10 years… Not sure if I would say it dragged by or flew by. If you had asked me 10 years ago what life would have been like now I probably was dreaming about a life pretty much back to the way it was pre-accident. Over the years it is not to say I gave up hope but just came to a more realization of what our future reality would look like.
What have I learned in 10 years? I have learned that the world is not an accessible place. I’ve learned who are true friends are. I’ve learned that caregivers are considered sort of low man on the totem pole. I’ve learned about the ignorance of the public towards accessibility. I’ve learned not to sit back and wait to let others make decisions for us. I have learned that love is a very powerful thing. I have learned that dealing with insurance companies is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. It takes a real toll on your life, your family, your mental health, the way you see things and the way you react to things
I’ve learned to not always listen to people because sometimes they don’t know what’s best. Sometimes you just got to follow your gut. I know I’ve learned to never give up hope. I look at our situation and Shawn wasn’t even supposed to come home and be with me or survive, but you know you just have to hold it together as long as you can. Sometimes I still have to let people in to help. I think that’s one of my biggest things I’ve learned is that I should’ve asked for more help
In ways I think I am even more of a stronger person now than I was back then even. Not sure if stronger is the right word but less concerned with what other people think. I will always put my family first and fight for them.
People have come and gone from our lives and we have accepted that. Do we mourn for the loss of friendships and relationships, absolutely not. It is how you measure the worth of that relationship and some are just not meant to be part of your life forever. It does still bother us to be excluded from social get togethers but those closest to us make sure accessibility is a priority and that is all I can ask for. The most frustrating thing probably socially is to be excluded because of accessibility but you know what, invite us anyways and let us decide.
In 10 years I have drastically changed what I enjoy and am passionate about. Obviously I have a strong desire to help others and make things a little bit easier by sharing our story and experiences. I’ve started blogs dealing with life as a caregiver to travelling as a caregiver and what all it entails. I briefly worked as an accessible travel consultant and lately we joined the municipal accessible advisory committee. Before this all happened I would have never given accessibility a single thought because I didn’t have to but now it is a frame of mind and bringing awareness is what I love doing.
10 years later do I feel more complacent or accepting about the ways things are? Definitely not! I still look for ways that could maybe not improve Shawn’s brain injury but more like stimulate it. At first you chase down every dream and hope that exists thinking that someday it will all be the same again. I guess accepting that it will never be the same is when you really start to live life. I don’t listen to his last pre-accident voicemail message to me near as much, I don’t compare how he was then to how he is now at all and I don’t wonder what things could have been like. That life is gone and this is the life we have. We laugh everyday together and it reminds me that sure things are more difficult but had I not been there, what would have happened to the man I love with all my heart. I am not much of a spiritual person but I do feel we were brought together for a reason. Shawn is my soulmate and him and our children are what I cherish most in this world.
For the first time ever I want to share my statement that I read 7 years ago in front of lawyers, insurance reps and corporate heads during our settlement mediation. Originally I had been advised not to read it because of how emotional I got but I decided I needed to be heard and through my tears I read this….
“No one sitting at this table, aside from Shawn and I, can understand what this has been like for us. You can read as many reports as you want but you have no idea what it is like to have your almost perfect life stolen from you in an instance. Less than 3 years ago we had everything. We were so much in love and I believe 100% in soulmates and I had found mine. Our careers were taking off, Shawn was finally having his career aspiration realized and becoming a General Mgr of his own hotel and I had worked for over 10 years to get my dream job in hospitality revenue management. We just bought a beautiful home and we were expecting our first child together and making plans to get married. Then it was all gone. Even as I write this I am crying because I still mourn for a life we’ll never have and our children will never have the father they deserve and him be the father he deserves to be. As much as I still love and adore Shawn things have changed in a way that no one can understand. Only Shawn and I knew the closeness and bond we shared and that we still share but it’s more difficult now. We were planning a life together of sharing equally in everything from our relationship to parenting. I now am faced with the life of the equivalent to a single parent as well as caregiver to my husband. For over 2 1/2 years we have lived in a complete state of worry and stress from wondering if my husband would survive to if he’ll remember us to fighting with insurance companies to determine if his life was worth regular therapy sessions. I have watched Shawn make tremendous gains and he does it for me and the kids. He is a strong, motivated man and you look at him and see the physical deficits but there’s so much more to him and he deserves to have the best therapists and the best care for as long as he is willing to fight and believe in himself. It’s so hard to sit and listen to complete strangers make judgements about what Shawn will need after spending a few hours with him or never actually meeting him just reading a bunch of reports. They don’t know the man who has so much love, fight and will, to get better and stronger. The human spirit can be pretty amazing thing. Shawn and I laugh and can still find enjoyment in a life that is now so extremely difficult. Think about what it would be like to have people in your home, all the time, always there, listening to every conversation, seeing every interaction between you and your family, your children. Not only does Shawn rely on others for every detail of his life but so do I. The little things I miss, like we can’t go out for a romantic dinner which doesn’t include cutting up his food and putting an adult bib on him, going to the movies and not being able to sit next to him because the accessible seating is separate, never being able to go for a walk and have him hold me and hug me. Everyday he tells me he is sorry and it breaks my heart because he has nothing to be sorry for. I would rather have this life than no life with Shawn. We just need help to have a happy life”