The Balance Between Caregiver and Wife
By Dole Caregiver Fellow Megan Zimmerman
Caregiver. Wife. Two words that describe who I am and what I do. Every day, I struggle to find a balance between the two and most days, caregiver comes out on top.
Nearly six years ago, my husband was severely injured in Afghanistan, forcing me at the young age of twenty to shoulder caregiving duties that I will continue to perform for the rest of my life. Of course these duties vary depending on the day, the amount of pain, and how my veteran’s wounds are healing. But no matter what, every day, I am needed.
When you’re simply doing what needs to be done, it’s difficult to realize the changes taking place, but at some point in that first year I stopped being a wife and started being seen as nothing but a nurse. I was lonely, frustrated and under-appreciated. These feelings unfortunately came out at the worst of times and I know I hurt the person I loved most.
Caregiving is so trying on a relationship. It’s hard to be the loving and emotional support your spouse needs after a traumatic experience, but at the same time be the one caring for them in all aspects of daily life, performing duties that are typically performed only by highly trained medical personnel and pushing them to their limits to improve themselves.
However, once I took a hard look at where my relationship was and what it had gone through, my heart truly ached with pride. Pride with what I had accomplished through my dedication, support, and advocacy for a man who needed me. Being his wife is my greatest blessing and highest achievement. And being his caregiver has taught me hard work, appreciation and determination.
In a time that I thought my relationship was struggling, I look back and realize how strong the struggles made us. We are bound by an experience that has allowed us a love and dedication to one another that most couples only dream to have one day.
I still struggle with my roles and wonder if I’ll ever be as equally a wife as I am a caregiver, but I am working daily to put the positive aspects of my relationship in front of everything else.
I have nursed a man to health while loving him unconditionally and for that, he is eternally grateful to me as his wife and his caregiver.