chronic illnessfaithfamily

Encouragement for Caregivers

I am so thankful that for today’s prompt my husband graciously volunteered to share about his experience as a caregiver and offer support and encouragement for other caregivers! As we all know chronic illness affects more than just the patient! I am so thankful that God has blessed me with such a strong and tender husband, caregiver, and advocate!


Caregiver–it’s easy to imply what such a person does.  Or is it?

Obviously we know caregivers provide care for others (you guessed it!).  Yet it is impossible to understand what all goes into caregiving unless you are personally providing care for someone else.

When we think of caregivers, we tend to think of those who work in nursing homes, hospice care centers, hospitals, etc…  We also tend to think of elderly couples where one person’s health is in serious decline and the other must provide around the clock care.  These are all true scenarios and many others exist as well.  However, there are several circumstances in particular that I believe go overlooked.  Many involve those who care for loved ones living with chronic illnesses such as endometriosis, fibromyalgia, Chron’s, and many others.  This is obviously close to my heart because my wife lives with several chronic illnesses.  The past several years have been very challenging.  In addition to Jamee’s health struggles, we are attempting to raise an energetic three (almost four) year old.  In case you do not know, ALL three year olds are energetic.  It’s just how they are!

So if you are providing care for someone, how can you stay positive?  Healthy?  Sane?  By no means do I have caregiving perfected, but I have learned a lot over time and would like to offer you some encouragement and advice.

You have to take care of yourself

When we’re so focused on taking care of others, we tend to overlook our own well-being.  How can we care for those we love if we are not taking care of ourselves?  Depending on your situation, it may be difficult to find time for yourself and truly care for yourself.  You may be the only one providing care.  Nevertheless, sometimes we have to learn to ask for help and realize life is not meant to be lived in isolation.  Lone rangers end up dead rangers.

Make time to do things you enjoy
This continues m first point.  A part of taking care of yourself is not forgetting who you are (your likes, interests, hobbies, the things that make you feel alive).  For me this means having time (as limited as it may be) to do personal reading, to play guitar, to jam with other musicians, and so forth.  What about you?  Sometimes we end up feeling so numb to the world.  We lose interest in the things we love to do.  If we are not careful, we can end up neck-deep in depression and burnout ourselves.  Again, by taking care of ourselves we are able to better care for those we love.

Talk to a mentor/counselor frequently
I am not ashamed to tell you that once a week, I speak with a counselor.  I am blessed because I live within a mile of Gardner-Webb University (where my wife and I attended undergrad and divinity school).  As an alumnus of GWU, I can speak with a counselor free of charge.  I realize not all people have this luxury.  If you can not afford to talk with a counselor, make sure you are talking with a trusted mentor.  This needs to be someone who you can say whatever you want to say and whatever you need to say to express your frustrations, disappointments, victories, losses, ups, downs, and so forth.  The human body is not meant to hold in certain amounts of grief/pain/loss.

Lean back on your faith
I am not sure about your personal beliefs, but the main way I pull through as a caregiver is plain and simple: the love of Jesus Christ.  I personally believe that God is love (see 1 John 3).  I believe we do not understand what love truly is until we have a relationship with God who after all, IS LOVE.  I do not possess within me the strength, love, patience, and grace needed to care for my wife.  However, Christ does.  By staying connected to Him, I learn how to love as He loves, serve as He serves, encourage as He encourages, and so on.  It is only through my relationship with Christ that I am able to truly love and care for my wife.

I hope some of this helps.  Again, all of this is easy to type, but hard to live out every single minute of the day.  Hang in there.  Do not lose hope.  Cling to the love of God.

God always ~ John

What encouragement do you have to offer caregivers?

chronic illness

Invisible Illness Week 2012

Raising Awareness for Invisible Illnesses through Support and EducationOne thing I look forward to every year is Invisible Illness Awareness Week (IIAW). IIAW was started by Lisa Copen, founder of Rest Ministries, in order to not only help create awareness for invisible illnesses but also provide encouragement, support, and education for individuals with chronic illness.

Each year, IIAW includes a virtual conference which includes seminars covering a wide range of topics such as parenting with illness, dealing with relationships, and staying positive in face of adversity. In addition to the seminars, there are also featured blog posts throughout the week. I was honored enough to have my post 10 Things I’ve Learned From Chronic Illness featured during last year’s event. There is also a meme that is great to participate in called 30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know. This is not only a great educational tool for friends and loved ones but it is also great to visit the link up and meet other spoonies and compare stories (here is my 30 Things post).

By signing up for the newsletter, you will also receive an 80 page e-book filled with 263 tips for living will illness!

In honor of Invisible Illness Awareness Week, I am giving away a copy of Lisa Copen’s book Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend!

To enter, leave a comment telling me what you wish people understood about invisible illness! That’s it (although I would love a tweet or two spreading the word)! A winner will be drawn on Friday! GIVEAWAY CLOSED 9/14

Winner is Eric! I’ve sent you an email! Congratulations!

chronic illness

Sharing Our Spoons

“Sharing Our Spoons” will be a weekly link-up where you are able to find support and encouragement to focus on your entire health. Not just physical but all of you. For this link-up you will be able to choose holistic goals to help you achieve optimal health. The five goals include:

  1. Physical: could be weight loss or exercise related or it could be goals like eating more veggies or cutting soda
  2. Mental/Emotional: take a day to be alone, write a letter, paint, etc
  3. Spiritual: start a new devotional book, commit a certain amount of time a day for prayer/meditation
  4. Something fun: Take time to treat yourself – maybe a pedicure or Starbucks (if you don’t typically splurge for specialty coffee)
  5. BONUS: One thing to get you out of your comfort zone a week – try something new, sign up for a class you maybe have been putting off.


I cannot believe today marks week NINE of Sharing Our Spoons! I know right now we are still a small group but I know how much I have benefited from our weekly link-ups and I hope you are too!

This week has been a little challenging energy-wise. Within the last couple days I have noticed a decrease in my pain. Last week I was really worried and ended up seeing my surgeon on Friday verses today because I was a little concerned. Thankfully he was able to give me some reassurance and let me know that I was on track and reminded me that with my history of endo and fibro I will talk a little longer to heal and feel better than the average person. Maybe it was a placebo or a mental boost but I have noticed some decrease in my pain since that visit.

Because I’ve been in less pain, I have started trying to be more active. For example, Saturday I spent the morning cleaning and then we went to the pool for an hour. Pain-wise I was surviving but I had totally blanked on taking my energy into consideration. The fatigue from the surgery is definitely still a struggle so I’m having to learn a balance of being active in my recovery versus managing my fatigue. That is definitely a big goal for this upcoming week!

Here is how I did this last week:

  • Physical: Take a 10-15 minute walk (at a slow pace) every day
    at least 5 times this week. Didn’t get all 5. I walked 2 days and then chased a 3 year old at the pool for an hour. Does that count? Definitely keeping this goal again for next week as I prepare to head back to work in 2 weeks.
  • Mental: New goal is to send 3 “just because” letters this week!   Done! Love this one! Going to keep it for a goal one more week so it will become a habit.
  • Spiritual: Start new Bible study called Walking by Faith by Jennifer Rothschild. I started this week and really love it. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at Women of Faith one year and I loved her passion and her courage to overcome challenges in life. One quote that has stuck with me ever since is “It may not be well with my circumstances, but it is well with my soul.” The would definitely be a great group study!
  • Something Fun:After the chaos of the past two weeks and the recovery that I know is ahead, I am thinking that a little trip to the nail salon is in order for a pedicure. Done! Completed this morning! Love the color! Its a nice beachy blue-green! For next week’s goal, I want to continue to play around with a book I just purchased that has hair style ideas for Abby! I tried a new one this morning and I will admit it turned out really cute! I’m going to try to play with some of the other ones!
  • Challenge: My challenge goal this week will be to plan out the next 2 weeks of posts. Didn’t plan out two weeks but I do have this entire week planned! 

How is everyone else doing? I hope everyone is staying cool and avoiding some of these crazy storms I’ve been hearing about!