I was reading a blog today when I was taking a break from studying. It talked about the idea of RTs going after continuing education in order to be acute care practitioners like nurse practitioners. There were quite a few people who did not see the value of continuing their education. They felt they knew enough already. Why would anyone not want to extend their knowledge. I have been in the field for over 20 years I would never imagine not needing to learn more. In sleep there are oral appliances, better relaxation techniques, non invasive ventilation and the use of CO2 monitoring to better evaluate ventilation. In Respiratory there is so much more such as changing medications, advanced imaging reading, the many forms of ventilation, better sedation and interaction of all medications and the new studies about genetics and medications.
For the last several months I have played the role of the caregiver. It feels like somewhere along the line you get lost among the myriad of medications, doctor’s appointments and just the general care and cleaning up. Then there is the isolation and loneliness that comes with it. I did not realize how it sneaks up on you and overcomes you.
As my husband got ready for his surgery and his ultimate progression of his illness to one where he is almost not able to care for himself, I have put my life on hold and forgot to take care of me. It started with little things, putting off exercising then there was not going out to activities and finally I stopped even eating healthy and instead tried to find my pleasure in food. I was so tired at the end of the day trying to do everything for everyone in my family I would fall into bed exhausted only to remember there was more to do.
But what kind of help can I be if I hate coming home, I feel sick all the time and I am always exhausted. This is no way to live a life. There has to be at least a little balance. Sleep cannot be secondary, exercises cannot be secondary and healthy eating and sunlight cannot be secondary. All these things will give the caregiver strength to help those that they love and are helping.
I know today I got up and went for my 1.5 mile wog. I am not fast enough to call it a jog but it made me feel better. It gave me more energy and it reminded me that I need to feel good. I need to feel healthy. I need to sleep better. I need to be able to study for my classes and bring a positive attitude to my students and patients.
Being a caregiver is a hard job. But remember you cannot give what you do not have. Do not stand alone. Reach out and remember there are others out there to help you or at the very least cheer you on.