Ch.80 Every Caregiver Needs an Overload Specialist

Ch.80 Every Caregiver Needs an Overload Specialist

February, 2021.

          Our twice monthly Lewy Body support group met last week, and it was my turn to talk. I mentioned that I was feeling a great amount of stress: my brother in law’s unexpected death had created a rush of uncertainties and responsibilities; my digestive system was acting up; Pat and I seemed to be alternating rapidly between moments of intense caring and moments of frustration and anger. Even my horse’s huge water tank had frozen up in the recent mid-winter freeze (-25 degrees Fahrenheit), becoming a gigantic ice cube and forcing me to bring Lakota water by the bucketful.  

          Group members were concerned, and one person asked me if I had support. “Yes,” I told them. “I have my children, all of whom live close by, and friends. And I also have my overload specialist, my twin brother Don.”

          It turned out that several of the other group members also had an overload specialist, someone they knew they could and would call or see when they were in immediate danger of falling apart. You could say this person was one’s court of last resort. An overload specialist must be a person you trust completely, usually someone who will listen carefully, respond appropriately, give good suggestions when you need them, and stay quiet when all you want is someone to witness your pain.

          Don is my overload specialist. My identical twin. He lives in Canada, precluding regular physical contact, but we email, text or call each other several times a week. Given our genetic link, I feel he can understand me better than anyone; He knows how I feel because he would feel just about the same in similar circumstances. This is true even though he has not lived with Lewy Body. I did call Don after Kevin died. I needed to call Don. He was there for me as I knew he would be.

          Another member of my caregiver group, whom I will call Emily, described her overload specialist (Sarah) as a good friend who she has known since high school. Recently, when Emily’s partner who has Lewy Body became aggressive, Emily called Sarah, not so much for advice as for deep comfort. Emily said that she was Sarah’s overload specialist as well. Perhaps that’s the norm, two persons sharing a mutually trusting relationship. That’s certainly the case with Don and me.

          Pat, too, qualifies as my overload specialist. And I hope I am hers. But there are times when I simply need to talk with my brother, especially those times when dealing with the stress that Lewy Body brings to our marriage.


Pat’s comments on Every Caregiver Needs an Overload Specialist

          I’m OK with you needing an overload specialist and Don’s a wonderful person to be that. I know Don loves you, so I really trust him when you talk with him.

          It’s nice when I can be that [an overload specialist], but I can’t always.

          Ron is my overload specialist.