Saturday, July 28, 2012

Caregiver Corner: The Wife in Me


           I am standing here watching, watching him as he sleeps.  He is on the couch again.  He often times ends up on the couch.  The only sound in the room is his snoring.  Snoring that wouldn’t be there if he were sleeping in the bed wearing his CPAP mask like he is suppose to be.  Of course most nights despite starting out wearing it, I will wake up to his snoring and the mask off to the side forgotten.

            The Caregiver in me wants to stir him awake long enough to move him back to the bed and coax him to wear his mask again.  It is suppose to help him breath and thus help him seek better rest.  The Caregiver in me wants that for him so he doesn’t struggle so much during the day because he is exhausted.  It’s bad enough he has to fight through the drowsiness his medications cause him, helping him find more restful sleep is suppose to make it easier for him to fight that, but it doesn’t work if he doesn’t use it.

           The Roommate in me wants to scowl and yell at him to wake up.  There is cleaning to be done and I don’t wish to be stuck with doing it all.  I have to handle our two young children as it is and trying to clean with them underfoot by myself is a battle I just don’t want to deal with if I don’t have to.  I mean he knew our plans for today so he should have known I wouldn’t want him sleeping the day away.  It doesn’t help that it seems like every time we make plans to handle something, he won’t wake up or he doesn’t feel good.   It really grates on a person’s nerves and thus makes me feel like he doesn’t care.

           The friend in me wants to let him be for another hour or two and try again.  He probably had a bad night with pain and nightmares that he could use the rest.  Why bother him when he needs to rest?  If I did bother him he would just wake up grumpy and then we’d all have to deal with the negative fog that would fill the house.  No, letting him rest another few hours won’t hurt.  It is still early enough in the day that we can tackle things later.

           The Wife in me gives him a kiss on the forehead and lets him sleep; taking the mug of coffee I made him back to the kitchen.  The Wife in me understands.  The Wife in me has done this before, many times.  The Wife in me doesn’t need an explanation, she doesn’t need an apology, she already knows.  This is why she makes being a Caregiver easy.

           Since the Wife in me has done this for years and learned to adapt to most of it, I say most because it is unpredictable so I am always learning more, but the point I am making is the Wife in me has been playing Caregiver long before the title was ever given.

I was already monitoring his moods.  I was already handling his medications.  I was already picking up the slack in the house when he couldn’t do something.  I was already bringing calm to his chaos.  I was already bringing light to his darkness.  I was already giving him something to lean on when he couldn’t stand.  I was already doing all of this and more because I was here.  No one told me how to do it.  I didn’t take any classes or formal training to make it work.  I just went with my gut instinct based on the things I already saw and dealt with regarding his trouble. 

I struggled with it in the beginning because I didn’t understand.  I shed many tears and screamed many words.  Sometimes I still do, but they are different tears and different screams.  Instead of tears of sadness and pain because I didn’t get it, they are tears of frustration or mental release because it isn’t always easy.  Instead of screams of insults and “Why’s?” I scream from frustration because other people don’t get it.

The truth though is it doesn’t matter. 
 
It doesn’t matter if other people don’t get it, because I do.  Since I get it and I care enough to help my husband work through it all, he knows he isn’t forgotten.  He may not see it on the surface, but deep down under the stress, the anger, the depression, all of the struggles, he knows.  That helps him keep fighting, fighting to still be a part of this life.

So, the Wife in me turns to the Caregiver, the Roommate, and the Friend in me and gives them a big calm smile and tells them in a soft but firm voice, “It will be alright.”  Then they return the smile and altogether they make a new plan to handle the day ahead.

Submitted by Aimee T

4 comments:

  1. This is a great post . Thank you . Im not married to my vet and i met him after he came home and I fell in love with him before i knew he had any mental disabilities . I feel the same way . Thank you .

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  2. I couldn't have said it better myself! You totally captured how I feel on any given day! Thank you for sharing!!! Sometimes it feels as if the whole world is crushing down on my shoulders. We do what we do because of love.

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  3. You said exactly how I was feeling yesterday. I have a lot of "yesterdays" but you know how you feel like nobody understands and it just makes it worse? Thanks for your wonderful tribute to all of us caregivers who just needed to know we're not alone today.

    Thanks.

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