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Ohio Department of Aging Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

My Words - July 2011

From the care recipient's perspective
Two stories of what it means to be cared for

The Hardest Part
Submitted by Janet Danner of Winchester

I'm not really sure how to begin this, but I think it's important to let everyone know how difficult it is for the caregivers. They're really the unsung heroes in all of this. I've had M.S. for more than twenty years now, and the last two years have been very rough. I'm bedridden, so I can't do much for myself. I need help getting up in the morning, using the commode, getting dressed and having my meals brought to me. Then I need my husband to bring my medication to me.

I do have a power wheelchair, which allows us to get out of the house and do the things we need to do, and even some things we want to do. Even with this, I have to be helped on and off the chair. I thank God for a husband who loves me so much that he does all these things for me, even though he may be involved in something else at the time. My daughter and I are very close, and she tries to come down from Columbus every couple of weeks to give her Dad a well-deserved break.

The hardest part in this whole thing for me is losing the ability to do things for myself. It can be overwhelming at times, but it is a part of life that we have to accept. I don't mean to leave you with the thought that there are never any good times, because that would be wrong. Family is a very important blessing to us. We have three children and six wonderful grandchildren. When we all get together, there are lots of laughs and fun.

We are deeply involved in our church, and we have a Bible Study in our home every week.

I don't know if things will get worse or not. I guess you could say that life isn't always fair, but I know that I will get through it with the Lord's help, and the love of family.

My husband, Glen, is my caregiver
Submitted by Mary M. Dougan of Stockport

On Dec.18, 2008, I passed out and fell, hitting my head. When I came to, I was paralyzed from the neck down. In the hospital, it was determined that I had a spinal cord injury. Surgery was anterior cervical discectomy. I then had to learn everything: how to use my hands again and how to walk. I was in the hospital over the holidays and our family of five was coming from Arizona. My husband had to take over everything. After much physical and occupational therapy in the hospital, I transferred to a nursing home. I was there for a month, taking more therapy before I came home in late February 2009. I then had therapy twice a week at home as long as Medicare approved.

My husband had to cook, wash dishes and clothes, run the sweeper and take care of bills, plus help me with personal care and wait on me sometimes. He had to do all the things I used to do. We live on a farm, so he had all the outside work with animals, etc., besides my work and care. He said the hardest thing for him was to take over the bill paying and paperwork. He listens to all my problems and waits on me ... and still calls me "Angel Face." I am a wrinkled-up, 77-year-old woman. He is the best!

We are both 77 years young, by the way. The therapy has helped me so much, but there is still a lot that I need help with. It is difficult for me to do a lot of things, such as opening things and also to walk. Some days are worse than others. I have neurophthisis in my arms, hands, feet and legs since my injury. I feel that I could not live at home if it was not for him. In Feb.1999, I had surgery to remove a pelvic mass that was aggressive, non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Then I had to take chemo for six months. He took over all household duties then. Ten years later, my cancer came back and I had to take chemo again. But it is now in remission. God answered my prayers 39 years ago when he sent this man to my door. This is a man who took the marriage vows "in sickness and in health" seriously. I cannot praise him enough!

He is a Wonderful Husband and the best caregiver in the World.

Stories submitted for the Ohio Department of Aging's Family Caregiving Story Project.

For caregiver assistance, please call your area agency on aging at 1-866-243-5678.

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