After 17 years, my beloved DMD caregiver is moving on

Acceptance and appreciation resonate as a caregiver says goodbye

Shalom Lim avatar

by Shalom Lim |

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On July 6, I watched my favorite footballer at Chelsea Football Club, César “Dave” Azpilicueta, bid an emotional farewell to fans.

I’ve seen him win every trophy possible at club level and captain the side to their second UEFA Champions League triumph in 2021. I even got to meet him face-to-face in 2017, when Chelsea visited Singapore for the International Champions Cup friendly tournament!

Witnessing his departure for what likely will be the final season of his career back in his native Spain brought a tear to my eye. Chelsea’s new American co-owners, Clearlake Capital, agreed to terminate the last year of his contract out of respect for his 11 years of dedicated and loyal service to the club.

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Saying goodbye to Glenda

A few days earlier, my Filipina caregiver of 17 years, Glenda, confirmed her plans to leave employment with us next year. She had been struggling with caregiver trauma since my near death from dengue last year, and she fell seriously ill in March.

Shortly after announcing her decision to leave, she experienced an unexpected setback in her recovery due to anxiety and concern over my care when she retires in 2024. Since then, it’s been another difficult crisis.

When I had dengue, my entire family was ill with COVID-19, dengue, or both. I had to be hospitalized in an isolated, high-dependency ward with only Glenda to accompany me inside. COVID-19 rules had stipulated that full-time ventilator users must be isolated from the other patients.

At the time, I experienced intense anxiety and depression. I had bouts of delirium as my body temperature remained above 39 C (102.2 F) for five days. In a panic, I’d call out to Glenda for dear life.

Those repeated incidents took their toll on her mental health. It didn’t help that in the months following my miraculous recovery, my BiPAP equipment kept malfunctioning each time we were out of the house, and she was the only one who could rescue me.

Things came to a head in March, when my parents were on vacation in Italy for 10 days and my sister was on a three-day cruise the same week.

Fearing that history might repeat itself, and no longer assured that I would be safe, Glenda suffered a physical and mental breakdown and couldn’t function for two weeks, let alone carry out her caregiving duties. (Glenda has given me permission to write about her story.)

In the five days before my parents returned, I had to step up to the plate and do my best to care for her by getting my father’s doctor to do a home visit and see to it that she stayed hydrated and rested. It was a tumultuous time from which I’m still reeling.

Fast forward to today, and I’m prepared for her eventual return to the Philippines.

Although I wasn’t always ready to accept this outcome, the last 12 months — along with losing my beloved brother, Isaac, to heart failure in 2019 — have slowly but surely empowered me to do this.

Goodbyes are always painful but often necessary. Nothing lasts forever, not even life, so we must enjoy what we have with the people we love.

Looking back on the last 17 years with Glenda, our relationship has weathered its fair share of ups and downs and difficult times. Yet, it has also grown. Whether I was facing pneumonia, depression, or dengue, Glenda has been a pillar of strength.

We’re not blood-related, but she’s been like a second mother to me in many ways. The enduring power of love is what I will remember most.

And come to think of it, that’s the sentiment Dave expressed during his emotional farewell to fans.


Note: Muscular Dystrophy News Today 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 another 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 Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.

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