Facing Fears of Uncertainty - Part 2

15 days – they usually fly by, but not when you’re waiting to get test results. My husband had thyroid surgery Jan and her husbandand we were told we should have the results in a couple of days.  Why was it taking so long? Every time the phone rang we couldn’t help but wonder if it was going to be “the call” we were waiting for. Just over two weeks later, we finally received the results… it was benign! We thank God and praise Him for this blessing!

During those long 15 days, how did I do at following my own advice to other caregivers who come to me for support?  I give myself a B. That’s pretty good, but could have been better. Looking back, fear was the toughest thing I had to deal with. The battle of the mind quite often is our biggest struggle as caregivers.  For the most part, I was able to turn the negative thoughts into positive ones, focusing on our blessings and trusting God for whatever we would face in the future.

I realized that my main focus needed to be taking care of my husband.  It made me really think about the role of a caregiver.  When I teach classes for caregivers, I focus on “care for the caregiver.”  After this experience, I now realize that I also need to talk about care for the family member.  How can we become better caregivers, while taking care of ourselves and meeting our own needs?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Encourage.  I see how much I affect my husband, especially during the bad days.  A smile and a word of encouragement, even if you are feeling down, go a long way to brighten the day of your family member.
  • Laugh.  There are many benefits of a good belly laugh, including relaxing physical tension and stress.  Don’t take yourself too serious.
  • Have patience.  Be “slow to anger, slow to speak and quick to listen.”  Take a break when you need to and make allowance for each other’s faults. 
  • Accept the situation.  “It is what it is, so you do what you need to do.”  I say these words often and see how much they apply to the role of the caregiver.  Having this attitude instead of “woe is me or why me?” will go a long way toward making your family member keep a positive attitude.   
  • Do something fun together.  Spending time together has taken on a whole new meaning.  We have spent some quality time together doing the things we love to do.  Enjoy the moments you have together because you just don’t know what the future holds…
  • Let it roll.  Yes, I mean when he snaps at you or she is irritable, let it roll of your back.  This was probably the hardest for me, but I know it is important and I am getting better.
  • Give a big hug.  It might not seem like a lot, but I know offering love and reassurance can go a long way.

My husband still has some challenges and has some good days and some bad days.  Taking one day at a time, we have learned: 

  1. We have to thank God for the good days and enjoy them!
  2. We have to trust God during the bad days and lean on Him and draw on His strength.

As we know, caregiving can be very difficult, but it can also be a great blessing as we are given the opportunity to show our love in ways we may never have before.

 

Jan Schleicher
Director of Caregiver Support
Wellspring Lutheran Services – Fairview