I’m Positive: MS, COVID-19 & 2/18 Are About More Than Me

I looked to my right and watched Dan standing dumbfounded as the woman in a hospital-issued hazmat suit rushed me and my power wheelchair through the metal door.

“But, but, he’s my caregiver! How am I going to do anything without him?” I silently screamed in my mind as Dan, my loving husband of over 16 years, disappeared behind the quickly closing door.

Gone. Just like that.

A post-COVID perspective

Less than 24 hours earlier, my primary doctor’s nurse had ventured out into the single-digit Michigan winter morning to administer a COVID test as she was shielded in her own hazmat suit and I sat in our accessible van. In a matter of minutes, one of Dan and my biggest fears came to fruition: my COVID test came back positive. The very next day, I sat alone in a quarantined wing of the hospital waiting in a cubicle to get my monoclonal antibody infusion to help me resist the virus. Without Dan, my caregiver.

I’m not writing this to rehash my COVID experience. Seriously! I bring this up because the entire ordeal encapsulates why I never could thank Dan enough for what he does for me every single day. I mean, have you ever stopped to think about how much your caregiver does for you?

Celebrating National Caregiver Day

Call it perfect timing, but Friday, February 18, is National Caregiver’s Day. This day celebrates the selfless efforts our caregivers put in to support us each day of the year. Whether it’s a spouse, family member, friend, or paid professional, there’s a specialness about all caregivers.

Dan is quick to point out that for as much as he is my caregiver in dealing with my secondary-progressive MS, I also am his caregiver in dealing with his relapsing-remitting MS.

The give and take of caregiving

Like when he recently opened our refrigerator and exclaimed, “You take such good care of us the way you make sure we always have the food we need!” Yes, the full refrigerator is proof of my caregiving that I do with the help of my caregiver Jen, who helps me with activities of daily living while he continues working full time. I responded to him, “I do what I can to play up to your awesome caregivingness.”

This brings me back to my COVID scare and how it taught me a lot about what Dan does for me and how I can do more for him.

COVID positive

Everything seemed normal after we finished watching the last NFL playoff game and got ready for bed. I had no trouble falling asleep. Monday morning, I had a fever of 101.4 degrees. I slept all day, woke up around 6:30 p.m., and still felt horrible. On Tuesday, I called my doctor, met with him virtually, went to the health park, and waited for his nurse to administer my COVID test in the parking lot. You remember how that turned out, right?

I thought, “What do you mean COVID positive? I’m twice vaccinated. And boosted. Plus, I wear my mask and haven’t hugged my friends in two years. This is inconceivable!! I am so angry! So frustrated!”

Protecting my caregiver

Suddenly I also was scared. I have COVID, but what about Dan? What happens if he gets it and is wiped out as well? I soon realized I also needed to be strong for Dan. My COVID was about something – or more importantly someone – greater than me.

We focused on getting me better but concentrated on keeping him COVID-free. We always were fully masked in our own home. Stayed socially distant sans transferring me into and out of my wheelchair. Dan took a day off work to take me to my infusion. Went through a box of vinyl gloves. Repeatedly washed his hands. And for the first time in our more than 16 years of marriage, he slept in a separate bed to keep us safe.

Love and appreciation for our caregivers

He says it’s all simply just part of being my caregiver. However, I know there’s nothing simple about what Dan and so many other caregivers do for the people they love. Yes, COVID was awful, but it reminded me how much my MS is about something – or more importantly someone – greater than me. It’s also about Dan, my caregiver, and everything he deals with daily on my behalf.

February 18 is National Caregiver’s Day, and it’s a great opportunity to celebrate our caregivers. Let it also be a reminder to show our appreciation and continue doing what we can to care for our caregivers.

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