Knee Pain: A Caregiver's View
My wife, Carol, is a mother, grandmother, gardener, long-distance runner, tennis lover, exercise enthusiast, and, in general, a wonder woman.
She also suffers from knee pain resulting from osteoarthritis. She’s slowly had to remove labels from her identity as her knee pain worsens. She’s still, of course, a wonderful mother and grandmother. She’s continued gardening and adjusted her workouts according to her limitations. But running a 5K is no longer a possibility, and she’s had to put down her tennis racquet for good.
My role, other than husband, father, and grandfather, is now caregiver. I try to help Carol as much as she’ll let me. As a caregiver, you can volunteer to help, but your spouse needs to let you know what kind of help she needs. Carol is very independent, so I’ve learned that I can express my opinion about what’s best for her, and she can take my advice—or leave it. But I know that I can’t be the determining factor on her activities. When she wants to spend all day working on the yard and in the garden, I’ll remind her that last time she pushed it outside, her knees hurt for 24 hours afterward. I’ll suggest that she choose to do something else or shorten the time spent in the yard on her hands and knees, but ultimately she will make the decision.
Carol is good about knowing her limitations. Sometimes she goes too far, but I never say “I told you so.” I know that there are far too many opportunities for her to send it back to me. There’s no point in making her feel bad; she’s in enough pain as it is.
Although it’s difficult for both of us, we’re in this together. I respect her enough to trust her judgment and I recognize that everyone makes mistakes. It’s been difficult for her to adjust to a slower lifestyle, but together, we’re making it work.
Dan Scoggins is father to two grown children and two stepchildren. Together, he and his wife, Carol, have four grandchildren. They live outside of Atlanta.