Today is a good day to have my wife, Heather do another post for us. She writes:
Perhaps this is to be my second blog. My husband Andrew started a cancer blog after his biopsy showed cells in his prostate, in mid-December. Some were aggressive and he needed treatment. We both met with the medical team and external beam radiation was the agreed treatment, which began in January. After a few weeks he invited me to write a blog entry from my perspective as his wife. I wrote Blog#1. My usual role is editor, and I get handed the paper and red pen just as I’m about to settle in bed with a good book.
Reading Andrew’s blog’s as I edit, has been very revealing and helpful to me in understanding the process for him. I’m writing this one because I don’t want my Blog#1 to be my only words on the subject.
In hindsight, the first one took me to a place I needed to go, but it wasn’t the direction I had wanted or even anticipated. To condense it to a sentence, I’ll just say that it took me through my family’s history of cancer over the past fifty years, threading through six close family members, whose lives were ended prematurely. Two were spouses of my siblings, so I knew some of their caregiving experiences.
Now I’m the caregiver.
These are some of the ways I care for Andrew: I get up at 5:30 am to get his breakfast and lunch packed before he leaves for treatment and goes on to work after his daily treatment at 7 am; I don’t get my first cup of tea until after he leaves as he can’t have caffeine until after treatment; I make sure that his cushiony socks are always clean because those socks comfort him at treatment; I drive him to treatment on Fridays as he now takes Fridays off; and I have taken over many of his household chores.
The name “Caregiver,” brings up visions of support, nurture, comforting (and for me personally – survivor – though intellectually, I know Andrew’s cancer treatment has good success potential).
Intellectually, I thought I knew all the things a good caregiver needs to do.
In reality, our journeys always seem to have blind curves. People are unpredictable and who is to know what will happen when we are faced with cancer? The big “C” has a way of bringing us directly in touch with our mortality. Time suddenly takes on vital importance.
Another of my perceived caregiver responsibilities was to clear my calendar as much as possible to make sure I was available for support, nurture and comfort. OK, we are almost six weeks into this cancer thing and as I have laid activities aside, Andrew has frantically filled his calendar. He spent three out of the four Saturdays in January at Marquetry or woodworking workshops, hours on an online cancer support group, hours on “facebook,” hours on his blog writing and hours puttering in his workshop at home. These activities have been important healing for his soul, as the radiation is for his body.
I miss Andrew.
I miss the hiking we love to share. I miss the house projects that we play at together.
But I came to the realization this past weekend that my caregiving job at the moment is to be as pro-active about meeting my social needs as my introverted self is capable of; to focus my time on creative projects because that fills my soul, and to keep myself in balance as best I can. When I am able to achieve a level of social success, I feel more normal and less the social “geek” that I really am. I really need to feel “normal” right now. I don’t know why, but I know to listen.
Andrew knows when I’m out of balance. As driven as he presently is about meeting his needs, he has one ear tuned to my reactions. Relationship is like that. He needs to know I’m balanced so that he can have permission to focus on living every minute of every day.
The word “Caregiver,” can have as many meanings as there are people needing care.
Is this a helpful blog? Do you have a “Caregiver” needing to read this?