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CrabbyCancerMan’s treatments continue.  This round of chemo is proving to be even less fun, with all of the “television chemo” symptoms that he’s mostly avoided in the past: nausea and vomiting, hair loss, immuno-supression, fatigue.  After a long leave of absence so generously given by my employers, I’m thrilled to be back at work, but the only way that is really possible is to have friends and family regularly checking on my beloved patient.  Not the “stop in for fifteen minutes to make you smile” visits, but the “I’m really here to take care of you while you’re caregiver is doing other stuff that needs to happen, because it takes a village and whatnot.”

Here’s our list of what I think of as most helpful:
1.  Any time you’re coming by for a “care visit” (as opposed to a “social visit”), offer to do at least one of the following:
– take out the trash
– walk the dog/scoop the litter box/feed the birds
– load the dishwasher
– start a load of laundry/fold the laundry
– water the plants
– mow the lawn
2.  While you’re here, the patient may be feeling:
– sleepy
– grumpy
– dopey
– bashful/pukey
– in need of Doc
With this in mind, sometimes what is really needed for you to be in the home, just sitting “for in case.”  Please – make yourself comfortable.  Bring a book, watch a film, work on your knitting, crocheting, macrame, or needlepoint.  Answer e-mails.  We’ve noticed that visitors often feel like they’ve been more helpful when CrabbyCancerMan is up to being social, but the reality is that visitors are also helpful when he needs to rest, because it gives him (and me) peace of mind to know that someone is there.
3.  When you arrive, check with the patient (or caregiver):
– who should be called first if there is a problem?
– what should be done if the patient falls asleep?
– if I need to leave, who should I tell?
– can I wake up the patient if need be?
4.  If the patient is sleeping when you are ready to leave, and the patient does not want to be disturbed, leave a note for the caregiver to let that person know what transpired.  Surprises are great for birthdays, but less great for medical issues.
What other things should be added to this list?