Care giving with a chronic illness…

Ability to live in the moment is important to caregivers with health issues
by Jason Reid

Taking care of a loved one while battling your own chronic health issues can be a difficult task. As pain and fatigue take their toll on both caregiver and receiver it can be a real challenge to keep spirits up and enjoy life.

One of my coaching clients, whom I will call Clare, has battled a chronic illness for several years. At the same time, her husband Don has been suffering from a painful back condition that resulted in Clare being both a caregiver and the primary source of income for the household.

She worked long hours at her job and at home and suffered fatigue issues related to her illness. However, Clare explained that her biggest challenge was watching the intense pain her husband endured on a daily basis. She seemed confused, exhausted and anxious. She said she rarely slept through the night, as her husband would often wake up screaming in pain.

After a while, Clare’s situation began to change. A new doctor and new treatments helped her husband reduce his pain dramatically. Even better, Clare’s blood-work indicated her own health was getting better too.

The problem was, she was so used to being anxious and afraid she had a difficult time adapting to her new situation. She would bolt up in the middle of the night expecting an emergency only to realize her husband was sleeping peacefully beside her. At a time when she should have felt happy, energetic and healthy, she was still exhausted and scared.

This type of pattern is not unusual. When we go through difficult times we sometimes lose the ability to relax and keep our worries in check. This makes it tough for us to identify and embrace the times when things are not so bad.
The key to this awareness is to make sure we live in the moment. The present is where we live our lives, but how much time do we spend thinking about how things were in the past, or worrying about how things will be in the future?

It is important to find ways to celebrate and enjoy what we are doing now without judgments or comparisons about how things used to be. This may seem difficult, but it is a habit that can be developed with consistent practice.

By accepting the present without worry, Clare reduced her stress and has been able to enjoy a positive stretch of time with her husband. Even if their health situation does deteriorate again, she will still have the ability to take joy from the day-to-day experience of living, and better cope with her challenges in the long run.

Jason Reid runs Sick with Success® which provides life and career coaching for people affected by chronic health conditions. For free information on coping with chronic illness you can log onto www.sickwithsuccess.com

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