Caregiver fatigue, or, I’d like to reflect on this, but I’m too tired

Last night was the Light the Night walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), a five kilometre family-type event where all walkers carry illuminated helium-filled balloons to honour people affected by these cancers. Supporters carry red balloons, survivors carry white and gold balloons represent those who have died and whose family and friends honour them by participating. Last year, my Graydon was the event’s Honoured Hero. This year, he walked as a four-year survivor of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.


This is a photo from last year, mainly because there aren’t any from last night yet. I’ve been told that there will be though, since Graydon and his buds wore “large green hats” and had a lot of pictures snapped of them.

Another major difference is that he walked with friends—new friends. Life for Graydon has been all about struggle on one front or another since diagnosis on December 17, 2001. And I have been at his side, or leading him or pushing him all the way. This year has been %!$!#&$%-filled, and as The Mum, I am finally getting tired. If you’ve experienced caregiver fatigue, you know what I’m talking about. A special-needs child, a family member with addiction or mental health problems, an aging relative who looks only to you—it’s a burnout that makes job-place burnout look like heaven.

I knew that I was too emotional to do that walk. The sight of a floating gold balloon and the photo of a child would have been too much, and I would not have been able to hold it together. Add to that the fact that the walk route goes along Sick Kids Hospital and the kids and parents and nurses inside on the eighth floor line the floor-to-ceiling windows, waving and looking out, and I would have been a puddle on the sidewalk. I know my limits.

So, Graydon walked with new friends. He took a huge step from being at his mother’s side, and I took an equally large step from always being at his side. Like I said at the top of the post, I’d like to reflect on this big happening in our history together but I’m too tired, and it has nothing to do with sleep.

Graydon’s goal for fundraising this year was $600, and he has raised $680. Should you have any spare $$$ lying about that you would like to donate, check out his LLS donation page. Even if you don’t, click over and see how bright and shiny fundraising is thanks to these nifty computers. (I remember going door-to-door with a tattered pledge sheet for an Oxfam walk for starving children in Biafra, thinking 10¢ a mile was huge money, and then trudging along the route listening to “I Heard It on the Grapevine” on my transistor radio. Good times!)

QUESTIONS FOR YOU: have you experienced caregiver fatigue? What was the best thing you did for yourself to help cope? Have you cut back on your charitable giving lately? Do you think it is obnoxious for fundraising sites to want to display the names of sponsors? How could I have walked for Oxfam and Biafran children when I am only 39 years old?!?!?


One Response

  1. 1)on caregiver fatigue ~ I only helped with my grandmother’s care, my mom & uncle were her primary care givers ~ but I had a small taste of what they went through and I do understand how exhausting it can be for full time care givers.
    2) on charitable giving … I very recently made a donation via a website (my friend is walking for the cure ~ breast cancer) & I made mention of this to my mom (a breast cancer survivor) to which she said, “I don’t give to cancer, they use a lot of the raised money for administrator costs” … Now please know I have no idea if this statement is true it is simply my mom’s response to me about making a donation to support the fight of cancer.
    However it does make me think … I would much rather my donations go where the whole or at least the majority of my donation would go to the actual cause (research, treatments, that kind of thing) then to the paying of the administrators etc. It is a fine line to examine as well as you then have to really do your research as to who you will support because you then believe your money will be put to best use.
    3) displaying names of sponsors … I chose to let my friends site display our names so that her family & friends would know that we supported her efforts in this walk… but I did have the option of not displaying my name. I think if I didn’t want my name displayed & that option didn’t exsist then I would reconsider making my donation via the web.

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