I’m getting over my annual Christmas cold. I could have predicted its arrival. At least this year it was of minor magnitude considering I ignored all my own rules. I broke connection with the habits and routines that typically strengthen my well-being reserves, forfeiting rest and better eating habits in favor of party revelry, later nights and the elaborate ministrations connected to our Santa drive-by. I’ve never done well with spikes of hyperactivity. For every action there is the corresponding reaction…a physical plummet and the promise of an irritating head cold.
Which then ushered in further reaction. When activity stops my mind can be harder to tame. Sometimes called the monkey mind, my favorite visual is of a little hamster on the wheel that just turns and turns and turns…stuck and going nowhere. The hamster has been cycling because in this happy season I have also been very mindful of an ever-lengthening list of friends caught in the current swimming against some very significant health issues–the big scary kind.
Breathelighter’s first post called attention to the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at City of Hope. The Center is an excellent facility dedicated to patient support, but also providing an impressive array of services directly aiding frequently overlooked caregivers. This year I have been close to several of my friends adjusting to whole new lives almost unaware of their own physical needs while lovingly caring for the medical requirements of ill spouses, children or parents. I haven’t heard much complaining, but I’ve observed the sobering toll.
I’m not a direct caregiver, unless I’m talking about the lovely occasions when I’m caring for my beautiful granddaughters. But somewhere along the way I’ve looked for how to describe my support role–support in listening and metaphorically holding the hand of a friend who is really frightened, or being the second-in-command cheerleader to the fairly desperate actual caregiver—parent, spouse or child of someone in declining health.
You won’t find it in the dictionary, but I like the word care-tender. Some of us are simply friends along the way who offer care as we can. The role of friend doesn’t come with an absolute list of duties, but when care is offered, there is a human connection that can sometimes usher in that odd sense of malaise when things aren’t going well.
And that’s where the little hamster comes in. I’ve just heard some bad news and sadly added another name to my prayer list. Hard news to hear and it only seems natural I’d be particularly mindful.
I know my experiences are far from singular. I am certain there are many care-tenders among my reading friends. And I think it’s a good New Year’s resolve to carefully consider what are you are going to do to take care of yourself this coming year? It’s an important personal inventory and assessment. We have a lot more to offer those we love when we take good care of ourselves.
That’s what I plan to encourage in the coming year. As I “preach to myself” I’ll be sharing with you. And I learn from what you share in return, so I’m ready to turn the calendar page and proceed. I hope you’ll do it with me.
The best of New Year’s wishes, Debra