Caregiving is Limited for MS’ers

Caregiver and MS

Living With MS Can Leave You Limited to Caregiving

I suppose I have always been a caregiver, even long before knowing that I have Multiple Sclerosis. Looking back even at a young age, it wasn’t uncommon to help take care of my pretend babies, or looking out for other peoples children. Growing up to become a nurse just seemed like a natural progression in caregiving. Maybe it has been a special gift from God to step up and help friends when sickness, injury, or special needs occurred and assistance was needed for a period of time. Even though this just seems natural to me, I would think that most people feel and do the same things, that simply is not the case. Many individuals are just NOT CAREGIVERS, men and women alike.

When we marry the love of our life, we promise to love and be there for them in sickness and in health, unfortunately that promise goes by the wayside for some when their spouse comes down with a chronic disease such as MS. It seems in this day and time that commitment is a convenience when all is going good. It is often I hear, this goes by the wayside when a loved one becomes sick for long lengths of time. MS does not have a cure so when I say a lifetime disease, that is exactly what it is. For others staying in a marriage or committed relationship isn’t an issue, but they just don’t have the skills or even the desire to be a caregiver. This doesn’t mean they don’t love their spouse, it just isn’t their DNA to take on this roll. Let me say that I am not criticizing these individuals, because I’m sure they have special talents in areas that I don’t. Being a caregiver takes a special person and should be in high regard. Remember though that these incredible people need time off from this role in order to rest, re-energize, and take care of him/herself in order to return and be effective in their role.

What if you are the caregiver and have Multiple Sclerosis? There are several of us who fit in this category. This is from taking care of our families, friends, or working in a healthcare environment. It takes a lot out of us to be in this position. Often we are responsible for caring for aged parents, or a child who has been injured or has a disease or handicap that is a lifelong condition. In and among all of our daily commitments, we must still care for ourselves even selfishly put our disease on the front burner. That means taking our medication, sleeping at night, taking rest periods, not overdoing, keeping our bodies cool, etc. I have been amazed at those who are still able to hold down a full time job and have young children to tend to after a long day at work. I guess I was blessed that my disease really didn’t progress until after my children were grown.

There have been many marriages that have fallen apart due to a spouse deciding that being a caregiver is just not in their DNA. This decision have left many single parents out there trying to yet add another role to their already busy lives. We may think that our choices are limited in a caregiver role. We all need to be able to reach out and ask for help wherever we can find to assist us during the times when we are the ones needing a caregiver. I’ve never been good at asking for help or even saying NO when someone has needed me to assist them. There is nothing wrong with saying NO. Learning to reach out to others is also ok! Our plates are full on normal occasions, lets just be careful when adding additional time and effort to other projects or individuals without considering what the fallout will be for us. Yes, we often are given a choice; but keeping our eyes and ears open to others who are willing to be there for us is important. Another piece of advice is to work smart, not hard. Think of all the options of completing a task before jumping in. Remember we have to be our own caregiver before we can provide care to someone else.

MS Blogger and Multiple Sclerosis Activist shares her journey living with MS, tips for others living MS and her husband, Steve, offers his insight as a caregiver for MS.