Caregiving Overload

Handshake caregiversBeing sick we have to re-learn everything that we were from the time we were little. In my instance, after a bout of “viral” meningitis (and a long list of illnesses that weren’t diagnosed until years later), I personally had to relearn to do things that I thought were simple to me when I was healthy. Doing house chores of any type became near impossible, and balancing the books and working literally burned up in a blaze of not so much glory. My bed became my mainstay, and my body was happy enough as long as I limited my movements–but still kicks up often to make sure that I was still alive… Often. Social life?  That’s a long story; some good, some bad.

Living with a chronic illness we have to work ten times harder just to do the simplest of tasks. Because of such we tend to appear lazy and useless; even to our families. We lose our careers and friends; and worst of all, our dignity. For those that live with incontinence issues, neurologic issues, mobility issues, chronic pain and more, I’m sure you know what I mean.

We all expect that type of change to happen when we’re 80 or 90, but when you’re in the prime of your life, it’s a lot tougher to adjust.

If you were thrust into a world that you were not used to, how would you handle someone taking over your life because you weren’t able to do the things that are necessary to live independently, yet your spirit is still strong? What if you were suddenly thrust into a single income situation with your family, changing the entire dynamics of everything you fought to earn your entire adult life?

By being thrown into the “no-income-burden-of-the-family” status, our lives take an even more death-defying tailspin that seems to never end–and illness is the bully that just keeps kicking while you’re down.

How would you feel if your family started making decisions without you, planned holidays and events without including you in the preparation (or only allow you limited say)–even though they know that they are taking things away from you that you hold near to your heart… But it would just be easier (and quicker) to do it their way? What if they don’t want to follow your traditions or dreams any longer because it takes you too long, in their opinion, now that you are sick?

Should your family start making so many decisions for you to the point that all of your traditions, plans or dreams are shelved just because you aren’t able to move as quickly as you once did?

How would you feel if it was happening to you? How much independence, respect and even dignity would you expect to be able to keep if you ever became ill?

Don’t take it the wrong way, I truly appreciate the fact that my loved ones do what they can to help get things done. But chronic illness has taken away so much in my life that I still want to keep the things that it hasn’t been able to take away… Even if it’s something like holiday traditions. Yes, cooking an entire meal has proven harder and harder for me each year–but knowing that my family enjoyed my homemade creations makes every moment of pain, fatigue and nausea (and the week of recovery time) worth it to me.

Yes, I’ve become a lot slower, but I’m still me.

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