Tag Archives: caregiver identity

Life After: A Caregiver Reflects…

I have lost so much.  Not only the love of my life, but a way of life.  I confess to difficulties.  Challenges.  Sobbing through movies is the least of my problems.  I am lost.  Mentally wandering in a wilderness of change.

I make decisions.  Immediately regret them.  Rethink them.  Why am I the last person on my list of priorities?

I must give myself time.  Pamper myself a bit.  So I work and then rest.  Put my feet up.  Take my salad and cheese in my room on a tray, like my Grandmother used to do.  Eating on the bed where Chris and I had so many meals.  I can’t wait til I can eat at the table again, I used to think.  I was wrong.  I want to eat where we ate.

I go onto Facebook and find out that two people in my old business network group have become bestsellers on Amazon.  And I was the writer!  MY royalties trickle in.  I congratulate them.  There is no animosity toward them, only admiration for their success.

Would I like to be a best seller on Amazon?  Absolutely.  But I do not regret devoting my time to Chris.  That has given me peace.  The anguish I feel at being surpassed is not relevant.  To really work at writing—that I can do any time in the present or future.  To be Chris’ caregiver?  Was a limited engagement.  Immediate. Imperative.

I walk.  Even with an inflamed Achilles tendon, I have decided to park the car for the summer.  Not to insure it.  To make myself walk or use transit instead of driving.  To save money.  To think twice before zipping off somewhere.

The financial curve is huge.  Living without his pensions.  I am not complaining; but I am concerned.  I need my own space. My apartment is a refuge.

And I know this about myself:  I cannot share with a friend, as my daughter does. And I will not live with another family member—a daughter or a sister or a cousin.  I cannot be the ‘poor relation’ living off the charity of another, however kind and generous they may be.

Besides, I like solitude.  I love my home.  Memories of life with Chris echo in every facet of every room.  So maintaining my home will always be a financial priority.

Slowly with each decision, my life changes as I modify budgets, change how I do things.  I’m shaping a life on my own.

It isn’t easy.  I’ve been married since I was seventeen. Now I must make it on my own, know that I have the discipline, courage and commitment to manage my life and manage it well.

My life with Chris gave me the tools and resources I need.  I just have to use them in the best possible way.  Ah, Chris!  Miss you, Babe.

Losing a Sense of Myself–Who’s Responsible? Caregiver? Or Patient?

So I seem to think Chris, who is ill, has more freedom than I do as caregiver.  But surely that is an oversimplification.

After all, he is a man, who, with diabetes and severe coronary artery disease, still gets up out of bed once or twice a week and goes out to appraisals, to check how things are going on the work site.

A man who  always has and will still get breakfast if I have a morning meeting, or make himself a sandwich if I’m having lunch with friends.

Who really loves to have his coffee brought to him in bed, who wants me to sit and watch TV with him. Who in the past has enjoyed helping prepare and share meals.

And he seems to appreciate the cleaning and laundry that go with keeping a place up.  So it’s not like he’s taking advantage of me.

Alma Vaugeois, a friend and clinical counselor, talked about Chris.  Although he is very sick, he has not made illness his primary identity, she told me.

The way he has constructed his identity, including his illness but not entirely focused on it, there is a generosity in him.  That and his deep sense of humour make him strong enough to allow you to be you, she said.

This will not be every caregiver’s experience, Alma added.  Not everyone is like that.  Some people who are very controlling will not be able to give their caregivers that support.

So it’s not about Chris, this sense of losing myself to the suction of the demands of his care.  It’s more like I’m not making quite the right decisions.

That’s the issue that needs a closer examination.  Now.  Before his condition deteriorates and his needs escalate.

Yours truly

Margaret Jean.