My name is Kim Nanson, many of you know me already but for those that don't I will give you a brief introduction...I am a fulltime caregiver to a wounded warrior.
The world and life I had known changed forever on April 4, 2008. Thousands of miles away while the children and I were just waking up to start our day, their father, my husband was lying on the ground fighting to take one more breath.
Several hours passed before I would even know that an incident had occurred and that Kevin was severely wounded. The next twelve hours would be the beginning of a roller coaster of emotions ranging in everything from sheer joy to paralyzing fear. Six hours after first being notified that Kevin was injured, my phone rang and it was my 20 year old son telling me that his dad was intubated, struggling to breathe and he didn't think his dad would survive.
I am not only the wife of a soldier but I am the mother of one too. My boys both infantry soldiers deployed to Afghanistan to serve on the same tour.
What I didn't know, what no one could have prepared me for, is that neither of my boys would ever be the same again. My family would never be the same again, I would never be the same person, wife or mother.
On April 4, 2008 the bomb that ripped through Kevin's body had a ripple effect that I would have never believed. Today almost 9 years later, the ripples are still felt and seen.
I am hopeful that by sharing my experiences with everyone, anyone who is in a caregiver role will know that they are not alone. The feelings and emotions we feel are real and are now our "new normal".
In the coming weeks I will continue to tell my story.
The trials, the tribulations, the good, the bad and yes the ugly truths we as caregivers embrace..............to be continued.......
sorry I have been away so long, life has a way of pushing things away out of our control.
As I said above I am now nine years into being a caregiver. I have weathered many storms, some mild, some severe and a few hurricanes along the way. I think that each storm has made me stronger and hopefully a little wiser. Life as a caregiver is ever changing, be prepared for a roller coaster ride that never ends..this is what I tell new caregivers when they ask me what to expect..expect the unexpected every day, in any given second, minute or hour life and plans can take a turn.
In 2008, Kevin's medical prognosis was he should recover almost fully, by 2010 he was suffering seizures and his health was not improving, progress had halted. In 2012 we were told by medical professionals that Kevin needed to prepare for life and dependency in and with a wheelchair, he has lost 80% of his mobility now, walking with a cane for small distances but relying on the chair for most daily tasks.
The hardest day was not when he got told this, not when his first chair was delivered but the day he was told that his career was over, that was his hardest day!
Although he has always tried to push through and endure, he knew he could not do that this time, there was no place for him any longer in the Canadian Army. He was no longer able to be an infantry soldier, not just a job it was who he was, his identity. It took him time..a lot of time...to figure out that life after the military could be full and rewarding, that change is not always bad and life truly is what you make it.
As his life and path was changing so was mine. It began gradually, first with taking over the household day to day stuff, managing the children, managing his appointments and his daily needs to becoming what my job is today...a fulltime caregiver. I had stopped working shortly after we knew the extent of his injuries. he was broken physically but he was also broken mentally. Kevin was diagnosed with a TBI(traumatic brain injury). I became his extra brain and today I continue that, I fill in all he forgets, I retell stories with him to try to fill in the blank spots in his memories.
The good days now out weigh the bad ones but the stress and hopelessness still creep up on me some days, I have learned how to mange and sometimes hide it ....we should never hide it but honestly it happens. I like so many others need to practice more self care and learn to take some much needed "me time." I think all caregivers struggle with taking time, I think that we all think it is selfish and unnecessary, however I have seen a lot of caregivers suffer mentally and lose themselves because they didn't take regular breaks. It is strength not weakness when we recharge and breathe.
I am hoping to post some other caregiver stories over the next few weeks, I would love to have others send me their stories and by sharing experiences we can grow and learn...we can see that we are not alone and its ok to not be ok!!
If you are reading this and would be willing to share your story as a caregiver please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org