care enough about me  to allow the people that wanted to help me to do so.

I know it is difficult. I know you may cringe when the doorbell rings and it is your caregiver or care partner. I know you feel sick just imagining somebody having to dress you or take care of your family while you get some much needed rest. However this is the reality,....without help you are making yourself feel worse. It is okay to ask for help. It is okay to let someone that has your best interest at heart into your home to keep it running in a slightly different way. We are so afraid of change but that fear doesn't mean we can not accept it. You have a new normal now. Take every opportunity to make the best of it.

There is no shame in knowing when it is time to wave the white flag. Your family, your job, whatever you want to keep up with may need an assistant

in order to keep going. So that is what we will do. We will change CAREGIVER to Personal Domestic Assistant!!!! That sounds so important and upscale, doesn't it?

Be kind to yourself. allow other people to be a part of this journey with you. It will help to alleviate some of the loneliness that can rise up out of illnesses and depression.You deserve companionship even if it is just a few hours a day. You also deserve a little assistance. There may be days when you need help and days when you don't. Tell yourself that you have to go with the flow. You may be surprised at how well things fall into place.

If your Domestic Personal Assistant(DPA) is your spouse remember to be kind and play fair. It is hard to watch our spouses go through just about anything. I feel sorry for my husband at times. He is a strong, tall, handsome manly man. However when he has to help me out the tub or help me up the stairs listen to me cry, he seems so helpless. I know the vows say "in sickness and in health," but honey.....we never imagined this would be our manifestation of our vows. It's a struggle but it is not impossible.

Imagine those people that would love to have a domestic personal assistant and they barely have anyone at all.

If you are a CAREGIVER or a DPA, I send you a million hugs. Thank you for helping us adjust and continue to enjoy our new lives with your help. You are the UNSUNG Heroes!! Keep up the good work and remember to be kind to yourself as well. We are all in this together.

So let us remember,it's okay to hold on to that branch that holds your freedom and your sense of independence. It may eventually break. You will not fall if you trust in all those branches around you to give you support.


  1. You continue to amaze and inspire me on so many levels, Val. I think you hit on a very important point, humbling ourselves. This is not an easy feat for most of us as we continue to work with and against our egos to our own detriment. It's so important to humble ourselves and allow others and God to assist us in our journey. Thank you for sharing your testimony. I look forward to reading future entries!

  2. Monica! You inspire me to be inspiring. You are wonderful and you contribute to my blessings with your love and sincerity. I can not Loose with a team like mine!