For many of us with chronic illness, we rely on help from our spouse/partner, family, or friends to help us with day-to-day living and tasks. So my caregiver is my husband who is also the caregiver for his adult daughter that has Cerebral Palsy. For the most part, he’s healthy other than high blood pressure and he didn’t have his first surgery until 2018. But today I sit here in my car because of COVID-19 as he is having meniscus surgery. I can’t help but think what does this mean for my health? The selfish thought is a little bit stressful OK a LOT STRESSFUL. My husband is an amazing husband & caregiver he makes sure I get the necessary rest that I need, he run errands, grocery shops, wash clothes,& clean. So many take for these things that I take for granted, yes I do help with our household chores when I’m able but now that he will be down for six weeks it all falls on me from caring for him, caring for myself, and my bonus daughter. This is overwhelming because I don’t wanna get stuck in a flare because of the extra responsibilities that I have to face.
There is a controversial Dr. Phil episode that made those with caregivers go in an uproar ‘You Can Be His Caregiver, Or You Can Be His Lover; You Can’t Be Both,’ Dr. Phil Tells Guest | Dr. Phil. I want you to watch this link and then come back for my thoughts. So I feel what he’s saying is very true and here’s why :
From a marriage/ serious dating standpoint you fall in love and marry someone for sickness and in health and they’re stricken with a chronic illness you at first are like I got you no matter what because we’re going have a “future” together. This is what society says you should do stay because those are the vows right; here is where the CONFLICT comes into place and the caregiver as a person gets lost and burned out. Here are some reasons :
- The stress of you not being able to do daily activities such as bathing, dressing, household stuff like normal.
- You lose your job because of their illness now you’ve added financial stress (the disability process is a nightmare that takes 1-3 years.
- If you’ve children now that responsibility falls on that partner to care for them and get them around to activities.
Now your partner will hold in most of this stress because they know they can’t stress you out with this burden. WHO HELPS THE CAREGIVER? When you take that vow before God it doesn’t mean you aren’t human, stress takes a major toll in a relationship it causes arguments, resentment, guilt, health issues for the caregiver who will likely neglect their health to care for you. I watch my father be my mother caregiver and he was an amazing provider but it took a toll on him big time juggling himself, two kids, a sick wife, and pastoring two churches. I saw the disconnect it brought in their 20+ year marriage because he was worn out.
Today I see how much my husband does for me at this moment sitting in this car and I’m grateful but to be honest I don’t know who and why he loves me at times. All those scenarios above that were all my baggage that he chose to stay around for. So know just because you have an amazing partner/spouse they’re are struggling to balance your chronic illness, your relationship, and their mental health. So for the most part it’s hard to find that balance because you can’t give 100% of yourself to being a caregiver a partner, or parent because no matter how great your partner is something will fall short. Your partner is only giving 33.3% if you face just those three but if we add the other factors its even less. This post is not to say your spouse/partner doesn’t love you or isn’t capable to juggle a sick partner its just the reality of the struggles our partners face.
Here are my tips on how to get through caregiver illness/surgery:
- Plan meals out for the week
- Grocery pickup
- Create a daily chore chart so you don’t overdo it.
- Tell others NO!
- ASK FOR HELP if possible from other family members, friends, or church family.
God allows us grace so know that if you can’t do it all it’s ok tomorrow is a new day.
Ephesians 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.