Thursday, February 23, 2012

Caregiving Heroes

Today isn’t National Caregiver Day (I think that’s in August).  February isn’t even National Caregiver Month (that’s definitely in November – mark your calendars!).  Today is just a day that I would like to introduce you to a few extraordinary people who are extraordinary caregivers. 

Because I’m all about getting bonus points, I’m going to start with my Hubby.  Yes, he’s a caregiver too!   Hubby isn’t the only male caregiver around, though.  The number of male caregivers has doubled in the last 15 years.  Some of these men are caring for their wives but others, like my husband, are caring for a parent.

My husband is included in my list of Caregiving Heroes not just for the bonus points but because he so lovingly and diligently cares for his mom.  It helps that she’s a wonderful woman and pretty darn tough lady who had a stroke not too long ago, who continues to have heart problems (and is looking at a valve replacement surgery in the near future) and is diabetic.  Hubby takes her to doctor’s appointments and tests and to the hospital when needed.  He doesn’t leave her side when she’s hospitalized and he has created a thick binder full of every bit of medical information any of his mom’s doctor may need to know.  He’s organized and persistent which are two of the best characteristics a caregiver can have.  He also loves his mom very much and enjoys the time they spend together at the appointments or having lunch or coffee in between appointments.  He’s a pretty awesome son and one of my caregiving heroes.

(I wonder if this is the best time to ask when our baseboards are going to be finished).  Well, maybe not  . . .

It may not come as a surprise but caregivers are everywhere.   We have two in our own household.  The cashier at the local drugstore is one (I was buying nighttime briefs from Robert and the cashier mentioned he was a caregiver for his grandparent).  I have employees at work who are caregivers. 

Look around in your life and you will either know a caregiver or know someone who knows a caregiver.   There are many, many caregiving stories out there.  All of them are ordinary people going about the business of life in an extraordinary way.

Aside from my husband, let me introduce to you a few more of my caregiving heroes.

1.     Kathy.  Kathy cares for her husband who was diagnosed four years ago with Lewy Body dementia.  He is also a Veteran with PTSD and she cares for him at home even though he sometimes doesn’t know who she is or where they are.  He sometimes accuses her of kidnapping him.  She reassures him, she loves him and she keeps him safe.   She also has a terrific sense of humor and can make me laugh with her caregiving stories.  You can read her story at http://thieflewybody.blogspot.com.

2.     Jane.  Jane’s 17 year-old daughter was diagnosed two years ago with a heart defect that had gone undiagnosed since birth resulting in her developing Pulmonary Hypertension.  Their lives were turned upside down and Jane has had to juggle insurance and financial problems, medication battles on top of the heartbreak of seeing her daughter struggle to breathe and try to live a normal life.  Jane did not put her head in the sand once her daughter got the devastating news but, instead, has become an advocate in the PH community and writes about their story in the hopes of helping others with PH.  Please read their story at http://jbones1961.blogspot.com.

3.     Bette.  Bette and her husband are raising three children while also caring for her mother in their home.  Bette’s mom is in the severe stages of dementia and Bette does everything to ensure her mom is safe, comfortable and knows she is loved.  In doing so, Bette is teaching her children about compassion, devotion and love.  Bette is doing her part to make the world a better place.  Bette blogs about her experiences at www.caregiving.com.

4.       G-J.  G-J’s husband was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment in December 2009.  A kick in the gut for a man in his mid-50s, happy in his career (which he had to give up) and with a son in high school.  G-J and her husband did not wallow or despair in the diagnosis.  Both have become involved in fundraising and education efforts through their local Alzheimer’s Association and are also raising a compassionate and empathetic son.  G-J also blogs about their experiences at www.caregiving.com.


These women (and my husband) are not comic book super heroes or larger than life movie stars.  These are regular people doing the extraordinary: caring for a loved one out of sheer love.  At the risk of being a bit dramatic, I will say they not only change the life of their caree, they make the world a bit of a better place with their compassion and empathy and care. 
Not surprisingly, there are too many caregiving stories to list in one post.  There are several more caregiving heroes to introduce which I will do in a later post.  For now, please take a peek at these caregivers’ stories and share your own caregiving hero in the comment section.  

6 comments:

Kathy said...

Oh Trish!!

You're making me *blush*!
I feel pretty honored to be included on this list.
mostly honored because I know you all and from you all I glean the best of caregiving.
Support is so vital for every caregiver. Thank you for the support you offer and for being such a wonderful example of a caregiving hero your own self, the kind I strive to be.

PS Good luck with those baseboards ;)

(flies away wearing her big sunglasses and bath towel cape)

robert's sister said...

Kathy, With all the attention from this post and from being published in the "Help, A Collection of Essays by Those Who Care," I'm not sure it's safe to leave your house without a bodyguard. :-) The beauty of this list is that we all learn from each other and know that we understand each other. Thank you for teaching me so much! Now about that autograph . . .

Patrick Odea said...

What you have shared here is truly admirable. I hope this can be something that can be replicated in places like the affordable urgent care in wilmington de and other caregiving facility. Thanks a bunch for sharing this. Cheers!

Daryl Grimes said...

I really have a huge admiration for caregivers because of their sacrifice and dedication just to take care of old people. This will be the type of staff that an urgent care in milpitas would truly appreciate because they will definitely do a wonderful job in treating their patients.

Justin Craig said...

Just like Daryl, I include myself to the people who really looks up to caregivers. Their patience, passion and dedication to their profession is really commendable.

Karl Boesch said...

Good to see this post. It's always heartwarming to read about people who, though not really supposed to or were not initially trained to, would go out of their way to act as personal caregivers for people that matter to them, inspiring others in the process.