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If you could only see the way she loves me maybe you would understand
Why I feel this way about our love and what I must do
If you could only see how blue her eyes can be when she says                        Tonic

Healing

The following is something I ran across and want to put in this particular blog.

A very helpful support group site.

http://seriousillness.org/kscity/programs/index.php?catego=52#

 

The Caregiver Journey – Pathways to an authentic and fulfilling life

by Marty Beilin

 

Shock dulls the senses.  In all of our lives that moment came when a doctor spoke words that let us know an accident or illness or stroke had forever changed the life of our beloved partner.  It probably took several days or even many weeks for the scope of the disability and the prognosis to sink in.  What would take longer for our mind to grasp, often much longer “ months and years “ is how and the extent to which our lives, too, would be transformed.  The fear, anger, and despair no doubt felt at times by our ill/disabled spouse would wash over us as well.

A few years ago I wrote in Mainstay, the Well Spouse® Association newsletter that membership in Well Spouse cannot make us whole again.  But this association of spousal caregivers can help us confront the realities of our lives with hope, not resignation.  But how?  It is so easy to become overwhelmed by the stress of long-term caregiving.  Even the most buoyant personality surely must be weighed down witnessing one’s mate’s progressive loss of health, function, and mobility. Where is the hope?

Sharing our stories helps well spouses connect with each other and lessens anxiety.  There is comfort in knowing that I am not alone.  That others have gone down this road before and survived!

But the Well Spouse® Association’s mission is not simply to help spousal caregivers just cope with their difficult situation.  While the empathy generated by sharing personal stories is valuable in and of itself, our aim should be to create for ourselves nothing less than an authentic life —  one not defined solely or even in the greater part by our spouse’s medical condition.   In any healthy marriage or committed relationship, it is important that each partner take time to pursue his own interests and give expression to her talents and dreams.  This should also hold true in a marriage where one spouse is ill.

While we all want to be excellent caregivers for our partners, to provide good care we must first care for ourselves.  To neglect our own well-being is to risk burnout, and then we neither serve our partners or ourselves very well.

In her inspirational book, Mainstay, Maggie Strong suggested that three progressive stages typify a caregiver’s life.  This caregiver journey can serve as a powerful metaphor for how we can re-center our lives.

The Heroic Stage

The diagnosis is in, and a productive panic energizes you and family members.  You want to learn as much as you can about your spouse’s illness or disability.   Doctors and other experts are consulted.  You read everything you can on the subject.   You receive encouragement from family and co-workers, and many offers of help.

Optimism often abounds during the heroic stage.  You will help your spouse heal, recover, walk, get well. Often there is real improvement; sometimes even complete recovery.  But over time when there is little improvement or decline sets in, hope slowly fades and optimism turns to despair.  Friends and family members may drift away.  Help now is most likely provided by paid aides.  Denial may keep the caregiving spouse working towards a cure that is not possible. The heroic stage comes to an end as you come to terms with the reality of your spouse’s condition and prognosis.

Ambivalence

Long-term caregiving sets up debilitating internal conflicts.  On the one hand, you want to support and care for your partner.  It’s the right and moral thing to do. You are motivated by love, or a sense of duty, or societal expectations.  At the same time you feel physically exhausted.  Financial concerns mount.  You may have to quit your job.  Intimacy is difficult or impossible.  You don’t see a future.  You want to get out.

The ambivalence stage of the caregiver journey pockmarks the landscape with intermittent (or, in many cases, constant) feelings of fear, anger, sadness and resentment.  Many caregivers need medication to manage clinical depression.  To avoid caregiver burnout, caregivers will devise ways to compartmentalize their lives.   But stress commonly undermines the best coping strategies.

Emotional instability and uncertainty are the hallmarks of this stage.  Sadly, caregivers can get mired in the ambivalence stage for quite a long period of time.  This stage comes to an end when the instability becomes so untenable that one suffers total burnout or, much more positively, the caregiver commits to a desire to go beyond coping and makes real changes in her or his life and one’s approach to caregiving and the marital relationship itself.

The New Normal

In this third stage, balance, resolution, and inspiration empower caregivers to live much more fulfilling lives.  You recognize and come to terms with the long-term nature of your situation.  But you no longer put off or set aside your desire to pursue your own interests and dreams

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To read more, visit:  http://seriousillness.org/kscity/programs/index.php?catego=52#

 

 

To the unconditional love of the Woman I adore.

 

 

routine: noun

  1. regular, unvarying, habitual………… Do it a thousand times. The same way every time.

 

Keep on keeping on. Laugh with your loved one and make them feel like they are loved, safe and important. Every day is a new day. Smile when you wake up and thank the one above for everything. Make my mind strong, my body strong, and my soul strong, in your name Jesus. Amen.

 

Hasta la próxima.