Monday, May 2, 2016

You Might Be a Caregiver If ...

Did you know there are currently over 43 million people in the US who provide unpaid care to an adult family member? That's astronomical! And that's just in the US.

Whether it's something you do part time or full time, as an occupation or out of love, caregiving is happening everywhere. Even if you're not a caregiver now, you'll likely find yourself in that role some day.

I am a caregiver to my husband, so my role is born out of both love and necessity. Over the last few years, I've met quite a few people in my position, and together we've shared the woes and wonders of caregiving. We've found support in one another and an understanding of the common intricacies of the caregiving life.

So for all my caregiver friends, especially my group of sister quad wives, here's my list of

You might be a caregiver if ...

- you've ever said, "1 ... 2 ... 3 ...Oh that hurt."

- you are intimately familiar with the term "poopapalooza."

- you wish there was a competition for how fast you could dress someone who is lying down because you know you would win.

- you can put "wheelchair mechanic" on your resume.

- you have more medical supplies than clothes in your closet.

- you and the one you care for make highly inappropriate remarks about his condition then giggle about it together (in private, of course).

- you've ever wanted to slap someone who has said to you, "You need to take a break and do something for yourself."

- you are happy when a new package of catheters arrives on your doorstep.

- you can refill a weekly pill organizer while half asleep (though inadvisable, you know you've done it).

- you know what DME stands for.

- you know exactly what your out-of-pocket max is for your husband's health insurance because you meet it every year.

- you say, "You need to drink more water," every. single. day.

- you pretend you have to go to the bathroom just so you can sit down for a minute.

- you smell like Icy Hot.

- for once you decide to put on makeup, and your daughter looks at you and says, "You look pretty, but weird."

- you've ever worn a pedometer because "I want to know exactly how many miles I walk in one day."

- you're blown away by the number of miles you walk in one day - and you haven't even left the house.

- your blood pressure starts to rise when you think about the phone call you have to make to the health insurance company.

- you know every medication name, dosage, and frequency, and can rattle them off like saying the ABCs.

- you've ever put on a glove and whispered to yourself, please don't let there be poop,

- you only know what day it is by looking at the pill organizer.

- weekends no longer exist.

- you feel like you're trapped in the movie Groundhog Day.

- when filling out paperwork at a doctor's office, you bring in a printed copy of medications and write "see attached" under the List All Medications area.

- you brush everyone's teeth in the house. Everyone's.

- you plan to "read a little" before bed and can't make it through an entire page before falling asleep.

- you are so happy when you find that medical supply you need on Amazon. And it's Prime!

- you're not exactly sure how long your hair is because it's always pulled back into a pony tail/bun hybrid.

- you've ever driven a wheelchair into the wall.

- you've ever wished you could clone yourself so you could be in two places at once.

- you never quite shake the feeling of being overwhelmed.

- this is the hardest job you've never been paid to do.

- as crazy as it sounds, you'd do it all again. Because even though you've beaten yourself up from time to time, you know - deep down - that you are doing a good job. And the person you're doing it all for is worth it.

He's the reason I'm a caregiver.
His injury is what makes this life so hard.
He is what makes it all worthwhile.

Caregivers rock!

If you know someone who is a caregiver, give them a hug.

If you're a caregiver yourself, what would you add to the list?


  1. Wow !! caregivers life is hectic, I think you should take a break and do something for yourself. ;-)

  2. BTW what does DME stand for?

    1. Hi Steven. Thanks for your comments! DME stands for Durable Medical Equipment - stuff like wheelchairs, lifts, vents, etc. We are surrounded by DME!

  3. A close relative's husband developed Alzheimers and a family friend and neighbor of my parents had a husband who also developed Alzheimers. Both these women became full time caregivers and I got a lot of feedback from them about their lives and this is why I can relate to this blog. The aching back, never ending schedule, constant demand for attention and slow but sure neglect of oneself were some of the comments made by these women. Here are a few more :
    1. Wishlist.....for a friend or neighbor not to just send a message of support, but to come and help out with something practical, like cook dinner, clean the house, yard, or do the shopping. Unfortunately this hardly ever happened.
    2. Going out of the house for a quick coffee or meal with friends felt like a vacation.
    3. You find out who your real friends are: some stick by you, others will, once a month, send a guilt message or make a quick call, but never visit, then there are those former friends that disappear like the morning mist. You realize they were your friends because they enjoyed your company in the "good old days" but now you are a caregiver you no longer fit into their lifestyle.
    And the case of our family friend, she was an attractive woman in her late 40's, there was THAT male friend that came around a little too often and hung around the house a little too long....awkward and uncomfortable situation.
    But basically what I learned from these caregivers is that your life is divided into 2 parts, pre-caregiver and post-caregiver, your new life is challenging but through this new life you meet fantastic people and you learn who your real friends are.

  4. When you find extra pair of gloves and catheters in the car!

    1. Love it! I have an entire backpack of supplies in the car. You just never know when you're going to need something!