A Day In The Life Of A Former Family Caregiver

Lillie Fuller

A Day In The Life Of A Former Family Caregiver

Lillie Fuller
My mom has been gone now for almost 4 months.  I had always said that my Caregiving Days would be over when my mom died, that I wouldn’t ever be able to care for anyone else.  Three weeks after her death I started working at a job that I absolutely love.

On a normal day of driving a non emergency transport van I would take a few clients to Methadone clinic then a few clients to Dialysis Lab.  Every so often I get the curve ball.  

On Friday, December 22 I was scheduled to take my regulars to Dialysis and to Methadone Clinic first thing in the morning.  The first trip at 4:45 am was to Dialysis Clinic, all was normal. It was an easy drop off.  I then went to pick up Eric, who goes to Methadone.  When I arrived at his house he was sitting on the front porch waiting for me, with jeans and a sleeveless undershirt, 7 am and about 39 degrees out.  When Eric got in the van he asked if I could turn the heat up.  The more I looked at him in the rearview mirror, the colder I got.  I had a warm jacket on but had a flannel shirt on under it, to switch to later in the day when it warmed up.  I ended up taking off my jacket and giving Eric my flannel shirt.  He was so grateful.  And it made me feel so good to be able to give him something he needed.  Of course the thing that kept running through my head was a saying many people use, “i would give him the shirt off my back”.  Well, I gave Eric the shirt off my back and I was blessed because of it.  Eric is a good guy who was dealt a hand from a bum deck.  He and I have had great talks and I really care about him as a person.  

Eric and I were off to Joni’s house, Joni also goes to Methadone.  When we got to Joni’s she was having trouble getting out the door, the disease she has keeps her in excruciating pain the majority of the time.  

Erythromelalgia, formerly known as Mitchell's disease (after Silas Weir Mitchell), is a rare vascular peripheral pain disorder in which blood vessels, usually in the lower extremities or hands, are episodically blocked (frequently on and off daily), then become hyperemic and inflamed.

Sometimes, and that day was one of them, it took both Eric and I to help Joni out of the house and into the van.  It takes lots of patience transporting Joni.  She moves very slow and has to stop to rest several times on her way to the van.  She talks about her disease but she doesn’t complain.  We laugh and have fun.  To me she’s become “Queen Joni” because she gets special treatment.  I wait on her hand and foot.  Joni has become very dear to my heart.  She and I are the same age and we have great talks.  Even in the pain and discomfort she is in, she helps the homeless.  I have witnessed her giving blankets and socks to people who come by her house and ask for them.  Joni really touches my heart.  

Once at the methadone clinic, it just takes 10 minutes for them to dose and I take them back home.  

This day after dropping Joni and Eric home I was scheduled to pick up a young man going to Children’s Hospital In Oakland.  This was the curveball.  He is a cancer patient and 16 years old.  When I arrived at his house he came out of the house with his mom and his grandma.  I got out of the van and introduced myself, opened the van door so they could get in.  Mother and Son got in the van and grandma was standing by the door.  Grandma motioned mother and son to her before they buckled up and she gave them a blessing,  She prayed and made the sign of the cross on their foreheads.  The only thing going through my head was “I want to be blessed also”.  If grandma thought mother and son needed to be blessed, so did I.  Grandma didn’t understand me when I said “me too” but grandson told her I wanted to be blessed.  So grandma gave me a blessing and then a hug.   I sure felt a lot better about traveling 74 miles with grandmas’s precious family.

We spent a couple of hours in Oakland then traveled back.  The young man was unable to receive his Chemo treatment, which would have kept him there 5 days, because his platets were low.  I was happy about that because all I kept thinking was that this poor guy was going to be in the hospital for Christmas.  I don’t know what grandma’s blessing was for him but I think prayer is the key.  Mom and Son were happy and laughing all the way home.  When I dropped them off at their house, grandma came out and I received another hug for getting her family home safe.  I found myself praying, thanking God for letting me meet this little family and feeling blessed for having met them.

After caring for my mom for 20 years, I didn’t think I would ever be able to care for anyone else, but I am and I do.  I love my clients.  I have gotten attached to a few of them.  This job, my boss, my clients, they have all filled such a void in my heart.  I really think that my mom set this up.  She had everything to do with me getting this job and I love it because of her.  If I had not cared for her for as long as I did I couldn’t connect with and care about the clients I have.  

Just another caregiving day in the life of a former family caregiver.