Caregiver. Maybe you need one. Maybe you are one. This blog is written from the perspective of someone who found himself in the position of making a choice to become a caregiver. It’s to the other caregivers out there to whom I am writing. The rest of you are encouraged to stick around though. It will be worth your while.
You’ll note that when talking about being a caregiver, I said that I chose to become one. That’s because Mandy, my wife, was not my wife when she was first diagnosed. We were living together, but not married. Now I won’t say that I didn’t give marrying Mandy a second’s thought because of the MS, because I did. I may have been foolish and in love, but I’m not stupid.
So what, you ask, made me ask her to marry me? The answer to that might surprise you, for quite simply, I don’t know. I had a good idea of what the future might hold for us and I had more than a little concern that future might be shorter than either of us would like. Regardless, I knew that I loved Mandy and rationalized that even if she were perfectly healthy, there was nothing stopping fate from playing games in which the outcomes might be even more cruel. In the final analysis, it simply came down to the heartstring-pulling tugs of love. And love, as you may or may not know, is anything but rational. The Beatles song, "All you need is love", was pretty much on the mark.
Unlike me, not all caregivers were given the opportunity to choose their path. Some had it forced upon them. For some of you, it may not be your wife or husband that needs the attention. It might be a son, or a daughter. Or perhaps a parent... or brother... or sister. You may not even consider yourself a full-time caregiver. My wife, for example, is in pretty good shape most of the time. But not all of the time. And it’s those ‘not all of the times’ that matter. My life’s path... and probably yours too... was forever changed by MS. I changed careers from one where I frequently travelled the country to one where I hardly ever leave the house. I did this not because Mandy needed me there every day, but because I need to be there on those days when she does need me. This decision has had a dramatic impact on our lives, both financially, personally, and socially.
It’s ironic that Mandy works out of the house part-time while I’m the one who is now building a career working in a home office. That outside job is important for her self-esteem. It’s important for her mental attitude. If I had not purposefully decided to create a home-based career, Mandy would not be able to work. When MS hits, she can not drive. It would simply be too dangerous. Times like that can last for weeks at a clip, and when they come, I drive her to and from work each day. There’s nothing special about me, nor do I intend to imply otherwise. In fact, my guess is that you do similar things for the person in your charge. We don’t have kids at home, so I can only imagine what those of you who do must go through when faced with similar circumstances.
I want this blog to be a place for caregivers, by caregivers. It will take reader participation for this to happen. Like the politicians say, ‘we need a conversation.’ I may be off base completely, but I’ll never know it without feedback. So if you’re a caregiver and would like to tell a little of your story, please do so here. Leave a comment. You will be helping others come to the realization that they are not alone. That what they feel at times is perfectly normal. You will also be helping yourself because there is nothing better than sharing a story or a joke with others who, because of common situations, can appreciate the punch line.
Published On: April 09, 2008