The Hardest Word In The English Language

Sorry I’ve been missing in action for a little while. To be honest, there haven’t been enough hours in the day lately. I’ve been dealing with some serious side effects from some facet joint injections. I’m still dealing with them, just having a little more success than I’ve been having.

Anyway, my little journey these past two weeks have led to multiple discoveries, not the least of which is the absolute hardest word in the English language for a human being to use in regards to themselves. I see those wheels spinning. Of course, the first word that comes to my mind when I say hard is the one the high school English teachers were so fond of – antidisestablishmentarianism. I’m not even sure I spelled that right. Neither is spell check – which flagged the word, with the question “spelling”, but gave me no other options. Also popular with the linguist – the proper use of THERE, THEIR and THEY’RE. Nope, not what I have in mind. The hardest word in the English language is HELP. Yep – four little innocuous letters that cause more grief and misery than all others combined when used in a first person vernacular.

Oh, how easy it is to use in regard to another! I’ll be glad to help you move. It would be my pleasure to help you find the right color paint. I will be happy to help you with your children while you are recovering. I’ll be happy to help you, just call me. If you work in a customer service job, that may well be in the first sentence you are trained to say to a customer,  the ever popular “How may I help you?” As people, it is usually fairly easy for us to articulate in what way you can help. In response to the examples above, I need to use your truck, I’m trying to match my sofa, thanks so much, I need someone to pick them up at school until I can drive again, I will as soon as I know what I need. However, its much easier for me to put it on this page than it is for someone to actually ask. Think about it. Now admit it. There have been times in your life when you should have put your pride in your back pocket and asked for help. Guilty as charged here! I am a caregiver for my disabled husband and disabled son. I have two other children and a grandson. I do all the cooking and cleaning. My husband has become able to handle the laundry from his wheelchair, so he does most of that. My daughter and her little family do have their own home, right across the yard, so I’m not responsible for them as much. My younger son returns to college in a couple weeks, so the assistance I get from him will be gone until his next trip home. Most of the time I manage quite well. The last two weeks, not so much. I had the aforementioned facet joint injections, with the hope and intent that they would control to some degree the pain in my lower spine caused by degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and multiple other conditions that can be summed up with the word arthritis. Because of my role as caregiver, part of what I do daily is load and unload a wheelchair into a car, help with showers, cook 3 meals a day, and keep the house running. I deal with diapers and compression garments. It is a full time job – and it is one I would not trade for anything! However, there are days when my body disagrees. There are days when my back sings off-key opera at full volume. There are days when I need help. Oh, crap, there is that word. Help – my definition – what I do for others. Never, ever, ever what I need others to do for me. Never. I can do this. This can be a problem, however. The past two weeks I have dealt with mild to moderate to downright severe side effects of the injected medications.  The injections consisted of 7 shots, with a mixture of three medicines. Lidocaine, depomedrol (a steroid) and sarapin. From these three medications, I have had severe hunger, shakiness, dizziness, moodiness, hot flashes, nausea, headache, general weakness, and this past week, hives and itching. At times all of the side effects at once. Annoying, yes. Interfering with my ability to function, yes. Leading me to ask for help from others – nope! Why would I ask for help??? Times like this I feel like the cavewoman – “Me strong, me can do it by myself”. Truth is, I need help. I need someone to assist me with getting done what I need to get done. What???? Superwoman is admitting she can’t do it all???? Yes I am. The other night, when I broke out in hives, it freaked me out. But Saturday, when after less than 45 minutes on the riding lawn mower, I became unable to focus my vision, dizzy, shaky and almost passed out – I realized I needed help. Problem was there was none to be had. I was out in the front yard with barely the ability to whisper. My phone was in the house (I’ve had problems with things bouncing out of my pocket while on the mower and I sure didn’t want to chop my iPhone into a zillion little pieces). The only living souls who knew I was in trouble were 2 of my dogs. My story ends well – I managed to get in the house and my husband called my daughter over who helped me out with water, lunch, and  got me cooled off. But it could have been bad. Really, devastatingly bad. My youngest son finished the yard for me. Within a couple of hours I was okay – not wonderful, but okay. Back on my horse, so to speak, cooking supper, washing dishes, messing around on the internet, talking to friends. The urgency of needing assistance back in the recesses yet again.

I’ve heard it said its better to give than to receive. I’ll rewrite that old adage – its EASIER to give than to receive. Its no problem for me to help others. I help my husband, my kids, total strangers! I help my family, my friends – anyone who looks like they need a hand. Now, realize, I can’t help monetarily. I’m as broke as a church mouse. But look something up, lend an ear, send you something, call and check on you, think good thoughts for you – I’m on it. Now then, if you need a shoulder to cry on, some help with the heavier housework, something else done, a ride somewhere – if I can, I’m there. But flip that coin over – I need help. Oh, no I don’t. It just won’t get done. I don’t need help – the floor has waited this long, one more day won’t be that bad; I don’t need that piece of furniture moved; no, I’m fine, my eyes always water when I wash dishes or sweep the house. Another old adage – always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Rewrite – always the helper, never the helpee.

I know – this could be the story of anyone with a life threatening, life changing or terminal illness, or any caregiver who finds themselves in the situation of just not being able to handle everything as you normally do. In my case, I’m adapting. I’m doing things a little at a time, instead of all at once. I’m delegating if I have that option. I’m listening to what my body is telling me, and trying not to exceed my limitations. But it is hard to admit that I just might be the one who needs help this time. Just thought you should know.

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6 Responses to The Hardest Word In The English Language

  1. Lisa Becker says:

    Omg! This is me in a nutshell! I sometimes truly believe that 4 letter word to be so deceiving, almost painful, ok painful at times but only when it comes to me and my life situation. So crazy! Thank you so much for writing what so many of us in the caregiver world think and feel but never really say. Xoxoxo Lisa

  2. tammie downey says:

    You rock. That is s word I have a hard time with! Love you!!!

  3. bethgainer says:

    Great post. Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do. I totally get it. I didn’t ask for enough help going through cancer and its treatments. And it was unfortunate. Just as you find it easy to help others, there is such a joy in being able to be helpful to a loved one. By allowing people to help you, you are giving them that. My friend asked for my help during dire straits, and I was glad to do it.

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