We all know that caregiving can be exhausting, stressful, difficult, etc. That is what most people believe it is all the time and for some that’s true, however, for those of us caring for an independent person (stubborn, bull headed, insert adjective here), it can be all of those things compounded. For me, it is all that and so much more! You see the one i care for is a SURVIVOR in every sense of the word! It is wonderful to watch her conquer her fears, snub her limitations and an absolute joy to watch her live her life to the fullest. It also scares the CRAP out of me!
She survived a ruptured brain aneurysm almost 8 years ago now, has had 4 brain surgeries, has the BEST neurosurgeon in the world as far as I’m concerned and the most CAN DO attitude of anyone I have ever met!
Now for the scaring the crap out of me part . . . She was in ICU for 26 days and every single day I was told something like “she is still not out of the woods”, or we have to put an A line in because the IV’s are failing or you have to get her to eat or we will have to put a feeding tube in. All of this after they had to heliovac her to another hospital because the hospital in our county didn’t have the experience or equipment to handle it AND waiting for 14 hours to do surgery because they couldn’t get her stabilized enough to put her on the table. When one of the residents came out to discuss surgery with me he took me to “the dreaded private room”. Explained that IF she survived the procedure, she may be in a coma, then IF she wakes up, she may not be able to speak, or move, or, or, or . . .
Well, I’m elated to say, she not only survived, she woke up, knew who she was, spoke with the doctors, and when they asked her if she knew who I was, she said my name and proceeded to ask me if I would go in to the cellar when I got home and pick up her good Japanese saw! She was working on a gift for my birthday when she ruptured and dropped it!
She has been through speech therapy a few times; physical therapy, and has had some cognitive therapy as well.
Being a caregiver to such a strong-willed person is amazing, rewarding, exciting (insert positive adjective here). You may ask, how can you think that?! I think it because I live it! I join in her feelings of accomplishment, knowing that as hard as it was for her to reach a particular goal, it would have been much harder without my support and help if needed. I get excited with her when she is able to do something she couldn’t do yesterday or 6 months ago or 7 years ago! I participate in her childlike euphoria when she is able to remember something that she used to know.
Yes, being a caregiver is extremely hard sometimes but concentrating on the everyday small “wins” make it so much easier. When you are exhausted and want to scream, go outside and scream! Then think about that last “win” and come back in with a renewed outlook. It works for me (most of the time).