Statistics show that there are over 8 million Canadians who provide care to a chronically ill or disabled friend or loved one and 65 million caregivers in the US. Peter Rosenberger knows full well what it is like to be one of those caregivers. Peter Rosenberger has been his wife Gracie's caregiver since the day they married. Journeying with her through 78 operations; 60 physicians; dozens of hospital visits and healthcare costs topping $9 million dollars. Because of Peter's years of experience in caregiving he has become a leading voice in the area with a weekly radio program for caregivers; he's become a public speaker; spokesperson and author. His new book is Hope for the Caregiver: Encouraging Words to Strengthen Your Spirit.
So many people are walking through this journey and they walk through it with a lot of isolation. Taking community to these people through media is so important.
When he met his wife Gracie she had already been in a wreck. She had about 20 operations and come back to college. He had transferred in from another school and people said they needed to meet. The moment he met her he was attracted to her. She was so perky, and full of life and energy. Her courage, her beauty, and then he heard her sing and he knew he wanted to take care of her for the rest of his life. He didn't know all that meant and he didn't know how well he would succeed and how epically he would fail. He was armed with a little bit of smarts and a goofy sense of humor and a lot of love for this woman who was extraordinary. Taking care of someone who suffers is a real challenge. The surgery count just started escalating.
He didn't know how big of a thing he was in until about 3 years of his marriage when he read her health chart. It was devastation and it wasn't going to get better. It has gotten worse. She has had so many procedures and lives with such pain.
As spouses they have things coming at them all the time. He has learned a few things about life, about love, about healthcare, about God. He is on a mission to strengthen his fellow caregivers.
His book is about the conviction that caregivers can live a calmer, healthier, and more joyful life even when dealing with these things. We are never promised a life without pain and suffering. However in that pain and suffering we can have peace, and joy. Scripture tells us that clearly.
People ask him how he keeps joy when he knows the future for him and his wife. He knows the future, this is just short term. God saved us from something far worse than all these things we face. Yes dealing with these things is painful but He says, "My Grace is sufficient for you".
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Peter says that the life he lives in this body as a caregiver, I live by faith in the Son of God. He says he doesn't do it perfectly.
We need to put our scared hand, into His scarred hands
He had moments regularly where he felt like giving up, but how do you walk away from something like this. A lot of people do, a lot of men do, when they have a disabled child in the family. Where would he go? This is the women he loves, this is his responsibility. Caregivers are conflicted daily. You deal with many emotions each day. You're rageful, resentful, hopeful, in love, compassionate, frustrated, weary, you're depressed. Name it and caregivers have felt it and it comes at you like a tsunami.
The problem for caregivers is not really the medical stuff, which is a big problem. That has its own set of skills that you use. The problem is the emotional triage that comes when you are trying to take care of somebody who may be acting in a hurtful way. Someone that you love very much.
Peter wants his 30 years of experience as a caregiver to help people navigate through many landmines they will face.
It is so important for the person a caregiver is taking care of for the caregiver to take care of themselves. The person is not going to be helped if the caregiver goes down, physically, emotionally, or financially.
Just like in an airplane. They tell you to put your mask on first before helping a loved one. You can't hold your breath long enough to help somebody else before helping yourself.
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