Lessons from ‘Caregiverville’

Author/blogger Jane Heller is no stranger to playing the role of caregiver. In an article she wrote for Huffington Post, Heller tells the story of taking care of her husband, Michael, who suffers from Crohn’s Disease. From visits to the emergency room to attempting to corner ever-evasive doctors in the hospital, Heller offers humorous lessons from her time spent in the place she calls “Caregiverville.” And throughout it all, some things remain the same: It’s a stressful, trying experience that can often leave us exhausted and crying, but in the end it teaches us that we can overcome just about anything.

Some of Heller’s lessons:

  • “Nagging Wives Save Lives.” This one is for all the men “incapable of asking for directions,” as Heller puts it. Not only this, but they’ll never admit when they’re sick, let alone volunteer to go to the hospital when they clearly need to go to the hospital. ER doctor Illene Brenner, whom Heller interviewed, recommends never letting men come to the ER unless they’re unaccompanied by a sister, girlfriend, wife or mother.
  • “Box the Doc.” Have you ever sat at your loved one’s bedside in the hospital for hours waiting for the doctor to arrive so you can get some real answers to your questions? And if by a miracle the doctor actually shows up, he or she suddenly disappears before your questions are answered to your satisfaction. To alleviate this, Heller developed the “Box the Doc” technique, where she literally boxes a doctor in the room. “The minute they enter the room, you rise up out of that visitor’s chair, move stealthily behind them, plant your feet in the threshold and block the door,” she writes. “They’d have to barrel you over in order to escape and they won’t. So box them in and then fire away.”
  • “Be a Crybaby.” As a caregiver, sometimes a good cry is in order because “nothing else will do,” Heller writes. The trick is to cry when your caregivee won’t notice. Find a place where you’re alone — the shower, your car, etc. and let it all out. The poor-me thoughts are inevitably followed by the realization that feeling sad is OK and won’t hurt anyone. Heller writes about how she feels after a good cry: “I’m capable of dealing with the challenges ahead. I don’t love the puffy, red eyes that come with crying or the blotchy complexion, but when my little jag is over I feel empowered, truly I do.”

Do you have any lessons from Caregiverville you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

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