My Spouse As My Caregiver

TO RICK:  My husband, my caregiver, my confidante, my friend.

They told me that I lay naked in the Trauma Bay there at the Emergency Room.  All my clothes cut off, being examined. I was a mess.  I was delirious and out of it. I was in pain and broken.  I could not calm down on my own, not even with the Trauma Team there.  In steps Rick they said.  Positioned at my head and leans down and talks in my ear in a whisper the whole time I am being examined.  My own mom couldn’t get me to be calm.  Rick brought me back to center from a whirlwind of pain and what I can only imagine was confusion and panic.

I would learn later that Rick spent the entire night with me EVERY night after work for about 6 entire weeks at the main hospital. After I was transferred to NeuroRehab for another 6 weeks they did not allow folks to spend the night apparently, so he we come as late as he could. I learned that he talked to the kids on the phone to keep in touch, as he was either at work or with me; he stayed in vigilant touch with my mom – who would come up to the hospital after taking the kids to school for us, then go pick up the kids to come up to the hospital to see me after school, and remain there until he got there from work, so they could see dad. He may not agree with this, but I believe it was his presence and his voice that pulled me back through. I don’t know how I know this – but I do. He never gave up on me and never has.

I don’t believe he got or even now, gets enough support and credit from his friends and family, throughout this whole ordeal – and while this is not a negative thing – he deserves so much more – so much appreciation, love, and acknowledgement – especially from others besides me.

A piece of him died with me that night in the wreck that would forever change our lives. He was called at work to come to the scene about 20 minutes after he arrived at work to pick up our youngest son, Austin. When he arrived, an Ambulance was leaving and he didn’t know if it was me or the other woman driver. What he does remember is all the blood on the ground and the view of the entire scene and this little 5 year old child with a whole story to tell about what happened – this experience will haunt him forever. He rushed my son home so he could come be with me and he never left me, until he absolutely had to.

I understand I was quite combative and in full panic in the hospital and didn’t know where I was. I was told I kept asking about Austin over and over. I filled the Trauma Bay with my gutteral screams of pain, which he will also never forget. They were afraid to sedate me because of my collapsed lung. This became an ongoing discussion for about 10 days with the staff, but he never me gave up on me.  He stayed and ironically, his voice close to my ear was the only thing that could calm me down or help me find some center of peace in the darkest storm of my life.  Whether in the Emergency Room or moved to my private room, he was there to urge me to hang on.

He deserves more than a thank you and yet he says my LIFE was enough for him. The wreck I was in was one day before his birthday – I am sure I had something amazing planned and I felt horrible that it was all ruined. You know what he told me “I got you Caren, and that was the best birthday present ever”.

This man that some of you see as stoic, sarcastic, at times withdrawn and quiet; this man who tries to hold his emotions in to be strong and brave for everyone else in his life… broke down in tears by me as he sat by my bedside. I remember the tears. I don’t know how I remember them – perhaps that didn’t even happen – but its in my memory so strongly.  I remember his touch and him asking questions (though the details of the questions are absent from my memory), and fighting for my life as much as the staff was. I remember a man who I felt change with me. I am still trying to figure what that change is with him.

However none of that matters in the grand scope of things – the changes – for either of us. What matters is we survived it all.  What matters is he loved me enough to be there for me, through the toughest part of my survival all the way from knocking on death’s door to the first day he wheeled me in a wheelchair to the front door to come home for the first time.  He has stuck with me through all the orthopedic surgeries, personality changes, brain injury symptoms, and the loss of his partner.  He was now the caregiver and I the patient.  Our relationship as husband and wife seemingly ceased to exist. He lovingly bathed me and provided all my pericare when I was unable to.  He helped me with my toileting, my dressing, my medications, repositioning, feeding, and travel to all my many varied appointments.  He shared the pain I could not escape, so by proxy he could not escape either.  He was forced into a helpless dark, lonely, isolated space, that only grew with each new injury discovered. As time passed and rehabilitation continued,  he existed only in survival mode. He cared for our children, and worked a job on top of it all.  He was Superman. This was tiring to him on a level not even he could fathom at the time, and still is recovering from.  He is my rock, my safe zone, my healer, my everything.

He continues to be the calm in my storm and the strength in my soul. He deserves so much more!!!!! More than I can ever possibly give in one lifetime. I owe him so much.  I am grateful we have been gifted with time.

The spouse is often forgotten.  Their role as caregiver is not fully appreciated by those not experiencing it. It is easy for folks outside of the experience to forget Rick in all this too as he is healing along with me – he is BRAVE and the most amazing husband and father in the world.

He continues with me still, by my side, and I by his.  He encourages me and supports me with a uninhibited passion, drive, and unwavering devotion.

This blog should not just be about me……it should also be about him……because folks without him and his HOPE for me to survive – I would not be here. I know this as truth because I feel it inside of me at my innermost core.  So please, if you see him or talk to him…..Hell, go find him…..whether you know him or not…….

Thank him for being BRAVE and never giving up HOPE. Thank him for believing in me and my potential, and possibilities – even when he struggled to believe in himself. Thank him for advocating for life and love. Thank him for his selflessness, his passion, and his loyalty to me.  Thank him for not leaving me, for not giving up, for not taking the easy way out.  Thank him for being patient, for being tender, for being genuine and authentic, for believing in me when so many didn’t.  Thank him for keeping his vows and going beyond them.  Thank him for making me feel safe and loved and cared for.  Thank him for continuing to put up with all my challenges, my struggles, and our victories.  Thank him for enduring the loneliness of sleeping in a bed alone for over a year and not straying.  Thank him for being the best example of a man and partner that any child could hope to emulate. That any friend could hope to replicate the actions of, and that God himself boasted with pride about.

Rick needs to hear it and feel it from all of you as much as he does from me. If you are reading this now, please leave a comment below for him. Please consider sending him an email at hopetbi4ever@gmail.com – “Attention: Rick”.  Share your caregiver story too.  Let’s give a shout out to our Caregivers, the silent walking wounded.

Rick

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