If you’re friends with John and me in real life, you know that the last couple of months he’s been healing from a ruptured Achilles tendon. It all happened during a fun weekend we had in Nashville in September and it’s been [what seems like] a never-ending road. We’re a bit far along now in the recovery process but some of John’s independence is still limited. Throughout the process, I’ve learned a lot about myself, John and even our friends. One thing I’ve learned for sure is that being a caretaker isn’t that easy – at least for me.
I almost feel selfish in writing this post but if it’s one thing I’m loving about being in my thirties is realizing and being comfortable with who I am as a person. That doesn’t mean that I’m not still evolving or I’m set in my ways, it’s just that I’m learning about myself and accepting the findings in this moment. Life is funny in the sense that it’s the most unexpected situations where we learn the most about ourselves.
In this particular situation of being a caregiver, I learned a lot of the same qualities about John that made me fall for him, are exactly the qualities that showed up during his time of recovery. For instance, even though John was the patient, he was always attempting to take care of me. He was always concerned that he was inconveniencing me or that I wasn’t ‘getting out’ enough to spend time with friends. John has always had a really big heart and during my time of nursing him back to health, it showed even more.
As a patient and a caregiver, having a big, kind heart is important BUT it doesn’t mean it’s easy. At least for me. I’ve met tons of people in my life that are just natural caregivers. It’s like they were born to nurture and take care of folks. I empathize and sympathize with people and situations but I’ve come to the realization that being a caregiver isn’t my natural calling. Is that bad?
What being a caregiver means
Caregiving comes in many different shapes and forms. Luckily for us, my current role as being a caregiver is temporary. John will heal and he will be OK. Of course as time goes on and/or we get older, this situation could change. Tasks for caregivers come in a variety of packages as well. The Family Caregiver Alliance lists a variety of caregiver tasks like buying groceries, doing laundry, talking with doctors and handling legal matters.
Obviously in caregiving, taking care of the patient should be a priority but taking care of the caregiver often gets overlooked. The Family Caregiver Alliance also lists ways that caregivers can take care of themselves. Two of the reasons struck a cord with me.
- You cannot be perfect.
- Say no to the things you cannot do.
I mean, those should be life rules, right?
John has been pretty positive with his injury despite my wavering frustrations and impatience. Even though being a caregiver isn’t something inherently natural to me, I’m taking this role seriously and selfishly, I can’t wait until John is 100% better. I joke with him that he’s my buffer when we go out in public and I really miss my buffer.