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Called to Care
By: Jessica Daly

On May 5, 2006, my life changed forever. I became the full-time caregiver to my 27-year-old husband, Brian, when he was diagnosed with congestive cardiomyopathy or unexplained heart failure. Overnight, I had to become the sole caretaker for our three-year-old daughter, our home, our bills, and learn everything there was about heart failure and keeping my husband alive.

I quickly became a tough woman who had to fight with insurance companies, doctors, and even pharmacies at times. I laugh now and explain that I became a "Mama Dog" protecting her pack!  Not even three years after this journey began with my husband, my daughter was injured in a life-threatening accident. I had to watch my Taylor being airlifted in a helicopter and taken to a children's hospital over an hour away from our home. After two surgeries and a hospital stay, my six-year-old daughter was sent home. Then I had her and my husband to care for while I continued to work a full-time job in order to support our family financially. My husband Brian was unable to work at all.

Family was a huge help during these critical times; but I also found that when it came down to it, they all got to go home and I never did.  Just a walk through the neighborhood for 30 minutes alone was so very precious to me. I now fought for both my husbandís and my daughter's lives and recovery. My daughter's time at home recovering was over six months and I admit it was the hardest time in my life as a caregiver.

Since then, I have continued to care for my husband who has now survived over seven years, which we were told he would never do. Two years ago, I was called by God to begin a Christian outreach ministry for caregivers around the world. I have been totally amazed at how this ministry has grown and we now have over 23,000 caregivers connected! Through this online ministry, I am able to share my heart and fears as a caregiver. I am able to reach others and be real about being a caregiver. I have also published a book called Brian's Update that tells the story of my first year as a caregiver. I use this book as a tool to reach others instead of to make money.

Caregivers are a family and we must come together. Only other caregivers understand what you are feeling or going through. I know that God called me to be the caregiver to my husband and my daughter and I am proud to call myself a caregiver! 



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