Caregiver, caregiver, give me some care, take me somewhere, help wash my hair!*

*Sing to the tune of Matchmaker. Yes, this is how I pass the time. I have multiple verses. 😉

This is day 8 of my husband’s cold. You might remember how paranoid I am of catching a cold or, god forbid, the flu. It has been exactly 2 years and 4 months since I had a cold and bronchitis (colds never stayed in my head ~ they always went to my chest) and I find myself grateful and, also, sad, knowing that a few months after that last cold my immune system turned on permanently. I read about other people with ME/CFS suffering with viruses and I knock on wood, cross my fingers, spit over my shoulder, pull on my earlobes and say toba toba to protect myself (yes, really. That’s not excessive, is it?)… But I also feel a stab of jealousy because that probably means their immune systems are healthier than mine ~ that they have calmed down enough to allow a virus to infiltrate the fortress.

That’s not to say I want to get sick. I don’t even want to test it. When my husband gets too close, I shoo him away. When I have to walk past him, I pull my shirt up over my nose. It’s comical, as if he horribly reeks. And I am an utter nag:

“Can you PLEASE cover your mouth when you cough?”
“Have you washed your hands?”
“Please don’t breathe near me. Just stop breathing.”

At least I say please.

He hasn’t taken a day off of work and, even on the weekend, he was in the garden, raking leaves and doing winter clean-up. I find myself fretting about him – not wanting him to push himself when he’s sick. This has probably been the most stressful year of his life because of my illness, plus he has had more landscaping work than many recent years and his job is all physical labour, out in the elements. I know I can’t implore him to spend a day on the couch, sipping Lemsip and chicken soup. It’s not in his nature. I’ve never seen him have a day like that. On Sunday, as he was in and out of the house doing chores, I said, “I really wish you’d rest.” He said, “This is resting.”

My husband could never get ME, though. That’s not in his nature, either. He sleeps well, never takes even a painkiller, he can eat and drink anything, can handle extreme weather… I’ve always had the sensitive system ~ I would love to have skiied in the winter, but hated the thought of cold and snow. I would have loved to lie on a beach all day in the summer, but have always wilted in the sun or become faint and headachy.

I’m convinced the main difference between us, though, is that he doesn’t care – in a good way. He isn’t a perfectionist, he doesn’t worry, he doesn’t feel guilty. I’ve always been an over-achiever. I want to do everything and I want to be the best at all of it. I’m turned into knots because there are tumbleweeds of dog hair all over the house and I haven’t sent thank you cards for the birthday gifts I received 6 months ago. I am guilty about my dog’s anxiety and sad that I don’t feel attractive anymore. I beat myself up about the sugar I can’t seem to kick and the money wasted on supplements that I couldn’t tolerate. I worry that I’m a bad friend and I’ll be forgotten and I haven’t made my mark on the world yet. My husband is happy to never socialise and doesn’t think twice about what people think of him and seems to always be perfectly content (not counting the last few years).

Yesterday, after he had worked, gone grocery shopping, gone to the pet store, picked up my prescriptions and cleaned the kitchen, I tentatively reminded him that the dogs need baths and my bedding needs to be washed and I’d really love help making my granola and detox soup (more on that later) and… if it is at all possible… we really need to hoover sometime…. I whispered this last one as I slunk out of the room and around the corner, out of eyesight (notice I still say “we” because I can’t bring myself to say, “You need to clean the house.”)

All this on top of his cold. Caregiving sucks. But I am lucky and very thankful to have one of the best caregivers and husbands out there.

Caretaker, caretaker, take care of me, stay by my side, help fight M.E.!

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