Let me be absolutely clear before I go any further….I do not envy him. I do not think he has the good life and would want to trade places with him for anything. I know he hates being dependent on me. I know it hurts him emotionally to see me tired or in pain or physically ill but still needing to do for him. I know he had much rather be going to work every day, feeding himself, taking his own bath, and scratching his own itches. I know he only asks of me what he cannot do for himself and no more. My jealousy is not about his abilities or lack thereof; it’s about my own need to be cared for. That’s why I get jealous. I want someone to take care of me for a change; no not just that, I want to be able to put myself first when I’m sick or tired rather than having to ignore how I feel and keep pushing forward. Here’s the base truth—I want to be selfish for a change.
Like being a parent, when I became a full time caregiver, I committed to that role totally. I ALWAYS put Lynn’s needs ahead of mine except when to do so might cause more harm than good. For example, if he needs to be moved and I haven’t had a chance to eat anything in hours and my blood sugar is crashing, then I may leave him where he is, even if he’s a little uncomfortable, till I can go grab a bite of something to keep me from passing out—not a whole meal, just a snack. However, if he’s really needy one day because he is feeling pretty rotten or achy, chances are I’ll put off eating, going to the bathroom, or completing home/work chores until I can get him at least half-way comfortable. I sympathize with his inability to comfort himself and I show that concern and acknowledge that need by tending to him first. He in turn tries not to ask for anything he absolutely does not need – though sometimes in my jealous state, I question if he REALLY needs to have a particular action done…again….and again.
Truthfully, the jealousy comes when I’m tired or sick or both. When I have had four ½ hours of sleep the night before and I’m on hour 14 since getting up with much still left to be done… when all I want to do is lie down and go to sleep, I become very jealous of the fact that I will make him comfortable and he will immediately fall asleep and nap while I head to the kitchen to prepare meals for the next day or to eat my own dinner or to put in a load of clothes or take a shower or whatever and it will be yet another 2-3 hours before I get to lie down.
I become jealous when I am in pain from my arthritis (which is significant at times). Both hands are painful; I have little strength in them any more with swollen knuckles, nodules on the bones, and joints that must not have any lubrication left. I cannot take the usual medications that help reduce the effects of arthritis due to being allergic to shellfish and many of the other ingredients in those remedies so I take four Advil usually twice a day to help control it. However, when my hands hurt from the effects of air moving across them yet I still need to pull of his clothes, give him a shower, and then put clothes back on him; I just wish someone else could do it for me.
I sometimes fantasize that I’ll get injured and can’t do his care for a while and I’ll have an excuse to take care of myself. But in the next thought, I remind myself that there would be pain and it would not be a vacation. I guess what I need is respite care. However, that’s easier said than done. Respite care is not paid by insurance so if I obtained it, the money would have to come from somewhere. If I saved enough for respite, then I couldn’t afford to go away and if I didn’t go away, I would be home and he would need my help so that’s not much of a realistic option.
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