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“I Get Tired of People Telling Me to Take Care of Myself,” Candid Caregiving Conversations

Posted Apr 05 2012 2:30pm

“I get tired of being told to take care of myself. Yeah, I know I should, but it’s just not that easy.”

It’s not like you haven’t thought of sleeping eight continuous hours, or that you haven’t thought of making an appointment to get your teeth cleaned, or signing up for yoga or join the Y. It’s just that a few things keep getting in the way….

Your loved one gets on a coughing jag from 2-4 a.m. You’ve been in hospital land for like, three weeks. You’re sick of going to doctors so you don’t relish the thought of making an appointment for yourself. And you know you should want to but the idea of getting into gym clothes and working out is about as appealing as a proctology exam.

I got whapped back into caring for a caregiver this week. We’re in the hospital with my two-week old granddaughter who needed heart surgery. I’m on vigil, side-by-side with my daughter and son-in law. I’m back in the world of vinyl sleeping chairs, Bunn-o-matic coffee and powdered cream, monitors, IVs, and waiting for rounds. It’s oh so familiar.

As the 2nd in line (caregiver of a caregiver) I have just the slightest shift in perspective. After a week or full-out trauma and eating only cafeteria food knowing we could be here a month, I can now begin to make a plan. I went to the store and bought us salads, carrots, grapes and apples–and 100 calorie snack packs for the middle of the night, help relieve the stress munchies.

I’m taking the stairs instead of the elevator several times a day (we’re on the tenth floor). I’m avoiding anything fried but am allowing for the occasional cookie and hot tea snack. I try to go for several long walks around the University of Florida/Shands campus a day. I’ve thought about doing some lunges and push-ups but I haven’t actually done it yet:) We’re all to worried to think much about our own bodies, but it really won’t do anyone any good if we just lose it on a giant box of Krispy Kremes.

Bottom line, no one likes to be told what to do.

Telling a caregiver to take care of themselves might get you hurt, or a nasty look at the very least. Buy them a cup of their favorite hot tea.  Give them a gift card for a massage. Tell them a funny joke so they’ll chuckle the rest of the day. Give them a loofah and some body salts.

Put your heart where your mouth is.

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