One thing I can tell you is this: No matter how bright and perfect our life plans could be, there will always be a disruption somewhere. Either we succumb to the disruption or beat it by ignoring it. It is both saddening and enlightening for me. Here I am, living my pseudo perfect world: Running, losing weight, maintaining my glucose levels, enjoying my new found place in Lake Worth where I can run to the beach nearly everyday, walk among the neighborhood clubs before I call it a day, even work out in a gym less than 2 blocks away from my condo when suddenly a family member gets sick and I am the only one who can help. In an instant, I become a caregiver.
My perfect life was thrown out the window.
I was immersed into emotional turmoil, work re-arrangements, financial losses, stresses left and right with Doctor’s appointments, lab appointments, shopping for medical equipments, teaching the sick family member independence while I am away working - whew! I lost sleep, I lost my flow of exercises, I even missed some meals. Then I had to deal with my anger. Anger because the cause of all these disruptions was something preventable if only the patient had listened to what her body was telling her.
This makes me stop and ponder about life - now I see this inevitability of life’s destiny - we are born, we live a bumpy ride of a life, then the ride will involve other passengers we need to take care of, and then, we die. I know this is kind’a morbid. But I refuse to succumb to it. One thing I learned in my hospital work is that, when a family has to deal with a member’s incapacitation due to illness, the whole dynamic of their lives is interrupted and (more than once) I saw a spouse, a child, a parent or sibling abandon everything in their lives to fully embrace endless worrying. And I am not lying when I say that once, a patient’s wife died of heart attack while visiting her sick husband in the hospital. Recently I had a patient whose mother died while he was going through rhabdo that resulted into his amputation. And everybody blamed him for her death due to her worries. Worst of all, she’s all he got.
I need to emphasize this: Sickness is inevitable and no amount of worrying will help that sickness. When I see a patient’s family looking haggardly, unkempt, teary eyed constantly, I advise them to go somewhere, find a resting place, forget the reality for a while. It is seriously unfair to damage oneself due to something that is part of Nature whether we are prepared to handle it or not.
I now have a first hand experience dealing with unexpected family member’s health crisis - yes, I lost sleep over it, yes, I was angry, yes, I kept on visiting and visiting, dealing with insurance, dealing with home equipments and home health follow ups and what’s next and then next after that. Surgery? Disability? I resorted to working non stop (thinking that working non-stop will make me forget). One night, the stress simply broke me down. My blood pressure shot up and I became dizzy at one point.
I realized that I too, can get lost in a world of despair.
I needed to find a way to protect my health. I abandoned my worry. It was much easier for me because I can resort to Computer Programming. I somehow sensed in my earlier life that soon, given my age, I have to deal with some crisis such as this and I must have something to resort to to prevent the ill effects of worry. So I took computer programming. My other options are exercise and maybe reading but running can exhaust me quickly and reading? I can easily lose the book I am reading when I worry. Sometimes having friends or bigger family can help and I am not lucky to have many of those around me here.
That is a lesson or a message I can impart to whoever becomes a caregiver one of these days. It is inevitable in our lives and we must be ready to handle it when it comes. It is important to discover oneself’s interests and passions that can temporarily transport us away from the current worries of life. It is also important to nurture as many ‘real’ friends as we can or at least be nearer to family that could shield us from despair.