It Beats You Down, Burns You Out, Worries You to Death, and Never Stops

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by Camille Hyatt ( Monroeville)

Hello everyone! I am new to this site but not new to caregiving. This may be a little long, but I encourage you to read it. I encourage you because I know that you can relate to everything that I am going to say.....

I've been taking care of my husband for 20 years now, worked full-time as a legal assistant and raised three wonderful children who are ages 20, 22 and 23. JUST HOW DO WE DO IT ALL? I believe you do what you have to do when you have to do it. You get through it. You have to. Someone's life depends on it. Your family's life depends on it. That's a whole lot of pressure!

My husband contracted Hep C in Vietnam, then 20 years later he went into liver failure, followed by a liver transplant, then a kidney transplant, then throat cancer and two more surgeries, a mini stroke resulting in seizures, then a serious car accident as a result of a seizure while driving, necrosis of hip, fractured vertebra (more surgery), diabetes . . . and everything in between. He is on so many meds it is hard to count—including some heavy duty morphine. He has now developed demetia from the seizures.

We surely have been through a lot together—not just him—but me and my children as well. They were 1, 2 and 3 years old when it all started. At the very beginning of his health issues, I would sit at the hospital and listen to other patients tell me that their spouse had left them because of their health. You know, at the time, I just didn't get it. Why would someone just get up and leave their loved one (spouse) when they needed them most? Well, now I know. They either (a) just couldn't handle the "burden" or (b) were being selfish. We don't have to do this. We can just walk away. Right? But how can you live with yourself? I know I couldn't. And here I am, 20 years later, stressed out, burned out, overwhelmed just as much—or more—than I was at the beginning. But I know one thing: my husband is also here, spending time with our children and me. It may not be the best quality of life time but he is still with us. And that, I am very thankful for!

I've found out one thing—really, a lot of things about caregiving. Caregiving is one of the most (if not the most), stressful "jobs" on this earth. It is an emotional roller coaster. It beats you down, burns you out, worries you to death, and never stops. It can be very depressing, it makes you angry and resentful. It is totally overwhelming, from beginning to end. It changes your whole world, your life. Especially if it is your spouse. You start losing your best friend, your soul mate, your lover, your husband, the man you used to know. You start losing yourself. And yet, it never ends - this roller coaster of a life. I have a quote that I found and try to abide by it. It goes like this: "Wake up each day and be thankful for all of the good things in your life; concentrate on the positive, not the negative; and this will get you through even your worst days."

I am hoping that this "quote" helps some of you out there as well. We all have a big responsibility on our shoulders but yet we don't walk away. We all should be very proud of ourselves! We have basically given up most of our hopes and dreams that we had with our spouses in "growing old together." We have basically given up our lives to "care" and to "fight" for someone else's life . . . and that should be rewarding in and of itself! So, you see, despite all the ups and downs of this roller coaster we are on, it truly can be a rewarding experience. My husband is living proof of it!!

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