A high school friend of mine recently became involved in the care of one of her best friends. This friend has developed Alzheimer’s/dementia at an early age from a brain injury. I saw photos of her first visit with her dear friend and then photos after a few days of her visiting and working her magic. The photos were like night and day. Her friend is truly blessed by this kind of love and friendship. It made me think about my own life and my role as a caregiver and the reversal of that role.
My husband became my caregiver when I couldn’t get out of the house to shop for myself. He was there when a reaction was so great that I was too sick to give myself my own histamine injection and sat in bed chilled to the bone. He was the one rushing me to the emergency room at all hours of the day or night.
This was so difficult to accept because I had lived the caregiver role most of my adult life taking care of my daughters, seeing to what my husband and family needed, and tending to them when they were sick. What a reversal of roles my life took on.
In a poem that I have included in my book, I wrote:
Who Am I?
The mother I once was who could do things
for her daughters can now barely do
The wife and helpmate can
hardly help herself
To my husband and family I say thank you for all you have done to help me. Knowing that I had the support of my family has helped me through the toughest of times. To all those out there who are caregivers of someone with chronic illness I say thank you. You are making a tremendous impact on their lives by giving of yourselves. Today is a good example of the support he gives me. I picked my daughter up at work and drove her to town so she could do some errands and then was supposed to drop her off at a doctor’s office for a procedure. The plan was that I would drive home, wait for the call to pick her up, drive her to her house 45 minutes away, and then drive myself back home. Before I got her to the doctor’s office my stomach began cramping. It was so bad by the time I got her there that I had to give myself histamine and I was clammy and my legs felt both heavy and limp. I had to phone my husband to drive across town and pick me up and leave my car there. He will take me back to get the car when she is ready to be picked up. The cramping has stopped (while my stomach still burns). So which one of us is driving her home? I am not sure I still have anywhere from an hour to two hours before I will probably get the call. I am not sure if it is a stomach bug because this happened a few days ago and then went away, if it was an exposure to something triggering it, or if it is something that I ate. I guess that question may never be answered.
To those out there who, like I, have had the role of caregiver reversed on them I say hang in there.