The Caregiver

As a physician dealing with patients with advanced, often end-stage heart disease, I come across a lot of patients who are receiving excellent care at home by their family members who have sacrificed their personal lives to care for their loved ones. Our team has a support group for caregivers where they share stories about themselves, their loved ones, their frustrations and fears. Caregiver fatigue is something that we are becoming more aware of in recent years. This poem is written from the point of view of a caregiver grappling with this issue.

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I love you dearly, though from what I’m going to say

My sentiments may not come across that way-

There are days when in a sleep-deprived daze

I feel I cannot go on any longer, pretending to be unfazed

By the constant exposure to unpleasant fluids varied

I clean silently, but sometimes I can not succeed

In hiding my revulsion at the sights and odours

I try to benumb myself until the clean-up is over

Then sink back exhausted in the armchair

When you take a nap- yet I try to be aware

At all times of your discomfort and your needs

If I do not respond timely, I feel guilty indeed..

 

I know it is a herculean task for you and me

To drive you to your appointments, definitely

Yet here’s a secret I am ashamed to reveal-

On those days a frisson of excitement I feel

At the thought of an opportunity for interaction

With other human beings- it gives me some satisfaction

To know that there is life outside of these walls

We can still enjoy the beauty of spring, summer and fall..

 

I know we both wish things were not this way

When you call me for help, I can see the dismay

In your eyes that yet again you need me

Yet again you have demonstrated your dependency

When friends call me for a night out and I reply, inevitably

That I am busy, I can see your eyes tearing up for me

You talk about another caregiver to unburden me

But both of us this is not possible (at least usually)

With limited finances and other constraints

 

Besides, I have almost learnt to practice restraint

Where entertainment and social activities are concerned

If I have spare time, I try to enjoy the rest I have earned..

 

Then there are those days when I am exhausted beyond measure

And there appears my savior, those moments I treasure

When a friend offers to help for a few hours or a day

I feel relieved; I know you do too, more than you would say

This break from caregiving reminds me of how much I love you

And why caring for you is what I would gladly continue to do..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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