Terry Shepherd is an experienced caregiver as her chosen profession and for her own family. Read more about her story including her paintings, photography and two published books.
In 2014, I began showing peculiar symptoms like walking into walls. I was 64 when I was officially diagnosed with Parkinsonism and Dystonia. The doctor said my body was completely worn out from caring for my father and brother for eight years. The doctor said exhaustion set my body up for anything and it seemed to do just that. I also began to stumble into walls off and on. I would tell myself, I am just so tired, but it continued through the next years.
In 2018 the diagnosis of Ataxia was added due to an inability to walk for long periods and choking/swallow issues. One time a stranger asked me if I was drunk. I was embarrassed by the question and a little irritated at a stranger asking me that, but I realized it was true. I told him no I was not even drinking nor do I drink. I explained I had Ataxia. He said he never heard of it, so I explained it to him. I soon needed a cane and then advanced to a walker. I use a walker when I am outside of my living area. Here at home, I hang onto walls or furniture. I work very hard at standing and gait seems to be my biggest problem. I continue to have choking and swallowing issues too. I seem to have an internal furnace that is stuck on the higher side. I am always hot and sometimes sweat my silhouette on the sheets.
I was a professional caretaker for twenty-two years. I worked with elder patients, mentally challenged, and Hospice. The last eight years I took care of my father and brother until they passed. My father had Parkinson’s and bone cancer. My brother died from Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) and Parkinson’s. For the first time this past May, I saw the words MSA on my file. It scared me because I knew the hell my brother suffered through. In my family, I am the fifth in a row to have Parkinson’s. Our family lived near farmland, chemical sprays, and electrical towers.
I have been involved with environmental studies for families who have had neurological issues where there was more than one family member ill.
I have published two books entitled Dahlia and Al his life and MSA, a book about my brother’s fight with Multiple System Atrophy. I also have a blog called Who I Am. I am also a photographer and I paint on canvases.
I work harder than ever and my inner strength and dependence on God has grown throughout these last few years. I know he will help me through this. My advice is never quit. Each day is different. We have good and bad days. Do what you can each day and don’t look at yesterday. Don’t feel guilty for taking a nap or two. A better day is tomorrow.
Thank you Terry Shepherd for sharing just a little of your story with us, how you rely on God, your inner strength, while you continue doing things that you enjoy.
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