If you told me 10 years ago that I would be reliant on my parents again, I would have laughed in your face. I was always proud about being independent, and I didn’t need anyone to help me — until I did.
When I had my double-lung transplant three years ago, it completely changed the course of my life, and I needed the support of others throughout the process.
National Family Caregivers Month in November is a special opportunity to highlight the vital role our caregivers play in our success. I wouldn’t be here without my support squad, as I call them. My parents, Linda and Lawrence Govendo, and my sister, Jacie Scott, have been my main caregivers. Some friends have filled in occasionally, but these three have held me up in times when I literally couldn’t stand.
The initial conversations about transplant were intimidating. Who would take care of me? Who would drop everything and run to my side? Who would be at my beck and call every step of the way?
These are hard questions. Harder still is finding “your people” to perform the pertinent tasks. Thank God I never had to ask, because it was automatically determined who my three people would be. My heart breaks for those who don’t have this kind of support, because it really is a matter of life and death during the transplant process.
These three people will always be my heroes. The magnitude of what they’ve done for me can never be repaid. I strive to be like them, because they have taught me more than I ever could have learned on my own about unconditional love, true devotion, and immeasurable compassion.
They were in the trenches with me every step of the way. They worked together as a team to provide for me and made sure all my needs were met. They still do. My parents and sister are the pillar of my victories against what is seemingly impossible.
Beauty shines the brightest during the most unexpected moments. Love is measured by the smallest details that mean the most. Occasional grand gestures by others don’t deserve the credit. Those who show up in every situation are the true heroes.
My people saw my value when I was dying. They fought alongside me because they believed I would win. They never took a break. (Well, my mom didn’t, but my sister and my dad saw a Yankees game while I was unconscious!)
Joking aside, the most important factor is that they didn’t give up on me. Their consistency, persistence, and perseverance sustained me while I fought for every breath.
Caregivers direct the course of the pre-transplant waiting process, transplant, and recovery. My dignity was stripped bare during this period because I needed help with simple life tasks.
With weakened muscles and a diminishing lung capacity, daily living skills, such as going to the bathroom, walking, and eating, were labor-intensive tasks to perform alone. My caregivers were there every step of the way. They never questioned things or complained. They simply did what had to be done while finding ways to make me laugh and lighten the gravity of the situation.
They reassured me by saying that taking care of me was an honor, and they lifted my burden by telling me to let them do all of the worrying. This allowed me to focus on getting better.
For me, fighting for my life was the easier part of the deal. I knew how to do it already, because it’s all I’ve ever known how to do. I know that being on the other side of the situation hurts more. I could see the pain in their eyes as they watched me struggle to breathe.
Their unspoken fear and the stress of being on call 24/7 were heavy burdens, but they kept going by the grace of God. I can’t imagine their exhaustion, but I know they would have done anything to switch places with me.
Caregivers deserve all the credit. When the world isn’t watching, they show up and provide care. Constantly. And without asking for anything in return. They pray that we will live to see another day. This is the true mark of heroism — when others want to see you win at life more than anything. I am blessed to be surrounded by true valor and to witness love in its purest form.
Thank you to my caregivers for never giving up on me.
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.
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