Here’s How One Caregiver Cares For Her Spouse and Herself and Finds Happiness
By Jaimie L. Moore
Wife and Caregiver
My husband was injured in the fall of 2011, almost three years ago. His spinal cord injury is at a high level, and because of that, he has no use of his legs or arms. He does have a mean shoulder shrug, though. I’ll take it.
Arm movement is something we have wished for, but at a certain point, you learn to live with and accept the cards you’re dealt while looking for opportunities in the future.
My husband and I do have full-time nursing care, something I know many others in my position would kill for, but could never get. I’m extremely grateful to be able to have help. Home health care comes with its challenges. But nursing care has allowed us to resume more of a husband/wife relationship versus a patient/caregiver one.
I have still managed to make it my job to be very involved in my husband’s care. I’ve obviously been there from the beginning and know his injury, the standard of care he needs and deserves, and really, what he prefers. I think it’s safe to say I’m more invested in my husband than anyone, even if they are paid to be invested. It’s just a job to many of them. It’s my life and livelihood.
If I were in his position, I’d much rather get some care from him versus caretakers I’ve just met. It’s the personal touch. It’s someone familiar when you’re in a state of vulnerability. I get it.
I do Jimmy’s cooking and feeding, and I really don’t mind. Eating our meals together is our time. It’s our together thing.
I also do a number of other things like order medical supplies, order and pick-up medication, shave him, wash and cut his hair, cut his nails, work with his nursing agency on our staffing and communicate with our case manager on millions of things. I may not be Jimmy’s nurse, but agent could be a good word for what I do. A spinal cord injury takes a full cast of characters.
It takes time, effort and care.
And it can swallow you whole if you’re not careful.
Over the past two-plus years, I’ve learned it’s necessary to take a step back everyone once and again. As a wife, I’m only going to be a benefit to my husband if I’m the best version of myself that I can be. If that means parting with him for an afternoon, or a long weekend, so be it.
Coming back rejuvenated is something that this injury and lifestyle truly needs. Being the only one in the relationship who can get in a car and drive away for me-time does come with guilt. I know my husband would love to do that. I know he misses his freedom and independence.
I doubt the guilt will ever go away. It’s a given in this new life. So is the injury. A given. The challenge comes in finding the positive and the happy within it all. There will always be plenty of sad.
It’s not always easy, but it will always be worth the effort. A wife, or a partner, in this role has been through somewhat of a war together with their loved one. There has been a battle with emotions. A battle with the physical struggles. You have scars. You’re a gladiator, a warrior.
For that, you deserve care. Take care of yourself.
I’m going to go now and take care of me.
Because there’s someone in the other room who needs me.
JAIMIE MOORE lives in Decatur, Ga., with her husband Jimmy, who was injured in August 2011, less than two months after the two were married. They were living and working together in television news in South Carolina before they moved to Georgia to be near top-notch medical care. The couple is working with a fertility doctor to expand their family.
Blog: The Flying Tire
Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.