Rollin’ with the Providers of Care

By Patty Kunze, RN, BSN and Roberta Palmer, RN

Bless all the caregivers in the world because without them our lives would be challenging. 

February is the month of love and we want to take this time to thank all caregivers.  Being called into the role as the “giver of care” is not an easy task for many, especially when it wasn’t in your plans to be.  We (the nurses of The Rollin’ RN) chose to take on the job as a giver of care.  We chose the field of nursing, many years ago, because we wanted to lend aid to others due to illnesses.  But that was our choice.  We knew we would spend many hours during our shifts taking care of others, not family members, but strangers to the best of our trained knowledge.  Now that is the key word in this message “trained”; there are many years of nursing school between the both of us.  But suddenly, our spouses were tossed into the role of caregiver when that day occurred,  the day that led us into a life with spinal cord injury.  They could have easily decided to walk away, as we are well aware that some do, but they chose to stick it out. 
We have asked numerous partners to share their own thoughts on being thrust into the world of the “unknown” black hole of endless 24/7 care for their loved one and why they chose that path vs. having a paid caregiver.  We are here to share some thoughts and to say thank you for all they do.

“I am my daughter's full time caregiver.
There is no way anyone else will give her the level of care that I do.
Way outside what I can afford.
Most home health agencies won't even care for children or provide respite.
I am a Survivor. I absolutely will not leave my paralyzed daughter with just anyone.”

“My husband knows me better than anyone. He jumped right in before I left rehab. Plus we’re both private people. About 7 years ago he broke a leg so we tried outside help. Hell no!!!! 4 days was enough of incompetence. So we figured it out. We’re 61 and 60 and doing just fine.”

“XXX says he didn’t trust anyone else to do it besides me, certain things that have to be done were too embarrassing for him to have anyone but me do and we couldn’t and still can’t afford to pay for outside help.”

“I think it depends on the situation. My husband has been my caretaker almost 13 years, accident at 49. We have an amazing relationship and even a more amazing life. I’m a C6 complete. We spend 4-6 months per year traveling so it would be hard to have anyone else anyway.”

“It’s hard to find good qualified help that are dependable.”

“We do not have the money to hire help.”

Based on these comments, it is clear that hiring outside caregivers is not always a feasible option.  It is also evident that many prefer to care for their loved ones because they feel they can provide better, safer, and more personal care than a hired outsider.  With that in mind, we would like to share some ideas for taking care of your own well-being, while functioning in the role as the main caregiver.
·         Don't try to do everything yourself. Ask other family members to help and find out what other type of help may be available.
·         Take care of yourself by eating well and getting enough rest.
·         Make sure you don't ignore your own health while you are caring for your loved one. Keep up with your own doctor visits, and make sure to take your medicines regularly, if needed.
·         Find a support group to attend.
·         Schedule time for yourself. Get out of the house to do things that you enjoy like run errands, or go shopping.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all and to our givers of care THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT YOU DO! 

It’s all good and roll on,
Patty, RN and Roberta, RN

Living with Spinal Cord Injury – Concerns of the Caregiver. Obtained January 12, 2012 from 

 About the Authors:

Patty Kunze has been a Registered Nurse since 1983.  She holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Nursing and worked several years in a Spinal Cord Injury Unit at the local Veterans Administration Medical Center as a new graduate.  She has been a flight transport nurse for Neonatal Intensive Care, an assistant manager of Labor and Delivery, and an instructor of nursing students. In 2009, she was involved in an auto accident which left her paralyzed (T3-4 complete paraplegic) from chest down.  But she continues her nursing career while sitting in her wheelchair as a nurse paralegal and writing articles for others with spinal cord injuries as The Rollin RN ™.

Roberta Palmer has been a Registered Nurse for 20 years.  She has knowledge in Family Practice, Allery and Immunology, Special Pharmacy Medication and Counseling, and she is a RN Health Coach. In 2014, she was involved in an ATV accident which also left her paralyzed (T3-4 complete paraplegic) from chest down.

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