Family caregivers and where they find their strength

I get to observe protection of the young in wildlife and in my household

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by Lori Dunham |

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As I grow older, I’ve come to love waking up before dawn. I often sit on my back porch sipping a steaming cup of tea while the world comes alive.

Here in Florida, we’re fortunate to live next to a nature preserve. It’s not unusual for us to see a range of wildlife. I’ve seen deer grazing with their fawns on the bank of our pond. Occasionally, river otters splash and chase each other right in front of me. We’ve seen wild turkeys passing through and hungry coyotes chasing frightened deer.

Needless to say, it’s all quite the sight to see.

Recently, we’ve had two geese make our backyard their home. We named the soon-to-be mom and dad Gus and Gertrude. Just steps from our bedroom window, the geese built a nest and, shortly after, laid six eggs.

It’s been fascinating to watch these geese protect their young. They have an innate ability to assess a threat and stand up against it. I’ve seen Gus physically push himself in front of mallard ducks and other Canadian geese to protect his nest. The mom and dad work together to ward off unwanted visitors.

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A lesson learned from nature

One day, a Muscovy duck decided to set up camp directly next to the nest. This neighbor sent both Gus and Gertrude into a tired frenzy. We watched as they strategically fought against this threat. Their guttural desire to protect their young was fierce and wholehearted. They sacrificed their own physical safety to protect their offspring.

I watched Gus and Gertrude that morning and recognized the strength parents find within themselves when faced with a predator threatening their children.

I recognized it because I’m the parent of Grace, a teenager with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS). Our family has faced the uncertainty of chronic illness threatening our daughter’s life.

When Grace was diagnosed with LEMS at age 15, we didn’t understand what we were facing. As her caregivers, we knew there was something sinister lurking beneath the surface of Grace’s immune system. We didn’t know how to fight it, but we knew we had to fight.

As parents, we have an innate desire to protect our kids. It’s as natural as breathing. I’ve said many times over that I would take LEMS on myself if it meant sparing my daughter.

Never give up

Caregivers fight every day to get our loved ones what they need. We fight for access to the best doctors, appointments, and treatments. Collectively, our family fights to encourage Grace to see beyond the limitations that LEMS has placed upon her. Often, we fight the misperceptions of what a rare disease looks like. Finally, we fight the depression and anxiety that Grace and others in our family have experienced because of the trauma we’ve seen with Grace’s life-altering illness.

Caregivers won’t stop until they receive the best care for their loved ones. We’ll engage each battle — not because we like the challenge, but because it’s an inherent desire to protect our young. May all who live with LEMS have a community of people fighting for our protection and the betterment of our health.

Who fights for or alongside you as you battle LEMS? Please share your comments below. 

Note: Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia syndrome.


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