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Caregiving by Men:
A Husband's Perspective
By: Seth B. Goldsmith, Sc.D,. J.D.
STEP #6 STAY STRONG EMOTIONALLY
Being a caregiver is tough work. Most of us find that we
still have to do our outside jobs and we’ve picked up a
full-time inside job. Obviously when Sandra was feeling
well, the job was fairly undemanding. On the other hand
there were times, particularly in the last 18 months,
when being a caregiver was exhausting and frustrating
work. My days and nights seemed to be endless with
oxygen equipment that needed filling, suction pumps that
needed tending and total parenteral nutrition (TPN) gear
that needed injections, hooking up, cleaning, and
computers that forever needed programming. Even when we
went to the hospital, I found myself part of the care
team, often being involved in the changing of TPN
equipment from our home care computer system to the
hospital’s system. It is also hard work to be someone
else’s advocate, but we have to always remember that our
advocacy may indeed make the difference between life and
Under no circumstances should you be a hermit. For me,
as for many men, work became an important social outlet.
Initially I was afraid to tell people what I was going
through, but as I opened up to a few colleagues, I found
them to be an enormous source of support for which I
will be eternally grateful.
Finally, being physically healthy is as
important as emotional health. I don’t need to spend
much time on what we all know: eating right and
exercise. Unfortunately for me, I would find solace in
“comfort food” and be too tired to exercise. My only
advice is fight for your own health—it is definitely
critical for you and your family.
STEP #7 EXPLORE ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY
APPROACHESThe history of Taxol is truly a story of
alternative medicine. After all, what was the search
that found Taxol about but examining thousands of plants
to see if one of them might yield a possible answer? So
there is much we do not yet know and a great deal of
alternative and complementary medicine that may be
helpful or at least comforting.
In our personal journey, we never stopped the
traditional medical treatments, but did go regularly to
a Chinese physician who specialized in herbal medicines.
Additionally, Sandra spent a week at Deepak Chopra’s
Ayurveda Medicine center, regularly meditated and
periodically had massages. Obviously, it is impossible
to know whether any of this helped her physiologically,
but I can attest to the fact that she felt it was
emotionally important to her.
STEP #8 TAKE CARE OF THE PAPERWORK, WILLS,
This is heavy lifting. Perhaps this is the attorney in
me, but I urge all families to put their “business”
houses in order. This means preparing wills and trusts
if necessary and arranging all manner of end stage
issues such as deciding who will be the health care
proxy, what are the requests for heroic interventions
and DNR orders, decisions on custody of children (in
worst case scenarios) and finally funeral arrangements.