What is a Caregiver?

There are a myriad of definitions for “caregiver.”  I would like to share a little about my caregiver after I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in Sept. 2012. I was in a difficult position because the communist cancer cells had escaped and spread to all lymph nodes on the left side, lungs and, one spot on my liver.  Having shared that background, please let me introduce my caregiver — my husband person.

Here are a couple of examples of the things my caregiver gave to me …

Lessons in fighting

My caregiver has had to fight to survive on several occasions and I had never had to do that.  There were only two occasions when he really ‘busted my chops.’  The first was shortly before beginning chemo.  I was sitting on the couch, shoulders rounded, sad-looking – you know, kind of like the proverbial lump.  He spoke very forcefully and basically ordered me to ‘sit up, throw your shoulders back and, hold your head high.’  I did what he said and it worked.

Second example was when I went in for my 4th treatment and after the blood work, it was discovered that my red cell count was in the dumper.  I was sitting in the recliner dealie for treatment and right as the nurse walked away from telling me, I started to slump in my chair and cry out of frustration.  In that same forceful (and loud) voice, my caregiver said, ‘sit up, hold your head high and find out what the next steps are.’  I sat up, put my head up and when the nurse returned I found out I needed 2 units of blood.  Got it and got the 4th treatment as a result.

A new mindset

I was not able to deal with the diagnosis because of the word “cancer.”  It was so depressing.  I felt doomed for a time.  I had even expressed that perhaps I would not do anything about it.  Again, prior to my first chemo treatment I was lying down in bed and my caregiver came in to chat.  I looked up at one point and said, ‘but I have never been really sick my whole life.’  He looked me straight in the eye and said, “You aren’t sick now.  You have cancer.”  Big revelation to yours truly.

From that statement I realized that I may not be able to fight cancer, but I could fight and kill cancer cells.  And that was my approach.  I was a 4 bagger.  The 3rd and 4th contained the good schtuff.  When they were started, I would talk to the schtuff as it was starting into my system and order my sword yielding samurai to kill cancer cells!  (My caregiver would send in marksmen.)

Gratitude to Caregivers

My husband person became very tired.  He still worked full-time (quite a blessing for him to get out of the house).  He did so much of the housework because, frankly, I was asleep for most of the day and night the first week after treatment.  And I wasn’t very perky at all the rest of the time.

I cannot say too much about caregivers.  From my perspective, they appear at times to be almost ignored.  Most folks, naturally, are focused on the patient.

So to my caregiver and caregivers everywhere … thank you.  You are indispensable to your loved ones.

Note:  This is the first in a series of posts about my adventure.

I welcome all your comments and questions.  If not comfortable answering a Q, I will say so.

And finally, I do not have full memory from the time I started chemo to about a month after the 6th one (that was February of this year).  Some of what I post will be based upon input from my caregiver over the last 7 months.

Thanx for visiting.

Mrs AL


20 Comments on “What is a Caregiver?”

  1. garnet92 says:

    Mrs, I had no idea that you were undergoing cancer treatment, I will say a prayer for you and for your wonderful husband-person. He sounds like a real catch. You’re lucky to have someone to lean on when things get rough and all the better that he didn’t let you feel defeated before you started fighting back. My best to you both.

    • Mrs. AL says:

      Just to be a pain, Garnet, I will say I under went cancer cell treatment — hehe

      And thanx for acknowledging my husband person. That’s what this first post is all about – the Caregivers. They have a tough job. And yes, I am blessed to have him in my life.

      It was kind of you to visit and offer a prayer, Garnet. I was on multiple prayer lists during my time in chemo. And I are here! (I really have to find the right pic/image to put on all the posts with arms raised with that caption – I are here.)

  2. Dear Mrs AL,,,
    Google, “The Last Great Act Of Defiance”.
    And look through the “IMAGES” section,,,

    Courage takes many forms, and even to admit despair takes courage. Because what is being said, and what Your Husband-Person heard, was a silent scream for help. And he sent you to the only place you could get the help he KNEW you needed, and that was deep within yourself.

    As you well know, he’s awesome. You BOTH are fortunate to have each other, and the strength you share.

    There are two constants in LIFE. One is Change. And the other is the LOVE we share with our fellow Human. And the BASIS of BOTH is the Supreme Creator, by whatever NAME we know Him.

    My Love and Prayers for your continued recovery and strengthening~!

    • Mrs. AL says:

      Thanx so much for the google lead, Grouchy! I really appreciate your note about my husband person/caregiver. I think we need to be in prayer for caregivers everywhere. It’s a really tough job, as you know. Thanx also for your prayers for continued strength. As for recovery, that’s another post — haha. (Just trying to get you to come back at some point – lol).

  3. Gar Swaffar says:

    Enter The Warrior! Sometimes that’s what it takes, and other times, just a foot rub. Tell him for me if you would, he’s A MAN

  4. J.O.B. says:

    Well MrsAl, I saw your post on Healthcare just yesterday. I thought I would come over here when I had a moment, and comment in hopes of starting a polite dialogue with a group of people that greatly vary from my political ideology. But then you posted this and now I feel compelled to put any political differences aside for another day.

    When I first read about your battle months ago, I felt drawn to you and I don’t know why. No matter what our political differences may be, we had two things in common. We shared a passion for music. And we shared an infinity for being polite to other bloggers, no matter how much we disagreed with that person. Something you don’t see on blogs too much. You forced me, an atheist in the liberal haven of Chicago to pray for you. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that or not. But even though I’m atheist, I believe in religious freedom and from the moment Princess was born, I decided she would have to decide on her own if she believed or not. I have gone to church every other week for the last four years. Kind of funny if you were to hear me talk about religion. But probably not to you, who I think knows how important my daughter’s upbringing is to me. (Side note) She wanted to join choir this year, so now she actually sings every Sunday we’re there. Anyhow, after reading that post you published months ago, I have actually been praying for you. Don’t know if an atheist’s prayers fall on deaf ears, but I figured what could it hurt.

    I can’t speak on behalf of cancer survivors. But I do know something about caregivers. In case you don’t remember, my Mother was diagnosed in late ’92. Unfortunately, her battle was a little different in that she was diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer. And as a nurse who worked on the cancer floor of the local hospital, she knew what the outcome would be. I was a sixteen year old boy who, along with my sisters, weren’t there to push Mom through the hard times. As I would soon find out, our job would be to make her last days comfortable, or at least that was my job. I remember my sister taking her to her first radiation therapy and bringing her home. My sister had to rush home to get my niece and nephew from school. Minutes later, there was a sixteen year old boy holding his Mother’s hair back while she vomited for a good fifteen minutes. I remember shaving my head so she didn’t feel alone. I even remember giving her marijuana so that she could eat Thanksgiving dinner without stumbling to the bathroom. Throughout all this, my father was rarely found. At the time, i figured it was due to him supporting his family. Over time I forgave him for what I think his issues were. Now I am rambling.

    As for MrAl. I understand what he is going through. It is tough to be a rock in an ever softening moment. And clearly he is. There is nothing tougher in this world than holding back the tears, when your loved one is being torn apart. I am happy to see that you’ve made it through this phase. I’m sure MrAl is happy too. I will say a prayer for both of you during my next church visit. And if you ever need to converse on a more private forum, I will always be here.

    With much support, great respect, and utmost love.
    Yours truly,
    Jon O’Brien
    job60445@yahoo.com

    • Mrs. AL says:

      Jon, I am kind of at a loss for words given your comment (and that’s unusual for me). I will be emailing you and we can talk offline.

      Your Mother’s experience mirrors that of a friend of ours whom we buried last weekend. He was 82 and still pretty strong. But by the time the cancer was detected, it had gone too far. His caregiver (his wife) really went through the ringer also. So while I don’t have first hand experience in this role, I do recognize what you all went through. And being you were 16, golly that’s tough.

      Well so much for being at a loss for words, eh? lol I am touched that you would pray for us. Thanx for sharing here, Jon. And please know that Princess has a good Dad. Your relationship with your daughter is inspiring!

  5. Tim says:

    You are both blessed. Wishing you all the best, Mrs. AL.

  6. Bobbie Kelley says:

    Dear Mrs. AL, my fighter friend, you are so very right about caregivers. I’m sure you remember that my Son-in-law was going through his own battle with stage 4 cancer at the same time you were going through yours. I marveled at my daughter’s strength and unyielding support of him throughout that long battle so can relate to what your ‘husband person’ went through for your sake. There are angels in our lives and I’m glad that you had one of your very own. Hats off to him and all dedicated caregivers. to say they are blessings is an understatement. Stay well, my friend and God bless you with total recovery.

    • Mrs. AL says:

      Bobbie, my husband person has been called a lot of things in his lifetime, but “angel” hasn’t been one of them up until now. I will make sure he reads this. Thanx so very much.

      Indeed, I remember very well the updates about your son-in-law. You taught your daughter well and she too is an angel.

      Thanx also for your comments about caregivers. When I decided to take the blog this direction I determined these folks need to be recognized.

  7. thedrpete says:

    There is probably much, Mrs. AL, in the fact that I cannot relate. I can imagine my being “caregiver”, but not having one.

    Given that this blogpost is yours, I read carefully, then reflected, then re-reflected. To my knowledge, other than mother care before I can remember, I think I’ve managed seven-plus decades without having had a “caregiver”. Further, I can not only not foresee having one in my future here on Planet Earth, but indeed foresee consciously and intentionally not having one.

    When, not if, but when, I experience a personal circumstance which would be substantial in financial cost to treat and fight, and given that I’m not a financial island unto myself, it is my conscious plan to exit stage right, walk off into the sunset, and, unlike ex-soldiers, just fade away.

    • Dr. Pete,
      There are those who stood condemned for good ideas. Being of your generation, I understand fully what you mean, and how you feel.
      Maybe Ezekiel had the right idea~!
      ~ ~ Grouchy ~ ~

    • Mrs. AL says:

      That is a personal decision and I respect it, DrPete. My husband person did not force me to fight. I made that choice and he showed me how. I am impressed that you have thought about this ahead of time.

      Thanx for coming by. This can’t be your favorite blog — haha

  8. tannngl says:

    Mrs. AL, I just start getting to know you and I read here that you and your husband are warring against these nasty cells. I will be praying for you each morning that I pray. You are a torch bearer. You bear the light of God in your posts which is love. That love is not an emotion. It is what we do for the object of our love. So I see your husband bears that great light as well.

    I will be following your blog.


    tannngl

    • Mrs. AL says:

      tannng, thanx for coming by. We welcome your prayers. For now, they are praise prayers because while I will never be declared “cured” by medical standards/protocals, I am ‘clean’ for the time being. I will be blogging about that process. Not always pretty, but hysterical moments are there for sure!

      And I am so grateful for your statement that “love is not an emotion.” That is so very important, tanng!! It can’t be stressed enough. Love is action. Some visible actions, some not visible. But never based on emotionalism. Where would we be if we depended upon emotions in our relationship with the Lord? Makes me shudder to think about it.

  9. vonmesser says:

    Don’t know about your area, but here in Olympia for the last 3 years of Elspeth’s time, there was a massage place (that is it’s name, actually – The Massage Place) that gave 1-hour full body massages to cancer patients and their caregivers on Saturday a month. They’d close to regular customers, have noshes, cake, cupcakes, cookies, salad, etc – and schedule the Kancer Krowd in for a rubbie-dub. If no one where you are does that, I highly recommend finding a good legitimate massage place and scheduling a monthly trip there. The relaxation and tension release of having someone work over your back and neck is unbelievable.


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