Closely associated with Indiana Disability Awareness Month for my wife and I is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week, occurring this week. You can read about my wife’s experiences with Multiple Sclerosis and perspectives on MS Awareness Week this year on her blog. As her caregiver, I experience her MS from a different perspective, which includes its impact on my hobbies and freelancing. I wanted to return to some thoughts I had written previously on caregiving and gaming. These words, with some updated insights and experiences, continue to speak to me, and I feel they are relevant to caregivers in the gaming hobby and industry.
My wife’s Multiple Sclerosis continues to be challenging, and this past year even more so than others. This transition to a new medication has not gone smoothly. She has experienced significant complications, many of which have been very debilitating. The greater impact on our lives is more than I wish to share at this time, but I will share a glimpse into the impact it has on my hobby and freelancing in hopes it might help others. These challenges have led to many canceled game days and impacts to my availability for freelance projects. At one point, I have to painfully admit, it even impacted the quality of a freelance project I was working on which I deeply regret. I was not as focused as I should have been, which led to difficult conversations with the publisher.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because I have come to realize how much gaming, freelancing, and being with my gaming group have been such a respite for me as a caregiver. My guess is that many of you have similar feelings, but not quite the same. When game night gets canceled because someone is ill or has a conflict, you are disappointed, frustrated, and perhaps a bit emotional. But, when you are a caregiver like I am, having to cancel a game night impacts you viscerally. Over this past year, I have truly noticed and felt the emotional and mental strain. Caregivers are heavily encouraged by doctors and other professionals to have their personal time away from their caregiving duties to rejuvenate themselves to be stronger mentally and emotionally for the person they care for. Work and freelance projects give me good breaks from caregiving, but I have found gaming is my true respite. When I send out an email or text message canceling a game night, I instantly feel a pang in my stomach and deflated emotionally more than I already was. Oh, I know it is the right decision to make as caregiver and husband, but it hurts more than I expect. Gaming is more than just a hobby to me. My game group is more than just friends who hang out. Gaming and my game group are a significant respite for me, that rejuvenate me to be a stronger and better caregiver for my wife.
I share this for those game groups out there with a caregiver among your members. Know that your patience and willingness to work around the caregiver’s schedule and flexibility to manage last-minute changes and cancellations is appreciated so much more than you realize. That you stick with us even though we require cancellations and frustrate your plans is a blessing and a gift. Thanks to all of you gamers out there who care for more than just the game, but care personally for the members of your gaming group and support those who are caregivers.
I share this for those game publishers who have caregivers as freelancers or staff. We caregivers know this is a business and you have deadlines to meet, so we are especially grateful when you partner with us and are able to make adjustments to your project timelines when our caregiving duties need to take priority. Thank you to all of you publishers being willing to work with caregivers and those with accessibility challenges. Your inclusion and professional patience speak highly of you and your company.
I especially share this for others out there who may not have been able to put this into words themselves and need someone to talk to. Whether you are parent caring for a child with special needs, you are an adult taking care of aging parents, or you are a caregiver for a spouse with a chronic illness, I want you to know I empathize with you and and want to be here for you. If you need to chat about your caregiving, how gaming gives you respite, or just need a listening ear, please reach out. We can talk over email (tr “at” freelanceknight.com), we can set up a time to Skype, or perhaps meet face-to-face if you are nearby.