A Lesson in COMPASSION – Becoming a Carer
I thought I would write an article on one of the deepest and most meaningful lessons I’ve hard in my life-compassion.
I have been on both sides of the spectrum….I have been and currently am the carer but I have also been the cared for.
From the age of 4 it was noticed I had a problem with my spine, to cut a long story short I had several major spinal surgeries from the ages of 9-15. Aged 12 I was diagnosed with CMT also known as Hereditary Sensory Motor Neuropathy put down to a mutated gene (I like to refer to myself as an X Men). Throughout the many months I was in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital my mum stayed with me, living in the hospital. Reflecting many years later that must have been incredibly hard for her, caring for me and quite frankly becoming a nurse whilst my dad, brother and sister where at home managing what they needed to do. Ironically my mum learned a new technique to give me intravenous antibiotics directly into my heart so I could go home one Xmas while I was very poorly with an infection. I myself had to learn a very similar technique a few years ago to give IV antibiotics to my husband so he could come home from the hospital!!
As you can see I’ve had a “real halo”. Whoopee, painful but stretched me 2 inches in 2 weeks. Can you imagine how small I would be otherwise ha ha!
Being cared for brings up huge feelings of frustrations, emotional needs, fear of expression, feelings of guilt. Mum and I always got through it with a smile. My favourite nurse taught me that “laughter is the best medicine” and I truly believe it is which is why I trained as a Laughter Yoga Leader early this year. I was very lucky to have my mum through it all that I could talk to but it has taken many years in my adult life to deal with some of the memories of my time in hospital. Physical and emotional pain sticks in the cells of the body and must be released to be truly rid of the past and free of fear. When you have been frightened if you will walk again, if you will wake up after surgery, fearful of the pain you will go through in recovery, worried about the many months of being incapacitated (and all this before the age of 16) what the heck have I got to be fearful of now?? I’ve got a will of steel!
Anyway onto the carer part – my hubby when I met him was super-fit, athletic and…a biker. He was involved in a near fatal motorbike accident 15 years ago and soon after this my caring role began. We became a couple a year after his accident, he had moved back home after staying with his parents for many months and returned to work as an aero-engineer. I now had to get used to living with a person with a “head injury”, scratch that, get used to being in a relationship with a person with a head injury. I coped with the memory loss, the fatigue, mood swings, even having a child together (boy was that a stressful time!).
Then the meningitis came.
Not just once but 5 times (he had meningitis twice before soon after his accident). Seven times in total. In a period of 13 months in 2008 Mike had pneumococcal meningitis 3 times. One in 6 people die from pneumococcal meningitis – do the math. Mike is like a cat with 9 lives! 2008 was one of the most difficult years of my life. Aged 30 with a 3 year old son and knowing that my husband was going to rely on me to be his full time carer for the rest of his life. Woah….that’s big….that’s a lot of pressure….suck it up princess…..you can do this……you have NO FEAR remember. The meningitis had left Mike with more brain damage on top of the fact that he had already had his frontal lobe removed after his bike accident.
When Mike woke up in July 2008 from an induced coma he was paralysed down the right side of his body, could not recall properly where he was and who we were “referring to me as SHE” and could not communicate. He was in hospital for 13 weeks. You know what, through that time I carried on with my spiritual work teaching Reiki and ….I also got a rescue dog. A big unconditional loving ball of fur to welcome me when I got back from the hospital. A being that didn’t judge me, didn’t pressure me, didn’t ask how I was, how Mike was, how Jed was. Just a being that created peace for me, and as I healed her she healed me.
I should also mention that around that time my mum was terminally ill with fibrosing alveolitis and she sadly passed away in 2011. This brings me full circle again to my mum. My lovely mum who had cared for me, washed my hair while I was forced to lie down for 2 months at a time (what a feat). Made me clothes that would fit over my horrible Milwaukee brace, took me to endless hospital appointments and gave me a wonderful childhood with my family despite having all these problems. My family never treated me as a disabled person and I believe that’s why I have that will of steel now. I might not be able to run, but I can FLY (when I’m doing my shamanic journeying of course lol). Caring for a parent is very difficult but please see it as a blessing – that you can offer and return the love and care that was given to you when you were a child.
COMPASSION, COMPASSIONATE ACTION, KARUNA what does it all mean? Personally I think to fully understand compassion you have to live it. Witness it – yes, Give it – yes, Receive it – yes. All of the above. BUT what about BEING it. The trials and tribulations a carer faces everyday with their HRH (human requiring help) pun intended, offer the perfect experiences to apply compassion. Do I get frustrated, of course. Do I sometimes wish to be free of responsibility, hell who doesn’t. Do I wish my partner for life was fit and healthy, damn yes…..but that’s not my path. My path is to cultivate my garden of compassion. To dig out the weeds of resentment, to prune the hedges to create stability and boundaries, to smell the roses and be grateful for my wonderful life. To be grateful that my hubby is alive and has a good quality of life because I help make that so…and that my son has a dad.
I could write a huge amount on being a carer but I think that would call for another blog. If you would like to hear more of my thoughts on that or some funny tales let me know. In the meantime
IF YOU ARE A CARER YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB, WE ARE HERE WITH YOU, I AM HERE WITH YOU. PLEASE TAKE THE UNIVERSAL LIFE FORCE ENERGY FROM THE EARTH, LOVE FROM OUR SOLIDARITY TO KEEP YOU SAFE AND WELL. USE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SEED, GROW AND TEND YOUR OWN GARDEN OF COMPASSION. IN MUNAY, ANGELA
A big thanks to everyone who has supported us in the last few years,