To the Caregivers

Two nights ago I woke up around 2am to the sounds of my husband throwing up. Does your husband do this? The first time I overheard him vomiting, I had to leave the room because his sickness was so violent I was gag-giggling. Gagging at the sound of it, but giggling just a bit because it was the most intense noise I’d ever heard.

This lovely man I’ve married has been known to frequent some (how do I say this politely?) non-hygienic restaurants, in the wee hours after he gets off work. Just last year, I forced him to swear on his life that he would never ever put one more bite of Taco Bell in his mouth again, after he celebrated his entire 34th birthday with his face in porcelain. So, the other night when I woke up to the noise of him being sick, I  was up in a flash and sanitizing everything: remotes, light switches, counters, my HANDS. And usually, it’s just a nasty bout of eating food prepared by sick teenagers at fast food joints, but this weekend it was different…it was…contagious…and it was too late to protect them all.

Here’s a time line of the subsequent hours

2am-Tall guy-sick as a dog.

3am-Biggest kid in my bed, complaining, “my tummy hurts.”

4am-Baby boy up and crying and more tall guy-sick again.

7am-Baby girl is covered in vomit, but otherwise in wonderful spirits (my tiniest trooper).

9am-Moooooooorrrrrre tall guy sickness. What is left at this point, I wonder. “welllll, last night before bed, I ate 6 tequitos, Chicken Express, and some donuts.” Wow, Mr., puke away.

11am-Our biggest kid throws up all over the living room, bathroom, and bathroom sink. (Clearly, instructing her to run to the bathroom wasn’t detailed enough-oh well).

12-6pm-Baby boy is dramatic non-stop.

7pm-The Rottie mix joins the party and throws up on our rug (I mean SERIOUSLY???) By this time the tall guy, feeling bad for all the messes I’ve cleaned up, offers to take care of that mess. (Thank God because dog functions are where I draw. the. line).

7:30-Everyone goes to bed and I am alone with some wine (it’s good for the stomach), raw hands, tortilla soup, and Call the Midwife (maybe not the best choice considering the day, or maybe I just needed some fictional camaraderie).

12am-The last hold out, our middle child, bites the dust.

People. It’s been a weekend. Such a weekend, that the tall guy offered multiple times to send me to a hotel next week.

But lest I feel too bad for myself, so many of you bravely spend large portions of your time in children’s hospitals with your precious littles, or have nursed/are nursing spouses and parents, or dedicate your lives to helping and healing the sick, as doctors and nurses.

My grandmother with her hospice nurses. These amazing women helped to graciously served her in her last days and I am so grateful.
My grandmother with her hospice nurses. These amazing women helped to graciously served her in her last days and I am so grateful.

One weekend of vomit in the scheme of things is nothing, when others’ lives are consumed with illness.

So to you, the lonely caregivers, the ones who want to ask for help, but don’t know what that looks like, or how to articulate it, or even if “help” could be helpful.

To the ones who do what you do, because you wouldn’t dream of complaining, or doing anything else.

To the ones who are scared of what the next day or hour might bring.

To the ones who smile and look on the bright side, and make life special, regardless.

To the ones who are weary, who don’t take time for yourselves.

To the ones who live or work in the trenches, where sickness is routine.

To the ones who know the sounds and smells of hospitals all to well, whose backs are familiar with hard sofas, and feet know tile floors.

To the ones who forgot what a night full of sleep feels like.

To the ones who are living out the lay down your life, sacrificial, for better and for
worse love-you are my heroes.

Those of us on the outside, who complain about one day of vomit, are humbled by you and admire you. We want to help and are overjoyed when you ask for it. There are so many of you, quietly serving, living life this way. You know how to lend an ear to the newly suffering. You know that sometimes presence trumps every other kind of help. You know a deeper heartache than the rest of us can imagine.

Today. Know you are loved. Know you are prayed for. Know you are not alone. Take time for you. Just a few moments to breathe and take care. And ask for help. We want to give it!

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