Caregivers Community

Caregiving Family For Son With Cerebral Palsy Inspired By The Denver Broncos

Gina Flores
Caregiver Advocate | Shield HealthCare
04/17/12  11:41 PM PST

Caregiver Story Spotlight | Shield HealthCare “What Makes Caregiving Rewarding?” Story Contest

Story by True G., 2008 Story Contest Runner-up

“We have the honor of being able to care for our 26-year-old son, Joseph (Joe Joe). He has Cerebral Palsy as a result of being born almost 3 months premature. He can’t walk or talk and he must be on oxygen all the time. He used to be able to eat regular food, but last year it was determined that he was swallowing food into his lungs. He developed pneumonia and we almost lost him. Now he must be tube-fed.

Joe Joe requires 24-hour day care. His dad, Phil stays up with him all night and I do the day shift. Joe Joe brings out the best in everyone around him. He has had to suffer what most people would consider unbearable, every day. Yet even on his worst days, he has a radiant smile. Sometimes I’ll find myself grumbling or worried about things that really don’t matter and I will see his smile or hear him laugh, and I tell myself that if he can go through life with a cheerful attitude, why can’t I? He is the only person that has a right to complain about anything, but he doesn’t.

He has his bad days, heartbreaking with the pain and agony that his life is and on those days it would be so easy to fall into a deep depression, but he doesn’t. He manages to greet everyone who comes in contact with him with his own way of hello and a smile. He tells his family “thank you” or “I love you.” He is always ready to go for a ride, it doesn’t matter where. “We go yet?” is his favorite thing to say.

Joe Joe is a huge sports fan, especially the Denver Broncos. We have a family tradition of watching games together. He has a stuffed hobby horse that when its ear is squeezed, it plays a galloping sound and different songs. When the Broncos score a touchdown or do something good, it’s Joe Joe’s job to “ride the horse.” He loves this! A recent memory I have is of the Broncos scoring a touchdown, the horse going off and of Joe Joe laughing and laughing, even though seconds before the score he threw up.

People mean well and say they admire Phil and I for taking such good care of Joe Joe. There is nothing special about us. We are a mom and dad who are devoted to their son, as we are to all of our kids. It is Joe Joe who is to be admired. The only time he wasn’t cheerful was when he was in a chemically induced coma and on life support. He is the bravest person we have ever known. His weakness gives us strength. Phil and I consider ourselves truly blessed to do what we do; what we were born to do every day. Many people think that they never do or say anything wrong and that they are perfect. How fortunate we are to be able to care for someone who actually is perfect.”

Discover support and resources from United Cerebral Palsy | Life Without Limits For People With Disabilities.