At the young age of 15, Maria was thrown into a role she could have never imagined. She became the primary caregiver to her older sister who was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident. While both Maria’s brother and her parents helped with her sister’s needs initially, it was Maria who took on the bulk of the caregiving duties. “I was responsible for everything from keeping her clean, to overseeing her physiotherapy sessions, to eventually becoming her emotional backbone,” shares Maria.
Maria soon discovered that balancing her own life with her caregiving duties was extremely challenging. She found that when she was able to spend time with friends, her mind would not cooperate, and her thoughts always strayed to her sister. Questions like ‘Will she manage in my absence?’ and ‘Did she fall while shifting onto her wheelchair?’ plagued her.
Maria eventually decided to enroll in law school with the dream of some day becoming a lawyer. She even completed her law degree while continuing to care for her sister. But when it came time for Maria to find a job, a career in law wasn’t feasible with her demanding caregiver schedule. Instead, Maria chose temporary jobs in the fields of freelancing, teaching, and social work. “These left me with ample time to cater to my sister’s needs,” Maria shares.
And over time, Maria’s sister’s needs began to change. Her sister began to regain strength in some of her muscles which then allowed her to achieve some independence.
“Seeing increased stability in my sister’s life is the best reward I could have asked for. Despite living in a society that is unfriendly to disabled people, she is now working in the human resources department of a reputable institution.”
While both Maria’s and her sister’s lives took an unimaginable turn twelve years ago, Maria sees the challenges of her unexpected role as character building: “If there is one thing life has taught me, it is that a person is utterly unaware of their true potential until they encounter and cope with a challenging situation.”.
Are you a caregiver for a family member? We would love to know more about your caregiving journey. Share it with us, and you might be featured on AbleThrive!