To wrap up Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, I thought I’d do something a little different and hand the floor off to someone who is very much aware of the effects that MS can have on a person and their relationships: my husband. Caregivers are often overlooked and need just as much support (if not more) as we do. These silent warriors stand beside us, stealing and forging spoons so that we can just simply get through the day.
So! Handsome and fearless caregiver, take it away!
When Cat first started doing It’s Only a Bruise, she asked me if I ever wanted to write something for the blog. My response: this is your thing, your outlet. I don’t want to take away from it.
Since that day, I’ve thought about it. What would I write as a spouse, a lover, and a caregiver of someone with MS? I could talk about how the disease affects me personally. I could talk about how we learned of the diagnosis prior to us getting married and how not only did she tell me if I wanted out, she would understand, but so did her family. Obviously, I didn’t “take the out.” It was because of that decision that my brother-in-law then told me at our wedding how much he loves me because of what I am able to provide for his sister. That being said, I’m not some guru. I’m no doctor. And I’m certainly not an expert on MS. What I can do is this:
I can tell you what I know I do for her even if she doesn’t know I’m doing it.
As caregivers, we notice things that our friends, spouses, or family who are living with some affliction might not notice on a daily basis. We need to let them know what we notice, when we noticed it, and ask questions.
Many of you already know what MS fatigue is and how it can affect someone with MS. What the person who has it doesn’t see at times is just how tired they really are. They don’t know how much energy is lost throughout the day, simply by working a 9-5 job–even if that job is a sedentary desk job. And that is where I come in.
I do my best to run the house. And at the moment, there is stress due to a small lapse in my employment. Stress is the last thing I want to bring to my wife. My mind says: “Stress will only make things worse for her. Find a way.” And so, I find a way. I cook all the meals. I do most of the dishes and clean the house when I notice things are getting just a bit too grungy. And I take the dogs outside multiple times, day and night, up and down a flight of stairs each time, just so she won’t have to spend that extra energy. Sometimes I am cranky about it because the white fluffy one can go 8 times in one night, but…
Could we just not have our dogs and everything would be better? HELL NO! Look at these puppies! They do nothing but bring JOY to Cat. There is no way I could ever take them away from her. Not only that, but they can actually help ME know when things are about to possibly take a turn for the worse with her MS. Our dachshund has a tell. It seems that whenever there is an active lesion or a flare-up, she will cuddle as close to Cat’s head as she possibly can. There is no separation between them.
Lately, Cat’s been very tired–moreso than usual. She has a new job. And there are some physical aspects that are present there that were not at the previous employer. And, as she’s the only one working at the current time, I know that it takes a huge toll on her mentally, as well. We have a lot going on right now, even though she’s the only one working in the house. There are resumes being sent out, job interviews, first impressions, and all of that happening along with what I listed earlier here. And I do what I can to bring in money, apart from unemployment, by driving for rideshare services (such as UBER and LYFT) until a company wants to hire me for the skills I have built a career upon.
Until then, my first job will always be to take care of Cat and make sure she has the opportunities to do ALL of the things she wants to do, like dance her heart out as often as possible, whether that means not having her here 2-3 nights a week so she can belly dance, or taking her to the club (even though I don’t dance). I want her to be happy and to make her day as stress-free as possible.
For those of you who have someone in your life with MS, keep supporting them. Be present. Do what you can for them. Ask questions. Ask “How are you?” Ask what you can do to help. Ask if they need something as simple as vacuuming the floor or an errand run. You’ll see the look of relief on their face when you do.
It’s the little things that will help pull that stress away and make things that much better for tomorrow–for both of you.
You can also read articles I’ve written for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society here!
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