James D. Huysman Psy.D., LCSW

Life in the Recovery Room

Caregivers in Recovery- A Place of Strength and Hope

It is Time to Take Your Own Sobriety and Oxygen First!

Posted Oct 23, 2010

Dr. J's reprint of an important article by Kenny P.- Co-founder of the Social Media Network........ In The Rooms

When I had about 5 years into my recovery, my father went into the hospital for a relatively simple operation to reinforce a bad mitral valve in his heart. The doctors stated that he was “practically pediatric” at the age of 63 and he would be fine after a month or so of physical rehabilitation. My father went through the surgery just fine, but 2 days later while I was visiting him, he had what the doctors called an “event”. To put it simply, while the doctors worked on him, my father went without oxygen for almost 12 minutes and he was left in a “vegetative state”. He was then in a coma for about another 6 months.

I had just had a brand new baby and I always remember how I learned how to diaper my newborn son at the same time I learned how to diaper my father. When my dad came out of the coma…we all wished he was back in one. He became violent, very moody and he cried constantly. He had both auditory and visual hallucinations and needed 24 hour a day nursing care for the next 6 1/2 years until he finally passed away.

This was a tremendously painful time in my life as well as in my recovery. All at the same time, my Mother was battling breast cancer, my brother had testicular cancer, my Grandmother died suddenly and my grandfather had to be put into a nursing home due to Alzheimer’s. I almost forgot, I had to have emergency surgery on a herniated disc due to the onset of paralysis.

During this time, I went to MORE meetings NOT less. I also went to a recovering men’s support group and shared what I was going through each week. Even so, I was on shaky ground. I’d lost faith in the higher power that I recently had re-found here in the rooms. It was only by the grace of God that I didn’t use during this time. I was very lucky indeed!

This brings me to the point of this article. Many of us for one reason or another find ourselves in the role of caretakers during our recovery. We’re either taking care of our kids, our spouses, and sometimes, our friends. As we, as a fellowship get older, an amazing number of us are taking care of our parents. I have many friends that are going through incredibly tough times with Alzheimer’s, cancer,  diabetes and so many other chronic illnesses.

Who is taking care of the caregivers? What are the caregivers doing to stay connected? Many of us have felt guilty of being a “downer” in a positive meeting and haven’t wanted to share their pain. We have a group here InTheRooms dedicated to supporting the recovering caregiver.

If you’re going through a tough time now OR if you’ve already “weathered the storm” and have some experience strength and hope to share, please click HERE and get connected to www.caregiversinrecovery.com

Thanks for letting me share, Kenny P.

No Kenny, thank you for allowing us to be a part of your sacred story. And thank you and RT for creating www.intherooms.com for just this powerful purpose.

Dr. Jamie, LCSW, CAP