How ironic that today is Memorial Day and the reason for celebrating is to remember the men and women who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. We have the opportunity to celebrate and remember the Caregiver’s that put their life on hold while they tend to our needs and/or the needs of others.
I’ve been extremely lucky thus far with my cancer; I exceeded the initial time guestimated by my doctors!! “Living on borrowed time”, is a quote I hear quite often these days and it always leaves me with mixed emotions. Especially when it is said in the presence of my children and husband. My daughter understands the underlining meaning and depending on her teenager mood at the time, she either becomes happy that this has occured and gives her hope for the future or she bursts into tears. Her emotions then trigger my son who is under the age of 10 and not quite sure what to make of the drama. Then my husband, my Caregiver, has his own reaction, which is usually a mixed bag. Lately, my luck has turned a corner and my body is not cooperating as it should. I have had to go into the hospital twice in the last 14 days to have my abdomen drained of fluid. This is an extremely uncomfortable procedure and because I am petite and thin at the moment, I feel everything.
So last weekend CaringOn was honored to be invited to the Pinewood & Partner Schools Commmunity Carnival at the Fairgrounds in Timonium. We had my daughter and her friends helping to run our booth, sell drinks and introduce neighbors to CaringOn. After about 2 hours of walking around, my Oompa Loompa body needed to go home and sleep. I was in so much pain from the fluid build up puttin pressure on the tumors and other organs that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. It is very hard to get comfortable, food tastes awful and I am still very “backed up” as well. My husband and mother in law stayed at the carnival with my son so I went home, called my sister to cry and complain, and the next thing I know, she is on a train coming down to Baltimore while my other two sisters are driving in from DC and we are all going to stay downtown together. Believe it or not, I did get more R & R at the hotel than I would have at home. (Massage, dinner, catching up and shopping is always a nice pick me up.) My wonderful sisters all chipped in and treated me, to which I am truly grateful. The day of rest somewhat prepared me for a last minute decision to go back to the hospital and get drained again! I was a little better patient during the procedure this time than the first draining.
Having the fluid build up is not a great sign in the scheme of things. This scares me! It is very interesting to me when I look back upon the last 2 years in regards to my emotions. When I first learned the cancer had returned and it had returned to my liver, I was devestated, scared, sad, angry,and very tired. But once I understood the disease better and began to really hear what my body was telling me it needed I began to be OK. I was able to start CaringOn, spend quality time with friends, do more with my kids, etc. In the middle of this battle, my day to day pretty much went back to how it had been. Working, running kids to school, to friends, to practices, making lunches, cooking dinner, taking the dog out, etc… But now that I’m not doing so well, I need to refocus on the things I must make sure are in order. Suddenly, I realize my Caregiver needs a Caregiver. Without my sisters stepping in the way they did and continue to do, I’m not sure how my husband would be able to function. Seriously, it must be so very hard on him. We need to have conversations about things that, yes, we knew we were going to have to discuss, but just not emotionally and mentally prepared to have. And at times, I can be a little to quick to question and want to know what it is that he’s doing and why he is doing it that way. Or just snap at him because he is breathing too loud. Having my family step up allowed him some down time from my nagging and judging. I know it is not something I want to do, but it somehow gives a sense of involvement when you know that you may not be involved in the near future.
Anyway, I believe that what I am trying to sum up is that it is OK to find a Caregiver for the Caregiver. Whether it is family, close friends, or even a service, take the intiative to find the best person who you and your Caregiver can lean on. Just as so many men and women gave of themselves to make our country great; I believe that so many Caregivers give of themselves, not asking for anything in return but a thanks, a gesture. You see soliders come in all different uniforms, many different hair styles, and a variety of sizes. But they all come with HUGE hearts, lots of patience and more love, loyalty and belief, than the rest of us. Which is why I salute them too on this Memorial Day 2014, because the Caregivers past and present also play a role in our future and the future of this country.
Keep on CaringOn!! Have a wonderful week!