Caregiving Comes In Different Packages
As a child, I learn to be a caregiver to all four of my grandparents through my mother's example and later literally for myself. I learned quickly that caregiving was not always easy or fun. I learned it included self-sacrifice and many times heartache. I also learned that it was a calling and that only special people became caregivers.
Years later as a young married wife and mother, I became the caregiver of my spouse. That was totally different and with this one I
lived it 24/7 with no escape. Total responsibility was on my shoulders and it was the hardest thing I had ever faced until my daughter was in a horrific freak accident. After my child was air lifted to UNC Children's hospital and underwent emergency surgery during the night to save her life, I realized being the caregiver for your child was even worse! Taylor's recovery took over 3 months and to this day we still deal with effects from the accident.
Well, just when I thought I had been every kind of caregiver there was, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember thinking, okay Lord, I know we can do this together but I really wish we didn't have to. This has been a totally different aspect of caregiving. I now know what my mother dealt with and felt for many years as she cared for her mother and father. I want to be at all her appointments and I want to help her in any way I can but now I have my own family too. I am having to learn the balancing act she did for so many years of her life. I will say that having an awesome and understanding husband has been the key. Without support, caring for your parents could be impossible. Brian always takes care of everything on the home front so that I never miss an appointment or am away when I need to be with my mother.
My father was diagnosed with kidney cancer the summer of 2015 which really shocked us all for he had never spent one night in a hospital his entire life! His kidney was removed and since he has done well but has to watch medications, his diet, and his endocrine levels in order to keep his one functioning kidney working properly. This caregiving situation was mostly from 4 hours away which gave me a new experience which was long-distance caregiving. It can be very frustrating and can cause extreme guilt. I now have an additional perspective.
Someone joked and asked what aspect of caregiving was I now missing and they mentioned caring for my dog! Well, been there and done that one too! I lost my precious dog in September of 2013 to cancer. She was very sick for several weeks. As her caregiver I went with her when it was her time to leave us. I held her and loved her as she left me and crossed to be in heaven. Caregivers never leave the ones they care for even when it comes to the very end.
What I want you to remember is that all caregiving is the same in that you give up yourself for someone else. God sees all you do and you MUST rely on Him during this sometimes very stressful and very frustrating time in your journey!
I am praying for each of you because God knows what you face even when I don't!