10 Synonyms for My Fiancé/Caregiver


I have been battling a chronic pain condition for the past seven years. For the past four years, I have had an amazing man by my side, my partner in everything. Last year, he became my fiancé. But for two out of the four years we’ve been together, he has also been my caregiver. Being a caregiver is a hard job with no pay, no vacation and while it comes with many thanks from me, not many of the other people in our lives recognize how much he does for me. I came up with 10 synonyms and alternate names for this wonderful man to help others understand all he does as a caregiver to someone with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

1. Thesaurus: With brain fog, choosing the right word can be a struggle. Often I choose the wrong word – something that sounds similar or has a similar meaning, but isn’t what I actually want to say. When this happens, I pause, desperately trying to find the word I want, and when I look to my fiancé, it’s his cue to help out. He’ll usually offer a few words he thinks are what I mean, until we figure it out together.

 

2. Shampoo Boy: On days when my arms are flaring or fatigue is enemy number one, I need help washing my hair. My wonderful man has never once refused to help me out with this arduous task. He even says he enjoys it; he likes running his fingers through my hair, massaging my head and knowing he is able to help me with something.

3. Hair Stylist: Right along with washing my hair, braiding it post-shower to avoid tangles takes extra spoons I may not always have to give. Men can braid hair! He often braids my long, red hair a little looser than I normally would, but only because he is afraid to hurt me and cause more flares. I love when he braids my hair, because he can braid straight down my back, a style I’m physically unable to do. I usually do a side or pigtail braids, so it’s a nice change when he braids it for me.

4. Chauffeur: About two years after my diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome, I decided to stop driving due to the pain, vibrations and amount of energy it took to drive places. Unfortunately, this means I need my fiancé (or a friend) to drive me everywhere I need to go. We joke about him being my driver frequently. He is excellent at this task, always driving safely and avoiding additional flare triggers like pot holes.

man driving in a car
My chauffeur

5. Dog Handler: On my bad pain days (or weeks), Adam becomes my service dog’s handler. He takes Robbie for walks or sits with him while Robbie runs on the treadmill. He also feeds him, plays with him, gives him mental stimulation, practices basic obedience with him and takes him out for potty breaks — even if that means coming home from work during lunch breaks to do so.

man with service dog
Adam with my service dog, Robbie

6. Bodyguard: CRPS makes my entire body extremely sensitive to touches, no matter how light or well-meaning they might be. When we’re out in public, Adam often moves his body in front of mine or close at my side to help buffer against people accidentally bumping me. Additionally, he will block in front or beside Robbie and I to protect from strange dogs or children rushing up to us.

7. Voice: Often if my pain spikes or I experience sensory overload, my brain has to focus more on me just functioning, let alone talking to people to say “please don’t pet my service dog” or “please don’t touch me” or “I’m sorry, I’m not feeling well.” When this happens, Adam becomes my voice. He knows the body language of my pain flares, the blank look on my face during brain fog, the wrinkles in my forehead that denote struggling to find words or form sentences and the subtle signs that cue I’m about to snap at someone in anger or frustration. When he sees my signs, he steps in to be my voice. He tells people to give us space. He fends off strangers from asking personal questions about my disability. He advocates for us at the doctor’s office. And though its hard, he tries to speak up to friends and family to explain I’m not feeling well and need to leave early. Sometimes he does this automatically, while other times I ask for this assistance.

man and woman walking together
Walking together

8. Service Human: I wish my service dog could do everything I need him to, but… no thumbs. Robbie can’t make me meals, help me get dressed, talk to people when my jaw hurts, untangle me when clothes befuddle me, drive me to town or help me shower.  Where Robbie falls short, Adam steps in as my “service human.” Anything Robbie can’t do, Adam will do. Sometimes they even work together in unison, such as when I have a bad fall or fall down while getting tangled up in my clothes as my arms fail. Obviously, “service human” isn’t recognized with the ADA, but it makes for a good spot of humor in our family.

9. Translator: Ahh brain fog. It keeps coming back. I used to be very smart. I know I am still smart, but finding that intelligence in a shroud of brain fog does not make me seem too intelligent to people who don’t know me. I have a hard time with complex thoughts or ideas, like understanding politics for instance, as well as learning brand new material. I often need to draw parallels to ideas I understand thoroughly, so sometimes Adam create analogies that wouldn’t occur to most people in order to help me. Baseball, animal training and graphic design are the primary parallels he draws to, as they are my strongest subjects. Or if someone is talking to me and rattles off an explanation or terms I don’t recognize, I listen, nod and then turn to Adam with, “OK. Please translate.” With a grin, he does his best.

10. My Escape: Life with a chronic condition is hard. More time is spent in bed, at the doctor’s, discussing condition management, medical bills and the latest research on your given condition than anything else. The most important synonym for my caregiver is “my escape,” because Adam helps me live, laugh and love every day in spite of all the dark things chronic illness gives us. Together, we dream big. When I lose hope, he holds onto to it for us both. When the pain overwhelms me, his arms wrap around me and give me a safe place to relax. Together we go on adventures — walks in the woods or long drives to favorite places. He does everything in his power to make sure we have a good, full, happy life with each other. When I’m with him, hanging out, laughing, making dinner… whatever we’re doing, I feel safe. For a moment, the pain fades into the background. The pain will always be a part of me, but so will he.

a path next to a river
A favorite place to escape

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