Why I Stopped Calling My Husband My Caregiver
I was disabled by chronic migraine for years before I ever called my husband my caregiver. I don’t remember exactly when he got that title, but I’m pretty sure it was during The Worst Year of My Life. I was so sick that I was basically bedridden. We’d just moved to a new city. He had started a new job and I could barely function.
My husband cared for me during the worst year of my life
We used frequent flier miles to have a rotation of family and friends come to stay for a week at a time. They ran errands, took me to appointments, cleaned, and stocked our freezer with wholesome food. We could only host so many visitors. In the weeks in between, my husband had to come home from work at lunch to make sure I had eaten (and, I later learned, to call 911 in case I tried to take my life). He left work at random times to take me to appointments. After work and on weekends, he picked up prescriptions, ran errands, and did all the tasks of household management. There was no doubt he had become my caregiver.
The implication of the word, caregiver
It’s been nine years since that horrible year began. I found some effective preventives during those years and the gammaCore stops or shorten attacks substantially. In other words, I’m much less sick than I was. But my husband still retained the title of caregiver. I’d like to strip him of his title. It’s implied dependence and subservience don’t help make for an equitable partnership.
Caring for each other as spouses
I do still need help at times. But do I need so much help that my husband has to be seen as taking care of me and I have to be seen as dependent on him? I am sick, but do I require more care than anyone does in the normal course of a relationship—or more care than he does? My husband is an entrepreneur and does consulting work, both of which take a lot of time and energy. Whenever I can, I try to take care of him. Even when he doesn’t overtly need me, I try to take care of him. That’s not a role I’m forced to take on, it’s one of the responsibilities and pleasures of being a spouse. Since I take on these responsibilities because he’s busy with work, not illness, I’m not called a caregiver.
Migraine can make you feel like a burden
Calling my husband a caregiver makes me feel like I am a burden. Even though I’m far healthier than I was, I continue to feel like a burden. I’m reluctant to ask my husband with help for anything else because I feel like I rely on him so often for help with my health. Like that fills the entire allotment of what I’m “allowed” (in my own estimation) to ask for. I feel like I’m always taking more than I’m giving. Yet, if I look at it objectively, I give my husband a whole lot.
Stripping the caregiver title and feeling like an equal
I don’t have a balance sheet. There’s no list saying he’s done this, therefore I have to do that. If we did, the fact that I’m sick tells me that I’d owe him a serious debt. But the reality of our relationship, of how much I choose to do for him, logically tells me we’re in pretty close balance.
The caregiver title was correct at one time. I don’t think it holds true any longer. And I think it may be more harmful to our relationship to call him a caregiver than it is of any help. So I am stripping him of that title for my own sake and for our relationship.
P.S. I drafted this article two years ago. Dropping the caregiver title has done wonders for making me feel like an equal, contributing partner in my relationship.
Have you taken our Migraine In America Survey yet?