Has your spouse or child just been diagnosed?
If your spouse or child has just been diagnosed you’re probably thinking about it every day. How will he/she cope? How will it change my life? What about us? Can we get through this?
Many Caregivers react to the news that their loved one is suffering from a chronic, debilitating disease by going into denial and isolating themselves from their spouse, son or daughter. They just can’t accept what has happened. My dad was in denial about my RA for at least 15 years. It wasn’t until he saw me accepting it that my dad could begin to try to acknowledge the disease himself.
The biggest issue here is isolation. It is not the time to distance yourself from your partner. Sure you’ll need to take some time to digest the news of the diagnosis but then you will have to talk about it. He / she will need your support. You’ll need theirs. Not communicating your feelings will just make everyone angry and frustrated, and sooner or later it will begin to affect all aspects of your life.
As a Caregiver you might need to understand that the diagnosis of your partner will feel like a loss. Partners or parents may even need to be given time to go through each stage of the grieving process.
For more information on this topic go to David Kessler's site.
I believe there’s another issue for you as the Caregiver. This issue is about control. As the onlooker you can never really gain a feeling of being in control of the situation. You’re present, but you’re constantly watching your loved one for signs of suffering. You see and feel their pain, but it seems like there’s nothing you can do. This feeling of helplessness is an enormous burden to bear. It will exhaust you. The person who has the disease may even be feeling more in control of things than you are.
Managing “meds,” exercising and resting are all good tools used by patients when trying to manage their disease! You don’t have these avenues, so at times it may seem like the burden is harder for you. Talking about these emotions will help to relieve your stress. Progressive, chronic diseases require a different type of support to other illnesses. Shouldering all the pain and anxiety about your loved one will make you burn out quickly! You need to be around for the long haul, so look after yourself!
Some of the Coping with a chronic, debilitating disease in 12 Steps may even work for you.
Remember it is your love and your courage that will strengthen their spirit and inspire hope. You are fighting this battle too and you are brave!
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COPYRIGHT 2006- Karen Ager
My mother - Johanna