A Caretaker's Viewpoint
For this article, I interviewed my partner, bandmate, and caretaker, G, about what it is like to be there for someone who lives with chronic pain, through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Caretakers often have a unique perspective into the pain of others and can provide valuable insights about illnesses that even the patients themselves or healthcare professionals might overlook.
It is our hope that this interview will provide useful feedback to other caretakers out there who may be looking for information on what others in their position think and feel, as well as how better to provide care to loved ones. These are of course just a brief, few questions I felt it was pertinent to ask my own caretaker, but there are a wealth of other unique perspectives that caretakers have to offer.
Having patience when caring for someone with migraine
What is the most difficult part about being a caretaker?
One of the most difficult parts, I think, is realizing that your wants and the other person's wants and desires could be the same, but they can't or are unable to do it or achieve the goals you both have because of their illnesses.
How do you best help the patient you care for during a migraine attack?
Attacks can range from one to another, so there isn't a one-stop solution, you have to be quick to adapt and flexible in helping them. Patience goes a long way.
Wishing doctors understood migraine
What do you wish doctors knew about what you do?
I am sure doctors see a wide range of health issues that people experience, but they don't necessarily see the day to day, and how people are affected in daily life and activities. They may not realize how these experiences add up and accumulate to be debilitating. I wish they knew more of the ins and outs, and I wish the entire chain of command from doctors, and pharmaceutical companies, knew and understood better and more intimately what goes on in a patient's life.
Advice for others helping those with migraine
Do you feel valued as a caretaker?
I sometimes feel more valued than at other times. I would say yes, but it is difficult. The value doesn't necessarily come from being a caretaker, so much as being a person helping another. Both of us would definitely prefer there not to be migraines, and hopefully, others would feel that value without it being because they are 'needed'.
What advice would you give to other caretakers of patients with chronic illnesses?
Patience is the main thing, try to be empathetic that even though you can't see something, that doesn't mean someone else isn't feeling it. And try to have fun.
Lessons from taking care of someone with migraine
Do you think your relationship to the patient you care for suffers because of their illness?
What is the most important lesson you have learned from or with the patient you care for?
How someone is feeling now, from a migraine or another illness, does not define how they always feel. It's not their personality, but it does impact how everyone interacts with them, so you must have that awareness and separate the illness from them.
Thank you to my caretaker C.G for providing these thoughtful answers!
Are you a caretaker who wishes to share tips with other caretakers about your journey with someone who lives with chronic pain? Let's discuss in the comments!
Have you taken our Migraine In America Survey yet?