Caregiver Voices – This is Bonnie’s Story

Caregiver Voices is a series I started with all of you in mind. It is meant to give you, the caregiver, the ability to share your story.

At times, caregiving can feel quite isolating and lonely. There are times when I feel like I am the only one who experiences the emotional roller-coaster that comes with being a caregiver.

But then I am reminded by so many of you that I am far from alone. All the positive comments and feedback I’ve received since starting this blog, have inspired me to create this series. In the age of technology and social media, there is no reason we should feel as though we are all in this by ourselves. Every story is different. But we also share similarities.

So without further ado

Here is Bonnie’s story:

caregiver voices, caregiving, story


How a Stroke and Hearing Loss Changed My Family’s Life Forever

by Bonnie McConaughy

My caregiving story begins in the summer of 2003 when my stepdad had a stroke that left the right side of his body paralyzed. I was just about to turn 15 at the time. As you can imagine, there was a lot of upheaval for our family. We had been living in a town-home so we had to move. He was bringing in the primary income so our living drastically changed in that moment. He had to go through a lot of physical therapy and see plenty of doctors after his stroke. Thankfully he can get around pretty well for someone with paralysis but there are still a lot of challenges for him.

Not long after his stroke, my mom lost all of her hearing for a period of time. It had happened before but not to this extent or for as long as it did this time. Eventually some of it came back, but she ended up needing hearing aids permanently. caregiver voices

Even with those hearing aids, her hearing still isn’t great. I am her ears when we are out and about, that’s the way we describe it to everyone. We are both thankful that we can still have girl chats and other things though, and that we haven’t absolutely had to learn sign language. We have learned some words in ASL and really should learn more of it sometime! She does okay with most women’s voices but it’s hard for her to hear men especially with their deep voices.

To top it all off, in early 2013 my mom injured her back while trying to help my stepdad up after a fall. She had injured her back once when I was about eight or nine years old, but she had more or less gotten back to normal after that. This time was very much different. She ended up needing two back surgeries and a neck surgery between October 2013 and November 2014. I was her “nurse” after these surgeries, taking care of her incisions and keeping an eye on things, helping her do what she wasn’t allowed to do, and whatever else needed to be done. Her back still gives her trouble and she has been diagnosed Degenerative Disc Disease which has caused some of these issues as well as the herniated disc she had when she injured her back.

While I am not a full-time caregiver, I do a lot of things for my parents that they can’t do or simply to make their lives easier. In the early days after my stepdad’s stroke, I would help prepare meals for him and make sure he was okay while my mom was out or at work.

These days my daily tasks include:
  • taking their dog out about five times a day or more
  • feeding her in the mornings
  • taking the trash out
  • doing the dishes as needed
  • moving things around or doing heavier lifting when necessary.

Some of these things are because I live with them basically for free, so I do what I can to help out on that front, but a lot of these things are hard for my mom to do and impossible for my stepdad to do without hurting himself.

The care I provide for them isn’t super involved, but it can feel like I’m on call a lot of the time. I have had to learn when to say no, or when to say wait so I could do something non-urgent later on. As caregivers, we need to take care of ourselves too or else we won’t be able to take care of anyone else.

caregiver voices

That is something that I have had to learn as well. From 2013-2016, I was also babysitting my two youngest nephews anywhere from 30-50 hours per week, and doing that and taking care of everyone else was exhausting and draining in so many other ways too.

I had to learn to say “no” more often or I wouldn’t have been able to survive.

Juggling everyday life as an individual, with everything I had going on, as well as taking care of others in my family took a lot out of me. I am an introvert and a Highly Sensitive Person, and I have my own chronic pain to deal with, which made this all even more of a challenge and still does to this day. Learning about myself and my limits has helped quite a bit to be able to take care of others without sacrificing myself along the way. Taking care of our families is important and many of us take pride in it, but there is no shame in admitting that it can be hard at times.

Make sure to take care of yourself as well as you are taking care of your loved ones!

 

Author Bio: Bonnie McConaughy is the owner and founder of Inspire the Best You (www.inspirethebestyou.com), where she writes about weight loss, healthy living, self-love, and personal growth. If you are interested in those topics, stop by and read her blog! She is also a freelance and ghostwriter (www.bmcconaughy.weebly.com). You can also connect with Bonnie via Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 


Do you want your Caregiver Voice to be heard? I’d love to hear your story!

Send me an e-mail via my Contact form HERE.



Disclaimer: Everything I share is solely based on my personal experience and is for informational purposes only. This page contains affiliate links. For more information, please view my disclosure policy.


 

12 comments

  1. Nicolle says:

    Alisha, thank you for asking me to read Bonnie’s story. It definitely resonates with my experience with my husband. While Bonnie might feel that her mother and step-father’s needs are not as severe as some others, that doesn’t negate her situation. It is difficult to be “on your game” at all times. All we can do is attempt some self care, take a deep breath, an soldier on. It might not be what we envisioned, but we will do it to the best of our abilities. I didn’t think I was strong enough before my husband’s heart surgeries and his strokes, but when you love someone you do whatever it takes.

    • Alisha says:

      Nicolle, I’m so glad you came back and read Bonnie’s story. You are right, it is extremely difficult to be at 100% at all times. Currently, I have a few class assignments that I desperately need to get submitted, but my focus is on taking care of my boys and taking care of this business I’m trying to create; so we can have one less thing to worry about. =) It’s difficult, but so rewarding at the same time. I never would have imagined the person I am today if it wasn’t for my role as a caregiver. I wish you and your family well; and I do hope to have you featured and share your Voice. =)

    • Alisha says:

      I’m excited I was able to start this series.

      If you’d like, you are more than welcome to share your story as well. Shoot me an e-mail (HERE), if you’d like to share your story.

  2. klaudia says:

    What a great idea it was to start the Caregivers Voices serie. I so respect and admire people caring for others, for the old and sick people. It is such a hard job,and only so little recognized. Caregivers as well as nurses should be paid at least three times the money they are actually earning.I know by own experience what it means to care for somebody 24/7.

    • Alisha says:

      Thank you! =)

      I very much believe that society in general doesn’t necessarily understand the amount of work and services (unpaid) caregivers provide; until people are faced with it themselves. Nurses’ contributions are vital for the successful treatment of patients, but again, many are not really acknowledged until people are faced with a problem and it is the nurse who helps.

      You mentioned that you have your own experience caring for someone. You are more than welcome to share your story as well, if you’re comfortable with it; I would be delighted to have you part of this series. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me via my Contact Form HERE. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Susan | The Sparrow's Home says:

    It’s amazing how quickly life as you know it can change in an instant. A wise man, who was also a caregiver to his wife, once told me that his response to others saying that he was bearing too much was, “God has given me strength to bear the load that I am carrying…and you the strength to bear yours. Just because we can’t understand how someone else can bear their burden, doesn’t mean it’s too much.”

    • Alisha says:

      Thank you for your comment. It is quite heart-warming. I’ve had many people tell me that they don’t understand how I juggle life as a caregiver and still do all the things I do on a daily basis. In my case, this may be different for Bonnie (whose story is being shared here), I have given my vows and those stated “in sickness and in health.” I will adhere to my promise. And lastly, I am a mother first to my son and caregiver second. I look at it as an extension to what I already promised to do when I married my husband and when I gave birth to our son. Once, I explain it that way it makes sense to some. I think it has a lot to do with the uncertainty that comes with this lifestyle.

  4. Jacqueline says:

    I used to work in the medical industry so I have seen first hand how a caregiver gets overlooked. It is crucial for caregivers to take care of themselves and seek necessary support. To give selflessly is a noble thing to do.

Leave a Reply