Family Caregivers Need to Take Care of Their Medical Needs, Too

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by Joe MacDonald |

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Last week I attended the New Mexico Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. As a pastor, I must attend the conference every year. One positive aspect of the meeting is a focus on clergy health. A medical assistant measured me, took my blood pressure, weighed me, and took a blood sample.

While I’m grateful that our leadership invests in clergy health, I wasn’t too fond of some results of my diagnostic exam. Several of my numbers read out of the healthy range, reminding me that I need to pay attention to several medical issues.

I’m a type 2 diabetic and require insulin. According to the results from my exam, my blood sugar levels registered too high. I know what I must do to help my numbers — I can lower my A1C with exercise and watching what I eat — but I’m guilty of making bad life choices.

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Immediately, I think of my sons and realize that to take care of them, I must pay attention to myself. How can I expect my boys to follow doctors’ orders when I turn a blind ear? In past columns, I have stressed the importance of mental health, but as a caregiver, I must also pay attention to my physical health. It’s much like a flight attendant reminding us that if we lose cabin pressure, we should place the oxygen mask over our face first before helping others.

I sometimes forget to pay attention to my medical needs when contending with my boys’ complications from hemophilia. Once an internal bleed starts in one of my sons’ joints, the main focus of the house is to stop the bleed by infusing medication into a vein. We continue watching the joint and help our boy remain calm during the most challenging time of a bleeding episode. Sometimes healing occurs within minutes, while some events can take days to resolve.

Through the most challenging times, I must remember to address my health issues and not forget to take medication as directed. While shifting my attention to my son’s needs is appropriate, I cannot let my problems fall by the wayside. There must be a delicate balance between all my family members as we struggle to keep healthy. Meanwhile, we juggle all the balls in the air, hoping we don’t drop anything.

As I look at the results from my lab work, I commit to making healthier choices. I want to stay on this earth a lot longer to help my sons and watch them follow their dreams. I stand a better chance of a much longer life when I listen to my doctor’s advice and do the next right thing. Perhaps I can help my boys by demonstrating how to develop healthy self-care practices. In paying attention to my medical needs, I may continue to support them.

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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