Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survivor ~ Caregivers- the Unsung Heroes



In the past I've  blogged about caregivers. This makes the 10th post regarding caregiving. They are the unsung heroes in a person in need's life. Yes, I'm a caregiver, but I'm also a stroke survivor.

They are often taken for granted just because they are there. Everyone depends on them- doctors, nurses, rehab therapists, and a host of others not to mention the person they are taking care of. No one really gives them a second thought most times. This is a mistake.

Take a look at any caregiver site online. There are tons of them. Recently I was contacted by Cameron Von St. James. He runs a caregiver site for Mesothelioma group. He googled "Caregiver" and read my posts. He's one of hundreds of thousands of caregivers searching for ways to be a better caregiver for their loved ones. See we do more than give care. We research. We talk to others. We talk to anyone and everyone to find answers.

Before my husband was diagnosed with his cancer I was searching for what his ailment could be because the symptoms did not add up. A relatively healthy man having two heart attacks and a stroke within six months, crazily fluctuating blood pressures and heart rates, and a host of other symptoms like blackout and seizures. I ran across a small global internet forum and spoke up. It turned out he had not only this disease but an even rarer form which metastasizes like wild fire. Of course all the doctors here were skeptical because it is so rare but I was armed with facts to back up my hypothesis and demanded investigation.

Being a forever student helps narrow the search from years of practice.

Everyone that knew my position as caregiver, over the years, told me to take care of myself too. No real thought is given on how to achieve this when we are on-call 365/7/24. My flippant answer was "Of course, because who is left to care for me." More truthful words were never spoken. I suffered a heart attack which I lived through but it damaged my heart irrevocably, but still I was the caregiver.

Now I've suffered and survived a stroke, but still I'm the caregiver. During my hospitalization others stepped forward to care for my husband because I was away. My rehab point of view was what did I need to continue being the caregiver that spurned me forward. I needed to walk. I needed to give injections. I needed to read lips because my hearing impaired husband read them. I accomplished it all in a short period of time.

What did all of this cost me? Nothing really. I would have had to relearn these things anyhow. Now I didn't do it alone upon returning home. I depended heavily on my children and even my husband to his detriment. He's a caregiver and protector to his core.

I started seeing what this effort was causing my caregivers. Caregiving has a high price to pay. My husband's downhill battle for life has deteriorated. Not that it wouldn't have anyhow, but it has happened at an alarming rate over the past year. Two out of four daughters are now divorced from their spouses. Not entirely because of their caregiver roles, but I can't help but see the strain it caused. All my children have taken the "if you need me, call" stance and I really hate to do it.

Yes, caregivers are the unsung heroes in your life. Take a moment and give them an extra hug or tell them thank you for all they do.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

2 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jo ... I hear you - and the challenge is so difficult to find that balance ...

I wasn't doing 365/24/7 - as my mother was in a long term nursing centre, while my uncle was ill, ultimately terminally, at home, in hospital, rehab, out at home, hospice and both eventually dying - but with his house and my own to look after or at least live in ... I was in a heap but able to get away at night, except for the few emergencies.

I did however nearly collapse with stress or just too much ... people offered to help - but I didn't want to think, and really needed someone to step in and say I'll do this for you for a few days, or similar ...

Your situation is slightly different and I as a daughter and niece decided to make myself free ... I felt they deserved that care from me.

I had to just do what I had to do and no more ... I refused to do a lot, other than their needs and my basic needs ...

I needed support and thanks from relatives - that would have made a big difference ... my mother and uncle were mighty grateful.

Nothing is impossible with determination as you say - I suspect somehow you need that help - some support ... I just hope your children, despite their challenges, can help.

Their own problems are sad to read about ... I just can't believe those breakdowns are because of their parents - that is grossly unfair, if there is blame being sent over ...

Strikes me there is some selfishness and lack of thought around ... I know I had the same, at times - but I wasn't ill, and thankfully didn't become ill - other than a few days at a time.

With thoughts - Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jo .. having read your latest post - which I will shortly comment on ... I would phrased this comment different - hindsight is a wonderful thing ...

My thoughts and love Hilary