When I started this blog, I had a short list of topics I wanted to write about. One of those topics was the concept of caregiver and what that means to me. Lynn’s latest post made me think it was time for me to cover that topic. I don’t plan on responding to all of Lynn’s posts (she is certainly capable of speaking for herself), but this is something we have discussed many times since my diagnosis, so here is my take on the term caregiver.
I also hate that term. I know that a caregiver can come in many forms and the term caregiver is just a blanket category to cover all those forms. A caregiver can be a significant other, child, parent, relative, friend, volunteer, or even a paid professional. Essentially, a caregiver is the patient’s support system. I get that.
Unfortunately, that last form is the first thing that comes to my mind when the term caregiver is mentioned. I picture a scenario where I am helplessly dependent on my caregiver for basic tasks such as feeding myself and wiping my butt. While these are things I would gladly do for Lynn, I hope that Lynn will never have to do them for me, for both her sake and mine. I know that there are caregivers out there, wives, husbands, etc, who are doing those things for their loved ones and I don’t mean to denigrate either the patient or caregiver in those situations. I’m sure it’s as tough on them as it would be for us. In the end, you do what needs to be done. It’s just that right now that situation is just hypothetical for us; I am currently capable of taking care of those tasks myself.
Don’t get me wrong. I am dependent on Lynn. As I’ve said before, I would be lost on this journey without her. She lifts me up when I am down. She helps me manage my appointments. She goes with me to all of my appointments and she asks the questions that I don’t think to ask. She keeps me going when my brain gets fogged. She’s not just my second eyes and ears, she’s my second heart. The term caregiver is woefully inadequate to describe what she is to me, so I have come up with my own term for her.
The term wingman comes from military aviation. From the Wikipedia entry:
The wingman’s role is to add an element of mutual support to aerial combat. The presence of a wingman makes the flight both offensively and defensively more capable by increasing firepower and situational awareness, permitting the attack of enemies, and increasing the ability to employ more dynamic tactics.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wingman
Lynn does all of those things for me, particularly the situational awareness. When I write that my “brain gets fogged,” I mean that with everything going on, I’m not always as sharp as I need to be. I don’t know if it’s stress, distraction, or the Nivolumab version of “chemo brain,” but sometimes I’m like an absent-minded professor, and that is a dangerous state to be in when you’re engaged in a dogfight. That’s just one of the many reasons why I need my wingman.
Together we’ve got this. Whatever this may turn out to be.