People always say the grass is greener on the other side. I have heard that phrase many times. Living in the country and on ten acres of land has given me a new out look on this saying. So many times a day when I am driving around I will notice goats and cows with their heads squeezed through the fence just to get that one little blade of grass on the other side. It always brings a smile to my face and laughter to my heart. I have even been so bold to take that same little goat and put it on my side of the fence to watch it stick it’s head back through and struggle to eat the same blade of grass it was just ignoring. Amazing.

But that phrase holds a different meaning for me, one that is always close to my heart. I have been on both sides of the fence when it comes to health concerns. I have been the caretaker and the one cared for, and believe me both sides are difficult. If I were to be honest I would have to say the side of the fence that is greener to me is being the person who is sick, but during times of extreme illness and pain, I assure you that feeling changes for me.

When I am sick, I have the understanding of my illness, knowing that everything that can be done is being done. I come to terms with whatever is going on at the time, deal with it and accept it and go on. It is difficult and challenging I assure you but it isn’t soul wrenching, my fate is accepted.

But I have been on the other side of the fence and it is horrible being the caretaker. You struggle with so much more than the patient does, helplessness, guilt, shame, anguish, and despair, to name a few. I speak only for myself, only from my own experiences and believe me I have been on both side of the fences enough to feel that I have the knowledge to speak freely.

I don’t remember a time in my life that I was ever healthy. I remember when my husband asked my father for my hand in marriage, he said well you better make sure you always have good health insurance she is sickly. I was sixteen at the time. I have struggled with the deterioration of my health and the fact that I am no longer able to do a lot of things for my self and my heart breaks for my family’s future concerning me.

I remember the toll it took on my sister when we were in our teens. My father had a massive heart attack and later my mother had a mental breakdown and my sister became the primary care taker of the home. I wonder what we would have been like had our lives been free of these tragic life-altering moments. I wonder.

My best friend fought cancer for several years and lost her battle when she was sixteen. It was agony sitting beside her bed watching her waste away. Every single day that I went to see her, I was able to see less life in her, and there wasn’t a single thing I could do. I felt hopeless and worthless unable to do anything to help. I was consumed with guilt beyond anyone’s imagination and it ate at me. I felt guilty for being able to live my life to the fullest and she couldn’t. That guilt still resides inside my heart.

My father had a massive stroke when I was twenty-four leaving him unable to speak and being paralyzed on his right side. Watching the struggles and frustration and anger that my father endured was heart wrenching and agonizing to us all. I prayed many times to be able to change places with him, but that was not meant to be. I felt horrible when we would try to figure out what he was trying to say and see the anger and hurt in his eyes and not being able to do anything about it.

I have been on both sides of the fence equally I would say.

If I were to be brutally honest I would have to say the side of the fence that I am on now is easier.

I know what it is like to look at someone you love in pain and not be able to do anything about it.

I know what it is like to watch someone you love die in agony and not being able to comfort them.

I know what it is like to pray for God to take you instead.

I know what it is like to sit beside someone trying to find words of encouragement.

I know what it is like feeling guilty when you walk away and your life continues.

Believe me the grass is no greener on one side than it is the other.

I fight so hard to make this as easy for my family as I can, but I know I am failing miserably.

I don’t want them to have to deal with making decisions about my health or my death.

I don’t want them to be burdened with my care.

I don’t want them feeling anguish or guilt over not being able to do anything about this.

I just want them to know that I love them with everything I am and with everything I have and that I know if they could they would be on this side of the fence for me.