Care for the caregiversPosted: April 9, 2013 Filed under: breast cancer | Tags: advice for caregivers, HAWMC, help for caregivers, WEGO, WEGO Health 5 Comments
Day 9 of the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge is all about caregivers. Today’s prompt asks me, the patient, to give advice to the caregiver.
I have two pieces of advice. First, take care of yourself so that you can better care for your ailing loved one. It seems simple, but in the midst of all the caregiver’s duties, it’s easy for this to fall to the bottom of the list.
Second, delegate! If you’re overwhelmed, ask for help (says the woman who’d rather open a vein than be dependent on someone else). People in your social circle want to help, and often are at a loss as to how they can help. Whatever task can lighten your load, delegate it. When someone says, “Let me know if you need anything,” speak up!
Great sign! A friend of mine whose husband was killed by cancer taught me a lesson when I was scheduling meals for them during chemo rounds: she said that people who care about you know that they can’t really lesson the pain or fight the disease, but they want to do something to help and let you know they care. So letting them help is also about empowering them, letting them know that you trust them to help you and they can feel good that they did what little they could to help you fight. But you have to be specific: say, “I need you to drive my children to this specific place at this time”, or schedule meals on a certain day (lotsa helping hands website is great for that), or walk the dog for several weeks after mastectomy since that hurts when the dog pulls on the leash– stuff like that. It helps to have someone who has traveled the road before to tell you what you will need, like the dog walking, not being able to drive, emptying and recording drains after surgery, not being able to reach up to get dishes in your kitchen, dealing with insurance companies and scheduling visits and not being able to drive to those…. you and I know those things now, but no one warned me beforehand.
PS. The second time I wrote “lesson” it should have been “lessen”. Apologies to my grade school grammar teachers, who gave me a better education than would appear from my sloppy writing…
Hmmm, ask for help you say? I’m not sure I believe it, but if you say it works I’ll think about trying it.
As a woman who would rather poke herself in the eye with a pencil than ask for help, cancer kicked me in the ass, but good. With no parents, siblings, spouse, or kids, I had to ask friends to milk my drains and wash my hair. And I cried like a baby every time I had to ask. However, since my friends are idiots like me, they had a competition to see who could milk the most blood and bodily fluids out of my chest.
But now, oh I will ask you to wipe my ass if I need it wiped and I just.cant.reach.
That last sentence totally cracked me up! Thanks for the giggle.