People my age were starting their families, purchasing homes, settling into their careers, and paying off their school loans. There was never a time that I spent even a moment thinking that what lied ahead was anything less than a great life, until one day...
After 9 years of marriage and two adorable children my husband ,then 35 years old, was diagnosed with double lung cancer. Thank goodness he was in good physical condition so he could withstand the surgeries, aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments that brought him to a near death state and returned him to fair health. Four short months into his recovery came another diagnosis, this one with a life sentence, brain cancer. Bob would live no more than twelve months, or so the doctors thought.
Changing from a wife to a Caregiver happened overnight. My role as a secretary that once served as a second income became our primary income and as we watched the life of a once so healthy man fail, we also watched our family fall to a level of near poverty just to make ends meet. Finding balance was impossible. Between school activities, full time work, grand-mal seizures, infections, hospital stays, multiple surgeries, household chores, bills, meals, and raising children there was bound to be a breaking point, I just didn’t know when it would come – or what it would look like.
There are 65,000,000 caregivers today struggling with a similar load, and many will die before their patient due to the stress associated with their responsibilities. To make matters worse we suffer from depressed thoughts, guilt, anger, exhaustion, sadness, loneliness and panic. In 2004 I found my breaking point and admitted, “I could live or die and dying just doesn’t sound so bad." It was then that I knew I had to come up with a plan for my own survival.
In 2006, after 20 years of caring for my patient, I published Personal Positioning for the Caregiver and began speaking nationally on Caregiving Survival, ways to stay mentally healthy while caring for your patient. The Caregiving Survival message will be delivered Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 11:00 am at the Solutions for Family Caregiver Expo held at the Best Western Sterling Inn Banquet & Conference Center in Sterling Heights. Books will also be available at a discount price of $10.00.
Jill Gafner, Author of Personal Positioning for the Caregiver and Owner of Global Training Experts, lives in Shelby Twp., Michigan. Jill is a behavior and process based trainer supporting all industries. Her training has been delivered world wide including India, China, Korea, Europe and Mexico. In 2006 she published Personal Positioning for the Caregiver as a result of her 20 years of caregiving for her husband. Personal Positioning for the Caregiver is available at globaltrainingexperts.com.