He never saw it coming! What an unexpected event taught one man about caregiving
In Your Own Words: Losing my independence was hard
Hello KIRC family!
It is Thursday and time for the next installment of the Keeping It REAL Caregiving ‘In Your Own Words’ segment.
Today’s feature puts a spotlight on caregiving, but in this case it is not focused on an elder, or a child caring for a parent. This personal story is due to an out-of-the-blue emergency situation involving a man in the prime of his life.
*NOTE: In full disclosure, the man you’re about to meet is my cousin. His father James, and my mother Miss Nellie, were brother and sister. Both are now deceased. *
Since the launch of Keeping It REAL Caregiving I have shared articles focused on the importance of planning ahead for all manner of emergency. This story is a good reminder for all of us.
None of know what is around the next corner so it is never too early to think about, and put contingency plans in place for ourselves. We should routinely ask the question: ‘Do I have a care circle of family or friends to help me if/when I face an emergency?'
Jody Dorsey hails from a community in upstate New York. He spent much of his career as the Director of the Fatherhood Initiative Program. Now retired, he devotes time as a freelance grant writer, traveling, and focusing energies on enjoying life with his wife of 22-years.
Like most emergencies, what happened to Jody was unexpected and sent his life sideways. He says it has given him a new perspective on the fragility of life and appreciation for independence.
In Your Own Words
What led to your caregiving experience?
On July 31, 2022, while taking a walk with my wife I was hit from behind by a speeding bicyclist. The impact of the collision from the bicyclist ripped a gaping hole in my lower right leg, the handle bars from his bike struck my lower spine, throwing me forward where I almost hit a tree.
I was transported by ambulance to the ER at a local hospital, where I received 45 stitches - five inside and 40 outside - to hold the flap of skin that was detached from my leg.
Several weeks later, my primary care doctor and a plastic surgeon concluded the wound wasn’t healing properly, and needed a minor surgical procedure, similar to how burn victims are treated.
My wound was heavily bandaged and I was given a prescription for 3 tubes of Santyl, which had to be ordered from Albany, New York. The price tag on those three tubes? $810 dollars - very expensive!
I continued to see the plastic surgeon for 12 straight weeks so that he could keep an eye on the progress and the healing of the wound.
To this day, I am still under the care of the plastic surgeon for my wound and also under the care of pain management for my continuous back pain. I am also under the care of an orthopedic surgeon for my continuing ankle and Achilles pain. I now have circulation problems in my lower leg and nerve pain .
Who took care of you during this phase?
My wife was my caregiver for approximately four weeks. She helped me with wraps and bandages for my wound. She also drove me to my weekly appointments for about three weeks until I was able to drive on my own.
What were some key ‘lessons-learned’ during that time and/or advice for other caregivers?
Caregiving can come at any age and at any time in life. Don’t believe caregiving is something that only happens to other people. This experience has been an unbelievable journey that we weren’t anticipating.
What were your biggest challenges as a result of this emergency?
My biggest challenges were walking up stairs and driving. Sleeping was also difficult. There have also been financial challenges. We met our deductible for medical expenses and exhausted our Health Savings Account. The person who hit me doesn’t have any homeowners or rental insurance, so I can’t sue them for damages.
*NOTE: Jody does have a GoFundMe account created. KIRC does not typically share such information, but in this case I can vouch for the validity of the information.*
What did you learn about yourself?
I disliked losing my independence; having to have my wife help me. Relying on someone is extremely difficult.
Keeping it REAL Caregiving thanks Jody and his wife for their willingness to share their experience.
As you can see, it only takes a split second for something to happen that creates a ripple effect in our lives.
Because I spent so many years caring for my mother, my mind now works in this fashion. Sometimes it feels repetitive to share such information. But I hope these little reminders nudge some - if not all - of you to think about your own care.
Here are some of my takeaways from this In Your Own Words experience:
Review your medical and insurance(s) so you know what you could be up against in an emergency.
Consider your daily activities, then have a plan should something happen that prevents you from doing those activities.
Set aside some time to actively think about who you could call on in an emergency. Identify the people who could be in your care circle if necessary.
Experiencing the loss of independence before we are older might be useful. Consider the associated frustration - it could be a valuable lesson for when/if we then become caregivers to an elder experiencing the same loss. It might allow for greater understanding and empathy.
What are some of your ‘lessons learned’ or practical ‘need to know’ information do you think could help someone else? Keeping It REAL Caregiving would love to hear from you!
Submit your ‘nuggets of wisdom’ for consideration for an upcoming post, leave a comment for discussion, and we would love for you to share!
Until next time~