The feelings you feel are real and you must acknowledge them in order to cope.
How do you find strength in the difficulty of the day-to-day challenges?
My kids inspire me to be strong. I realized if I do not provide care for my husband, their lives will be so much harder. They didn’t choose this life and I want to make sure they have great childhoods, despite this difficult thing in our lives.
How has caregiving changed you?
I am very mission-driven. As a caregiver, I’ve learned lots of coping skills. I recently took a job as a special education teacher. I work with kids who have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and because of my experiences with my husband, I am uniquely prepared to help these kids succeed. Their meltdowns don’t scare me. I have a renewed sense of compassion for difficult situations.
What are your current challenges as a caregiver?
My husband’s condition has improved drastically over 10 years and he is much more functional, but he still has problems and I still have to remind him of a lot of things. I’ve had to learn to change my wording so that I still treat him like an adult. I never want him to feel degraded.
Amber cares for her husband, Kurtis, who was hit by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq. When he was injured, she was by herself in Alaska with a newborn baby, a toddler, and a five-year-old. Amber did not think she could survive. Years later, it is incredible to see how far they have come and Amber has nothing but hope for the future.
As a Dole Fellow, she is committed to inspiring and encouraging other caregivers to cope and to be able to lead fulfilling lives.