I naturally fell into my caregiving role. I have friends that have been caregivers. I knew the ropes, I was happy to do it and observe the system.
It took a lot though. I wasn’t the one in physical pain. I did not feel the lymph nodes nor lived with the terror of having this foreign thing growing in my body. I did not have a chemo/poison bottle attached to my body, I wasn’t told that I can’t hug my child because the radiation I’d emit is too high. I did not have the surgery or the medication side effects. I did not almost starve to death or been in despair over uncontrolled nausea or pain.
So who was I to complain and get attention?
I was the one that had to keep it altogether at all times. I had to be calm and composed, to know when to be where, to keep my documentation in order and be ready to give additional information as needed.
I had to be supportive and keep our son in a relatively stable life. I had to keep the meds in check, go get new formulations when needed. I had to keep on top of medical records and health insurance documentation.
I had to instill hope and be positive, but still empathetic. I had to push without nagging. The doctors and nurses seemed to be convinced that I had to make my husband eat, take meds and do whatever needed to be done.
I’d like to think I did all this pretty well. The cancer is gone, the side effects are minimal. The son did well in school. Everyone is alive and can function.
But I came out a different person. After so much focusing on others, I needed to focus on me and my life and my purpose and desires. It is an experience that changes your life. And we don’t necessarily have support systems in place to support the caregiver when it’s all done.
This is why the community and this project is so important. I had neighbors that took my son in for the night with 15 minutes notice. Not everyone is so lucky.
We could do even more for each other. People love to help when they can and know what they have to do.
This is the aim of Woodbridge to Health: to build a support network in place for each of us at the time we need it.