Hi Guideposts, I'm Maryanne Curran and I'm here to talk a little bit about being a caregiver for my parents, and I continue to be a caregiver for my younger sister, Gayle, who is intellectually disabled.
I don't even know how one becomes a caregiver. I think it's sort of something you get into because you have to. I am the second of five kids in my family, and the youngest child is my sister Gayle, who was born intellectually disabled, and I am her guardian as well as her caregiver today. And I didn't even know that was something one did. It was just sort of like I'm the big sister, you look after your little sisters. That's part of life.
It was around 2002 or so that my mom's health started to deteriorate. After a lot of different doctor's appointments, we got a diagnosis, which was a pretty rare disease called progressive supranuclear palsy. People with PSP, as it's called, typically live from five to seven years, and my mom was pretty much right on track, on the seventh year.
It was really sad because she was such a vital person for us. She had said to me one time that she thought she might have to go into a nursing home, and I said, "No, Mom, not unless we can get one that will take Dad, me and Gayle and you all in the same room," and she liked that, so that was good. And that's one thing I think I'm most proud of is that we were able to keep her home with us the whole time.
And so then after Mom passed, it's sort of like my dad, you know, he was two years older than my mom. He had a stroke -- a couple of strokes and a seizure and what not, and he died in 2012.
I think humor is the most important thing. It's really the thing he passed on to all of us. Because I can remember he told each of us in his own way, he said, "I'm not rich, so there's not much I can give you monetarily, but I can make sure you laugh."
Life's tough, and it's tough for all of us in our own way, so I think it's really important just to keep your humor and it makes life easier, I think. It makes it more enjoyable, too.
A couple of things I've learned from being a caregiver, too, is I think I'm stronger than I think I am, because I never thought I could do any of the stuff that I did. I think to be a good caregiver, you really have to be a good advocate for the person you're caring for, because you've got to speak up. Because even like when my mom was sick, we knew something was wrong and she knew something was wrong, but we couldn't get the diagnosis, but we had to keep up on that.
And sometimes, whenever we would have like a tough day, you know something would go wrong or whatever, I would--you know, I can remember this happening a few times--I would just kind of take a deep breath and I would just get this sense of calm, and I think that was the Lord telling me, "You're not alone, kid. Just hang in there, but you're not alone." And I think that always helps out all of us in our own way.