If you are helping a loved one to deal with Cushing’s, you have taken on a big job. Cushing’s is complicated, difficult, and frightening. Your loved one may be unable to do things that were once easy for her. He may be physically weak and exhausted. She may be anxious, sometimes to the point of panic, or too depressed to get out of bed. He may be forgetful, or burst into tears over something that seems minor to you. She may be self-conscious about her appearance, and reluctant to participate in social activities.
You may have more responsibilities at home as your loved one is unable to keep up with normal household tasks. Your time may be filled with endless doctor’s appointments and the stress of wondering what is going to happen next. Medical expenses, traveling to out-of-town doctors and taking time off work create financial hardships. Most of all, you may be afraid that something terrible is happening to someone you love.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but one of your first responsibilities is to take good care of yourself. Your loved one may not be able to support you as she did before, and if you fall apart, you’re no use to either of you. Be sure to eat well and get plenty of rest.
Offer to attend medical appointments with him. Confusion is a common symptom of Cushing’s, and the diagnosis and testing are complicated. Many patients appreciate having someone with them who can take notes or ask questions, and most doctors will welcome your being there to support their patient.
Get informed! Read about Cushing’s, ask questions, and talk to other patients and caregivers. The more you understand about Cushing’s, the less alarmed you will be by changes in your loved one’s appearance and behavior. Be familiar with her medications, learn to recognize any emergencies such as an adrenal crisis, and know what to do if one happens.
Ask for help. Often friends and family want to lend a hand, but don’t know what to do. Ask someone to bring dinner, run some errands, take the kids to the movies, mow the lawn – whatever tasks you are finding overwhelming.
Talk to someone about how you are feeling. It may be a friend, a therapist, clergy, or anyone else who will listen and understand.
And most of all, keep your sense of humor and perspective, and don’t lose sight of the fact that although it can take years, with proper treatment most Cushing’s patients are able to return to a normal, healthy life.