Jennifer Gelsick Reflects Caregiving Rewards
Life as a caregiver to a mesothelioma patient can be a trying experience, but now, looking back on the time I spent taking care of my Dad, I realize that there was no place I would have rather been. I would love to now be able to help Dad with his “fancy” no-slip socks that he had to wear in the hospital or to help him with anything he might need. Time is fleeting, so take advantage of every opportunity to be with your loved ones, no matter whether they have mesothelioma or not.
I remember when I started to help take care of Dad. It was right after he was diagnosed and he had two chest tubes in to drain fluid. Every time he needed to get out of the hospital bed, we had to pick up the drain system and carry it into the bathroom for him. The first time I was asked to carry it, I immediately panicked. Those tubes with that fluid in them…there was no way I could touch them… until I did.
After Dad had his surgery in February of 2012, I helped him walk down the halls in the hotel we were staying in in New York City. I held his arm and was so afraid that I would pull him and then mess up something with his incision. I could not take the pressure… until I did.
All through this process, I questioned myself and how I would handle whatever would happen next. I thought, what if the cancer came back, there would be no way that I could personally go through that again… until I did.
My biggest fear was getting a phone call that Dad was gone. I never truly believed it would happen. I thought that I had played out every possible scenario in my head, but I hadn’t. When I found out that Dad had passed, I knew for a fact that I could never handle it… until I had to.
Being a caregiver is a daunting task, but in retrospect, it was the most rewarding experience I have ever had. My Dad knew how much I loved him, but it was in those times I had the privilege to care for him that I could really show it. He never really asked for anything, but he didn’t have to. He knew that we were there for him, no matter what. You may think, like I did, that it was too much for you and you could never in a million years be able to handle it. But I promise you can. God will give you strength and carry you through. So treasure the time you have with your loved ones, take care of each other, and thank God every day for the opportunity.