A lot of the blogs I read, most of them in fact, have a section that is about opinions, lifestyles, and advice. One reason I started blogging is because I love to write, I was even a creative writing minor for most of my college career. I’ve never really shared much about my personal life on here, but I’ve decided to add a section to my website called The Fine Print. I’m both excited and nervous to share my personal life with you guys, but please bear with me because it’s not always the pretty Instagram life we all appear to have. I’ve chosen to talk about what I’ve learned from being a caregiver in my first post, and I would love to know your feedback. Thanks for following along with me for so long, and I hope you enjoy this new section of High Heels & Happy Hartz!
My dad was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) in 2012, and has shown signs of the disease since about 2008 or 2009. I’ll focus on the ins and outs of this brain disease later on, but for now I just want to give you a look at a few things I’ve learned since becoming a caregiver for him. I quit my job in May of 2017 to help my mom take care of my dad full time.
Both of my parents have told me this my whole life, and it has never been more apparent. I’ve witnessed more love in the past year than I ever have. My parents have always had the most romantic and happy relationship, one that would make any film or love story seem inadequate. I always knew my parents were happily married, and that they were meant to be together, but what really counts is the love they have when everything falls apart. By taking care of my dad in the devastating state that he’s in, my mom has never questioned her love for him for even a second, or had any thoughts of regret, and you can see that in the way she looks at him after all this time.
If you’re a nurse, this one’s for you. This past week we spent seven days in the University of Kentucky Hospital with my dad. As you all know, when someone you love is sent to the hospital it’s nerve-racking and tiring, but especially when they have an underlying condition. After seeing up close and personal what nurses do on a daily basis, I have a new found respect for them. It takes a very special person to do the job they do, and I’ve never been more impressed than I was this past week.
One night a few weeks ago, I came home from my parents house defeated and upset, because things just continued to get worse and worse. Drew sat on the couch with me and said these words, “You’re stronger than you think you are,” and it just stuck with me. It’s so true. We never know what we really can handle until it’s put in front of us and we have to. Some people choose to ignore dad’s disease and pretend it isn’t happening, but that isn’t an option for us. I’m squeamish and terrified by anything medical, and I’ve had to quickly suck it up and get over it, because I had to. I have dealt with more in the past six months than I ever imagined I would in my whole life, but my mom, my brother, and I do it because we love my dad.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from all of this (and believe me we’ve learned way more than one thing), it’s that people really show you who they are when times get tough. For the most part, my dad’s friends have been amazing. His friends, especially college friends and childhood neighbors, have been some of the greatest blessings in my family’s life recently. They step in when we don’t have the strength to ask for help and lift us up, and that is something that can’t be bought.
This one is obvious, and I figured it out a long time ago, but I’m reassured of it every single day. The terrible tragedy of the man she loves developing a debilitating brain disease has not slowed her down or changed who she is in a bad way, but for the better. She is the strongest, most graceful woman I know, and I wish so bad that I could take this pain away for her. I learn so much from her with each passing day, and because of her I get to witness such a true and real example of love.
Being a caregiver for my dad is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It’s hard to watch, there are lots of tears, and some days you just want to crawl in bed and cry–and believe me some days I do. But it is the most rewarding, satisfying, loving, and meaningful job I will ever do. Even if I come home exhausted and upset sometimes, nothing can take away the little glimmers of happiness that I get to share with my dad every day, and I wouldn’t trade that for any job or amount of money in the world.
Thanks so much for reading my first post in The Fine Print! I hope you guys liked it!