In October I traveled back to my home state of Missouri to see family and friends. My brother Brian flew to San Antonio and drove me to Springfield. We met Bert at the hotel after a grueling 13 hour trip. During the drive we got (semi) lost in Oklahoma searching for an Arby’s restaurant and also missed a tollbooth.
I hadn’t seen mom since dad’s funeral in July 2017. Therefore I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. We spent most of the first weekend reminiscing about the time we were kids. One night we brought in Chinese food including my personal favorite, Springfield style cashew chicken. (See my blog post cashew chicken for more information about this delicacy).
Mom has a difficult case of type one diabetes and suffers with dementia. As a result she must live in a nursing home. She is one of the few that can still walk, albeit with assistance of a walker.
My Life on the Road
I have a hard time traveling.
At home I have a team of caregivers to take care of me. These caregivers know the routine. In addition, my house is modified to accommodate my disability. I sleep in a hospital bed which is easier for me and my caregivers. Motels have carpeted floors and regularbeds, neither of which work well with a patient lift.
Linda is my primary caregiver at home. She prepares and feeds me dinner every night. After dinner she handles all my nitetime ADLs, like brushing my teeth and giving me my meds. She then uses a sling and lift to put me in bed. After I watch TV for any hour or two she stretches my arms and legs one final time before we go to sleep.
Bert handled Linda’s duties this trip. I hired temporary caregivers to handle my morning routine. These temporary caregivers make trips like this possible. Today I want to share with you the inspiring stories of two women that took care of me in Springfield.
Weekend One – Erica
Erica works full-time as a caregiver for Integrity Home Care in Springfield. She has four children ages 12, 8, 4,and 2. Her oldest has
a severe form of cerebral palsy. He cannot walk or speak. She has to use a Hoyer lift to transfer him between bed, wheelchair, toilet, etc. Thankfully, Erica’s husband helps care for their children
Nine years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After receiving treatment she thought she was cancer free. However, the cancer spread to her lower spine. Erica saw a cancer specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida in late October.
Her mother and sister live in Panama City, Florida, which was devastated by hurricane Michael. The first two days she was with me she had not heard from either one. Her mother finally called from a satellite phone three days after the hurricane.
I exchanged text messages with Erica after her visit to the Mayo Clinic. She was a bit overwhelmed with the information she received but had a positive attitude about her path forward.
Weekend Two – Katie
Like Erica, Katie works full-time for Integrity Home Care in Springfield. She also has four children. Her oldest son recently graduated and left home. She has another son, 17, daughter, 14, and son Cameron, 12. Katie’s husband left her when she was pregnant with Cam.
Cameron was born with a rare strain of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone disease). As a result he suffers from frequent broken bones and can’t walk great distances without frequent rest. Despite his disability,
Cam leads a full life inspiring others.
Recently Cam went deer hunting. There is a nonprofit organization in Missouri that conducts deer hunts for people with disabilities.
The person who donated the hunt paid for him to take one buck up to six points. The ranch owner authorized the guide to let Cam “shoot a big one”.
On the third day in the blind a large deer appeared on Cameron’s computer screen. As instructed, he used the joystick to maneuver the crosshairs of the scope into position. He fired his weapon, felling the 21 point buck in one shot.
The hunting party went to check on the fallen game. The guide joked with Cameron, “if we don’t get get him to the vet in 15 minutes he’s not going to make it.” Cam responded “I don’t want him to make it”.
They continued their good hearted laughter: “What will we do if the game warden comes around to check on us?” Cam’s solution “lay me on the ground, put the deer’s head on my stomach, and I will claim self defense.”
We talked about the impact that Cameron had on everyone involved with his deer hunting expedition. How these grown men were brought to tears by Cam’s spirit, attitude and zest for life. He may not have been preaching from a pulpit but Cameron used his deer blind as an alter to share God’s love.
Katie lives in Nixa, Missouri. I asked if Nixa still had an annual festival called Sucker Days. (click the hyperlink to the left for more information). I told her I knew someone from Nixa who may have been a participant in the Sucker Day parade many years ago. Jean, set the world straight on your official role.
This was a great trip. I saw friends and family, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over 40 years. This trip brought back many memories of the first 22 years of my life. I work forward to sharing these memories with you next year.