Donna, a mother and caregiver, writes about a subject that caregivers know all too well – a worst fear.
Donna recalls her first encounter with her worst fear. It was a phone call she’d received shortly after sending her then young son, Nicholas, to a special school for children with disabilities. Donna answered the phone and the voice on the other end said, “”It’s the school here. Nicholas has had a seizure and the ambulance has been called. He is still not responsive, but he is breathing.”” Donna discovered that day that Nicholas also had epilepsy besides his other disabling conditions.
“After that, I startled whenever the phone rang. I dreaded speaking on the phone and feared answering each call.”
More recently, Donna and her husband received another terrifying phone call regarding Nicholas from the residence where he now lives and is cared for. “Nick had choked,” Donna recalls. “He had stopped breathing – for 15 seconds or so – ambulance called – Nick was now breathing but unresponsive.”
By the time Donna arrived at the hospital, Nick was doing much better. He was thoroughly checked and later discharged. Still, Donna was shaken, and admits she now has a fear of the phone ringing, no matter the situation:
“I worry when I laugh at someone’s joke in the company of adults – I am relaxed and happy, but suddenly a telephone ringing silences me. I feel chastised and wary.”
Donna knows that fear is a common element in the lives of caregivers. “Everyone who gives care to a loved one who is vulnerable will have a deep-seated fear of losing control and somehow failing to protect their charge,” she says. Fear is simply a part of a caregiver’s life.
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