From Chaos and Confusion to a Pretty Awesome Future
Not only was it difficult being a first generation American, it was hard doing it in a town that wasn’t used to people of different cultures. Our family migrated to the United States from Jamaica in the early 70s. Overall, I would say that my childhood was great, except the parts where I was constantly bullied and made to feel inadequate for being different.
My freshman year of high school, I got pregnant with our first child. I gave birth the summer of before sophomore year. That was the first time I had to care for someone besides myself. That is when I became a caregiver.
Fast forward, two more kids and about ten years later, my husband was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Failure (ESRD). This caused a chain reaction; what I refer to as a series of unfortunate events. Because he was considered disabled, my husband could no longer work. We eventually lost our home and our family was forced to separate. Bradley and our children went to live with his mother a few hours away. I lived in an abandoned house in order to keep the new job I had started a month before.
I would leave work on Friday afternoons to spend the weekend with my family and our puppy. A few months into the job, I earned a bonus and was able to secure an apartment for us. That same weekend, we rented a truck, took all of our belongings out of storage, and moved into our new home. We were all so happy to be together again.
During that time and up until late 2015, my husband was on hemodialysis. He had to be hooked up to a machine that filtered fluids from his blood three times per week because his kidneys stopped functioning in early 2010. Caring for my husband really tested the limits of our relationship as well as my skills as a caregiver. Why? Because it was a job that I came home to and there was no clocking out.
After being on the donor list for over five years, Bradley got the call. We went in for the transplant in mid-December. The surgery was about seven hours long due to the amount of repairs that were needed. Two weeks later after a routine appointment, his bladder ripped and we had to do it all again. We were admitted to the hospital for another major surgery. The bladder surgery took five hours and it was a success as well. In the process we missed our daughter’s 17th birthday and the kids spent Christmas with our neighbors.
We have come a long way. The journey hasn’t been without its obstacles and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. In addition to caring for my husband and my children, I am also caring for my aging father and we are having tough conversations about end of life preparations. I would really appreciate it if you would leave me the best email address to contact you so we could keep in touch. I consider it a privilege to be able to contact you in order to continue to share.
I look forward to hearing from you.