How My Caregivers Have Given Me the Wings to Fly
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Becca, and I am probably one of the most stubborn people you will ever meet. I don’t like to ask for help. Despite growing up with cerebral palsy, I was fiercely determined to be as independent as possible.
My stubborn nature is arguably what has propelled me forward and allowed me to make many of my dreams a reality. However, it has also been a huge detriment in the sense that it affected my ability to acknowledge the sometimes-harsh realities of my condition. Many people are not aware of the secondary conditions associated with cerebral palsy, and up until very recently, neither was I. I have always known the brain damage that caused my disorder isn’t progressive. What I didn’t know was that because of the years of wear and tear on my joints, combined with the effort it takes just to move around, I would face a
diagnosis of arthritis in my 20s along with various other complications.
As disheartening as this has been for me, it has also brought some things to light. I am now learning it is OK to ask for help. Being on this paradoxical journey has taught me that life does not always turn out the way we had pictured it, and although this has been extremely difficult to accept at times, I am doing the best I can with what I have been given. There was a point in my life where I actually thought I would be able to live completely independently with the right modifications. I was wrong. Even if everything is modified to accommodate my needs, the amount of energy I have to exert just to complete simple tasks is not going to change. In fact, there is a good chance it is going to get harder.
I used to think the term “caregiver” was derogatory. To me, the idea of having a live-in caregiver was just something else that made my disability more concrete. I was not ready to accept the physical limitations my CP creates, and I also had to let go of the picture, the fantasy I had inside my head. It took me a long time to realize that even though I may require more physical assistance than the average person, we all need help sometimes. None of us can live this life completely on our own. It isn’t human nature. We crave connection. We all need love, affection and encouragement. We all need to be reassured every once in a while. We all need to know that no matter what happens, someone always has our back. No one should ever feel alone.
We all need caregivers.
My caregiver is not just my caregiver. She is one of my best friends. Even though there have been times where we have tested each other’s patience, I know without a shadow of a doubt she will always have my back. There are not enough words to express just how much I appreciate her as a human being. She has brought so much happiness, along with endless bouts of joy and laughter to my life. We have laughed until our stomachs literally ache and tears are streaming down our faces. We have cried together. We have had adventures. We have created irreplaceable memories together. She has taken some immense physical stress off my body by jumping in to help when I am completely exhausted and worn out from my day. I am OK with that because she has made me feel comfortable in my own skin.
Once upon a time, I thought having a caregiver somehow validated my disability. But because of her, I am able to live more freely now and with less worry. I cannot tell you what a gift that is.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of the caregivers in my life. My family. My friends. My community. I am so fortunate to call such a small, tight-knit caring community like Fort Macleod my home. Thank you for your love, support, encouragement, unbelievable patience, empathy, understanding and friendship.
You have all given me the wings I needed to fly.
To all of you amazing people out there who play the role of a caregiver: whether you are a medical professional, a parent of a child with a disability, an assistant, a spouse or just a friend, thank you. Without you, our lives would not be what they are. We need you, and we appreciate you and all you do, even if we don’t show it all the time.
Getty image by Truelight.