Hats off to the Caregivers!

This week is Caregiver Recognition week in Quebec.

I had never heard of it before. I learned about it completely by accident this week as I was looking up a name of an employee at the Montreal Neurological Institute. On their site I noticed a patient section and in surfing found an article recognising the contribution of loved-ones to ALS patients. What a lovely surprise it is that the medical professionals recognised the caregivers’ contribution and want to help them.

I want to join my voice to those honouring the caregivers, these unsung heroes.

You see to be a caregiver is so much more than just caring, accompanying to appointments and making a few phone calls to clear something up for a loved one. It is a relationship so intimately intertwined where one supports the other in the most basic daily needs.

It takes a special person to be able to handle this kind of relationship day in and day out.

I recognise that I am not a caregiver though I care and support a few people who navigate the health system; one of them, my husband.

You see, my husband has been through the system for multiple tests, six brain surgeries and two rehabilitation centres.

Since I am his partner, I can easily state our partnership was affected at certain times because of his medical condition.

I have had to learn about his condition and to navigate the system.

I have learned to be an advocate and support his voice. I have accompanied him to countless appointments.  I learned his rehabilitation activities to better support him in practising them. We even learned a new way to communicate when he lost his ability to speak coherently.

Some people see my situation as challenging and sometimes it was.

Through the tough times though, when my husband was well enough to come home from the hospital, he was always able to do his most basic care for himself. I could leave the house for errands or work. The few times when my husband needed to always be accompanied, it was just to make sure someone could call the ambulance if he had a seizure. Once I got to stay with him and the other times, we were lucky to have a place for him to spend time when I was at work.

Though our commitment has been tested through the years, JM has not required me to be his caregiver. Maybe I will be his one day, or maybe he’ll be mine. I hope I will have what it takes if ever I have to be his.

My hat is off to the caregivers out there, who meet the needs and support a loved one through the constant demands. The loved-ones are blessed to have you in their lives. What you do makes a difference to the person in need but also touches people outside. It gives us all hope that someone may be there for us if the need arises.

My deepest thanks to you for helping someone in need. My deepest wish is that you have a great sense of peace and get to live some of your own dreams. I also wish that if you are ever in need, that people step up for you without hesitation.

May you be remembered this week and supported throughout the year.