By David Nassaney, Castaic Community Contributor
My wife Charlene and I had a fairy-tale courtship, romance, and marriage for the first twenty-one years of our lives together. Then one morning, Charlene complained of a bad headache that she had for a few days. We didn’t pay much attention to it. But then, the headache ceased being only a headache.
By the time the ambulance arrived, it was too late. The woman I loved had a massive stroke and became severely speech impaired and paralyzed on her right side. Our world immediately turned upside down, and our lives have never been the same.
Charlene became angry and bitter because she was grieving her loss. Then I became angry and bitter for the same reasons. I grieved that my wife was no longer the woman that I married. I still loved her, but it was very hard being on the receiving end of her anger brought about by her grief.
I felt so guilty. In fact, I came to a point that I didn’t know if I could do it any longer. One day, I sat down and wrote her a letter: “Charlene, why are you so mean to me? It’s so hard being your husband, taking care of you all the time, without feeling any love in return.
I know it’s hard for you, but you are making it even harder for me to care for you. I just don’t know if I can be with you any longer. I’ll take care of you financially, but I don’t think I can be with you.” I read that letter over and over again, but I just couldn’t give it to her.
Then, one day I remembered that someone at the hospital invited me to a caregiver’s support group for people just like me: burned-out caregivers, so I went. Going to that group changed everything for me. I found hope again, and I discovered that I had to take care of me before I could take care of my wife.
They tell us on airplanes that in the event of an emergency, we are to put our oxygen mask on first before we attempt to help our loved ones with their masks. That’s such a great metaphor for all of life: You have to take care of yourself first, not out of selfishness, but out of survival.
As a result of all of this, I have just authored my 3rd book, a #1 best-seller called, It’s My Life, Too! Reclaim Your Caregiver Sanity by Learning When to Say “Yes” and When to Say “No”. My upcoming book signing is at the Barnes & Noble at 23632 Valencia Blvd., on Saturday, November 11, *Veterans Day, from 3-5 p.m. in honor of all the caregivers of vets, and National Family Caregiver Month. Come, and bring a caregiver with you.
This book is perfect for caregivers who know they should put their needs first, but just don’t know how. Go to www.CaregiversCaregiver.com to find out more about joining this wonderful support team of caregivers.
*Editor’s note: The printed version of this story which appeared in The Signal on Wednesday, October 25, listed the book signing at Barnes & Noble, Valencia on November 18. The Correct date of the book signing is Saturday, November 11, 3-5 p.m.