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Shakayla’s Smile Says It All – Shield HealthCare Story Contest Winner Spotlight

Gina Flores
Caregiver Advocate | Shield HealthCare
01/29/13  6:51 PM PST

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

Story by Lawanda H., Contest Runner-up

“My daughter Shakayla was born 3 months premature on January 22, 1991. She weighed only 1 pound 3 ounces. Her skin was transparent, she was hooked to multiple monitors, and her cries made no sound. She was too fragile to be held in my arms, yet lying in her incubator, she wrapped her tiny hand around my pinky finger. Doctors said she had a fifty percent chance of surviving the first 24 hours. Shakayla is a tough girl, and she fought to stay alive. By God’s grace and power those 24 hours have turned into 21 years. She is here because her life, as do all lives, has a purpose. Knowing Shakayla’s life has a purpose makes caregiving rewarding.

I’ve never heard my daughter say thank you or I love you. She has never reciprocated the daily hugs and kisses I adorn upon her. Yet…her smile says it all. Her smile is a soft kiss and a big bear hug all rolled into one simple yet authentic gesture. Her smile says thank you, I love you and I appreciate all you do for me. Her smile is comforting. Her smile is a reminder that joy comes from within, despite the circumstances in our lives. Seeing Shakayla’s smile makes caregiving rewarding.

As humans we have a natural inclination to focus upon one another’s weaknesses. While many of us mask our weaknesses, Shakayla’s weaknesses are more obvious. She has a diagnosis of profound cognitive delays, cerebral palsy and legal blindness. She cannot walk, she cannot talk, she is incontinent, she eats via g-tube and she has the mental capacity of a nine month old infant. In caring for Shakayla I’ve discovered her strengths and consequently learned to innately look for the true strengths in others. Shakayla has many strengths. She is resilient, she is strong, she is consistent, she is genuine and she has a beautiful spirit. Discovering Shakayla’s strengths makes caregiving rewarding.

Caregiving has many challenges and there are days of physical and mental exhaustion. But, the rewards outweigh the challenges. When I focus upon what makes caregiving rewarding there are fewer days of physical and mental exhaustion and more days of love, joy, patience, humbleness and peace. When I focus upon Shakayla’s purpose, her beautiful smile and her many strengths, I am reminded of what a gift she is to me, my husband, my son and to the world!”

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