Monday, January 14, 2008

Things I know about being a care-giver

Care giving seems to be pretty cut and dry to some. You watch, you feed, you bathe, you take places... maybe even help them dress. Seems simple I guess. But there rally is so much more to giving your help to someone, especially someone you love and have built a life with. I may break this into a section or two. I think there is so much to touch on when it is such an important topic.
If you have read some of my writes, including my profile then you may already suspect that the beautiful lady in the wheelchair is my wife of 24 years. She joined the other Angels in heaven in March of 2006. But before she went, she taught me what true love is and what care-giving really meant. She showed my heart how to give and never leave her feeling a burden. Never to leave her feeling as if I was somewhere I did not want to be.
When Sheila was first stricken with Muscular Dystrophy {Polymyositis} there was so much to learn, for both of us. But I want to concentrate on the care-giver side. not because my end was any harder or easier than her side of the coin. She was the one in pain and the one that fought so hard to live and be a mother and a wonderful wife. I take nothing from all that she endured. In fact, it is some of those very things that taught me how to be the loving care giver that she and anyone else stricken with a disease deserves to know.
Care giving means learning to be as gentle as you can be. It means sometimes to toss out the rule books and do things that are less painful and work better for you and the one you are caring for. It is understanding that there are times that they will not be able to find a comfortable way to sit or lay. You may need to move them or adjust their pillows, their blankets, even their bodies many times before they can relax and feel less pain.
As a little looking in for you, our days and nights were often this way. We would wake and I would help her into the chair. We had found a way to lift her so that she felt less or no pain in the transfer from bed to chair. She would do her morning things and then we would go back to the chair. She would find a comfortable way to sit, sometimes needing to be lifted 4 or 5 times before accomplishing this.
{At this time I will say something important. When you are lifting, they will be looking at you, looking into your face and eyes. What they see is more important than the lift itself. Lift them with your heart and let them see that they are not a burden. Show them with your eyes and heart that you would lift them 100,000 times more if that's what they need. Smile and take the moment to show their hearts that your a lift of love.}
We would then settle in and I would make breakfast and find her t.v. show. We would watch a bit of t.v. and from time to time she would need to be adjusted or go to the bathroom. The smallest things like a sigh or a look can make them feel as if they have asked too much of you. Remember always that they are not "alright" with the way they are. They would gladly do what you and I take so much for granted if they could. When you are thirsty, do you get up and get drink? When you are hungry, do you get up and grab a sandwich or whatever else you might want? If you have to go to the bathroom, you just get up and do it. Remember, they CAN'T! They depend on you foe those things and it is the way that you do them that gives them the comfort zone to ask again.
There really is nothing in this world that will ever break your heart more than to hear these words. "Am I too much for you now? Are you getting tired of all that you do for me?" tears that flooded my eyes when this beautiful lady would say those words were only an outward sign of the love I felt for her. Here was a woman that was stricken with terrible pain every minute of her every day. Someone that didn't know if she would wake the next morning. And yet, here she was, worrying whether SHE was too much for me. It is so very important to make certain that they always, always know they are NOT too much. Show them that you will never "tire" of helping them. The blessings that come with care-giving with your heart are not measurable in any way. Show them that they are your blessing and that you are honored God chose you to be in their lives.
Care-giving is so much more than just the physical part of giving. It is the chance of a life time to feel love returned to you in ways you can't even imagine. It is receiving from them a tenderness and trust that few will ever know in their lifetime. Remember, they trust in you to watch over them and not let them get hurt. That is a trust that is bigger than the universe.
I will continue this in another blog later. There really is so much more to say. Darrel...

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