It’s a care giver’s dilemma: how do we make our patient, our loved one feel comfortable?
I struggled with this for years. Leroy had so many stages of living with cancer. Early in his diagnosis, he was feeling well. He was trying to process. WE were trying to process the diagnosis of a terminal disease, but life was fairly normal once he healed from surgery. The operation to remove the cancer required him to follow certain dietary rules for a while, he couldn’t do stairs until those muscles healed, and he got grumpy some days because he just got tired of being out of his loop. So as the care giver, I tried to keep him occupied with games, cards, friends, TV and slow walks up the street and on the C & O canal. As I remember it, the fresh air did him more good than anything. Once he was cleared to eat his favorite foods, he got happy again. My care givng got a lot easier as he bounced back to life.
Cancer took a back seat when he was cleared to go back to work. He really made a hard decision to not look back. His operation was history. He was healed. Cancer was in the rear view mirror and it stayed there for almost 5 years. Care giving came and went; I figured that was it.
I was wrong.
When Leroy’s cancer came back, it had roared through his body. It was a silent roar and not one of the “check-up” scans had managed to find it sliding through his blood stream, stopping on occasion to drop a cell or two in a lung or squeeze through the blood-brain barrier to plant colon cancer in his brain.
His needs changed after that and that’s when care giving became a full-time calling.
As patients go, I will always think he was remarkable. He rarely complained…about anything. I know there were days when he hurt, a lot. There were days when I wasn’t the best at care giving either. It wasn’t that I didn’t try every day, but sometimes I was just so sad, it was hard to be a good care giver. I know that sounds odd, but the sadness made some days so hard.
The bottom line is I always wanted him to be comfortable. If there was anything I could do to ease his pain, or his sadness, I would. There were days when a foot rub took away the stress. A back rub relaxed him to the point he would drift off to a much-needed nap. Sometimes it was just as simple as watching ‘Lord of the Rings’ and the world would be right again.
So, what I’m trying to say here is “To all of you caregivers out there, wondering what you can do to make your person comfortable?”
Be yourself. All the rest of it will follow.