When caregiving roles are reversed …

Heather Jose photo.

Heather Jose

My husband and I have always considered ourselves a team.

Like any good team, we each have roles and at this point we know them well:

  • I am the grocery shopper (although my daughter is getting pretty good at that); he is the laundry guy.
  • I am the talker; he is the listener.
  • I am the patient; he is the caregiver.

This week the tables had to turn when he went through a procedure to have his ACL repaired. He tore it while coaching football last fall but waited until now to get it fixed. So I found myself in the waiting room for once. Just so you know, I have had around 10 surgeries since we have been married in 1995, not to mention all the other cancer stuff. He has now had two.

We have it down to a science when I am sidelined. He is an amazing caregiver. He is good at taking over the things that need to be done and anticipating my needs as well.

Just some of the new accessories in our home.

Just some of the new accessories in our home.

Me? Well … maybe not so much. I knew I needed to up my game as he got in to the van to go home. I was half way around the vehicle before I realized that someone needed to shut the door and it shouldn’t be him. Duh.

It got better when we got home. I attended to all of his needs, from pillows, to special request foods, to a painkiller schedule for meds. But this arrangement just isn’t natural for us. I find myself forgetting that he can’t get around well, or that due to the crutches he may need something carried to where he is sitting. I’m happy to do whatever he needs—I just need to remember to think about what that might be.

So I am praying we get through the next week or so unscathed. I hope he doesn’t hurt himself because he tried to do something more than he should because he didn’t want to ask. I hope that I can keep my focus on the fact that he needs a little more help right now. Fortunately, this is a relatively short term thing for us.

I don’t want to be the patient anytime soon, but I have to say, it really does work better that way.

What are your stories or ideas from such times of role reversal? Leave a Comment here or visit me on my Facebook page.

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  1. Benjamin Pratt says

    This touches our home so personally at this moment. Our roles have switched. I am not a good patient. I know how to be a caregiver but I am getting a C- being the care receiver. I am slowly learning I need to give the gift of welcoming and receiving my wife’s generosity and care for me. I’m a slow learner but after 3 months I am even getting more patience being a patient.