Whether you are a spouse, a caretaker, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a significant other, mother, father, sister, or brother or friend- if you are in any way, shape or form responsible for, the care of someone who is chronically ill, chronically in pain: You are our Superhero.
It’s not easy living with someone who is chronically ill or chronically in pain, and I’m not even talking about what may be the everyday sickness that is a part of our lives or the everyday pain. I’m talking about the responsibilities you may have beyond that scope of our world that is your own. I’m talking about your job and your bills and your responsibilities that you may have that don’t include us and that may place extra weight on your shoulders because you try to shield us from any extra stress, not wanting to exacerbate any symptoms knowing that there may be little we can do about any given situation. You are our protectors.
It sometimes can’t be helped that our world is very insular. We are caught in a revolving door of doctor’s appointments, many of us fighting with Social Security disability- trying to get it; we can be exhausted by our own symptoms and feel oppressed and claustrophobic by what our lives have become. Many of us, our only connection to the outside world being social media which is our entertainment, our therapy, our friendships and our shopping experience- all one click away but never giving us that human connection that some of us yearn for, or that connection to nature that some of us crave even more. It can be a hollow existence and one where we become very dependent upon our caretaker who becomes our everything, not even realizing that we’ve essentially become the human version of Dementors to our caretakers. For any of you who haven’t read or seen Harry Potter, Dementors are wraithlike Dark creatures, widely considered to be one of the foulest to inhabit the world. They feed on human happiness and thus generate feelings of depression and despair in any person near them. [harrypotterfandom.com]
It may seem like I’m exaggerating a little bit, but the reality is that our caretakers more often than not, neglect themselves, and how they are feeling and things that are going on in their world, in order to take care of things going on in our world. It may not be taking care of us all the time, but taking care of extensions of us, like our children, which may be a shared thing that is an equal responsibility that becomes more theirs for the time being. It may be housework that is taken on their shoulders even though they are working full time and may be tired. Grocery shopping is something that may fall on them as well as cooking. There are so many small things that you may notice, or you may not notice, that your caretaker may be doing for you to help you. Delegating other people to help you in their absence, such as older children, is a something you may not register. Sometimes caretakers pull children to the side and make sure they understand that the sick parent is unable to do things they once could, and they must pitch in to help. We might only see it as them helping and never put it together that the parent/or caretaker stepped in to make sure that the children knew what was expected so the sick parent was comfortable and wouldn’t have to do things while the usual caretaker was away. These are beautiful acts of kindness that are often unseen because we are so overwhelmed in our illness and pain. But our caretakers don’t expect anything, because that is the nature of a hero.
This is my thank you to all the caretakers out there. The husbands, the wives, the moms and dads, sisters and brothers, daughters, sons and friends who look after and take care of someone they love. This is a thank you for the sleepless nights you spend comforting and for the hours you spend at work afterward. This is a thank you for the patience in listening to our rants, our fears, our tears in not knowing what the future might hold for us; this is a thank you for sitting in silence with us and just holding us, protecting us, so that for a little while we can feel safe. This is a thank you for your optimism, for never letting us let go of the dream of a better tomorrow- a tomorrow without pain, without sickness. Thank you. Thank you for being there. Thank you for being you. And for me, thank you for being my husband.