With the pandemic of the past year, we have all experienced changes and obstacles in everyday life as well as trying to stay healthy among stress that none of us has ever been through before.
For the mesothelioma patient, there are no more important people before the pandemic and during the pandemic than their wives, husbands, partners, family members, significant others, friends, whoever is their primary support person. The people in their lives that step up when they are needed. These caregivers immerse themselves in a very specialized new world. The world that is filled with expert doctors, scientists, nurses, pharmacists and medical professionals often speaking a language that is confusing with words that are hard to pronounce and understand. Often this is done with a cost to the caregivers’ own health and wellness.
Recently when talking to the wife of a patient undergoing treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma, the patient had complications and things had not gone as planned. As we talked, she relayed the story of her husband’s journey with malignant mesothelioma, she knew all his numbers, and his plan for treatment. When asked how she was doing, there was silence.
She had not really stopped to consider how she was doing.
Sometimes just asking someone how they are when they are deeply involved in a situation can stop them. When someone is helping someone fight for their life, it is easy to see how the caregiver puts themselves after the patient.
The pandemic and the resulting social isolation have made many people appreciate the human connection. The importance of listening and acknowledging how things are affecting another person is vital for the well being of all our emotional health.
Caregiver stress is real. It can take a toll on the support persons’ mental and physical health.
Acknowledging someone’s feelings recognizing their stress will not make it disappear but may help lessen the load.
As we hopefully slowly return to our new normal, one lesson from the Pandemic may be slowing down and listening to others. We never know what someone is going through unless we ask and really listen.