Karma is a bitch. When I first got sick, I drained my family and S. of all their energy with my constant negativity and anxiety. And just like one cannot fully understand what is like to be sick until they face it themselves, one cannot fully understand what is like to be the caregiver until they take care of someone.
S. was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. He was put on antibiotics. The first batch he has tried isn’t helping him. His legs are in pain and his hands are swollen. I try to help him as much as possible. Being sick myself, it’s not always easy to do more. I also try to cheer him up and be a listening ear. It can be exhausting. But I love him and he has taken care of me so many times before and he’s the type that selfishly helps others so it’s my responsibility and honor to take care of him. Here are some things we as patients should remember about those that take care of us.
1. Thanks them often – It’s a tiring job to help those who are sick no matter how much we love them.
2. Be positive – Sure, our bodies are failing us right now, but there is always joy in our lives and things to be celebrated. Also too much negativity will drain the caregiver faster.
3. Be understanding – sometimes they won’t be patient and sometimes they will vent about having to take care of you. They are human. They get tired. Return to #1. Thank them.
4. Be as independent as possible without hurting yourself – you can do some things. Do what you can. Lighten the burden for them, but also celebrate your independence.
5. Thank them – I know I said that already, but you can’t thank them enough.
6. Practice empathy – Often as patients we beg for empathy. Empathize with those who take care of us. They have their own suffering. Be a listening ear, a hug, a card or a smile.