If you are the family caregiver for an aging loved one, you might often try to put yourself in their shoes. What does it feel like to have arthritis in your hands, making it painful to grip things or pick things up? What does it feel like to have Alzheimer’s and forget things like faces and experiences?
Sometimes, it is not easy to put these experiences into words. By reading several first-person accounts of experiences with the disease, though, it is possible to put yourself in your loved one’s place, and experience a bit of what your loved one feels. Take shingles, for example. By reading several firsthand accounts of shingles, it is possible to see things through the eyes of your loved one who is suffering from this illness. Let’s give it a try.
It all starts with a small itch. Nothing too serious at first, just annoying, and a little uncomfortable. Then a bump appears on your shoulder. A mosquito bite, maybe? It itches, and the skin around it is tender, almost like the sensation of a pulled muscle.
The next day more bumps join the first. They itch and burn at the same time, and scratching only makes it worse. There is a tingling feeling below the skin, almost like when your arm falls asleep, and it is starting to wake up. It feels like pins and needles, and the sensation is driving you crazy. Your daughter suggests that maybe it’s poison ivy, and says that if it doesn’t go away by tomorrow, she’ll schedule a doctor’s appointment for you.
Tomorrow it is even worse. It is spreading from your shoulder up your neck now, and every time something touches it, it makes you jump. Even the collar of your shirt or an accidental brush of your grandchild’s hand activates the itching and the burning and the pain that radiates out of the rash and deep down into the muscles beneath it. This is not getting better, but you wish like crazy that it would, because you haven’t been comfortable for days. You can’t sleep because of the burning and itching, and you feel anxious and jittery and fearful of what the rash could represent.
When you finally get in to see a doctor, he tells you that you have shingles. Shingles, that disease on the television commercials that you’ve seen with former celebrities telling their stories. You never would have guessed it was shingles. Your doctor tells you that shingles is basically a form of revenge from the chicken pox you had when you were six years old. The virus had lain dormant inside your body for almost seventy years, but here it is, back again, to wreak havoc.
He gives you some salves and some medications, and says that the rash should go away in a few weeks’ time. That, at least, is a relief, even if relief will be slow in coming for that itchy, burning rash.
Being able to look at shingles from an insider’s perspective can help you to understand what your loved one is going through. You can’t mimic their experience exactly, but it is useful to have some idea of how they are feeling so you can know how to help them.
The staff at SYNERGY HomeCare are available to talk with you and your family about all of your elder care needs. SYNERGY HomeCare is an elder care agency providing quality and affordable elderly care in Bellaire, TX, and the surrounding areas. Call us for more information at 713-396-5211.