Being sick taught me that caregivers can rely on others for help
An important reminder that help and support are available for family caregivers
In a recent column, I shared that I was battling a serious infection, which led to a four-day hospital stay. My main concern was about my wife, Jill, who is gene-positive for Huntington’s disease (HD), and how frustrating it was for me to be sick when it’s nothing compared with her rare, terminal illness.
At the time I was admitted to the emergency room, Jill was out of town visiting our daughter in Boston. Her early return home stressed me out more than my illness did.
As a caregiver, it’s scary to think about the question, “What would your loved ones do if you weren’t able to take care of them?”
The irony is that I’ve been preparing to be Jill’s caregiver since her diagnosis in 2018. I started with reading and researching all about HD. As a journalist, I was blessed to interview some experts in the HD field, and as I shared that information with you, my readers, I was also learning. I spoke with doctors, therapists, social workers, and real-life experts, such as my mother-in-law, who all have known and cared for gene-positive people.
The more I knew, the more prepared I thought I was. Not only was I learning about HD, but I was also trying to eat healthier so I could live a longer, healthier life with Jill. For instance, I started eating some things that grow in the ground. (I’m told they’re called vegetables.)
But as life does, it threw me a curveball. I got a serious infection, the cause of which remains unknown, and it led to a high fever and swollen glands. But the intravenous antibiotics and steroids I received during my hospital stay broke the fever and caused the swelling to disappear. After a couple of weeks of dealing with extreme fatigue, I’m basically back to full strength again.
What I learned during this ordeal was that I needed help, and, despite feeling useless as a caregiver, I was reminded that Jill and I have people who love us and are willing to step in when needed.
Before I was discharged, many people from my workplace offered to cook us meals, drop food off at the hospital, drive us to appointments, run errands, clean our house, or do anything else we needed. The biggest help of all was the moral support we received from our family. Jill said she was anxious about what was going on with me, but the conversations she had with her immediate family helped her to cope.
I’m forever grateful for the people who love Jill and me and are willing to step up and be there for us. As hard as this experience has been, I’m comforted knowing that Jill will be supported if I’m not there to help her myself.
Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.