A Caregiving.com Story from RoaringMouse

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A Caregiving.com Story from RoaringMouse

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(Editor's Note: We've asked current and former members and visitors to share their stories of how Caregiving.com has helped. Today, we share a story from @roaringmouse, who cared for her husband. In addition to blogging here, RoaringMouse blogged on AfterGiving.com after her husband died.)

*“To Life, To Life, L’Chayim: Lucky Number 18!!”*

birthday-15984_640Dear Caregiving.com,

In the Jewish culture the number 18 in Hebrew spelled out means “life” and thus is considered very lucky!

When Denise posted that she was looking for notes for Caregiving.com’s 18th birthday, I felt that I was very lucky to be able to write to that and immediately told her so. Why would I feel lucky? Being a caregiver isn’t exactly considered a high paying job. Or is it? It’s not exactly considered a glamorous job. Or is it? It’s not even considered as a job that one would aspire to. Or is it? And even if it were all of those things and more, what would I gain from it?

Let me go back to when I first learned of Caregiving.com which would be around Fall of 2010. I had already been a caregiver for about four years before I learned that I was a person to whom that term applied or club I’d been given membership to. I became a caregiver when I was three months pregnant with our first child and my husband was in a hit/run road rage motorcycle accident leaving him paralyzed from the stomach down.

When I found Caregiving.com I was intrigued that it wasn’t preaching down to me on how to take care of my spouse. Instead it was a place I could find encouragement and support from others like myself who found themselves in a unplanned position in life and were making the best of it. I liked that they supported, encouraged, and gave me thoughtful advice on how I could empower myself and help myself have a better life. (Wow!!! This is a different approach!!!)

I then began reading everything on the site as often and as regular as I had time for breathing in every story good/bad, fun/scary, laughing/crying that popped up. What a sobering moment when after a few months I finally realized that even though the diagnosis was different for my own family, the challenges faced were just like everyone else’s...extreme but normal in the caregiving world. So many times I would read stories crying at my computer realizing how I really needed to appreciate my situation and other times laughing and posting my thoughts to connect. To say I lost count of how many of those stories there were. I consider myself lucky to have lost such a number! Thank you everyone I have ever met at Caregiving.com.

You taught me that happiness in a job isn’t in employment as we think of in the real world, but that happiness in a job can be when you go to work on a daily basis and be grateful for changes of improvement in quality of life no matter how small. This includes those days when you are happy that your caree has had a bowel movement, wiggled a toe, or survived an allergic reaction to a beta-blocker. No money in the world can equate to the payment of happiness in the same way a heart-felt smile does at seeing your caree’s success in life.

All the other authors or members never failed to remind me that even though caregiving may not be a glamorous job like a model or acting or a high end doctor, it still is worthy of its own rewards and recognition. I learned about new medical terminology or different diagnosis or challenging situation that no matter what there was no easy solution other then the obvious: having a sense of humor. Your ability to find humor and glamor in caregiving helped me when I had to address a new debilitating pain diagnosis for my husband and I couldn’t touch or speak with him often for fear of setting off his pain. The lesson I learned from humor was how to be grateful that I still had Spike here with me to exchange smiles and together watch our daughter grow. A beautiful caregiver I may not be, but inside I was the most glamourous one I knew because of what I gained from being one.

No one ever shouts to the world, “*I am excited and thrilled about being an unpaid family caregiver that works 7/24/365 a year with little or no sleep; lots of stress; no medical degree (or one in the insurance industry for that matter!); and juggles all of life’s issues for for my caree while simultaneously balancing those of my own and the rest of my family*.” Generally there is not a monetary raise in pay and usually no public acknowledgement or recognition. Most caregivers like myself do not see a future for ourselves. Instead that idea becomes lost in an ethereal gas that is not thought of as ever being revived.

Yet, Caregiving.com...you, all the members and Denise showed me and motivated me to see my life as a caregiver as a tool to help others. It in turn would plant a seed that I am and will be forever grateful for.

While the seed was planting itself and I was maintaining my contact with you, in the summer of 2012 Spike passed away from being too medically complicated to diagnose as well as having acquired too many infections for the medical community to keep up with. Yet, once again you were all there...supporting and encouraging me and even extending thoughtful wishes to my daughter. Again, I feel lucky to have run into such an inspirational and supportive family that I doubt I would have ever have the equivalent fortune of running into again.

As luck would have it due to all the life lessons, laughter and tears we at Caregiving.com shared I have now become an Emergency Management Disability Liaison working from a local county level to a national level both with emergency management professionals and the functional needs communities (disabled, elderly, pregnant, indigent, English as a second language, faith based, etc.). I  encourage positive collaboration between both. The very strong thread that I weave through every interaction and opportunity that I get with these communities is that the first hand information being provided to them is from a former first-hand caregiver (and very proud of it!!). That’s what entitles me to point out terminology and ask questions that no one else will in terms of making sure that everyone (including the medically fragile and disabled) have access to in emergency management resources pre/during/post disaster.

There’s one other area that Caregiving.com has become lucky for me. Recently I met my Superman* of a guy. Again it was one of those stories where I was not looking ...and I got blindsided. (Okay...blushing! Happily!) But because you have been such a strong mentor your spirit and determination encouraged me and I embraced it. It’s because that luckily that I ran into you and you demonstrated to me that as a caregiver, I could be proud of what or who I am, satisfied that I had a job of glamor and that I could be very proud and blessed with the experiences I had gained
from being a caregiver and being part of the Caregiving.com family.

Caregiving.com, may you have a very Happy 18th Birthday as well as strong and productive life continuing to support caregivers whereever and however they become a part of your family.

All my best,

Laura George (aka The Roaring Mouse!)

*PS: FYI: recently I was able to help Superman on an overseas business trip when he was tracking down a colleague of his who had disappeared suddenly. It turned out the colleague was in an accident and had become paralyzed. Via phone I (former caregiver) was able to offer guidance to Superman as to what he would see/expect and how to approach the situation. After speaking with me, then seeing the colleague -- to say he appreciated the words I had offered to him...very much so! This went well because of what Caregiving.com taught me and the luck it has brought to my home and myself.

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