I tip my hat to all the caregivers out there.
Whether you are in the health care field or just a friend or family member caring for a loved one, it’s a job that never ends and can come at the expense of your own health and sanity, but it’s also so rewarding.
Not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver. It requires a lot of patience. It requires placing the needs of the person you are caring for above your own. It requires a lot of sacrifice for their care and betterment.
Throughout this whole ordeal I have met some incredible caregivers. I watched as they carefully moved Dad around in his bed to avoid bed sores. How they took the time to give him a shower and a shave, dress him and cover him with extra blankets when he said he was cold.
I observed them as they helped people walk down the halls during therapy. Listening to their patients’ stories, offering kind words of encouragement and assessing their needs.
I noticed how they made sure they knew their patients’ strength and more importantly their weakness. Knowing when to let the patient rest or when to push them an extra step.
It didn’t matter if Dad or any of their other patients had to be changed three or four times in the span of a few hours. Each time the nurse or caregiver was happy to take up the task in order to keep their patient clean and dry.
I didn’t know if I would be able to be the primary caregiver for my dad. It’s one thing to change the diaper on an infant or toddler, but it’s an entirely different scenario when it’s your parent.
But we managed and it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.
I’m typically a patient person but Dad is also typically a stubborn man. I and other caregivers still get the lovely middle finger when he is told he needs to do therapy.
And only reluctantly does he do what he is told.
We’ve been managing things well, but the hard work is still ahead. After suffering a setback Feb. 5, he is finally scheduled to go home today. He was only home about two weeks before an infection in his kidneys and lungs had us rush him back to the hospital and then back to inpatient therapy.
I’m scared and worried that he may suffer another setback. But I am also thrilled, as I know he is, that he can once again be in the comfort of his own home, and back to eating Mom’s food.
And I’m thankful to all the staff members who have taken the time to teach me how to be a better caregiver.
They taught me what to look for so I can gauge when his oxygen level might be dropping. They taught me the tricks of the trade to keep him clean and change his beddings and diaper. They taught me to be vigilant of things that might cause him to aspirate while he is eating.
Dad will require oxygen once he is back home. The staff taught me how to use the tanks and machine. How to measure the levels and how to wean him off during his good days.
Caring for Dad and Mom isn’t that hard. They’ve done the same for me when I needed it. I think caring for a family member, which can still a huge task, is a bit easier than caring for folks you don’t even know.
And so, to all the caregivers out there who do this on a daily basis, let me say this:
You guys are true heroes.
Leon is general manager of the Courier.