My beautiful, smart and wonderful daughter has a heart condition. When I asked for suggestions for this post, she wanted me to talk about loss of independence. Cee and I know a lot about the subject, as do any of you who have a chronic illness. It also applies in many ways to those of you who have gone through the death of a loved one, and many other types of losses. I’ll address it from the angle of chronic illness first, and let all of you chime in.
Chronic illness robs you of your independence. Period. You can’t get around it. In my daughter Nikki’s case, she has to rely on her husband and son to do certain things for her. She can’t carry too many things, or things that are too heavy, so she needs one of them to go to the store with her, or for her. She doesn’t travel alone any more, just in case she gets too weak or needs assistance. She can’t work, so she can’t support herself. She has to rely on her husband’s income. She has lost her independence in so many ways. She can’t go running or get to the gym when she wants. She can’t go out with the girls, just to relax and catch up with them. Heart disease as serious as hers controls her life now.
Cee and I know what loss of independence is all about. After the three times she has almost died, she needed me to do everything for her. After the coma in 2001, she even needed to be fed because she had lost so much muscle mass. After each significant bout of Lyme disease, she would lose what little independence she had gained back. Fortunately, she’s so much better now that she can drive herself around, do her own laundry, and help to clean around the house. I still support her. She’s not ready to go back into the work force. That’s one of the reasons she became certified as a Grief Recovery Specialist. She’s able to start earning money again while controlling her hours and working conditions. That, and the fact that she’s darned good at it.
You might not have a condition as severe as Nikki’s, or as complicated as Cee’s has been, but if you have any sort of chronic illness, or a long term illness like cancer can be, you have been forced to give up some of your independence. It’s just part of the package.
Those of us who are caretakers for someone with a chronic illness also give up our independence. We have to be more mindful of how we are spending our energy and time, to be there for the person we love. I’ve given up the hiking and camping Cee and I loved to do together, for example.
A death in the family often results in a loss of independence as one person now becomes the sole bread winner, or surviving parent or caretaker. It might mean that you have to give up your house or apartment and move in with a family member.
How have you had a loss of independence?
Keep those questions coming! Feel free to suggest topics!
Lots of virtual hugs,
Chris and Cee