some tips



  • Keep three big totebags in your car at all times: crap to take to work, crap to bring home, and crap to bring to the person in the hospital. If you don’t have a car I can’t imagine how you’re making this all work and my heart goes out to you a million times over. So much of caretaking turns out to be schlepping.
  • Similarly, keep three running lists: things to do at home, work to do that can only be done at work, and work to do/caretaking things to do that can be done anywhere. So if you have ten minutes in a hospital waiting room, or if you get home at 11 pm too exhausted to think, you can just have a list tell you exactly what you should be doing at that moment.
  • Caretaking while running a business means that something has to give. Every day you’re caught in the Catch-22 trap of skimping on sleep, good homecooked meals, running your business, or taking care of someone you love whose life, it often seems, is in your hands. Part of the game of your life right now is knowing that most of these aren’t going to get full attention, and when you’re completely OK with that you begin to be more effective. When I stop rereading business emails three times over to check for typos or to ensure I’ve chosen the absolute best words and, for once, become that person who just fires off a hastily-syntaxed email about a big wedding order; when I dictate texts to my friends while driving; when I bluntly interrupt someone at work who’s telling me a long story about a weird sound the enrober is making so we can just go look at the enrober—it’s less than ideal. And that just fine.
  • Throw your politics out the window. My vegan mother is getting egg albumin pumped into her as I’m writing this. We only exchanged one glance about it. It might help her walk better, or walk at all, and that’s what I care about right now. I have the rest of my life to fight for animal rights. She has the rest of her life to fight for animal rights. This morning I ordered her sweatshop-made yoga pants from, and I feel zero guilt. Fuck, this afternoon, on my way from the hospital to work, I ate a damn Subway sandwich and I even feel no guilt about that. Being able to make personal decisions in a political way is a luxury and right now I can only do the essentials. So I’ll dip into the cesspool of the capitalist shitstorm that is modern American life, because it will help me get through the day just a little bit easier and that’s all I can care about right now.

A special note for friends of caretakers:

What’s not helpful:

“Here are some random links from sketchy corners of the internet about impossible-to-get-into clinical trials/cures to pancreatic cancer that will take ten years to get to market—hope it’s helpful! You’re doing green juices, right? Make sure they’re cold-pressed! Remember: no sugar!”

What’s helpful:

“Hey, I read about this study—do you want me to do some homework to find out if maybe it’s something that could be applicable for your mom’s situation? I just made some soup and could bring it over in the next hour and drop it on your doorstep because you’re probably exhausted from basically living at a hospital and don’t want to talk to anyone, ok? Don’t text me back if you don’t feel like it. You can keep the soup container. I love you.”

Add your tips below? I need them.

2 Responses to “some tips”

  1. scuzer

    Rant and rave….loudly at times. I know we only worked a little bit together at Bloodroot, but I am willing to listen. I lost my mom to gleo blastoma 3 years ago and I had to do a lot of stuff long distance while my sister was caring for mom in Florida where they lived. I traveled there when I could while going to school to finish a long overdue degree. Anyway; feel free to get in touch if that would help. I have two good ears.

  2. Liz

    the hardest thing for me is to remember that it is OK to just enjoy something sometimes, without feeling guilty that the time could be spent more effectively somewhere else. It’s ok to laugh for 5 minutes even though everything else is shitty.


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