clean-upAs caregivers we all have been in that spot where our loved one is sick and needs us more than usual. Living with daily pain takes so much out of our loved ones and friends. Add on the flu and you have a mixture of violent waves of nastiness with epic proportions’.

This is exactly what happened with my better half a couple weeks ago. She was feeling fine one minute and the next minute the dark clouds were brewing above her. “Ok,” I thought, “nobody panic, we have learned not to jump too quickly.” All the symptoms she was experiencing could very well be her daily pain rumbling out of control. It was Saturday evening when it all began: body aches, chills and hot flashes. “Ok,” I thought, “don’t panic it could be the changes in the weather or simply a pain flair.” We made it through the night only to find a raging storm of nausea, fever, intense body aches and the symptoms starting to pile up the next morning.

“Oh no, no, no, this cannot happen on a Sunday. I have to leave in the morning for work and I work out of state so there is none of this ‘call me if you need stuff’ when I am 6-8 hours away.” I was determined to do everything I could to help her feel better before Monday morning rolled around. I spent the day doing laundry, washing dishes, vacuuming the floors, mopping the kitchen and generally trying to make sure there is nothing she has to worry about.

Dinner time, I took care of our four-legged kids and I fixed them dinner. Once the fur kids were fed, I fixed our dinner. “What do you mean you don’t want to eat?” Nope she was not having any of that; she refused to eat.

The evening rolled on and she was laying on the couch, I could see that she was hurting and I wished more than anything that I had a genie in a bottle so I could make a wish and she would not only feel better, but she would also be pain-free. Since I have yet to find a real life genie, laughter is the next best thing. Over the last 20+ years I have found that I have the ability to always make her laugh (and between you and me, there is no better feeling in the whole world to me than seeing her laugh, giggle and smile).After a few moments of laughter, she looked at me and said the nausea was getting worse. She asked me to hand her the trash can because she feared she might be sick. Well, being a man, my thought is, yuck — not the trash can and I jumped up to get her a bucket instead.

The next thing I heard was my name and then violent explosions of nausea. I ran into the room with bucket in hand, too late. She was on the floor; it was all over her, the couch, the dog, the coffee table. See! This is why women say men never listen to them. She just proved that point perfectly. Why didn’t I not just hand her the trash can when she asked? Ok, lesson learned the hard way, no time to cry over the mess, she needs me. I quickly changed into my man-apron and go to work, cleaning her up first. She seemed to feel a little better now that she had ultimately threw up everything she had eaten in the last 6 months (or at least it seemed that way to me). While she drifted off to sleep for much needed rest, I continued my cleanup tasks — the dog first and then the floor, coffee table and so on. Once again I was reminded just how hard she worked when the girls were growing up and were ill and all the times she took care of me when I was ill.

Well, as you may have guessed by now, Monday morning rolled around and there was no way I could leave her alone with the two fur kids. She was feeling worse and she told me she needed to see our family doctor. Ok, I can do this, I know his name and his office address, and now all I have to do is look up the number. She looked at me and rolled her eyes and with a smile told me the phone number is saved in the phone.

No one likes to admit that one partner gives more than the other. It is supposed to be a 50-50 partnership after all. I always thought we had perfected the equal give and take, she took care of the kids and house and I worked to provide for the family. Ok, before you hang me out to dry because that is old-fashioned thinking, please allow me to explain myself. I only wish to share that once again life reminded me what an amazing women she is. She has never been one to complain even on her worst pain days. I have seen her take care of our three kids, the fur kids and me when the pain was so bad her body was screaming in protest with each step she took.

There I was, wishing I was at work while cleaning up after she has gotten ill, and life body slammed me and pointed out once again what she endures each day from the pain which then triples when she gets the flu. I could never even begin to comprehend what life is like for her, no matter how long we have been together.

What I can do is:

  • Give her all the love and care that she has given me over the years.
  • Make sure she drinks to get the fever down and prevent her from dehydrating.
  • Offer her saltines, soup and toast as she feels up to eating.
  • Be there to hold her hair back (even if I am gagging).
  • Get her the heating pad to help with the body aches.
  • Let her support network of friends know that she is ill as they really understand what she is going through and can offer the special support she needs.
  • Sleep on the floor near the couch so I am right there if she needs me.
  • Get her the trash can instead of running for a bucket!

You see, we caregivers are a rare breed, we would walk through fire to ease the pain of our loved ones and we will always be there to clean up on aisle one, when needed.


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