Jeff and Kristen Sachs celebrated twelve years of marriage on August 20, 2017. Jeff was paralyzed in a diving accident, eight years after the couple made the commitment to love one another through sickness and health. As a result of the accident, Jeff became a high level quadriplegic and Kristen became a supportive wife and caregiver.
Kristen says that a big topic of discussion amongst spouses in the disability community is “How do you separate being a spouse and being a caregiver?” Kristen’s answer to this question is simple, she doesn’t.
“One thing I've learned in being a part of these groups is that no one's situation is exactly the same. And everyone has to find what works for them and their partner. I learn from and respect each and every approach. Because figuring out what works and implementing a caregiving plan is a difficult and complex task.”
Kristen states that she is not either a wife or caregiver. She is both. Sure, Kristen assists Jeff with his daily tasks. However, this could be considered as a version of ‘quality time’ as the husband and wife communicate about all of the hustle and bustle of raising a family and more.
“Because when I'm cleaning Jeff's trach, we're talking about our daughter's school. I have my headlamp on and I'm gloved up, and the rolling table set up next to his bed is stacked with gauze, saline, Q tips, and ointment. And my husband and I are talking about setting up a weekly homework schedule for our third grader.”
Being a spouse and a caregiver has its challenging moments. Kristen writes that is important to give each other space to come to terms with life’s obstacles. But, she admits that it is always nice to have someone to lean on. After the couple went through some difficult times Kristen’s husband gave her the highest compliment - "I truly don't think I could get through this with anyone but you."
“We've had to learn to allow one another space to be angry with the turn our life has taken without taking it personally. We've had to accept that each one of us copes in our own way and we've learned to support one another within those parameters. We've consoled one another, we've delivered more pep talks that I can count, and we've both taken turns being the bad cop when it was time for the pity party to end.”
Kristen proclaims that she would not want to navigate her life with anyone else but her husband, Jeff.
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