In the summer of 1995, I got married. In the fall of 1995, the honeymoon was over. The football season had started and I had to fight for my husband’s attention with a sport I knew very little about. I started sharing the sofa with my husband and asking football questions. I irritated the stew out of him with all my questions during the games. As I began to understand the finer points of strategies, players, and teams there was a moment when the alignment of the planets shifted. I had discovered a fascinating sport.
Several years ago, I worked in the office of a manufacturing plant. The company had a fantasy football league that occupied the time of the mostly male employees. I found myself joining the trash talk conversations and was able to speak fairly intelligently with “the guys”. They asked me to join their league. Fortunately, I drafted Peyton Manning and a few others that happened to have an outstanding season that year. It was a close fantasy season, but I managed to win the league that year. I was as surprised as anyone that I had won. My husband admitted that he had created a monster and we began bonding over football in a new way. I was no longer the student. We had become football buddies!
When my husband’s health began to decline, I became his primary caregiver. Sharing football has increased our mutual love for the game. It has made us a stronger team. We have found that just watching football together is good medicine. It can be a stress relief when we both need to shout at the TV in a way that is both therapeutic and safe. The simple act of a high-five after a touchdown connects us physically and emotionally. We feel part of a larger community of fans and not so alone as we lament and celebrate with our team. Of course, no football game day is complete without snack food. Sharing food and football is a special fellowship experience to fortify our home team. It’s a reminder that we are united as a team to face the next challenge together.
Football is our team sport. If you are a caregiver, you already have a multitude of players on your caregiving team. There are therapists, nurses, doctors, and home health aides. If you are fortunate to have supportive family and friends, you are very blessed. Unfortunately, many caregivers don’t have that support for various reasons. We are all fighting a very fierce opponent that demands every ounce of strength and determination we can muster. It’s a long and hard game.
You are not alone in this fight. Even if it’s late in the fourth quarter, you have the strength and ability to win this caregiving game. Get involved and ask questions. Find the local services and resources that you need to help you reach the goal line. Be persistent and be strong. Go Team!