I wrote this piece in response to an article on an MS related site, discussing why we are so hesitant to ask for help when we so obviously need it.
I have spent my entire life being a help-ER, as in ‘caregiver‘, helpful friend or neighbor. And how do I choose to spend my spare time? I’m a volunteer, of course, at two different spots in the Bay area.
My parents were in their mid to late forties when I was born, so I stepped into the caregiver role as a matter of course. Dad had a ‘stroke’ in the 1950’s, which was much later identified as his first MS attack. Mom cared for him as best she could, until he was sort of back on his feet. He still required waiting on, hand and foot, so that role never really stopped for her. But as I edged into adulthood, I joined her in that charge.
Years later, I moved my parents into my home, to facilitate ease of helping them. Within a couple of years, Mom was diagnosed with cancer, and Dad needed a level of care that was beyond what we were able to do, which necessitated moving him to a nursing facility.
Throughout Mom’s cancer treatment, I got up every four hours around the clock, to make sure she took her meds. Since these drugs were her pain management, this was essential for her well being. This of course all predated the existence of ‘pain pumps’, or at least I wasn’t offered them at that stage. Fatigue? Naw, it was just what you did for family!
Fast forward 20 years……I am 55 years old, living in a different country, three thousand miles away from friends and family. Yes, I have made new friends since we have moved here, but they all have the same sort of maladies that I do! It makes it hard to ask for assistance from someone who may be in a worse situation than I, health wise!
My dear beleaguered husband of 35 years has been through all of the difficult times with me and my parents, and is now finally enjoying his work life in a job he loves. He does what he can for me, including all of the strenuous housework, but I’m not inclined to demand more of him.
So, where does this leave me? That’s okay, I already know the answer.