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Caregiver Story: “I Find Joy in Knowing [We] Are a Team”

Dana and Michael

Dana and Michael

Thanks to Dana Brown Ritter for submitting this month’s caregiver story. She shares her perspective of the joys and challenges of caregiving in the interview below.

Tell us your story.

“I am a happily married caregiver to a quadriplegic. My name is Dana. My husband Michael was paralyzed when he was in high school and is paralyzed from the chest down. I am his caregiver and help him get up and dressed in the mornings, and the other way in the evenings. There’s a lot of in between things that I do for and with him that are so second nature at this point, I don’t even realize I’m doing it.”

How do you find the support that you need as a caregiver?

“Caregiving hasn’t always been a blessing. It started out as a blessing – a special way to show deep, devoted love to the man I gave my life to in marriage. But, then, for a time it was all too much for me to handle. I had anxiety and depression. But then, through counseling, prayer, and pouring my heart out on a blog that my husband and I created together, I found dozens of other caregivers. I now have a network of other wives and girlfriends of men who are paralyzed or have some sort of disability. We share emails and Facebook messages and text messages on a daily basis. I love these women. They are like sisters to me. It’s rewarding to help them and it’s refreshing to have them to help me.”

What brings you joy in caregiving?

“I find joy in knowing that Michael and I are a team. He cares for me, too. Not always in a physical way – though he does give an awesome back rub with those pointy elbows!” :)

What are the biggest obstacles that you face in caring for your loved one?

“The biggest tip I would give other caregivers is to just admit that you can’t do it all. You need help, and it’s okay to not be a superman/superwoman. If you are a caregiver, you are a superman anyway. I would also encourage all caregivers to make friends with people who speak your language that you can cry to, vent to, and laugh with about all of the stuff the rest of the world will never understand.”

More from Dana

You can read more about Dana and her husband on Dana’s blog, Click on “dealing with disability” at the top to read about their challenges and about Dana’s caregiving journey.

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