Imagine the joys of being three months pregnant (okay, leave out the morning sickness part). Imagine the thrill of expecting your first child with your husband of 20+ years.
Laura and her husband, Greg, were experiencing this immense
joy when Greg was involved in a horrific motorcycle accident and left for dead.
The strength shown by Laura when this happened to her and
she was thrust into the world of caregiving is nothing short of inspiring.
Laura not only tackled the challenge of caregiving but
became a devoted mother and terrific advocate for emergency preparedness for
Laura recently lost her husband but continues her advocacy
work and was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Robert’s Sister: Tell us about your caregiving situation.
Laura: When I was
three months pregnant my husband was in a hit/run road rage motorcycle
accident. It seemed only natural to care for my friend, my husband at that time
of 20 years. He had a T-5 Spinal Cord Injury leaving him as a tetraplegic (legs
& one arm) with Syringomyelia, Autonomic Dysreflexia and Complex RegionalPain Syndrome. He recently went to "dance with the Lord" on July 1, 2012.
Robert’s Sister: Tell us a little bit about the diseases/disorders
your husband faced.
Laura: He required
75% assistance throughout the day to transfer, use the restroom, retrieve
things that had been dropped on the floor and had pain so severe that it can
cause the entire upper body to spasm uncontrollably. We had to watch for lumps
on the back which was a sign of spinal cord fluid back up. We also had to watch
for signs of body shutdown which was (high x (blood sugar + temperature + blood
pressure)) = body shutdown. He escaped it four times.
Robert’s Sister: As a caregiver, what is the biggest obstacle you've
had to face?
Laura: Ignorance. From
day one we were told we couldn't continue to be together, that we wouldn't
survive, that it was too tough, that people with disabilities got everything
(even financially) including accommodations in emergency management design (of
which there weren't).
Robert’s Sister: How did you overcome that obstacle?
obstacles – don't listen to naysayers!
They also say that marriages don't survive major family changes within
only a few years. Within six years we had a spinal cord injury, a baby and move
from one state to another! We also continued
to smile! But we fought our challenges
by getting active in the community via emergency management, through
politicians and through writing.
Robert’s Sister: What organizations did you become involved
with due to your caregiving situation?
Laura: In Florida we
were involved with Spinal Cord support groups, Center for Independent Living,
and County Emergency Operation Committees. In Georgia, I became involved with
the Gwinnett Emergency Preparedness Committee, a National Emergency
Preparedness Committee for the National Center for Independent Living Centers,
the Gwinnett Emergency Assistance Committee, wrote essays for two (soon to be
3) Caregiving.com books, blogged on Caregiving.com, worked with the local
Independent Living Center, and gave presentations in both states mostly on
Robert’s Sister: What motivated you to be involved and to want
to share info or advocate?
Laura: My husband and
our daughter. I was very frustrated that people with his level of medical
challenges were set aside and ignored in community plans and furthermore were
not acknowledged as being able to participate in parenting. It was troublesome
that the only way one could find out information needed for assistance programs
was to already be "in the know" and that is pretty much impossible
when there are no warnings as to when a life changing disability occurs.
Robert’s Sister: What have you done as an advocate or to share
information with others?
Laura: I have written
many times in Caregiving.com and submitted essays for them. I challenge people
in emergency management design by participating in any community meeting that I
can. I freely and as often as I can give presentations, interviews and am
planning on writing a book about the last six years.
Robert’s Sister: Is there anything else you want people to
Laura: To fight for
your beliefs, you must believe in your fights. To succeed you must get others
to believe too!
If I can simply get
my foot in the door and cause someone to think about something I said, then I
consider it a success. Because thinking leads to discussion, which leads to
debate, which leads to calls for change, which brings change about. Change can't
come without thinking about it first. People call me an expert. I'm not. I am
just a tenacious student who thinks in terms of family first and challenges
Life is about choices. Good/bad; positive/negative and
yes/no. But at the end of the day, what decision are you willing to lay your
head on your pillow with?!
Robert’s Sister: How can people contact you if they want to
learn more about?
Laura: On Caregiving.com,
look up The Roaring Mouse. On Facebook I can be found at www.facebook.com/Laura.George.3532
On Linked In via Laura George or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. At
find a dedication to my husband there.
Robert’s Sister: Many thanks to Laura for her time and
continued advocacy work even after losing her husband. I’m excited to see the change this dynamic
woman will bring about!
Next, I am excited to turn the interviewing tables on Denise
M. Brown, creator of Caregiving.com. Once a month, I join Denise on her
internet radio show, Your Caregiving Journey, Table Talk to discuss working
caregivers but this time, I get to interview Denise about her advocacy work for