Welcome caregivers! My name is Caroline and I am mom/caregiver to my now 25 year old son, Josh, a C-6 quadriplegic who is also a BARD Care Contributor. I am so grateful to BARD for the opportunity to write this series on Caring for the Caregiver. Though I will be covering topics many of you already know are important to your well being, I will also being sharing some of my own personal journey. You will read about how I often learned the hard way of the necessity of self-care and the changes I have made and am making in my life to be the best me possible. It's been a journey full of ups and downs, trials and triumphs and it's only just beginning.
Many of my life experiences have been ones of advocating and providing care for others. To name a few, I spent five years volunteering as a cardiac technician for a local rescue squad, ten years advocating for abused and neglected children, and two years caring for my disabled father before he died. Often times I cared for others when they were ill. I lost my first husband in a construction accident in 1989. Among his many injuries, he suffered a severed spinal cord. Yet even with those life experiences, I felt so overwhelmingly unprepared for what rocked my world on that fateful day in August 2014. I found myself tragically and unexpectedly thrust into the role of full time caregiver for my son. Yet that word was not even a thought in my mind at that moment. I was mom! All I knew was I had to stay focused on caring for my son and his needs while somehow keeping my emotions from rendering me helpless. I doubt there are words to fully express the emotional pain and suffering I felt seeing my active, athletic, and full of life son, now paralyzed. That summer had already been one of the most stressful seasons of my life ever. Never could I have imagined that just around the corner, the worst was yet to come!
I know many of you are probably new to the journey of caregiving and others have already spent years caring for your loved one. But we all have the same needs, no matter where we are on our journey. Having spoken with many caregivers of loved ones with a spinal cord injury, I have found we all struggle with similar issues even though our circumstances are quite different. As you come with me on this journey, perhaps some of what I have experienced will resonate with you. Whatever words of wisdom I have to share may possibly help you make positive changes in your life. Every day we face difficult struggles, new adventures and life is constantly changing for us. Never again will we ever be the same – having experienced such a catastrophic event. But my hope is, that as we continue to care for our loved ones, we learn how to better care for ourselves. After all, if we don’t care for us, who will? Just remember, you are not alone on this unexpected journey.
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BMD/BMDA/0716/0265