Saturday, July 14, 2012

unrequited caring

“Melancholy hearts flutter with unrequited care”
Restless by C Rossi-Kenyon

While caring may be unrequited the most important thing I must remember (because I can) is that for Patti it’s not a choice.

Progression of Multiple Sclerosis cognitive symptoms, including dementia like symptoms including memory loss, prevents her from dependable awareness, much less concern, about my health and well-being or anyone’s.

Progression of MS physical symptoms prevents her from physically caring for anyone (much less herself). 

Unrequited ‘love’, now there is something we all know about, but is love the same as caring. Who amongst us cannot tap that emotional reservoir of unrequited love? It can get crowded drinking from that keg of emotions sharing with yourself, Charlie Brown, and most of history’s romantic poets.

But what about unrequited caring?

What about caring but being physically unable to help? Trapped inside your body unable to help.

What about caring but being cognitively unable to help? MS is not the only disease with progressive memory loss. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that there are 500,000 Americans younger than 65 with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. One out of eight people age 65 and older (13 percent) has Alzheimer’s disease.

picture of caregiver tebowing behind wheelchair
My own diagnosis this year of lung cancer, surgery, and recovery rather dramatically accentuated all this. Yes, I find myself “tebowing” in gratitude for the care facility era of living with MS because unless reminded, including a brief refresher version, Patti remains oblivious in the now of the recent then. Patti was safe and unworried through my struggles – the way it should be.

Unrequited love? We can all rally around an anthem of she/he done him/her wrong. … Unrequited care? We can only imagine the care robbed by failing abilities of those who cannot remember what or who they care about.  

I may not be a smart man but it seems to me song writers and poets may have had it easier before modern medical science discovered it could prolong life but not the quality of living … and ‘somebody that I used to know’ was a choice and not progression of a medical diagnosis. 

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer 


  1. You say it so well, Patrick. While it's a different circumstance, I see it in my mother. Her clichéd responses still center on the care she had for me, but her deep dementia makes it impossible for her to act.
    Patti is so lucky to have you, even if she doesn't know it.

  2. My mother because progressively more & more ill while I was still a child, so I turned caregiver rather young. That killed her a little bit inside. She was the ultimate caregiver to all, when she could be...

  3. I like your thought of how medical science figured out how to prolong life but not the quality of it; I struggle with that concept a we really need to live a long life with multiple diagnoses and multiple pills because we can by science or should there be some ethics here......this in particular is a very hot sensitive subject to me


  4. This is beautifully written and a wonderful public expression of the beauty you have inside. This is not the life you and Patti would have chosen, I suspect, but it is a life well lived. Congratulations.

  5. Thank you all for your kind comments and shared experiences. Seemingly the world has been victimized by "unrequited love" (4 million plus google results) but "unrequited care" reveals just over one thousand results. We are the new age.
    Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

  6. Beautiful Patrick! "Ya gots to work with what you gots to work with." Stevie Wonder

  7. Sadly, I struggle with this a lot. How to handle the one-sidedness of the caregiving relationship? Sad, maddening and, it makes me cranky!

    Well said, my friend.

  8. yours is really an amazing story. to be a caregiver while the caregiver is healthy is one thing, but to pull it off while having your own health compromised is quite a whole different ball game...thank you for sharing Patrick.


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