Being a Caregiver for a Spouse With MS

Jake Crest Health Guide
  • Face it, after you’ve been a caregiver for a while, you find it almost second nature to keep one eye on the person in your charge. But when that person has relapsing-remitting MS, as does my wife, there are times when the remitting part overtakes the relapsing part. That’s right -- there are times when the other person just... feels good.

    That doesn’t sound like much of a problem, does it? Well, it’s not -- unless you’re one of those people who has trouble letting go when it’s no longer necessary to hang on so tight. Only you know for sure.

    Mandy’s been feeling good lately. The MS exacerbations have let up a bit, but in their place is a recurrence of migraines which used to plague her so much more than they do now. It sounds strange, but I’m convinced that the migraines are more related to impending weather changes than anything else. I wonder sometimes if I should start a weather prediction website just to see if Mandy’s migraine induced predictions would stack up against traditional weather predictions. I think they might.

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    So anyway, Mandy’s feeling pretty good. It’s times like now that I begin to wonder if what I’ve done in terms of redefining my career so that I can be closer to her on a daily basis was the right thing to do. We don’t live anywhere near family, and I just couldn’t risk having to continue traveling the way I used to do, especially when we never really know when the MS beast will make a new appearance. So I created a web design business that I run out of our home. The money’s not as good -- yet -- but that’s just one of those little trade-offs you make if you’re going to get into the caregiver game. As a caregiver yourself, of course you know what I’m speaking about here.

    I’ve learned to back off -- to let go -- when Mandy feels better. Not right away, but usually soon after I notice her absentmindedly doing things that she would routinely do pre-MS. Things like running up the stairs, or carrying wash up and down to the laundry room (something that I do for her otherwise.) When she starts acting this way, I take that as my cue to back off caregiver duty and switch into a much more subtle watch mode. After all, it’s these days when she’s feeling better that give her the strength to push through on the days when she’s not so strong.

    I said long ago when I started these posts that I can only speak for myself. I do not pretend to put myself in your shoes, but I make the assumption that you will understand when I talk about mine. If you see your situation as anything remotely similar to the events I describe within our household, then my hope is that you consider these words, take them to heart, and try to modify any behavior that works to come between you and your wife -- or husband -- or parent, or child. It doesn’t really matter who you watch after. The only thing that matters is that when they no longer need you -- even if for only brief times -- you know enough to step back and watch them fly.

Published On: June 16, 2008