Reflections on Caregiving

New Year’s Day often brings a time of reflection, and for some, a time for establishing resolutions for change. My life tends not to be stable enough to attempt to create resolutions for change. However, I have been indulging in reflection quite a bit.

I’ve been thinking back over how my role as a caregiver has changed over the years and the impact that it had on my marital relationship and my health. When Lynn and I first married, I knew his father had died of MS complications, but Lynn claimed to have no symptoms himself of the disease. We know now that he had several early signs of MS that he and his doctor failed to recognize.

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Avoiding Typhoid Mary

Have you heard of Typhoid Mary?

Mary Mallon or Mary Brown (she used both names) worked as a cook and harbored the typhoid bacteria in her gallbladder. Wherever she worked, the families in those households became sick, and many died, but Mary herself never became ill.

Authorities believed that Mary infected over 50 people with typhoid, several of whom died. They met with her and explained that she probably carried the germ in her gallbladder. When asked to stop working as a cook voluntarily, Mary refused because she did not believe in the germ theory. She asked, “How can I be a carrier if I have never been sick?”

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to find out more about why I have to avoid people who might be sick to protect Lynn from getting sick.

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Retirement to the Rescue

I have always had a tough time saying no to anyone. Saying no fills me with guilt. I like to solve problems and make others feel better. I, therefore, tend to suffer from a lot of blame if I can’t solve the issues presented for resolution quickly or at all. I feel like a failure creating feelings of depression and anger.

On the other hand, pushing to answer complex problems can result in positive consequences, too. To avoid feelings of guilt, I struggle to try harder to succeed in reaching my goal of meeting the person’s needs, and it helps me to be more creative. However, often along with the added energy and motivation comes additional stress and anxiety.

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Holiday Preparations

Getting ready for the holidays at my house incorporates specific considerations that many families who do not deal with chronic illnesses do not consider as part of their preplanning task list. Since most of you readers have similar concerns, you probably know where I’m going with this but for new caregivers just starting to deal with the holiday season, here are some of the staging considerations that I do in advance to help the gathering go as well as possible.

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Can You Speak?

I recently needed to use that phrase in a way I had hoped never to have to use it. No, my husband did not need CPR, but he was unresponsive. He had lost consciousness while being moved using a ceiling transport device and slipped out of the harness to fall four feet landing first on his shoulder followed by his head hitting the ground and bouncing up to slam into the door jam on the opposite side.

After hearing the thud and his caregiver’s cry of alarm, I ran to their location to find him unconscious and using a breathing pattern typical of someone who has had a seizure. His eyes were open but unseeing. My attempts to get through to him included shouting, “Can you hear me?” “Can you speak?”

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An Essential Member of the Healthcare Team

As a former nurse, and as a current caregiver, let me emphasize to you the importance of your role as a member of the healthcare team. If you ever doubt your value, let me assure you that you are valuable beyond measure.  Continue reading here:

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Something’s Different. Something’s Not Right. Listen to Me.

Something’s different.

Don’t you hear that? Don’t you see the difference?

It’s not the same.

Something’s wrong.

Something’s changed.

Trust me, I know. I can tell. It’s not right.

I don’t care that the lab work is normal.

I don’t care that he looks good to you.

I don’t care that you’re an expert in illness.

I am the expert in him.

In our world of daily living.

We are one. I know something’s wrong.

I know his every breath.

I know what every sound means

I know where every pimple, pink spot, dark bruise, or open tear appears.

I know his smells-good and bad.

I know his body temp-good and bad.

I know his moods-good and bad.

I know his changes-good and bad.

Just like an artisan working his craft

I am an artisan of healing in his life.

I know him.

I know what works and what doesn’t.

I know how best to apply healing.

You need my help.

I keep you from making mistakes.

I stop you from assumptions that harm.

I am your partner not your enemy.

Use ME.

Something’s different.  Something’s not right.

Listen.      To.        Me.

Something’s wrong.

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