My husband has Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is the gradual degeneration of the nerve cells in the brain that control movement. Ordinary tasks are now challenging or exceptionally time-consuming for him. In large and small ways, Parkinson’s has changed the dynamic of our marriage from partners to caregiver and patient.
I have listed the tools that I use to cope with the demands of being a caregiver.
1). Healing Sacraments. Frequent reception of the Eucharist has sustained me in the day-to-day struggles. Reconciliation lifts the burden of guilt that this caregiver experiences when she is impatient, speaks harshly or just wants to run away from her responsibilities.
2). Time off. Every caregiver needs some trustworthy friends who can step in to provide some relief, if only for a short while. It is good for the person who is ill to have contact with others who care. It takes humility to accept help when it is offered, and to ask for help when it is needed.
3). Daily Mass. By waking up early, I am able to attend Mass most days before work. It is my lifeline.
4). Friends who really understand. My cousin’s husband has MS. Every now and then, we arrange to meet for drinks and appetizers. We call it our pity party. It’s very therapeutic for both of us to vent. We laugh, we cry and we support one another. It’s good to know that I am not the only one on this road.
5). The Word of God. Being able to draw from a well of biblical inspiration gives me strength in the hardest moments. These are some of my favorite passages:
God is our refuge and strength, a present help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:2
Trust in the LORD with all your heart. Proverbs 3:5
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
God makes all things work for the good for those who love Him. Romans 8:28
6). Exercise. It’s important for me to maintain my own health and to gain physical strength that I need to help my husband to transfer into a car or bed, or to do things around the house that he can no longer do.
7). Visible Signs. I have a small, smooth olive wood cross from the holy land that I often hold during prayer. I like inspirational signs, and have several at home. I see “Be still and know that I am God” from my bed. “Relax” is above the bathroom mirror. They are reminders that God is in control. He loves me and will carry me through the tough times.
2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.