You have been “chosen for a special assignment” when you are a caregiver. You might be thinking what is so special when your days are filled with changing the diapers of a parent, spouse or other loved one; washing soiled laundry, making sure the catheter is inserted properly and cleaning around it to make sure no infection develops, counting meds, cleaning bed pans, rubbing a weary head as one more meal could not be tolerated, watching monitors, realizing that the doctors didn’t tell you “all that you should expect,” making sure the stops are on the wheel chair, especially after that last incident; and on, and on, and on.., Caregiving can be a thankless task. You might be in this position because no other family member could or would undertake it. And they promised to be there to help, but we know at the end of the day that the responsibility falls on, you. Chosen for what, heartache? There is nothing pretty about watching someone that you love going through.
Some of us are caregiving for more than one person at the same time. Just you and your loved one and life sustaining tasks that have to be done every day at the same time seven days a week. How many ambulance rides have you been on? How many ERs have you visited sometimes twice in one day? Sleep becomes a luxury. Because you are listening: listening to make sure that the machines are working, that his/her breathing is steady. Will she pull the tube out again? Will the bed soars ever go away?
And then there are the visitors. Mostly family who come over expecting; expecting food, expecting to be entertained, expecting an update, or to appease their guilt; to judge; to criticize, etc. But what are they “bringing?” A kind word, some support, a paper plate? Nope sometimes they bring the last thing that you need, drama. Guilt and fear take on all sorts of forms when people are in denial. And there you are while they are acting out, showing their natural behind, there you are being “calm.” Not because you are going to be canonized over the doors of Westminister, but because you have to be. Your loved one’s life depends on you. Your every reaction has a direct effect on them. And then they are gone and there you are, more exhausted than ever.
Somebody had the audacity to say “…you’re looking kind of tired are you sleeping?” “.., looks like someone hasn’t been to the gym in a while,” “…when is the last time you had a mani-pedi?” “..you have got to take care of yourself first.” You’re kidding right? No I can tell you what “I have to do.” I “have to” check his colonoscopy bag to make sure there is no blood in his urine. I “have to” give her, her injections. I “have to” change his bandages to make sure that no infection develops. I “have to” make sure that he is still sitting up so he doesn’t choke on his own tongue. These are just a few of the things that “have to be done.” No debating, no contemplation, no arguing. I will eat when I have time, whatever I can find. There is no “me” in “you.” And that’s just how it is.
We are on call 24/7 no such thing as making time for oneself. If we could “make time,” we would, or shall I say, I would make time that would allow my loved one to be whole again. That’s the kind of time I would make. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t graduated to sainthood. I still have enough “world” in me where, yes I would love to pamper myself “all the time,” or have someone pamper me. I do what I can, when I can for me. There is no “me” in “you.” By the way, “I love you.” Contrary to how this piece started, much of the upcoming pages will be filled with talking about the beauty of caregiving, the relationship that can flourish between the caregiver and the loved one. I have seen first-hand, how years of lost conversations, of sharing, can be healed in one day, simply by love.
You have been hearing about some of the situations that I and some of myfriends have found ourselves in during a “critical” care season. Yes, there are “ seasons” in caregiving that demand more or require less. You will be hearing about some of them.
We are going to go through this together. I cannot emphasize this enough, your words are important. What you have to share matters. Let us hear from you. Send us a submission.
Back to my title, yes, we are among the “chosen ones.” During this journey we will come to understand the depth of unconditional love. This is not a “comfortable” love but one that requires more than is humanly possible, that’s why I have found that I must stand on the word of God.
In this love, like all healthy relationships you must create and maintain boundaries. Boundaries that at times, no one will want you to have because it’s not convenient for them I have found that I had to have a consistent prayer life to even know where lines needed to be drawn to divide acceptable from unacceptable behavior from those surrounding me. These two elements are crucial if you are going to make it through without being consumed by hurt, bitterness, and anger.
Christ is the foundation on which every area of my life is built. I will be talking about this truth throughout.
You have been chosen to fulfill this life’s highest calling, to be a vehicle of God’s unconditional love. Know that you are not alone.
Believe it or not, you have been prepared for such a time as this.
You would not be reading these words if I did not have a circle of powerful queen sisters and kings who are the salt of the Earth. They are godly women and men. They are examples of the best of God’s craftsmanship on this plain. They know how to “circle the wagons” when needed.
Do you know how much you need friends who know how to “circle the wagons?”
Do you have any 2am friends? These are people that you can call at 2am to say help, or just to hear another voice.
Do you know how to let your patient/loved one see where they are in their health? Are you willing to let your loved one “fall” so that they can see that they are unable to walk? That’s a tough one because after seeing them sick for so long our emotions can be governed by fear. And sometimes fear is not helpful to anyone.
The next story you will read will be how one person, in the face of her fear, let her loved one “see” where they were even when it meant putting herself in harm’s way.
God is great and this is His assignment, I am excited to see what He is going to do in and through us. Aren’t you?
Executive Director Rosalind Worthy