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Stuck in the Middle of YOU!
By Joyce Aleshire
Strange words to use to describe a
caregiving experience, but for me, the word fit. Let me
begin by stating I NEVER felt “stuck” in my caregiving
for my husband or mother; it was indeed a privilege to
care for both. However, sometimes the circumstances we
find ourselves in while in the midst of our caregiving,
well, that’s where the stuck part comes in.
Caregivers are usually thrown into
their caregiving role without medical knowledge, not
knowing what’s in store for them or the amount of time
and energy it will entail on a daily basis until they
actually are caring for their loved-one.
With a loved one’s diagnosis of
cancer, you soon realize that diagnosis affects the
whole family. Your normal routine is disrupted by doctor
appointments, consults, maybe even surgery, chemo or
You’ve heard the words “chemo” and
“radiation” before, but never in dealing with your loved
one. “Margins” and “staging”? Now I’m stuck not knowing
exactly what all this means and how it pertains to my
loved one! With the help of doctors, nurses, and your
own research, you become a little more comfortable with
Those doctor appointments I
mentioned—I didn’t realize there’d be so many, plus all
the testing and then going back to get the results of
the tests! Wait. I think I had a few doctor
appointments of my own in in there as well. You
know; routine maintenance! Yearly physical, dentist,
eye doctor, etc. I’m stuck trying to decide which doctor
appointments I need to keep for myself. My loved
one doesn’t have a choice; they are all necessary! I’ll
just put mine on the back burner for now, until things
Things don’t slow down. They
get progressively worse in a very short period of time.
Mom’s not going to get better; she’s on a morphine
patch, changed every three days to keep her comfortable.
She doesn’t seem to be in pain as she drifts in and out
of consciousness. I’m stuck again, watching helplessly
as I know the end is near and there is nothing I can do.
Was told by a doctor that a decision
of whether to resuscitate or not had to be made now. Mom
and I never had that discussion; I don’t know what she
would want. I know what I want—I don’t want to let her
go!! Painfully stuck again; but this time, for selfish
reasons. This is so hard. Struggled for a couple
days trying to reach a decision. Depended on
doctors, nurse and God for guidance.
Next step: making funeral
arrangements ahead of time. I’m making these
arrangements and Mom is still alive. This bothered me
the most! Guilt set in. How dare I? Yet this was
what I was advised. Stuck with my emotions. Planning and
still not knowing what she’d like. I had a pretty good
idea; just hoped she like it.
I was stuck a lot in my caregiving
and only touched the surface, here, but I think anyone
who has been a caregiver or is caregiving now can
relate. It doesn’t matter how many times you get
stuck in your caregiving. You’ll always find a way to
get through those rough times.
As I look back, I wouldn’t change
one stuck. It helped me help others who ended up stuck
in similar situations. If you find yourself stuck
in your caregiving, have faith you’re doing just fine!
Joyce Aleshire is the facilitator of
a Cancer Caregiver Support Group in Ohio.