Appreciation and Reciprocation
If I am being completely honest, I can be a very difficult patient at times. When I am experiencing a particularly painful migraine, wherein I can't perform my usual tasks or meet my usual commitments, I often begin to feel all kinds of other painful things: depression sometimes takes hold, anxiety grips me and I feel stressed out about all the things I can't do. I find myself becoming short and snappy, and angry about small things, too. In short, I don't feel or act like myself. And that can be extremely difficult for those around me. Particularly my partner and caretaker, G.
The ups and downs when caring for someone with chronic pain
G has seen me through ups and downs, the good, the bad, and ugly. They have been with me to appointments, up with me during late night migraine attacks and anxiety episodes, and right beside me through treatment for many of the comorbidities I struggle with. I am awe-inspired by their patience, continued commitment to learning and helping, and the selflessness I have witnessed from them over the past five years. It is not easy caring for someone with chronic pain, and caregivers have difficult tasks as they often provide physical, mental, and emotional support to patients. This is an appreciation post for my caregiver, who makes each day a little brighter, even when I am a bit (or a lot) difficult to be around.
Up for the challenge
G says that one of the most difficult challenges to caring for someone who is sick quite often, is that you have to plan between three schedules instead of two: each individual's commitments and desires, and then the sporadic schedule of the illnesses. It is true that both mine and G's schedules can be overshadowed by my illnesses, and sometimes the care I require takes an intrusive role in G's life and plans. This is no doubt very challenging, but G's attitude is accommodating and understanding most days, and witnessing that makes me realize how strong caregiver's truly are.
Many migraine patients deal with a slew of challenges every single day, from avoiding triggers, to tolerating pain, from fighting attacks, to balancing work and social life, migraine can be a full-time job. Caregivers know well too this experience. Caregivers like G spend a great deal of time navigating challenges such as balancing their own commitments with those of the patient's. They can be found doing any number of tasks like providing food, water, medication, travel, emotional support, and company or dimming lights and softening the sounds in a room. The number of things caretakers are attentive to is large and involved often times. I am lucky that G is and has been up for the challenge for many years at this point.
Reciprocating and appreciating those who care for you
I try to be attentive to the health and feelings of my caregiver because I know that caring can take a demanding toll on them. I have witnessed G exhibit feelings of frustration, of helplessness, and of exhaustion, and all the while they still put extra effort into making sure that I have what I need. Without that extra effort, it would be much more difficult for me to get through each day.
I believe it is important for caregivers to know that they have immense value and that their role in a patient's life can make dealing with chronic pain all the more manageable and bearable. For me, G's presence does just that, and because of that, I try to listen in closely to their feelings and problems and be there for them when I can as well as lift them up and let them know I appreciate them. A healthy patient-caregiver relationship benefits greatly when each participant is there for the other.
The relationship that many patients share with their caregivers, or close friends and family members, is one that requires a lot of patience on the part of all parties. Patience allows for the patient to watch as their caregiver grows and learns alongside them, and allows the caregiver to watch as the patient learns to navigate their pain, symptoms, triggers, and treatments. I feel as though my caregiver and I both experience chronic migraine, me directly and them indirectly, and patience allows us to work through managing it together. G can often articulate my needs better than I can when I am in the midst of a migraine attack! This has developed from years of being there, patiently. They have truly been there with me for the long haul and I don't think 'thank you' can even begin to encompass my feelings towards their presence, help, and support.
I am thankful, beyond words and expressions, to have G by my side, to help me when I can't drive, or eat, or sleep, and get to my medication, or need a shoulder to lean on. I am thankful that they are kind to me. I am thankful to have a caregiver who is invested in researching and learning about migraine so as to help me find solutions. But I am mostly thankful to know someone who cares deeply about me, and who makes sure that I am alright every single day. It inspires me to be caring and helpful to them, and others around me. My caregiver is in a lot of ways my hero.
Do you have a caregiver whom you rely on? What is your relationship like?
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?