When I recently wrote an article on family caregiving, experts I interviewed emphasized two things: the stress people feel and the sense of guilt caregivers and care recipients may experience.
This was true for me and those involved in caring for me in my recovery process after I fell twice and had to have two surgeries in late 2022.
I was not an easy patient in the beginning. I missed my mobility and my independence, and my inability to do things for myself was frustrating.
Five months later, I am doing much better and get around on a cane, but I still reflect on how things can go wrong in a matter of seconds, while it takes months to recover. And how this impacted the people close to me.
“It was a little scary, because I have never seen you in a position where you were completely dependent on other people,” said my first-born Tiffen Tapia Lovler, 35, who lives and works in Baltimore. “But I also felt guilty that I wasn’t there to help you more, and I couldn’t be closer to home and that the burden couldn’t be shared more.”
Tiffen was talking about his younger brother, Michael, 32, who lives in Gainesville but has two jobs with no paid time off. But he figured out a way to come by a few days a week after his brother left.
“What am I going to do …not do it? It was stressful, but I’m not going to not help you,” Michael said.
When I was still in rehab, he would visit when he got off work after ending his own 10-hour day. Sometimes I would be falling asleep when he got there, but I rallied when he walked in the door because I was so glad to see him.
Even my significant other Paul Korman, 73, got into the mix. Paul lives in Daytona Beach but still spent three or four days with me every week just to be there.
“I wanted to help you any way I could,” he said. “I have the opportunity and I can do it because I’m retired.”
And he did help – everything from bringing me my morning coffee, to making my meals to taking out the trash.
When Paul was gone on a Tuesday, the night before my weekly trash collection, Michael would come by to bring my trash curbside. A simple task, but something that could take me a half hour to do while trying to balance on my walker or cane.
Did it help having the help from people who cared about me? You bet. I couldn’t have done it without them.