Supporting My Support Partner: Part 2
Last updated: June 2023
Anita talks about both managing her own MS and caring for her support partner in a time of need. Read the first part of her story.
Being on both sides of caregiving
The tough times called for one or both of us to push through the pain. Waking up on a strict 8-hour schedule led to mutual sleepiness. Interacting with the visiting nurses provided a chance to become a comedy duo. Working diligently to make the best of a difficult situation created a new type of bond. We had both lived on both sides of caregiving, and we each had a new appreciation for the other's usual position. Ultimately, becoming a support partner to my support partner was a fulfilling experience.
I do not know how I was able to live through this and do well. I will not take credit for what I cannot explain. It is quite possible that preparation took away my overwhelming anxiety. It is possible that a loving universe reached out to keep my head above water. All I know is that once I accepted what the mission was, I simply did it.
I utilized tools like calendars and alarms to keep me organized. Through trial and error, I found medical supplies and equipment that would help me do the job better and easier. I spent more time researching that I ever thought possible. I once again put aside my pride and accepted that I did not have to rough it out to prove to myself that I could take care of everything by jerry-rigging a solution.
What I learned and gained
I have selfishly looked back on everything through my own personal lens. I was called to assist the person who often cares for me, and I returned the favor. I did a darned good job to boot. I came to further acknowledge that I have been favored with the ability to give back. My multiple sclerosis symptoms were not a total obstacle to my giving care. I could and should do more.
I feel embarrassed that at times I was cruising rather than swimming. Caring for my support partner was life-changing. In giving I have become stronger. To some extent I had stopped challenging myself in a serious way. Yes, I was being a "warrior" in some ways, but in others I was just not pushing myself to do better.
I am more determined to fight this disease and its considerably demanding symptoms. I am not implying that every PLwMS could and should be capable of being a support partner, short-term or not! I am only providing my perspective and how it happened to me. If you wind up in my position, know that you CAN get through it! Make a plan, give yourself some grace, and know that you are not alone.
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