Portraits of Caregivers

For a couple weeks now, I’ve wanted to sit down and blog about just a few of the many people that have been helping us – the PCA’s. We currently have 5 people that come into our home and provide personal care for Tim every day. They come in from 7 am to 1 pm and then again at 5 pm to 10 pm. Without these people, we would not be managing as we are. So, here they are:

Sareth ~ Sareth is a mom of two beautiful daughters who comes to help us 3-4 mornings a week. She is originally from Cambodia, where she was a fully trained nurse. Sadly, her nursing credentials do not cross international boundaries, so she would have to take the entire nursing program over here in order to become an RN in the States. She speaks English, but definitely as a second language. One of the first things we noticed about Sareth was how very gentle she is. She takes everything slow and with much care, which is exactly how Tim needs his care.

JoAlle ~ Joalle has been with us the longest. She provided our Wednesday night respite care beginning in January. Since April, we’ve been able to increase her hours. She is now here 3-5 nights a week, depending on the schedule. Joalle is a full-time student looking to go into a nursing program. She has given Tim a purpose, as he is her math tutor when she brings her math homework. She is a bright and vibrant woman, who is tackling life as a single mom. Her son, Lorenzo, is 7 years old and sometimes comes with her. He fits right into this house full of boys! Joalle’s smile and laugh are absolutely contagious. She has a deep sense of compassion for all of us and what we are going through. She has already committed to watching the boys for me over weekends in the future when I would like to go away.

Whitney ~ Whitney is a young woman who is tall and quiet. To be honest, I didn’t think she would last with us. She seemed so timid when she first came to our house. I am so glad she has stayed. She is a wonderful PCA for Tim. She cares for him with a sweet tenderness that is somewhat unexpected for someone her age. She loves to take Tim outside and just sit with him. With it getting colder out, I’m not sure what they’ll do now.

Gea ~ Gea’s real name is Gadesh, but she has taken an American name that is easier for people to remember and say. Gea’s family is from Ethiopia, though Gea was raised from childhood here in the Twin Cities. She is also quite young, but seems like she has been a PCA for a lifetime. She always has her eyes open for details to make sure Tim is comfortable and content. Gea has been with us since April and I love to see her smiling face. She was so scared of Smudge when she first started coming and it was quite fun to see her reaction when I plopped Patch, the guinea pig, on her lap. She has adapted into our family quite well. She has recently started a different job, so I don’t think we will see as much of her now. That makes us all sad.

Frank ~ Frank just started with us a couple weeks ago. When a couple other PCA’s went back to college in September, we were struggling to find a good replacement. After trying a couple other guys, the health care company sent Frank to us. He is fabulous! He also is in his early 20’s, but he comes with several years experience in the field as well as in his personal life – his younger brother has Down’s syndrome and is autistic. Frank completely understands that some people struggle to communicate; they just require patience and persistence. Within just these first two weeks, Frank has already picked up on how to communicate with Tim. He is a gentle giant (he’s 6′ 2″) that is so careful with how he moves Tim’s body. The best part – Frank does my dishes and laundry every time he comes!

Other PCA’s that we’ve had include Carmen, Chee, and Katee. There have been many others that have only come once or twice, but these three were with us for an extended time and then had to go on to other things. We enjoyed having them while there were here and miss each of them.

Each of these people has made an impact on us. We have appreciated their care and compassion so very much, especially as the physical needs continue to escalate. These are truly gifted people. I don’t know if they will ever truly understand how much of an influence they have in their clients’ lives.

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