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As a caregiver, you might be asking yourself, “Why write my caregiving stories?” I can think of several reasons that writing them would be good and fun. The first is to keep a record.

All caregivers know that part of caregiving is keeping track of medications, treatments (changing dressings, taking blood pressures), doctors’ appointments, lab tests, x-rays, scans, procedures, and maybe chemo and radiation schedules. As a friend of mine who is undergoing all of the above right now said, “Lois, we’re not medical people. We have no idea what we’re doing.”

Keeping a record helps. Do it on a calendar, smart phone, diary, or journal. AND carry a small notebook or iPad to appointments to take notes.

Keeping a record has saved my sanity. Six years ago, I felt something pop in my right groin as I stepped off a treadmill. Three months earlier, I had fallen and fractured my right hip. I was healed from the surgery and feeling fantastic until that fateful step.  What has followed is a six-year quest to determine the cause of the resulting pain, a pain I describe as a serrated knife sawing away night and day around the bottom of my rib cage.

Two years after my new life of chronic pain began, I was admitted into a four-week, full-time pain management program at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Luckily, I’d kept a record of the tests done, and I’d asked for copies of the results and filed them. So, for the history that RIC required, I made copies of my copies and typed up a table of contents that listed dates and names for the tests: five series of lab tests, four x-rays, four scans, one ultrasound, and two MRIs.

For one test, my patient gown was a bit large!

But there’s more. Keeping a record is fun because the list validates my experience. These things happened. Really. And the record affirms for me that I have not allowed myself to surrender to the pain.

So many people have said, “Lois, I don’t know how you live with it.” Well, this isn’t the life I’d hoped for, but…everyone has a story of some sort and this happens to be mine. And I’m happy the pain is not worse, and that I can pretty much do what I want to…at a measured pace.

Plus, I have other records from the last six years that give me joy – my daughter’s  wedding, births of two grandchildren, a road trip to the West Coast, high school graduations of two grandchildren, Chicago excursions too numerous to mention, and our now annual trip to Aruba. And, of course, publishing Caring Lessons: A Nursing Professor’s Journey of Faith and Self and meeting so many appreciative readers.

Think about why you might like to write your caregiving stories, and next time, I will address a second reason for doing so.