Caregiver Story

I learned a lot about caregiving from my mom.  When I was 10 my father got sick.  He had surgery and was okay for a couple of years.  But then the cancer returned. I watched my mom take care of him for the next few years. He died when I was 16.

Soon after my grandparents needed more attention so they moved in with us and once again my mom became a caregiver.  This time I was able to help out more as I was out of school.  I was available to stay home with them so my mom could run errands and get a break.

I became familiar with support groups when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001.  Shortly after surgery and chemo I attended my first support group meeting.  Listening to all the stories made me feel as if I was reliving my own experience over and over again.  I left in tears halfway through the meeting.

Then I learned that there would be speakers at the meeting and it was something I was interested in so I decided to try the support group again.  I’m glad I did.  People really care and understand what you’re going through because they have similar situations.  I looked forward to the meetings to see how everyone was doing.

My daughter was born two months premature and my mom became a caregiver once again.  My mom stayed with us for 10 months so I could get back to work.  I think she really enjoyed it although I must admit she was a little leery of holding a 2-lb, 10-oz baby!

But now the caregiver needs care.  My mom had a severe stroke in Oct 2013. She was in ICU for 4 days and then on to rehab.  She was in a facility for 3 months before we were able to bring her home.  My sisters and I have been taking care of her ever since.  We try to walk her every day even though she can only take a few steps at a time.  She has aphasia and we can’t understand what she’s trying to say but we work with her doing flash cards so she can try to say the words.  We laugh a lot when the words don’t come out quite right.

I was fortunate enough to find a caregiver support group shortly after my mom’s stroke.  Unlike my first attempt at a support group this time I was better prepared and knew what to expect.  It’s a place where I can vent, cry, and laugh if I want to, or just be there and listen and give support to others. From the group I’ve learned about resources that are available to my mom.  I look forward to the meeting every week. It’s good to be able to talk with people who care and have an understanding of the challenges of caregiving.

Debby Carlson

caregiver debby

                       Debby's mom, Mary

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