When Two Caregivers Meet, We Recognize Each Other

Parents of children with chronic illness can sense a shared set of feelings

Joe MacDonald avatar

by Joe MacDonald |

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Last week, I visited an outstanding church member in a local hospital. When I arrived, I saw a friend in the lobby, looked into her eyes, and knew that something was dreadfully wrong. She explained that her baby suffered unexplained medical issues and required immediate care.

Parents whose children are ill wear an expression of helplessness. For those of us who struggle with chronic illness (my sons have hemophilia), we can recognize this type of weariness quicker than a heartbeat. The look of panic and dread cannot stay hidden. It swims in our eyes, letting the world know something is wrong.

When I heard about the situation, my heart fell to my chest. Although the little one did not have a bleeding disorder, something within me realized my friend’s anxiety. It reminded me of the fear that overwhelmed me when my son suffered many spontaneous joint bleeds and needed the help of our medical team, often sending us to the ER. Without speaking, I understood the anxiety and concern that overwhelms a parent when addressing an immediate medical crisis.

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Before I left the lobby for my pastoral visit, I had a moment to talk with my friend. She explained the situation and felt at her wit’s end because the medical team had no diagnosis regarding her baby. So the physicians directing her child’s care started another test, hoping they may get the information needed to treat my friend’s little one properly.

Throughout her telling of the story, I could hear the fear in her voice. I know how difficult it is to make any sound when the care of our greatest treasures feels threatened and unsure.

I grabbed my friend’s hands and mustered the only words of advice I could in a time of great crisis. I offered to hold her in prayer and assured her that the baby’s medical team worked together to create the best road map for her little one’s care. I told her to rely on those of us who love her and want to hold her hand as she walks through the darkest valleys in our lives. I assured her that she would not make this journey alone, for those who care for my friend stand beside her, offering all the strength we have to get through this nightmare.

I hugged her, feeling the connection we share as caregivers to children with chronic illnesses. There is something within our souls that connect, as if it recognizes the familiar parts of our stories. Although the medical terms and issues may pose different questions and responses, the feelings and anxieties look very familiar.

The most important thing I wanted my friend to know is that she is not alone. She has a much larger support system than she can imagine. She has to open her eyes, even in the darkest of nights, to realize the light of connection that overwhelms the blackness of disease.

While I entered the hospital to visit a parishioner, I couldn’t help but feel gratitude for the chance encounter in the lobby with my friend. I hoped I represented a still, calming presence that she needed in a time of chaos. I also remembered the dear friends who reminded me that they understood my pain and walked beside me as I struggled. They reminded me that in the darkest of nights, loved ones come to make the burden a little less heavy simply because they reach out in the most difficult of times.


Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.

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