Almost two years ago, I returned from the beautiful land of Serbia. I was in terrible shape physically. Unbeknownst to me, my nervous system was being inhibited, reducing the function of my lungs and heart. (Vegas Nerve, for all you anatomy buffs.) Undiagnosed and unable to take care of myself, I lived with my parents. That wasn't even when I lost my dignity (that went down the drain after my first shower back).
When you don't know what the problem is, it's hard to find a solution. I was in pain, but there was nothing we could do except make sure my iPod was charged and my humidifier filled. I really didn't need much except for air and rest, so when the occasional person asked if there was anything they could do for me, I had to decline.
As tough as the illness was, nothing was worse than the frustration of my mom. She was helpless. She would tell me how it was so frustrating because, as a mother, she was always able to help her kids. As the recipient of years of her care, I can testify to this. Now, not even an unusual dose of pain medicine would help. She could only watch me struggle with my pain. She was experiencing a much different pain that very few can understand. No herbal bath or amount of tea could remedy it.
On top of that, she was alone to take care of the household. She was the only one to cook and clean, and I was helpless. I wanted to do anything, but I couldn't unload the dishwasher without going out of commission for the next couple weeks. My dad was around, but too busy to help her.
So if you want to help me, help my mom. Dinners don't have to be provided every night, just give her a hug. Put a dish in the dishwasher. Bring her chocolates. Lots of chocolates. Platitudes are not needed, but a listening ear will be enough. The greatest assistance can be given by giving some thought to what things a caretaker needs to have done in order to ease the burden. Support her. By supporting her, you support me.
Now that I am healing, I can help much more, and I take advantage of that. Moms are capable of being so in tune with their children; this empathetic connection can have a negative effect on them. If you want to help someone, help her caretaker. It's challenging to watch someone you care about suffer whether it's in a physical or emotional way.
Who is there to care of the caretakers? In a world filled with as much need as there are beautiful people to handle those needs, we must rely on each other for support. During my time of need, I am fortunate to have a loving mother who is able to care for me.
We all share moments when our needs were met by someone who loves us and was willing to care for us. I look forward to the day when I can pay it forward. Until that time, I pray for the needs of my mother. And I am grateful for the enduring circle of love, support and service that helps her as she helps others.