Let's Hear It for the Caretakers
You don't need to wear a cape to be a super hero. You don't personally need to struggle with chronic illness to be a rock for someone else. But you need a lot of heart, patience and compassion. Oftentimes as patients, we are so focused on feeling sick and get so focused on our own misery, that we neglect to think about what it's like for our healthy caretakers.
Each tough day, flare-up, hospitalization and recovery is tough on us.
But it's also tough on the people who are by our side day in and day out, holding our hands and helping us stand when we're literally and figuratively too weak to stand on our own.
I think of my husband Bobby, who's never once complained in the middle of the night as we sit in the ER for hours and he's hunched over my hospital bed, exhausted but still holding onto my hand. I think of all the times he's slept on a hospital cot, showered in a hospital bathroom and eaten hospital food for days on end. I think about all the times he's watched me while I do my Humira injection and cheered me on. All the times I've had to hand over our son to finish a feeding because I had to make a mad dash for the bathroom. All the times he's had to rub my back or my stomach as I tell him, "I don't feel well."
It must get really old being the caretaker.
It's certainly not for everyone. It's not always easy to find a "Bobby"... but, they are out there. The kind of person who brings your meds to you on a paper towel, because you're too lazy to get off the couch after a long day. The guy who brings you water and a pain pill in the middle of the night when you wake him up and tell him something is not okay. The kind of partner in crime who fasts for a colonoscopy with you and refuses to eat in front of you the days leading up.
It doesn't matter the hour of time or day of the week, it's comforting when you have a caretaker who puts your needs first, all of the time. It also can make you feel guilty. I know there is no way possible I could ever re-pay my husband for the countless days and years he's been there - researching treatment plans, attending doctor appointments, going to Crohn's and Colitis events with a smile on the weekends and just being there no matter what comes my way.
It's important to be an advocate for ourselves, but it's incredibly helpful to have someone in your corner every step of the way.
Crohn's can be isolating, it's easy to cancel plans and be alone because you don't want to burden anyone with your situation. But why do that to yourself? You are worthy and there are many people out there with compassionate hearts who will love you for everything you are--incredibly a chronic illness patient.
So for all your caretakers out there--we probably don't say it enough, but, thank you. Thank you for being our heroes and reminding us we are stronger than we think. Thank you for your tireless efforts to bring normalcy, joy and love to our lives. Your efforts are always recognized, whether we verbalize it or not. Amazing caretakers are the best medicine of all.
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