The holiday season is all around us. People are decorating their homes, the malls are packed with shoppers and one of our local radio stations has started its continuous play of Christmas music. I don't mind all the hustle and bustle. I usually enjoy the holidays very much, as I look at my own decorated Christmas tree here at home. But, it's easy to get caught up in all the material things and lose sight of what's important. No matter what holiday you observe, I believe it should involve being surrounded by friends and family. A time to be thankful for all we have. I know I couldn't have made it through some of life's hurdles without my family.
The biggest hurdle for me of course, was having and recovering from my stroke. The event was unexpected and immediately changed my life. I could no longer work, as the entire right side of my body was affected. My face was drawn and I couldn't speak clearly, I had a limp and my right arm was paralyzed from the shoulder down. While thankful to be alive, I realized my career as a television reporter could be over. It was a depressing time. Despite the fact I couldn't work, I couldn't even take care of my 8-year-old son or myself. That's where my mother stepped in. I didn't even have to ask. She took a leave of absence from work and moved hundreds of miles from home to live with me. She became my instant caregiver.
Having a caregiver is so important and common. According to the National Family Caregivers Association, there are an estimated 25 million caregivers in the United States. Being a caregiver is a huge responsibility and many people may not realize that they are caregivers. But anyone who takes care of someone who is chronically ill or recovering from a disease is in fact a caregiver. And being a caregiver isn't easy. It can be such a demanding job, that many caregivers have increased blood pressure, become depressed or suffer from sleep deprivation. The person who is ill isn't the only one who suffers. Caregivers sacrifice their lives to take care of their loved ones.
I think back to my recovery. My mom cleaned, cooked, took me to my doctor's appointments, helped me bath and dress and then also helped with my son. The list goes on and on. Not to mention, she had to deal with my emotional outbursts, whether it was frustration, anger, and depression and at times, even joy. My stroke not only changed my life, but hers too. She wasn't working or doing her normal activities with her circle of friends. Her house was neglected; her life was on hold until I got better.
What a burden we put on these caregivers, but at the same time many of us couldn't survive without them. I made a full recovery and can continue with my career. I'm very thankful to my mother for her sacrifice and I hope others will join me in thanking their caregivers for all they have done or are currently doing. As I look back now, the stroke didn't take away my life. It became a part of my life. It made me stronger and made me appreciate my family more. Those few months with my mother and living at home will always be a cherished time for me.