In 1981, when I was a five-year-old child, my mother became gravely sick with an illness her doctors could not diagnose. She often spent four to five months at a time in the hospital, recover enough to come home, but would fall ill again and again with no explanations. This went on for approximately seven years. During the time my mom was home my two sisters, brother, and I did everything we could to make her comfortable that we were capable of doing as children. Yet, seeing my mom in pain and so much discomfort instilled within me a tremendous sense of empathy and compassion. Despite the short periods of time she spent at home between hospitalizations, I developed a deep sense of appreciation for my mother because I missed her terribly. Thankfully, she finally came home and the relief was immense.
My grandmother lived with us for 15 years due to her deteriorating health as a result of diabetes, cataracts, loss of hearing, and the loss of the ability to clothe and prepare her own food. I helped to dress her in the morning, attend to her left foot which she almost lost to gangrene. But we managed to heal it and she only lost her left big toe. She was still able to walk albeit with a walking chair. I loved to bake so I would make special desserts for her which she was allowed small portions. It was a great activity for us to bond together. She could watch me make it and give me tips.
In college, I became a Caregiver for a quadriplegic man. Although, I didn't have experience caring for a paralyzed man, Michael told me he would explain what he needed on the job. My morning shift started at 7AM and I bathed his nude body, medicated his bedsores, emptied his catheter, performed physical therapy, and fed him his breakfast. If he had chores to complete during my shift, I'd dress him then move him from his bed to his wheelchair and into in his van. Once we finished his chores, I would put him back in his bed, remove his clothing, and clean his apartment.