“In sickness and in health, till death do us part”, was the promise we made to each other, the day we married. At the time, we knew about the disease though we were not aware that two years later kidneys would stop working and everything would change.
Being a caretaker is a fundamental role Catarina plays in my life. Being a caretaker demands being present, understanding, respecting and loving. I can only thank Catarina for standing by my side as a caretaker.
Since the first day, neither treatments nor the disease, turned into issues between the two of us. The fact that it became part of our routines and our DNA as a couple, is thus an undisputed and unchangeable statement. At the beginning it is hard to get used to these significant changes, but mostly individually and not much as a couple. (Read here the four steps I’ve taken to overcome this new life). I must emphasize I’ve always spoken my mind about how I feel and what hemodialysis does to my body and approach to life. Catarina was a good listener, and she acknowledged as well as me, a patient’s needs. The difference stands in the eye of the beholder. Nothing has changed. Even when I felt very tired and angry, I could count with Catarina’s unfailing support. Just as tolerance is essential in a relationship, the same happens as a caretaker. It is truly important to understand caretaker are humans and are vulnerable too, that they need time for themselves. By this I mean if I leave for dialysis, and take at least 5 hours before coming back, Catarina has time to do many things: go the shopping center, go with Gui to the park, or just spending time on her own. Catarina and I stand close when speaking about way of life, and that allows us to easily adapt to one another. I know I can always count on her, and thanks to her and Gui, the burden I carry when I’m off for treatments is a lighter one. Nothing compares to returning home and getting to have another day together. Even if that means Catarina must put an effort on domestic tasks and play mom and dad’s role on that afternoon. On the next day I end making up, and that’s how we manage to live our everyday life. Hemodialysis was never a burden for us, and it was, maybe, thanks to that, I never missed the courage to keep going day after day.
I must admit Filipe helped me a lot along the process. His strength and resiliency have shown me that a patient can have an almost normal life, and, when both, caretaker and patient, understand the new daily routine, a perfect symbiosis is combined. Being a caretaker is to give a helping hand and the hug the patient needs, when he arrives at home. Are there tough days? Yes, as any other person has. What makes the difference is making the most out of the present, and treasure all the small things such as the tight hug on every hemodialysis night.
How many caretakers are out there? What do you struggle with?