Five tips to better healing
Don’t just be present. Be a partner. You need to work as a team member, in partnership with the patient, to be there and support him or her with any and all treatments, from MRIs to IV-line cleanings. Whether double-checking with the nurses about the drugs they’re hooking up, making sure the bed is made or freshened while the patient is in the shower or bathroom, scheduling the physical therapists to keep your partner active and limber, or dealing with the three meals and snack orders, you are there to deal with the many details that make up daily hospital life. An unspoken team partnership is crucial for caregivers to bring to the table and for patients to rely on. It was my commitment to make sure Jacqui felt her partner was engaged with the journey 24/7. She knew it, she felt it, she counted on it.
Keep them active and involved. Sometimes it’s just being there to open the shades and point out how beautiful the sunrise is that morning. Sometimes it’s sharing an important front-page story in the news or breaking out a favorite game like Yahtzee to encourage the patient’s competitive spirit. Sometimes it’s playing a CD of oldies but goodies and getting up to do some crazy dance steps to get a laugh - or, better still, to get the patient to dance even if it means she must stand on your feet because she can’t stand alone.When you’re ill, the world feels like it’s closing in on you. It’s important for the caregiver to keep enlarging the boundaries and keep the patient involved with the outside world. Jacqui, who worked in women’s retail and was not familiar with daytime TV, really enjoyed watching Ellen when I started putting it on as she saw women celebrating life … laughing and dancing every day. The will to live and being active with the outside world is crucial therapy.
Arrange for small doses of one-on-one time with special friends and family. Your loved one values friendships, and some concentrated time with a dear friend or family member can be restorative. Have a special friend come over for 10 minutes to an hour (depending on how your loved one is feeling that day), and occupy yourself with a task nearby. This way, you can be summoned easily if needed, but they can still have some privacy and a small sense of normalcy. And if you need to regroup, grab a coffee with a friend or get on the phone with a college buddy. Do whatever it takes to remain strong, clearminded and balanced. Your own good mental outlook is crucial to your partner.
The caregiver must become the dependable all-around partner for the patient. If you can do that effectively and incorporate these five tips, the patient can relax as he or she heals and know that the train has a co-driver and all is well with the arduous journey. The more you take on your shoulders, the less remains on the patient’s. Needless to say, this includes everything else going on with your home, financial concerns such as paying monthly bills, and keeping family and friends informed. I was busy, as all caregivers are. And every single day, I am deeply grateful for Jacqui’s healing. Guy Magar, a TV and film director/writer/ producer, has worked for more than 30 years in the motion picture industry. His credits include Battlestar Galactica, The A-Team, La Femme Nikita and Children of the Corn: Revelation. He is the author of Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot: A Filmmaker’s Journey into the Lights of Hollywood and True Love (www.kissmequickbeforeishoot.com).
MARCH 2013 Amp it up! magazine
The Health & Lifestyle Magazine for Amputees Who Want to Live More Fully