Rachel’s life was moving along pleasantly in 2012. She had three grown children living lives of their own, and Rachel and her husband were planning to relocate from Australia to Singapore to start a new chapter in their lives.
Little did Rachel know that the next chapter in her life would not be what she’d planned. Her daughter Emily suffered a spinal cord injury while snowboarding in the US, and suddenly everything changed. Rachel traveled to the US to help Emily be transported back to Australia where she would undergo 10 months of rehabilitation at Royal North Shore Hospital. Rachel describes the time at rehab as “intense, anxious and stressful.” It was where Rachel learned to take care of her daughter all over again.
Being a full-time caregiver
Once Emily was discharged, Rachel took over caregiving duties full time for the first 10 days at home.
“I knew how things worked. For the first ten days at home, I was doing all the work myself. But on the tenth day, when a care worked stepped in the door, I collapsed. I was utterly exhausted.”
Rachel documented those early days in an ebook she wrote titled Suddenly an Everyday Carer. In her book, she lays out the raw truth about the transition to adjusting to a new life. “It’s an enormous learning curve — even getting used to people coming in and out of the house everyday. My message to people is it’s tough,” she shares.
In her book, Rachel also touches on the topic – and importance of – caregiver self-care. It took a while for Rachel to stop feeling guilty for wanting to spend some time away from caregiving duties to recharge herself, but eventually she found a way to make that happen.
“I know that I am a better carer because I cycle with my friends, because I come to Emily with news that is fresh and exciting, and because I am not resentful when I am with her."
It’s been several years since Emily’s injury, and both she and Rachel have adjusted to their new normals. With the experience the past has taught her, Rachel has this message for others who suddenly find themselves in an unimaginable scenario:
“I’m sitting here now and realising that the person who wrote this book is not me. That is me four years ago and I am a different person now. You do move through this and you do come out the other side.”
Share this post with someone who has experienced a sudden life change to let them know they are not alone.