My unique ringtone on a very special woman’s cell phone is this former Beach Boys hit. Rhonda is my primary care nurse and has been with us almost 13 years. When I was in rehabilitation and realized someone was going to have to come to my house every day and help me get ready for the day, I was mortified. For the preceding 55 years I had been a very private person. I knew my wife would stand by me and do whatever was necessary, but I was also aware she could not provide for my care only by herself. My insurance provided for homecare for only 90 days, so we took advantage of that time to find someone. Rhonda, who is a Licensed Practical Nurse, was recommended to us by one of the Public Health nurses who were with us during this 90day period.
Rhonda fit right in from the beginning, more than willing to do whatever was asked of her. She quickly became an integral part of almost all my activities. Whether it was loading my shotgun for hunting, Hoyering me from the trailer hitch of her truck into my kayak, helping to rescue me when my kayak flipped over, towing me out of the mud with her 4 wheel drive truck when my wheelchair got stuck out in a field, and numerous other similar situations. She also serves as my wheelchair mechanic, exercise director, photographer (she took the photo of the Cooper’s hawk at our house one day), videographer, comedian, travel companion and friend.
Rhonda had major surgery the end of May and has been unable to work since. My life has been more mundane, less active and just plain different. My wife Marge, who has always been my primary caregiver, can only do so much. Age, strength and the physical results of taking care of me for almost 14 years have extracted a heavy toll from my wife. Rhonda is much younger and deceivingly strong. I like to tell Rhonda she has the nicest set of biceps I’ve ever seen.
I want Rhonda and all the caregivers to know what a critical role you play in our lives. The impact of your work goes far beyond the immediate health care you provide. You share a great deal of credit for helping make my quality of life what it is.
2006 World Lacrosse Championship, held in London, Ontario, Canada July 2006