Patient vs. Caregiver Part 1

All of my life I've been a patient and a caregiver. I've taken care of myself and my family. I've managed to maneuver through my condition as well as the conditions of others. This is not without a struggle. For the most part, I know how to hold myself together. I know how to ask the right questions and I know how patients and caregivers should be treated. I'm a professional at hospital visits. I'm a pro at gift giving. And I will say, I'm not too shabby at passing the time with few resources.

Being a patient has always come easily to me

Partially because I started young. I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease around seventeen years old, but I struggled with the conditions and symptoms long before then. I was in and out of the hospital 24/7, so you can say with practice comes perfect. Coming on 10 years post-diagnosis, I know my way around the whole patient business.

The problem is, I've never been a caregiver to a condition I couldn't handle. When my great grandmother was diagnosed with Diabetes, I learned more about it. When her sugar fluctuates when I'm around, I do what I need to do. When she gets hospitalized, I'm there. Spending the night. In a chair in some random corner. When my grandmother was diagnosed with Lupus, I was more upset, but I tried to learn more. Being that Lupus and Inflammatory Bowel Disease are both autoimmune, I found we had a lot of similarities when it came to different aspects of our condition, well symptom-wise at least. When my mother was diagnosed with Schizophrenia I was really young. I didn't understand a lot of things. Schizophrenia was on the top of that list. But I loved her. I supported her and encouraged her.

But this is different

Like many of us, I know of Cancer. I know the idea of Cancer, stages, chemo, radiation. I know it's deadly. Anytime I hear the word Cancer, a part of my body just freezes up. I hate it. I've had distant relatives pass because of it, but never anyone close to me.

Finding out my grandad has Cancer again killed me. I know it's so hard for him and I want to be there and support him. I am there. I do support him. But it kills me.

Keep reading, I swear this has a point.

Being a patient is one thing. It's happening to you. Watching yourself deteriorate is super hard, but for me it was optional. When I was really sick, restricted diets, could barely keep water in my mouth, I knew my condition was worsening. That part was hard. But I didn't have to watch myself suffer. I chose not to look in the mirror. I didn't stress my looks and I wasn't too pressured to be around people who required anything more than my presence when I came around.

It had it's challenges, but compared to this... It was nothing.

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