I’ve been a single parent since 1993 at which time I went back to school to get my Bachelor’s degree in Education. I taught math for about 8 years and then went into full time ministry. I founded Dove’s Fire Ministries and was bound for Africa before my son’s accident. Since his accident, I have obtained my Master’s in Health Education. I’m a lot of things besides a caregiver. I built a freelance writing business and I also teach ESL on an international level – all from home. I’m also a runner and train all year long. I have two beautiful grandchildren to which I am Gigi.
Many people have influenced my journey and helped me become who I am today. I think the most impact came from my daddy. He adopted me when he married my mom; I was 4 at the time. They had 3 children together and he never made any distinction between us – I’m his oldest child. His love, acceptance and life lessons has helped shape me into a responsible adult.
I’m stubborn. That’s what keeps me going and prevents me from giving up! I have two mantras: 1) Progress is progress no matter how small it seems and 2) Tears will get you sympathy but sweat will get you success.
I’m caring for my adult son who was injured in an automobile accident when he was 24 years old. He suffered many injuries including a TBI. He was a wonderful musician and had only one semester of college left when his friend pulled out in front of a large pickup that T-boned on my son’s side. I flew from Chicago to Louisiana and have stayed by his side continuously. We have moved back to Oklahoma where our family is located – mostly for support.
On caregiving: It’s day to day for me. I’ve battled depression and my own health issues over the last couple of years. My advice would be to take care of yourself – but not just so you can take care of your loved one—do it for yourself. We have to learn to take time for ourselves and give ourselves a break. The most difficult part of caregiving is that there is no end in sight… this is what my life looks like till I die. The most rewarding part of caregiving has been what I have learned about myself on the journey.
The first thing I do in the morning is start the coffee pot – then I bolus and change my son while it makes! The last thing I do at night is try to read a little bit before I doze off. As for strategies to cope with caregiving I’d have to say the most effective tool for me is giving myself a break. I am so stubborn I won’t stop – but I’m learning to make myself take a break every day – it’s okay to have a cup of coffee, a moment when I’m not doing anything for anybody, and it’s okay to take a nap! It’s okay to live….
Caregiving has taught me –life may not be pretty – but it goes on.
My best habit (besides coffee?) is that I am structured and disciplined. I like a routine.
We asked Jeanie a few questions: “What do you do when you have 15 minutes of free time?”
Who has 15 minutes of “free time”? lol I might read a book, organize a drawer or catch a quick workout.
What do you think makes a life well lived?
A life well lived is one that is simply lived – walked out one step at a time with your focus on others and not yourself.
What question do you hope an interviewer would ask?
I would hope an interviewer would ask how I’ve kept the faith through this trial – and I’d reply, “I haven’t – it has kept me.”
If you are looking to connect with Jeanie or learn more about her story, she blogs at Daily Devotions for Caregivers & From the Furnace.
Hi Jeanie.. My name is Robin and my son was in a car accident as a passenger and hit his head. He has TBI also and was 22 when the accident happened. He is now 24 and I am his caregiver. I feel very alone and it’s heart breaking.. but my faith is that he will heal from this and have some kind of life. When I read your experience..I have the same. How old is your son now. Is he healing? I just found this site and read your information. God Bless you and your son. Take care.. Robin Miller