Someone who changed my life!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

By: Katie Godar

This story was written by Katie Godar for a school essay. Katie is 13 and she put her heart into this testimonial. Katie’s Nana is enrolled in a Council on Aging home care program, and her home health aide, Michelle, works for a COA-contracted provider. We edited it a little for length so we could share it with you.  

Katie with her mother and Nana
The essay's author, Katie, with her mother and Nana

About four years ago my Mom started noticing a change in my grandma (Nana).  Although Nana seemed healthy and happy, my Mom knew something just wasn’t right.  My Nana started forgetting things….. things that were important, like taking her medicine, cleaning her house, getting to doctor appointments and socializing with her friends and family.

My Mom took her to her doctor and they recommended she get tested for Alzheimer’s disease.  The results of the tests were not good and indicated that my Nana was in the beginning stages of this very sad disease.  In order to keep my Nana safe my mom and her brothers and sister put together a schedule.  One Sunday afternoon my mom arrived at my Nana’s house and saw that she was badly bruised on her arms and her forehead was cut and bruised.  Nana had taken a fall early that day.  That fall really concerned my Mom.  Although my Nana appeared as though she’d be ok, my mom couldn’t help wonder what could have happened. With that fall, the schedule for more active involvement with my Nana was put into place. 

My Mom and Dad moved Nana into our house, where she lived Sunday evening through Friday after noon.  My uncle checked in on her on Fridays, and my aunt checked in on her on Saturdays.   Everything was going well, until she was walking up the steps from our basement and missed one of the steps and fell backwards.  She broke her wrist and her knee cap.  Nana had surgery and then came back to our house to live for good.  She was not the same person.  She required 24/7 care and could not be left alone.

I love my Nana very much and I would never want anything to happen to her and I was very happy that she came to live with us, but looking back we had no idea how this would change our lives. My parents are very involved with my sister and me.  They come to every sporting event and every school activity.  We always go to church as a family.  We like going to Wild Mike’s on Wednesday nights for wing night.  We love going to church festivals on the weekends or going to our log cabin for the weekend.  This all changed when my Nana moved in, because those type of things were just too much for her to do. We were doing a lot of those things still, but one of my parents would stay home with my Nana.  We were all getting really depressed about our situation and really missing our family time together.

My Nana is so sweet to be with and we all feel that having her in our home and taking care of her is the right thing to do, but it was getting to the point where we felt it was just too much.  I bet you are thinking that this story is about how my Nana changed my life.  Well, it is kind of.  Having Nana live with us, has taught me patience. It has taught me how to take care of other people.  It taught me to NEVER take those you love for granted because you never know when you will lose them….yes my Nana is still alive, but the Nana that would pick me up from school and take me to Toys R Us and just walk around and let me play with everything is gone.  The Nana that would take my sister and me for ice cream and sit on the bench with us and never be in a hurry is gone.  The Nana that would play old maid, go fish and side walk chalk is gone.  The Nana that made the best homemade pancakes is gone.

The Nana I do have is the one that looks at me and smiles and says goodnight to me with her regular “goodnight, darling.” I know the old Nana’s in there and I’m proud of my family for honoring her in her final days, but taking care of her and loving her. 

Ok, so yes,  Nana’s condition and her need to live with my family has definitely changed my life, some for the worse, but most for the better, as this situation has taught me that not everything is about my needs and wants and that it is our duty and responsibility to take care of others when they are no longer able to care for themselves. 

With all this being said, the real person that changed my life is not a relative, although I think of her as Aunt Michele.  Michelle is my Nana’s caregiver. She is a home health aide.  My Mom says Michele is a God-send, because she came into my family’s life when we were all feeling so sad. 

My Nana’s care was just getting to be too much and my parents were looking into nursing homes.  This made my Mom very sad.  But Michelle came into our life when we needed her the most.  Michelle has taken care of my Nana for the last four months and is at our house just about every day.  Michelle gives my mom a break, so she is able to do her work, and we are able to do things together as a family again. Michelle is probably one of the most loving, caring and kindest people I know and we are all very grateful that she is in our life helping us care for my Nana. I know my Nana’s condition will only get worse so I know we will never have her back the way she was, but with Michele in our life as my Nana’s caregiver she also cares for all of us.