From Care Receiver to Caregiver

A few weeks ago, I received a scary phone call from someone I cared about. An elderly relative who lived near me was very sick and needed to go to the ER. I called out for the rest of my workday, then headed over to his house. Wearing 2 masks, I helped him into my car and then rushed to the hospital. Sitting in the plastic chairs in the waiting room as we listened for his name to be called felt strange. It took me a while to realize that this was the first time in many years I'd sat in the ER listening for a name that wasn't mine.

Lupus prepared me to be a caregiver

Being sick with lupus has put me in the position of needing caretaking frequently. Even when I'm not in a flare, it can be difficult to complete everyday tasks like clean my house, pick up groceries, or cook for myself. Due to my chronic fatigue, I'll never be able to work a full-time job. I've also had flares so severe that I was bedridden and had to have multiple caretakers work in shifts to make sure my needs were met.

Over the next month, I became my relative's caretaker. I went to visit my relative nearly every day as he recovered from pneumonia. I spoke with his nurses and the social worker assigned to his case, filled out his intake forms for his transfer to a skilled nursing facility, brought him clothes from his house, and did my best to make sure he was cared for and in good spirits.

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Empathy and compassion with lupus

Being a caregiver while dealing with my own health issues was incredibly hard. I went a month without doing my laundry. My bedtime keep getting pushed back because I didn't have enough time to answer work emails or cook for myself. Ultimately, it made me appreciate my own caregivers even more. The time will most likely come again when I have to take care of my elderly relative. It isn't easy to care for him while still managing my illness, but I remind myself that I can only try my best.

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