Support partners: the unsung heroes

Read how an Above MS expert contributor appreciates her support team
Support Partners: The Unsung Heroes
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By Cat S. Blogger

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Who willingly takes on the role of doing my chores, adapting to my schedules, making me comfortable, and being my advocate? Who pushes the wheelchairs and keeps track of the medication schedules?

For me, it’s my mom.

Although it can be a lonely and thankless job, she does all of this without a complaint on her lips, showing gratitude for everything life has given her. There is no one like her.

My mom hasn’t missed a single MRI appointment, and she asks my healthcare team all of the questions I didn’t think to ask. She listens to me and remains patient—especially when we’re walking and she matches her pace with my ability. My mom never turns off being my support partner. Even when we go out to a movie or dinner, she’s mapping the safest routes to reduce my risk of tripping or injury. And the cherry on top? She makes heart-shaped sandwiches that just taste like home.

And all my mom asks in return is that I trust her advocacy, her years of observation, and her interest in my quality of life.

Although my mom is an incredible support partner, my day-to-day caregiver is my husband. Even though he’s not a veteran like her, they share many qualities.

My husband detects changes in my symptoms sometimes even before I notice them. He allows me to have bad days and understands that every day can be different. Like my mom, he knows the easiest way for us to cope is to make the best out of any situation—even if that means getting ice cream at 3 AM if I can’t sleep.

Whether you are a new or seasoned caretaker, try to find time for yourself too. You’re allowed to get frustrated—that’s completely natural and expected.

And to anyone with MS, know that receiving assistance is not the same as waving the white “surrender” flag over your head. Live in the moment, and be receptive to the help you’re given. Be gracious. If you have a support team like my mom and husband, they only want what’s best for you.

The key here is mutual understanding and solid communication. Whether you are giving or receiving care, make your needs known. Be open about how you feel. Empathize with one another and allow each other the ability to step back and put things into perspective if tensions rise.

In the end, what’s important isn’t the relation your caregiver is to you—it’s the love that drives the relationship. Love, service, and trust are the foundations on which a positive experience is built.

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