My Mission: God's Plan
I retired earlier from my career than I planned. I expected to retire when I turned 66 and became eligible for social security. I felt I needed to work that extra amount of time to afford to have a paid caregiver to care for Lynn due to my own medical problems. However, I think God had a mission for me that I was yet to discover. To get to where He needed me to be, I had to take early retirement at age 61. Not understanding his plan, I knew I still wanted to be involved in some type of service job. I felt that meant working outside the home because I thought we would need extra income. Therefore, my thoughts turned to making enough extra income using my experience and the internet.
Initially Created to Earn Income
When I first came up with the idea of BFC, I thought about offering my services as a consultant and charging a fee. A great need exists for a caregiver/consultant role in our area, someone who could go into homes to help new caregivers learn how to perform procedures and organize their homes for caregiving. However, realistically, I know that person cannot be me because I cannot guarantee that I can be available when needed due to my need to care for Lynn. Being a caregiver myself, my caregiver duties must come first.
Put it In God’s Hands
Be that as it may, I still wanted to help other caregivers in some tangible way that could help them and me. I felt a deep desire to move forward with creating the website. I decided to put it in God’s hands. If he wants it to succeed, it will. I plan to offer advertising spots to earn income, which hopefully will be enough to help with my expenses.
Moving Forward in Faith
My decision to create “Becoming a Family Caregiver” is prompted by a deep desire to share what I know about caregiving with those struggling in the role. I have been blessed by the knowledge that God prepared me for my mission in life. Furthermore, I know Lynn and I have emerged safely on the other side of each crisis thrown our way by His grace. I am convinced that God started preparing me in childhood for what I would need now to fulfill my role.
Nothing Happens by Accident
I also don’t think that anything that has happened to us has been accidental or coincidental. I believe everything happens for a reason and through God’s timing and planning. I don’t always like it, and I often fight it, but when I look back through my life at the big picture, I see that God’s perfect plan was indeed perfect.
Influence of Role Models
I grew up in a rural community where everyone knew everyone else, and Christian values were the norm for believers in Christ and non-believers. Therefore, it was easy for me to gain a strong foundation of “do unto others” expectations. Furthermore, since few medical facilities were in the area, families provided the most care in homes. Thus, I had multiple role models demonstrating how to care for others both physically and emotionally in a home environment. From childhood, I dreamed of becoming a nurse. With that goal in mind, all my decisions as I matured directed my choices in that direction.
In high school, my English teacher pushed me into becoming the Editor of our school paper. Through that influence, I developed a love for writing and found God had provided me with a talent for using words to express myself on paper. Journalism allowed me to develop tools for reaching out to others safely since I was uncomfortable doing so verbally.
After graduating from High School, the confidence I gained as a leader on the school paper helped me in Nursing school to get involved in nursing leadership organizations. I developed leadership skills, managerial strategies, and experience working with diverse workgroups through participation in those organizations.
Diverse Nursing Background
As a child, I was only interested in becoming an Obstetrics nurse. By the time I graduated from Nursing School, I had discovered that I loved all aspects of nursing, especially teaching. As a result, I took a position in a small hospital as a Nurse Clinician. In my Clinician role, I learned procedures, then taught other nurses how to do them. I worked not only with nurses but also with all the other departments in the hospital. In addition, I met with patients and their families to do patient teaching. I became proficient as a community-based instructor teaching patients and their families about self-care, providing AIDS lectures (when it first came out), and teaching CPR and ALS (cardiopulmonary resuscitation and advanced life support) classes.
God prepared me for what I would need by influencing the options available to me and coaxing me in the decisions I made. He saw to it that I gained a broad background of knowledge and experience on medical topics allowing me to have a
• of central importance;
• serving as an original or generating source
More understanding of most medical topics. My experience exposed me to nursing jobs, and multiple healthcare careers consistent with supporting family caregivers. Through His influence, the choices I made taught me to work independently, helped me to gain confidence in presenting facts and arguments, and showed me I could trust Him in both the big and small decisions in my life.
God’s Preparations Put to Use
While I’m sure I could think of many other samples of God’s interventions in my life, the following is a prime example of a major event that speaks clearly to how God was preparing me for my future.
When my firstborn was around the age of six, I noticed signs of extreme anxiety. From my observations, my daughter seemed to be experiencing symptoms of a phobia or obsessive-compulsive behaviors. I was familiar with the symptoms due to having a significant interest in psychiatry in nursing school resulting in extensive research and exploration of the subject. Her behaviors strongly suggested she needed help.
God’s Strength Helped Us Through
I discussed my concerns with her Dad, my first husband, who objected when I suggested she needed counseling. However, I took her to a therapist anyway. As I suspected, she was diagnosed with a simple phobia, obsessive-compulsive traits, and pseudo-maturity behaviors. Her childhood was very traumatic. Her father disagreed with the diagnosis. She was afraid to venture far from my side.
I was in constant turmoil, torn between fear for her, for my marriage, my other child, whom I feared was feeling neglected, and fear that I would lose my job and financial stability if I let all the conflict impact my performance in any way. I relied heavily on God to keep me stable and to meet my needs throughout that period, and He did. He helped me with keeping my home, finding a second job, keeping my children when my ex-spouse attempted to obtain custody, and kept my employer pleased with my performance as well as flexible with my hours. Without God’s watchful eye, I don’t think I could have made it through that period.
God Plays Match Maker
In my loneliness, I answered an ad in a local newspaper advertising match-making service. I prayed that God would pick out someone from among the many possibilities that would be a safe match for my children and me. He did. My second husband, Lynn, was in a similar situation, having divorced a year or two before me. He also had limited opportunities to meet single adults in his busy life and tried the newspaper ad route. I answered his ad, and we talked by phone for two hours the first time we connected. With each step in the process, I prayed for God’s guidance before making a move and kept getting the green light.
God Picked My Partner
We started dating regularly, and before I knew it, we were engaged. Though, to be honest, I’m not sure that I wanted to get remarried at that time. In considering Lynn as a potential mate, he was an excellent choice. He was special in so many ways, and I was able to check off most of the qualities that I was seeking in a mate, but I was scared at the prospect of getting married again.
The closer we came to a wedding date, the more I pulled away. I kept telling God I didn’t want to do this again, and He kept sending me messages that said, “This is the man I want you to marry.” I finally gave in and said, “okay,” even though I felt we (Lynn and I) had little in common as far as personal interests were concerned. I stepped out in faith that God knew what was best. I was so scared that I honestly thought about calling off the wedding the day of the ceremony as I looked at our children and Lynn and considered how difficult it would be to blend our two families. Knowing how different we all were, I dreaded the days ahead.
First Few Years Difficult
I often wondered what I had gotten myself into during those early years of our marriage. It was rough. Our two families did not blend easily. Lynn and I stayed stubbornly independent in how we functioned because our loyalty to our children rather than each other interfered with our ability to become a couple. Even when we went to counseling, not much changed.
Finally, we realized we needed to commit to being a couple first. We decided to leave the churches we attended before our marriage and find one we could attend together where neither of us was known and could make a fresh start together.
Once Again, Laying a Foundation
Once we found a church home, our lives began to fall into place as a couple. We had something in common finally. Lynn had a beautiful singing voice; I had a passable one and liked to sing; therefore, we joined the choir. From there, we got involved in Dinner Theater programs. We developed friendships with others in the church and had both fun and work projects together. God was deeply involved in bringing us solidly together as a couple and giving up a support system—just when we were going to need it most.
Lynn Diagnosed with MS
Not long after God helped us acquire a foundation of support in the church, Lynn was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). He had some symptoms off and on for years, but doctors had always attributed the cause to other things. However, I had suspected MS for a while based on his symptoms and family history (his father had MS).
Lynn’s diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis occurred formally in 2006. He was actively participating in choir, handbells, Dinner Theater, playing drums or guitar for the praise band, and helping as needed around the church with carpenter projects. He was employed full-time as a fabrication shop supervisor, personally building us a timber-frame home himself with no assistance, and able to do just able anything he set his mind to doing.
Over the next four years, his physical health deteriorated rapidly. By 2010, Lynn had limited ability to walk or use his arms. Many of his muscles were responding with limited reactions to his body’s commands.
Then came the shocking news of his layoff. The entire department received notice on the same day that they had only a few months left to operate. One day Lynn learned he had MS, and the next, he had no job. He attempted to run his own business for a short time, but the economy limited the possible revenue he could obtain. With a heavy heart, he finally agreed to initiate an application for A disability is a physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental condition that impairs, interferes with or limits a person’s ability to engage in certain tasks or actions or participate in typical daily activities and interactions More benefits.
Power of Prayer
Over the years, there have been many times when prayer has made a difference in Lynn’s immediate outcome. Due to his inability to help himself (he can no longer use his hands to execute any intended actions), I continuously stay with him during hospital admissions. On several occasions, his medical conditions have taken a serious and rapid decline. Each time, I have called out for prayer from my church family and used it myself to ask God to intervene, and he has.
God Sees Us Through
God has never cured Lynn, but that’s okay. He has helped us in so many other ways. God has provided us with strength, endurance, guidance, and comfort. There have been times that I needed Him to keep Lynn safe during surgery or to restore his health to prevent him from going on a ventilator, and He has intervened.
God is my Rock. He is there as my strength. When I need to talk, He is there to listen. No matter what time it may be, or where I am, or what I might be doing, God is there for me. He knows what I need before I know I need it. God prepares a way for me to follow and sees me through my struggles. I am blessed. Always.
Mission to Start "Becoming a Family Caregiver"
Mission to Share My Experience with Others
After I retired from working full-time, I felt a strong desire to reach out to other caregivers to help them in a way that was not available to me when I needed it. I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I had suffered while working. I felt a tugging in my heart that God told me to share with others what I knew. Therefore, I feel like I have a mission to honor that calling through publishing this website, Becoming a Family Caregiver.
First Caregiver Role Supported My Child
I first became a caregiver raising a child with special needs. My first marriage became a statistic of caregiving marriages and ended in divorce. I remarried a few years later to a man supportive of the caregiver role necessary for my daughter. It was ironic in a way because, within a few years of our marriage, his diagnosis of primary progressive multiple sclerosis resulted in my becoming his full-time caregiver.
Glaring Deficit in Healthcare Systems
Over the past thirty years, as I have interacted with other caregivers and became a consumer of the healthcare system in caregiving for my child, spouse, mom, and now, my grandchildren, the obvious lack of support for family caregivers is a glaring deficit in our healthcare system. Healthcare providers expect untrained and unprepared family members, often still in shock over what has happened to their loved ones, to go home and care for them in the same way a nurse delivers care after four years of training. The result is often high readmission rates after patients are discharged home because families are unprepared to deal with unexpected events or do not have the skills necessary to prevent infections from developing. It’s not their fault; they just don’t know what to do.
Family Caregivers Need Support
Plumers, teachers, students, elderly spouses are suddenly asked to become medical caregivers of family members barely labeled in stable condition in some cases before being sent home. These individuals don’t have the
- emotional support they need for their well being,
- the training they need to problem solve the unexpected,
- knowledge to know how to prevent problems,
- resources available to safely perform their jobs at home
- contacts necessary to reach out for help, and
- time available to research where to go to find it.
Retirement Became Necessary
I retired from working a full-time job while being a full-time caregiver because I was exhausted, depressed, and burned out. I didn’t like myself and not much of anything else. I was seeking medical care for several of my personal medical conditions, and the underlying cause of treatment for most of them came back to the stress of caregiving plus working. My doctor advised me that I had to find some balance or face serious health issues. Deciding not to work was the only reasonable option available. Not only that, but my work was starting to suffer too, and I realized my heart was no longer able to keep up the effort needed to keep all those balls in the air.
My Mission to Support Others
The time had come to let go of work and to focus on home. Therefore, I’ve now turned all my energy to caregiving and my mission to support other caregivers on their journey.
Donna's Husband Author, Rising Tide Series, http://lynnsteigleder.com/
BLOG LIBRARY MY CAREGIVING JOURNEY I first became a caregiver raising a child with special needs. That marriage became a statistic of caregiving marriages and ended in divorce. I remarried a few years later to a man supportive of my role of caregiver. It was ironic in a way because, within a few years of our marriage, his diagnosis of primary progressive multiple sclerosis resulted in my becoming his full-time caregiver. As I have interacted with other caregivers and the healthcareefforts made to maintain or restore physical, mental, or emotional well-being especially by trained and licensed professionals More system over
Hi, my name is Donna. I’m the wife of a Multiple Sclerosis patient, Lynn, diagnosed in 2006. MSCaregiverSharing, my original blog site, was dedicated to telling the story of how I adapted to being both a caregiver and spouse to someone with multiple sclerosis. As part of that story; however, the fact that we had recently married and it was a second marriage for both of us, played a factor in how we adjusted. As is true with many second marriages, especially those with children, relationship issues associated with old baggage, got in the way of how well we dealt with
Lynn’s story began when he was a young teen. His father, who was a carpenter, experienced difficulty walking. His diagnosis of multiple sclerosis came soon afterward. His life and that of his familyThe basic unit in society traditionally consisted of two parents and their children but the The basic unit in society traditionally consisted of two parents and their children but the family has now been expanded to include any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family. More has now been expanded to include any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family. More changed dramatically with his diagnosis because at that time no treatments were available for MS. Lynn remembers his Dad’s health declining quickly and progressing rapidly from a wheelchair to a
My Personal Experience
I understand how a new caregiver feels. I’ve stood at that same door of uncertainty and felt the tidal wave of anxiety roll over me as I wondered what lay ahead. Over the past twenty years, I experienced first-hand caregiving during three major family life events.
- As a mother caring for my child who had both physical and mental health care needs crippling her ability to function,
- As a grown daughter supporting her father, who was caring for her mother dying of cancer and providing care to her during chemotherapy for a year, and
- As a wife caring for a husband diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (primary progressive), who changed from being able to master anything life threw at him to not scratch an itch on his arm.
My Professional Experience
Through these experiences, I gained a vast amount of knowledge and insight about family caregiving. However, I was fortunate in that I believe God had me get prepared ahead of time through a series of challenges that equipped me with the skills I needed to survive.
I graduated from nursing school in 1978 and worked in or around healthcare until 2018. I had a unique healthcare career. It allowed me to experience a multitude of specialties and gain expertise in areas often limited in opportunity. Looking back, it expanded my insights in remarkable ways. My discoveries fit perfectly into the toolbelt I eventually needed to acquire to successfully care for all the family members needing help in my future. The ability to gain what I needed when I needed it was explained by my faith because I believed God had a plan for my life and prepared me to fulfill it. He tried to get me ready. Still, it was very hard.
Hospitals and Home are Not the Same
Having seen life from both sides of the healthcare door and exposure to so many medical situations, I can say without reservation that caring for someone in a home is very different than caring for someone in a hospital setting. It’s similar, but there are many significant differences that someone who only knows hospitals does not automatically consider. I want to share with you what I know about those differences.
- Bachelor of Science with Major in Nursing, Virginia Commonwealth University/Medical College of Virginia
- Diploma in Nursing from Roanoke Memorial School of Nursing
- Child with obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobia, joint, muscle, and blood pressure issues.
- Spouse with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.
- Father-in-law with end-stage cancer (assisted with coordination of care).
- Mother with cancer.
- Grandson with autism and undiagnosed possible mitochondria disorder, digestive disorders, and immune system issues
- Granddaughter with cerebral palsy, possible brain stem degeneration, non-functioning small and most of her large intestine, and pending liver failure.
- Grandson with autism with postural orthostatic hypotension with a central line to manage it.
Work Experience (Roles Held)
- Staff Registered Nurse (Emergency Department, Medical Units, Intensive Care, Home Health, Psychiatric Department, Chemical Dependency, Surgery Unit).
- Infection Control Nurse Manager
- Employee Health Nurse Manager
- Human Resources Management
- Infection Control and Prevention
- Substance Abuse and Prevention
- Threat Assessment and Intervention
- Domestic Violence
- Sexual Harassment
- Ostomy and Wound Care
• To manage or supervise the execution, use, or conduct of;
• To provide or apply:
- Cardiac Rehabilitation
- Patient Education Principles and Training
- Crisis Management
- Counseling Techniques
- Emergency Preparedness
- Emergency Medical Response
- Employment Law
My Family on my Wedding Day
Some of Our Special Needs Grandchildren
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