Cancer came upon us in one full swoop. Often times, we get into situations that are beyond our control…’things’ just happen, like Cancer. Care-givers are often thrown into their roles on a moments notice. Cancer or other debilitating illnesses do not arrive by invitation, they just show up at your door unannounced. When you think about it, no one wants their loved one to be ill, no one wants to see their parent, spouse, child or best friend ill. Unfortunately, illness is a part of life that we all have to deal with. At a moments notice you become a care-giver, without any warning, without any preparation, without any idea of what you are supposed to do next. All of a sudden you are responsible for someones well-being because of their illness. Care-giving is a tremendous, rewarding and sometimes a frustrating experience, yet care-giving has meaning to it that is beyond approach.
While I do not often revert to my theological training, I am reminded of the Corporal Works of Mercy which are, simply stated, the seven practices of charity towards our neighbor…
1. Feed the hungry: 2. Give drink to the thirsty: 3. Clothe the naked: 4. Shelter the homeless: 5. Visit the sick: 6.Visit those in prison: 7. Bury the dead.
I see the Corporal Works of Mercy as a job descriptions for caregivers. There is an art in accomplishing these task and and in accomplishing these tasks, one has to have a caring heart. Care-giving is not a role for the faint of heart, it is not a role suited for everyone. Just as we all have different talents, skills and life avocations, being a care-giver is no different. The tryouts are usually on the fly and without much preparation, however care-giving is bound to have a profound effect on all involved in the experience.
One of the most important components of being a care-giver is that you have a caring heart. Sound kind of silly doesn’t it? But it is true! How many other ‘jobs’ monitor the feelings inside your heart? Being a care-giver is not a ‘job’ to those who do it, it’s an avocation. If you are not truly concerned about the person you are caring for, then it might be a good idea for you to take a close look at what you are doing for that person. There is a high rate of burn out in care-giving; care-giving is an intense experience where you often surrender your self for the needs of someone else. Finding that happy balance is truly a slippery slope. The art of care-giving always starts with a feeling from inside heart.
Tonight at dinner we were chatting about our blog as I have been asked to write an article for a national publication on Care-Givers and Care-Giving in April (more to come on that exciting news). The Little One wanted me to share these words with you this evening…
“Thank you for reading ‘The Purple Jacket” I hope that in reading Chris’ account of my fight with esophagus cancer that you don’t give up hope, share in the joy and comfort that you can reap from this wonderful thing, a dedicated caregiver. My siblings have pass on; not only is he my caregiver, he is my partner I would be all alone with out his dedication and love. Even though cancer has struck me, for the second time, I find joy and compassion being with my partner and caregiver. Go through life with a strong will, even at those darkest times, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Bernard Richard Schiffer 2.5.2012.
While ‘The Little One’ continues to show marked improvement while recovering from the trauma of chemotherapy and radiation, we move on to another calamity called sciatica. Anyone who has had back pain knows how debilitating it can be, yet to alleviate the pain we must be open to new modes of treatment.
On Wednesday we motored to InMotion Health and Wellness for a visit with Dr. Greg Neff to see if Chiropractic help was in order for his current ailment. The ‘Extreme Patient’ as we see in this photo opportunity for his building fan club, (yes KJ, the only thing missing is the Tiara!) decided to ride the wave and try out this new treatment. Of course there was the debate…”This is not going to work”…’Why are we wasting our time”… etc, etc, etc. While I try not to roll my eyes (at least noticeably to others), we just continue on with our friendly banter because that is the way we communicate.
Communication is a funny thing; just like relationships. It’s funny how the two go hand in hand. Relationships are built on strong communication and trust. Yet in communicating his apprehension to Chiropractic care, I knew that this was simply a way for him to let off some frustration. Sometimes, you just have to let go!
As caregivers, we have to be mindful that while we are there in a supporting role, it’s not our body that is going through the treatments. How much can the mind and body take in such a short period of time? I think that really depends on the person and their ability to communicate their wants, needs and desires. And in the supporting role, the caregiver has to be mindful that what you might want for your loved one, may not be what they want; what a slippery slope!
It is through honest communication, built on trust and love that truly reveals the essence of a relationship. We’re glad that we have (and share) this trust and love as we continue on this journey to better health and happiness.