Don’t despair! We all know: Mopping up is hard to do …

Heather Jose

Heather Jose

GOT THE FLU? Or, does the person you’re caring for have the flu?

If you are in a relationship, then you’ve hit some time when your partner has been sick. We’re still not through the 2012-2013 Flu Season, according to the Centers for Disease Control. January through March are the worst three months. A CDC mid-season report concludes that this year’s flu vaccine protected, overall, more than half of the people who received it—but only about 1 in 4 over 65.

Bottom line: The flu has touched millions of lives. By April, most Americans will be done with symptoms—and the cleanup for our stricken loved ones. Want more information on this year’s Flu Season? The CDC periodically updates a U.S. map showing the states with the worst outbreaks.

Mop bucket for a cleanupWe all can rattle off the recommended battle-plan for confronting the flu: Stay home, sleep, drink lots of liquids, cover your mouth when you sneeze and remind everyone around you to wash their hands frequently.

What we can forget as caregivers—especially as the flu season drags toward its ugly end—is this: We’re not alone. As caregivers, most of us have lived through such extra burdens—on both ends of the caring spectrum. Those of us who have received that extra measure of care should stop right now and say a word of “thanks” for the caregivers who dragged us through illnesses and other messy health crises.

What happens when we hit a long-lasting, difficult illness? This can change any relationship. If you’re married, it’s crucial to find a balance between being a caregiver along with honoring your marriage. That’s not easy for any of us. How do you take care of someone and still treat them as an equal partner? Does resentment set in after a time of assuming more than your fair share of household duties?

I have been fortunate. My husband has cared for me more than once in the midst of illness and other extra-challenging health crises. He writes about this in a section he contributed to Chapter 9 in my memoir, Every Day We Are Killing Cancer. (That book contains more than just my version of the story—you’ll find many different voices sharing their perspectives, perhaps one like your own.) My husband’s main advice: Couples need to realize that, even as their relationships are changing, they remain “on the same team.”

My husband has been through a lot! I will never forget the time that I literally passed out—and then threw up on him within a minute’s time. No marriage needs that.  My husband has washed my hair, cleared my drains, and cleaned up in many ways. The mystery is all gone. I commend him for being able to do these things and still view me as a woman who he desires. There have been many days when I didn’t feel up to par and it put a damper on both of our plans. He takes it all in stride.

We’ve learned lessons, but today I’m asking you to share lessons you’ve learned:

Got a simple tip? Or, a deeper insight? Or, perhaps just a comment about how you and someone you love made it through the depths of illness or other extra-tough crises in caregiving? Please share a thought with us this week.

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  1. K Macdonald says

    I am going through radiation and chemo now for tonsil cancer. This leaves you with no sense of taste as all of your salivary functions are gone. My husband is a chef and works hard to make every special. I continue to express appreciation …. Even when I can taste nothing. I owe him that as a minimum!