A few months ago I was lucky enough to meet the person I now have a part time job taking care of. Little did I know she would become so much more than my employer.
One day, while perusing an app on my phone called Nextdoor, a place to meet the people in your neighborhood, I came across an ad for a caregiver. It’s so strange how I wasn’t even really looking for a job per say, but something just made me stop and read the words that were written there. While I do have a medical backgound, I’ve never been a nurse or caregiver, yet as I read what this nice young lady was looking for, somehow I felt that I might be able to help her, and in the process, maybe help myself as well.
When I stopped working and before we moved to southeast Texas six years ago, I had more time to visit my mom, do some crafting and keep my house clean and organized. I took a few odd jobs here and there, tried to sell my crafts and always had my eyes and ears open for some kind of money making opportunity. I always felt guilty that I no longer had a “real” job and my husband paid for everything, I felt like I wasn’t contributing and shouldn’t spend money on myself. It made me feel worthy to make a little bit of money for things like gifts or vanity purchases like getting my nails and/or hair done.
Once I read the ad and saw what Stephanie needed, I responded to the ad that I would like to meet her, and with my background and personality, I thought we’d make a good match. She only needed help a few days a week, light duty things really like help getting dressed, simple transfers and light laundry. I had been yearning for something meaningful in my life, something more than caring for the house and trying to get a writing career going, I felt like I could do both, help her out and write on the off days and still have time to go visit my dad. My mom passed away two years ago and now it’s my dad I visit with and help out where I can.
You see, Stephanie has a rare form of muscular dystrophy called Freiderick’s Ataxia. It robbed her of the ability to walk, and has affected many areas of her body, causing loss of balance, coordination and the ability to speak as well as before. She also has diabetes, and has problems with her vision. She needed more help than I originally thought, but I was up to the task. We soon developed not only a smooth rhythm where her routine was concerned but a beautiful friendship has blossomed in the time we’ve known each other. I discovered that we have so much in common, we like the same shows on tv and talk about them all the time, we both have a love for writing, we both love to read and work and play on the computer. We have regular bouts of crazy gigglefests, I’m not the stuffy caregiver type. She makes me feel comfortable in every situation and the whole arrangement has brought us close together. I’ve had to learn to be more patient (still a work in progress) and she had to learn to trust me. She is very spiritual and encourages me (with my writing) as much as I try to encourage her ( to try new things). She has been to my home and I’ve introduced her to my family, they all think she’s a beautiful person, inside and out.
So, yes, she has helped me realize a deeper meaning in my life and I enjoy “going to work” the few days that I do. I’m learning to become more patient and that caring for others is more important than fretting over all the little things in life. Her parents are kind and let me do my job while helping out if needed and visiting with me while I’m there. They also trust me and know I have Stephanie’s best interests at heart. I assist her with dressing, bathing and eating, take her shopping and to get her hair done, and she’s been in my swimming pool and we had a chill day at my house where she finally got to see Purple Rain. It’s sad that disease affects good people like her, yet she is only physically affected by her disease. Her mind and spirit are strong and she has dreams and goals, just like the rest of us. She is a caring, giving person and I’m so happy that we found each other. Do I make money? Yes, but I’m not in it for that reason only, I’ve found a new reason to get up and go everyday and she’s found yet another person who loves her.
If you would like to more about Friedreich’s Ataxia and/or Muscular Dystrophy, please go to mda.org.
Please also consider attending the Camp Craig Allen annual BBQ Cookoff and Festival benefitting the organization dedicated to physically disabled adults, children and Veterans of North Texas. Go to Campcraigallen.org for more information.