Caretaking the Caretakers
When a child is sick, nobody but Mom or Dad will do. And you wouldn’t have it any other way. But when that illness is serious and lengthy, Mom and Dad can get pretty worn out and may need to let others help both their child and them.
When Taylor was first diagnosed, I was paralyzed with sadness and anxiety, but I thought I had all the energy in the world to take care of her. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to make her feel happier or more comfortable. But lengthy hospital stays can really wear you down and I soon learned that I couldn’t keep going on adrenaline alone. My mind and body were simply overwhelmed.
Cancer doesn’t just strike individuals, it strikes the whole family.
With cancer in our lives for the foreseeable future, we needed to figure out a way that Taylor would not be alone, our other daughters would not be abandoned, and Bob could both go to the office and continue his daily cancer research. Once our rotation was in place, we became an effective team, but one that desperately needed both help and sleep. Taking care of ourselves was the last thing on our minds, but it really was a necessary part of doing battle.
While I spent a majority of Taylor’s overnight stays with her, I tried to come home on the weekends to spend time with our other daughters and catch up on some sleep. I always felt terribly torn, but I needed to gear up for the following week and stay on top of things at home. While the rotation was very tough on the whole family, it was the only way we could survive. We were thrilled when friends and family were able to help out and join our team. Time spent with friends nourished Taylor’s heart and enabled her to endure more boredom and pain than anyone should ever have.
During hospitalizations, I tried to take a quick walk each day just to get some air and rejuvenate. I couldn’t leave Taylor for long, but I knew we would both be better off if I could refresh for just a few minutes. Frankly, she was pretty bored hanging out just with me anyway so it worked for both of us.
Cancer is a marathon, not a sprint. So when you’re exhausted, bring in the troops and take a break. It’s better for you and better for your child.