Thursday, November 6, 2008
How It Feels To Be the Caregiver
One thing that used to be a touchy subject for me and my husband, was who my cancer was harder on. Yes it sounds crazy doesn't it? Of course I had it more rough! Or so I always told myself. Yes, I had a terrible time and I was the one lying in bed for a month. I couldn't breathe and with each gasping breath I did take it caused great pain. I couldn't eat without being sick. I couldn't sit up without gagging, coughing, choking. Then my husband made me realize how incredibly difficult it was. I caught him one night watching me while I slept. I just opened my eyes in the middle of the night and there he was sitting on the floor by my bed, staring at me. I felt loved. It wasn't until later I realized he was afraid I would stop breathing in the night. My breathing was loud, wheezing, gasping.
It finally hit me. He asked me "What would you do if you had to listen to your child breathe like that at night, knowing they could die?" I get stressed out and worry when my child gets the flu. How much more would I worry about cancer? I hate stress and worry. It can eat a person alive. That's what it was doing to my husband for a year. He said he watched me sleep a lot. I do know for a fact he would stay up all night long and only take naps when he knew I was awake or that my older daughter was home from school. He was afraid to leave me for a moment. I was carrying his child as well so it didn't help. He drove me to every single appointment. He never missed a single sonogram for the baby. He was at every chemo treatment. I couldn't have done it alone. If I talked like I might not get through or what would he do if I didn't, he'd immediately tell me that was not even an option so I may as well shut up. I chuckle about it because I love it. I love that he gave me no choice!
I spoke earlier about what do you say to a person who is diagnosed with cancer and the truth is all you can do is support them. Tell them you are thinking of them, you love them, or tell them they're strong, you know they can do it, definitely don't ever refer to it as terminal or without hope even if that's what you have really heard. Otherwise there is no right or wrong thing to say. It's hard to be the person that doesn't have cancer. You love someone who is so sick and you feel at a complete loss. You can't save their life though you want to. You feel totally helpless. My husband felt that way. I saw it more clearly after I got better. He once told me that after I was declared in remission he could then have his stroke. I told him he better not dare. We are getting through it together! I think much love and respect needs to be given to those who are losing sleep caring for and worrying over a loved one or friend who is sick. That in itself is painful like a disease. So from a patient I want to give my love, respect and humble adoration for all you caregivers out there who give so much of yourself helping those who need it, when they need it most.