A (Tough) Day in the Life

20160324_190829 This summer, I witnessed my beautiful 18 year old daughter completely lose control, her anxiety escalating to the point she was laying on the sidewalk outside her day support building, banging the back of her head on the cement.  I was helpless, not strong enough to keep her from hurting herself, too distraught to pray.

When she was finally inside our van, the violent episode continued.  I had no other option than to drive directly to the ER.  I prayed the whole way there that she would not get the car door open or hurt me while I was driving and cause an accident.

Even through the whole distressing episode, I realized we had amazing support. Samantha’s dad came as fast as he could from work, her caregiver came to the hospital for back up support. The staff at the hospital were both professional and compassionate.  I did not try to park but pulled up in front of the ER doors and asked for help.  There were at least one attending nurse with us at all times.  Samantha’s neurologist came from another location to check on her and help us come up with a new med plan.  The social worker made sure I left with numbers and places for crisis support. IMG_0575

This was one day in our life…admittedly a tough one.  Although this was the most distressing and traumatic we have experienced in a while, the underlying stress continues as we try to figure out how to help her and also keep everything else (work, school, family time, ministry) going.

As I think back to that difficult day this past summer, I find myself asking, “How do other people cope?” I posted a quick picture of Samantha and her neurologist on Facebook the evening after that difficult day.  We were immediately flooded with comments and support.  I am blessed. We have an entire community that cares.  Yet I am still feeling the affects of the traumatic experience and some days, I am barely able to hold it together.

And it gets me thinking…what do people do in this situation that do not have this kind of wonderful medical care and supports?  What can we do to keep caregivers from getting to the breaking point, before they are in a crisis?  What are we as a community going to do about this?

There are many people in our community that are caregivers.  Some may care for children (young or adults) with disabilities, others may be caring for elderly parents or a spouse with a disability.  Whatever the situation, these caregivers need many different kinds of support, from friends and family, to professionals. Often, they are people who do not even show outward signs of struggling but are none-the-less hoping for encouragement and a bit of help.  Faith communities and our area’s congregations may be one answer to providing that encouragement and help.

If you would like to learn more, please join us on September 29 when Faith Inclusion Network, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Virginia, is holding an event to discuss the ways in which faith communities can and do play a role in supporting caregivers.

You can register for this free event called, Caring for the Caregiver at https://caring forcaregiver.eventbrite.com

And thank you to all of our families’ supporters; friends, acquaintances and professionals. I know I couldn’t do it without you!

caring for caregiver