The Value in Being Needed

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The Value in Being Needed

Postby CarlaL48 » Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:34 am

Many years ago, I read What Every Woman Should Know about Men by the late Dr. Joyce Brothers. In it, she talked about the phases of relationships between men and women, and what changes occur in each of those phases. For men over 60, she described them as needing their wives. In fact, if I recall correctly, she said that not since they were small boys in need of their mothers, has their level of need been as great as it is in these “golden” years and, she added, there’s something to be said for being needed.

As a caregiver to a husband suffering from an incurable disease, his need for me may appear obvious. He needs me to do those things which he physically cannot. I become his arms and legs. He also needs me to assist him in doing things for himself, e.g., fetching items he uses at his desk or work table.

Then there’s his speech. As it deteriorates, his self-confidence has taken a nosedive, and I have become his voice. I arrange appointments, argue with Medicare and converse with physicians on his behalf, looking frequently to Dale for confirmation.

And even while facing extraordinary challenges, Dale still needs to contribute to our marriage and our household. Sometimes, all this takes is a nudge, like placing a bottle of “Round-up” on the floor of his scooter (after all, weeds don’t care how the executioner gets there), or bringing him a screwdriver to perform a “fix” on a door latch. Like lots of married couples, he also needs to borrow my glasses when reading a menu.

All these things are important and I try to do my best to satisfy them, but there are other subtler, more meaningful needs I must fulfill. Dale doesn’t ask, but I know my husband. I have to convey daily through words and/or actions that my love is unconditional, and that I’ll be beside him forever in this world. He needs to know that I think of him as “my guy.” He hasn’t morphed from a man to a creature just because his body is breaking down. He will always stand tall in my eyes, even if confined to a scooter or wheelchair.

Regardless of how much Dale needs me right now, it’s eclipsed by how much I need him. Dr. Brothers didn’t address this aspect. I love him and I can’t imagine life without him, so I don’t allow myself to go there. How could I live without my rock, the one who grounds me when I engage in flights of fancy, like aspiring to become a female James Thurber. He laughs with me when we watch comic Whoopi Goldberg trying to figure out Mick Jagger’s lyrics in Jumpin’ Jack Flash, and I cry with him every time we see John Wayne die in The Cowboys.

I happen to be addicted to world affairs and international politics, I can name all the major players in the Middle East, but couldn’t tell you who the mayor of Dallas is. Dale knows, though, and I rely on that. (I think he knows there’s a better chance that I might one day attend a meeting of the Dallas city council than an emergency session of the Knesset.)

Dale and I sleep in the same bed, and we like it that way, in spite of some occasional snoring from both of us. I need to know that he’s beside me through the night, that I can touch him with a foot or an arm and be reassured that the night will pass in peace, and that we’ll awaken to another day to live and love together. When the time comes for a hospital bed, we’ll have to get a queen-size at best, or a trundle at worst – for if either of us goes into “that good night” before the other, we will both need to be holding hands.
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Re: The Value in Being Needed

Postby eplowman » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:41 pm


Beautifully said.

ed p.
|My wife of 56 years was Rose b. 1930, dx 1999, symptoms from 1997; d. 06/21/08; PSP-rs autopsy confirmed.
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Re: The Value in Being Needed

Postby zymurgy » Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:36 pm


As always, your posts help me get centered on the new path ahead. I feel like I am trudging up Hagga's Hill without out the Golux by my side. I am hoping for the tears of laughter, even though they are ephemeral, which are the jewels of rescue. (ref. The 13 clocks, by James Thurber.) Dave's condition certainly has not gotten any worse in the last five months, and may even have gotten a bit better. Perhaps that is wishful thinking.

I read the posts here and on and I feel sad and scared. I want to believe there is hope, but it is tough. The blessings we have are that we do not have a physician to educate -- the GP, the neurologist, and the physical therapist-- are very knowledgeable on PSP and other movement disorders, and open to my trying different things to keep this condition at bay. May everyone be so lucky. I always wonder if anyone has found something helpful that I don't know about. What are others doing that their doctors or "health professional" have suggested? Perhaps, just perhaps, someone has found a cure and no one knows about it.

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Re: The Value in Being Needed

Postby CarlaL48 » Tue Aug 06, 2013 5:40 pm

Zy, the reference to Hagga's Hill gave me a good chuckle -- I must have caught a few of the tears of laughter. :lol: I probably hadn't mentioned that I'm from Columbus, Ohio, hometown of Thurber.

I agree that hearing the stories of those going through the worst of PSP (and those who have gone before us) is a heartbreaker. Thankfully, Dale has had a few good days of late, except for the door frames he continues to mutilate with his scooter. I think I told you that we are slowly weaning him off Sinemet -- won't be totally accomplished until November. But his lower dosage plus being completely free of Comtan seems to be helping. He's not doing that mouth tic as much and he says his legs feel a bit stronger. For the time being, we've eliminated the transfer stool to the shower. He goes directly from the physician's stool to the shower stool while holding tightly to the grab bars in the shower.

Regardless of how temporary this improvement is, we'll take it. And, thanks to your matrix, we've increased Vitamin D -- he thinks that is making him feel stronger also.

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