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Talking it Over: On being a caregiver

When I was young, I dreamt of becoming a doctor. I would tell my siblings and friends that I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. As I got older, that dream changed a bit as I realized that I probably didn’t have what it takes to be a doctor or any other part of the medical profession.

The dream may have changed but I soon realized that I was, and still am, meant to be a caregiver.

My years as a caregiver probably started with the birth of my children. I would carefully tend to their needs, feed them, care for their well-being and provide for them. I would nurse them back to health when they became ill, often rocking them for hours through fevers, colds and illnesses. I would take them in regularly for check-ups and shots. I made sure they ate properly, got plenty of rest and exercise, and monitored what they were doing and where they were going. Mothers are the first line of defense when it comes to a child’s health and well-being.

As my children got older and were able to care for themselves, my role as caregiver moved from mother to daughter. My parents were aging as my children were growing and soon they needed my help with doctor appointments and medications. I helped my mother recover from a heart attack and later, a surgery that demanded daily treatment. After mom passed away, dad needed aid with shots, doctor visits and simply getting around. I learned from their example, what it meant to be a caregiver.

Both of my parents are now gone and once again the role of caregiver is changing.  I am focused more on the health of my husband and myself.  I sometimes help out family or friends and have taken care of my grandchildren at times when they are sick. I have had a taste of what my future will be in regard to caregiving with the continued illness of my husband. Just as I did with my children and parents, I am trying to do whatever I can to make things better for him. This might involve cooking the right foods, driving him to appointments, making sure he takes the right medications and even doing some of the daily chores he once did.

When we go to his many doctor visits, he has mentioned that I am his secretary or even computer, as I keep up on all the procedures, medications and diagnosis given. However, I have to say that it goes beyond simply keeping track of everything and trying to understand what is taking place. I have become the caregiver that I once thought I wanted to be but now the care is given with love and hope for a better future.

Little did I know but my dreams of becoming a doctor are coming true in a different way. I can be a caregiver to the ones I love and leave all the hard stuff to the doctors and nurses. I can trust their judgment but also share the things I see and hear. I can simply be there for those who need me and do whatever I can to make them feel better. That is the best kind of care one can give.