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A Caregiving Superhero Shares The Rewards of Caring For His Mom With Multiple Sclerosis

Gina Flores
Caregiver Advocate | Shield HealthCare
01/18/13  5:49 PM PST

Shield HealthCare “What Makes Caregiving Rewarding?” Story Contest 2012 | Runner-up Spotlight

Story by Jesse R. in Illinois, caregiver for his mom with Multiple Sclerosis

“When we were children, we looked up to heroes. We wanted to become them, to do as they did because they did what was right. Then we grew up and realized that the rays of the sun wouldn’t give us super powers, and that radioactive spiders barely even exist, let alone bite. We found out that athletes were just people who eventually became old and slow, and that politicians and presidents didn’t always care as much as they pretended to.

But, if we look a little closer, we discover that real heroes aren’t always on TV, and they’re almost never wealthy or super-powered. They don’t rescue damsels in distress, or win kingdoms from the tyranny of despots. They’re usually just regular people, fighting, sacrificing, persevering when others would quit; people who don’t do it for rewards or recognition; people so often overlooked because they wear no uniform, because they do not champion a cause or ideology; people whose lives exemplify what it means to be truly human, even though the example they set is lost in the shuffle of “me, me, me.”

I didn’t choose to become a caregiver. Caregiving chose me when I was 13-years-old and my mother couldn’t walk anymore because of chronic-progressive multiple sclerosis. It chooses me every day now that I am 33 and she can barely move. There has been sacrifice and horror beyond the telling of it; there has been trauma and anger, and a fear of what the future threatens that is so deep that hope sometimes feels like a distant land I visited once, but can no longer describe from memory alone. But I’m not special in that regard. Every caregiver knows these feelings, and there are a great many of us.

When I was little, all I wanted was to be a hero. I wanted to protect the helpless, to punish the wicked. In my teens and twenties, I resented being “held back” by my role as a caregiver. It is the only life I have ever known. In that time, a realization has slowly dawned upon me, one that is simple and powerful and more fulfilling that I could have dreamed: I became what I wished to become. Each day, I live to protect someone who can’t protect herself. I sacrifice so that someone else won’t have to hurt quite so badly. I persevere because I must, and because I can and because most others are unwilling or unable.

What is most rewarding about being a caregiver? You get to be a hero. A real-life hero, even if there’s only one person in this world who knows it.

Although, I’m still holding out for those super powers. Let me know if anyone spots that goofy-looking spider, okay? These walls are getting harder and harder to cling to.”

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