Joann G.Grand Prize Winner
Joann G.

I have been a nurse for 41 years and a nurse's aide prior and it would be hard to say all I have received from my years of caregiving. I learn something new from patients every day it seems, so that is a huge reward.

I learned a long time ago from a Creole lady, Ella Mae, with a huge, painful bedsore, about dignity and sense of humor even in the midst of a degrading, humiliating treatment on one's backside. I learned about courage and bravery from a man named Willie, who lost half of his foot in a lumberjack accident and still worried about making a sound during daily wound debreedings. I learned about respecting a patient's rights and decisions, even when others don't agree from a very sweet lady named Audrey, who chose to die rather than losing her leg. I learned about the harm of judgment from a 103 year old woman who had, had an abortion when she was a young girl and had not only lost the ability to have children, but never lived it down. I learned about strength from 2 burn patients who both made it through the pain of burns to 80+ percent of their bodies, only to die from infection later. I learned to not take things at face value when I called a patient's husband who looked much younger than her, her son (I also learned about tongue lashings from that one). I learned how one can go from a very confused, combative patient to one of my sweetest memories from a little white haired man named Nickolaus. I learned about intelligence and wit from a little patient named Romeo and I learned the pain of loss on that one too. I learned how to make green chile and about the love of one's children from Josie, who just wanted to live long enough for her daughter to graduate....and died the day after. I learned later how growing old is a good thing from a patient who has lived with AIDS for 20 years. I learned to appreciate what I have from deplorable living conditions I saw doing home health.

I learned about the pain of addictions and how they are truly diseases from patients over the years and it gave me the patience and wisdom to try and care for members of my own family. I also learned about the extreme pain of suicide from taking care of an alcoholic husband who ultimately believed that was the only cure. I learned to put my own problems aside and work through adversity from that family caregiving situation also. I learned about love from all of my patients and their families over the years-what the lack of love and being lonely can do, as well as what unconditional love can do. And finally I learned about the importance of human touch from an AIDS patient who cried every visit because we hugged him here and no one had touched him in a long time.

Unfortunately, from many over the years, I learned that there are worse things than death. But I also learned the unbelievable things people can go through and still retain their humanity and love for life. The amazing capacity and resilience of the human experience can teach us all a thing or two.

These are just a few of the rewards I received. I'm sorry to say that if I met you at lunch today, I wouldn't remember your name 10 minutes later. I'm terrible that way, but I can remember these unforgettable people from over 40 years ago because of the precious gifts they gave me.

Shield HealthCare's
13th Annual
Caregiver Story Contest
Shield HealthCare recognizes the demanding roles and responsibilities of today's caregivers. Whether you are a family caregiver or a home health professional, we would like to hear your story about “What Makes Caregiving Rewarding?”. Submit your story for a chance to win a prize!
Top 3 Story Winner Prizes
  • $500 American Express Gift Card
  • One-year subscription to Today's Caregiver Magazine
  • Commemorative Wall Plaque
Top 5 Runner-up Prizes
  • $150 American Express Gift Card
  • One-year subscription to Today's Caregiver Magazine
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