ARTICLES / General / Eventually /
Who knew, at “40 something,” I would be working
as an unpaid CNA1, CNA2 and RN? Who knew, in
the comfort of my own home, I would learn how to:
“cath,” perform manual transfers, use a lift, give
injections, administer medication, buy a handicapped
accessible van, work with government agencies and
perform mandatory procedures? Who knew I
would, again, help my son with ordinary, daily
tasks? And drive him? And cry because he
couldn’t pull his blankets up if he got cold at
But the checkmate of all ‘Who knew?” questions
was the one that resonates universally with all
caregivers. It’s the “Who knew we would master
the oh-so-necessary distortion of reality?” The
distortion that has to happen in our brains, so our
hands can give the necessary care, and help us
ignore the fact that our hands are doing these
things to, and for, those we love. And
at the core, we’ll never be okay with that.
OK, so maybe my imagination wasn’t so active.
Three decades have passed since I imagined being
DJ Hot Flap Jacks. Five years have passed
since that fall in the bathroom. And 1,825
days have passed since my family and I became
caregivers. Over those 1,825 days, it never
crossed my mind that we would start this “new
normal” beaten, bruised and begrudging and,
eventually, choose to add compassion, resiliency and
wisdom. Eventually. I did mention
eventually, right? Seriously, I can’t over
Today, my oldest son lives in a different city,
on campus, as a full-time student. His injury
doesn’t stop him; he successfully manages his health
care, academics, transportation, finances,
relationships and obstacles. His “move” was a
rite of passage. It validated five years of
forging ahead and engaging with his life as it was;
not as he planned it. He sought that balance
of acceptance and hope; he learned how to make the
most of the present. He “passed Go” and collected
$200. He gave himself permission to begin.
Again. I am proud of, and humbled by, his
determined, courageous action.
I sit “on the other side” of those 1,825 days
realizing my caregiving responsibilities have waned.
I can give myself permission to begin. Again.
That means reflecting on the wisdom caregiving has
offered. I wasn’t “ready” to avail myself of
any wisdom when my caregiving began. Wisdom was a
luxury atop the hierarchy built on lack of sleep,
anxiety, daily care and intermittent awareness of
your family, job and other people. But, eventually,
we can choose to learn a thing or two.