Last post I spoke about how when my wife, Mandy, succumbs to fatigue so common among MS sufferers, that we figuratively say goodbye to each other, knowing that MS is going to once again steal from us that which is most precious... our time together. Yesterday was such a day, but MS played no part . This time it was a migraine brought on from a stiff neck; a remnant of our recent flight to the midwest for one of our children’s college graduation. There was nothing wrong with the flights. It’s just that airline seats are (mis)designed, it seems, to force heads and necks into inhuman positions for long stretches of time.
Anyway, migraines being what they are, today Mandy is much better and yesterday simply seems like a bad dream. So what was my role while Mandy was curled up in bed with her migraine? It was simply to know enough to stay out of the way and to check on her from time to time to make sure that she was still alive. Which was necessary only because of her occasional moans and mumbling that she just wished she were dead. Ah, what fun!
All of which brings me back to the issue of caregiving.
What exactly is a caregiver? Am I a caregiver? I ask because I really don’t know. The woman I love got sick. Within a relatively short period of time, she lost a lot of strength, was no longer surefooted, and found that she was subject to surprise attacks by strange things with names like vertigo and ocular migraines. I found myself doing more around the house to pick up the slack, but I still didn’t feel like a caregiver. She still works part time out of the house, but at times, when she is unsure of her limbs, I will drive her to work and then pick her up afterwards. It just seems like the right thing to do. I wonder if that make me a caregiver?
Funny how we seem to need labels to define our roles. I’m smart enough to know that caregiver is a label that society might use to describe what I do. However, I simply consider myself a man who loves his wife and, as a result, does things for her that help to make her difficulties more bearable. That’s not being a caregiver; at least not to me. It’s just what I do, along with other things like being a father to grown children, a son to aging parents, a homeowner, and a business owner. Like everything else, being Mandy’s husband is simply one part of my life. Admittedly, it is a large and important part, but I do not allow it to become that role by which I am defined.
And neither should you.
Are you nodding? Do you see yourself in these words? Do you allow your caregiver side to overshadow the whole you?
Consider... if a friend or family member were asked to describe you, what would they say? Would you recognize yourself?
Published On: May 19, 2008