Caregiver Highlight: Pamela (@PamelaThorson)

By January 15, 2014Aging in Place

headshotforweb1Today  will continue our Caregiver Highlight blog series with one of our favorite caregivers Pamela! She is a amazing caregiver to her son Kevin.  Follow her on Twitter and learn more about her book, ‘Song in the Night and Out from the Shadows’ at her website

Who do you care for and could you tell us a bit about them and their personality?
I am the full time caregiver to my son, Kevin. He suffered a devastating spinal cord injury in a fall in 1997. He was initially paralyzed from the neck down, and he was on a ventilator for two years.In the years since, he has made significant progress. He has weaned off the ventilator except to sleep at night. He can feel and move most of his body. He can even walk with help. Today he is the founder and senior editor of a popular Christian music website, He is patient and kind and wise. In his spare time, he loves to watch sports.
Qualities that make a good caregiver a great caregiver

A good caregiver meets the physical needs of others. A great caregiver gives from the heart and imparts life to others. The best caregiver is also an advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Special training or things you have learned

When Kevin was in rehabilitation after the injury, the entire family received training in how to care for someone with quadriplegia.

Later I became a certified nurse’s aide and licensed practical nurse to meet his extensive medical needs. We were originally told we would not be able to care for him at home due to his high level of injury. But I was determined to learn whatever I needed to keep Kevin out of a nursing home. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. We’ve been blessed to have Kevin with us for over sixteen years.

How are the holidays different from the rest of the year for you?

At first, holidays were difficult because of the loss they represented for us. Due to Kevin’s fragile health and our heavy caregiver load, we could no longer participate in all of our traditional festivities. Eventually, though, we forged new traditions and discovered new joys in the seasons. We’ve learned to look forward and not dwell on what might have been. We’re so glad to have Kevin with us, and we celebrate every holiday we have been given together.

Favorite thing/worst thing about being a caregiver during the holiday season

The worst thing about being a caregiver during the holidays is trying to balance my plans with the realities of caregiving. It’s hard to keep from overworking myself in an effort to keep up with my favorite family traditions. Since it “takes a village” in our house to care for Kevin, I’ve had to learn to keep from overworking myself in case of an unexpected stressor such as illness or a visit to the hospital.

The best thing about being a caregiver is that our relationships have been forged by hardship into a solid foundation. We enjoy being together. Holidays are a time to celebrate the faith that sustains us and the precious gift of life we’ve been granted

Any funny stories being a caregiver?

We’ve discovered that laughter is a great way to keep sane. I’m glad Kevin has a good sense of humor, because we’ve been pretty funny caregivers at times. When he was on life support full-time, it was often hard to understand what he tried to tell us. I’m glad he was able to laugh when he asked for a “drink” and we would try to adjust his “trach.”

One day when he was still in rehab, he told us he was awakened in the night by muscle spasms. He watched as his left hand flew up to grip one end of his ventilator tube. His right hand gripped the other end and pulled. “My body,” he said with a laugh, “is trying to kill me.” His ability to see the lighter side of life helped me push past my own grief and gain new perspective.

Today our family loves to have fun together. The holidays are the perfect time to do that. Our expectations for the season are different from those in the past, but in many ways they are much better.

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