The Importance of Caregivers
Last updated: October 2019
I can’t tell you exactly when I came to the realization, but eventually, I realized that I couldn’t do this disease thing on my own. It was probably more of a process I had to go through. I think the first time I felt truly at someone else’s mercy was after surgery when I was forced to let people take care of me.
Grieving lost independence in the hospital
I think the reason a lot of people get “mean” when they are in the hospital is that they’re going through the process of grieving for their lost independence. They go through the stages of grief. While I believe that the depression stage is the most detrimental to the patient, I think anger is probably the most detrimental to the caregivers.
Some people handle anger better than others. There have been times where I’ve gotten mean, but I’m usually pretty even-tempered. In the hospital, my nurses would come in and tell me how sweet and kind I was. They said they really enjoyed having me as a patient. Several commented on how they were sorry to see me go.
Living with UC is hard!
Growing up, I was taught to respect others. Just because you’re having a foul time in life, doesn’t mean you have to drag others into your misery. Don’t get me wrong! Life with ulcerative colitis is hard!!! And I have my moments, obviously. But caregivers are extremely important.
After surgery, I was strapped to the bed because of my compression socks. Every time I had to get out of bed, I had to have help. People had to unstrap me from the machine that constantly massaged my legs, then they helped hold me up while I walked. Caregivers also helped me untangle myself from my IV wires and tubes. They had to help me carry my “pee bag” because I was still hooked up to a catheter. I needed help getting dressed. I needed help taking a shower (this was probably the most frustrating thing to accept).
Appreciation for caregivers
My husband is the best caregiver a girl could ever hope for. He spent so many sleepless nights with me. Nights where I was in and out of the bathroom. Some nights I vomited all night long. Others where I was in so much pain I couldn’t move without crying. He fought with difficult healthcare professionals. He's cleaned me up and helped me change my ostomy appliance. He even packed the lemon-sized abscess that developed in my incision site wound twice a day.
My doctors and nurses were also very kind and compassionate. A few times some of the nurses stayed overtime dealing with my ruptured veins. Other nurses had to help me several times when I was dealing with my new ostomy. It was difficult, but they were really sweet about it. My doctor checked on me every day and even visited with me. Making small talk. The doctor that assisted with my surgery stepped on one of the nurse’s toes when she let my morphine run out and didn’t let me get up and walk.
Caregivers are often given the short end of the stick. There are some bad apples out there in the medical field, yes. But most of the ones that I’ve encountered are passionate individuals who take great pride in their work. Many of them sacrifice precious hours they could be spending with their own families and sleepless nights caring for us every day. Making sure we are comfortable.
So, the next time you are in the hospital or doctor’s office, I would encourage you to smile and acknowledge your healthcare professionals. Thank them for working hard to make sure you are well cared for. And don’t forget about your loved ones who also go the extra mile to make sure you’re okay.
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