Caregivers can spot one another across a parking lot. We recognize the look on their face, be it glazed, incredulous, or laser-focused. We identify because it’s our life too. It is good to remember we are not alone.

A few years ago I asked many of my caregiving friends to complete the sentence, “You know you’re a caregiver when . . .” What follows below are some answers they gave. I’ll post more of them next month. I’d love to include your thoughts. Please comment below or email me ( your response.

It’s my prayer that as you read this, some will make you smile, laugh, and cry. But more than that, you’ll remember you are not alone! If you feel that way please get in touch with me, I’d be honored to walk with you.

You know you’re a caregiver when . . .

  • You go from crying to laughing in a matter of three seconds!
  • The word “Seriously”? is used every night.
  • You’re the first one up and the last one to bed each day.
  • You can rattle off what half a dozen different insurance companies will and will not cover.
  • You take pictures of the bizarre situation in which you find yourself – otherwise no one will believe you.
  • You politely ask the mechanic to move over so you can fix the lift.
  • Doctors offer you a medical degree after one conversation or offer you a job because of your medical knowledge.
  • Someone asks to borrow a pen. You don’t have one in your bag, but you can lend them the thermometer, sensory toy, or epi-pen you carry.
  • You have more doctors’ phone numbers in your phone than family members.
  • Your doctor gives you their cell number and says “just text me what’s going on” and from your diagnosis calls in the appropriate script!
  • You go on vacation and you spend as much time researching hospitals in the area as you do things to do….just in case.
  • You somehow are still alive after years of sleepless nights.
  • You celebrate typical naughty kid behavior, like the first “no” or lie….because it’s about 18 million months behind schedule and you are tired of hearing how “lucky you are that your kid doesn’t xyz”
  • You carry IEPs and diagnosis reports with you every day…just in case.
  • You constantly weigh the benefits of getting away with the “fires” you must put out when you return.
  • You are at a salad bar with a friend and automatically pickup two of everything. . . plates, silverware, etc in the serving line or better yet, help the person beside you fill their plate.
  • You know all the food brands and items that are gluten-free-peanut-free-soy free-dye free…
  • You have mastered the art of the fake smile and swallowing the lump in your throat when you hear your friends complaining about something their kid did-that you only pray your child will do someday.
  • You finally have a day to yourself and you don’t know how to handle it.
  • You have no problem rattling off sentences primarily made up of acronyms such as OT, PT, ESY, ASD, CP, PDD, TBI, ASL, ODD, EI, PCA, FAPE, ODD, ADA, IEP, SSDI, IU, FBA, DX, LRE, MT, DD, FASD, HI, PD, DSM, TSS, ADHD, BP, MHMR, LD, SPD, ABX, DS, PRN, ABA, BSC…
  • You’ve been restocking the diaper bag you carry in the car for 24 years.
  • You’ve gone years without going on a date with your spouse.
  • You have all of your loved one’s pertinent information memorized, so it rolls off your tongue, but you take 30 seconds to think of what your own date of birth is.
  • You get excited over the latest durable medical equipment catalog that came in the mail.
  • You consider your own hospital admission as a vacation.
  • You can sleep soundly while the attendant is in your room getting the person you share the bed with up and dressed. You wake from a dead sleep to mumble the answer to the attendant’s question and roll over to sleep again.
  • You can’t remember all the people who have keys to your home.
  • You’re out to eat, and your loved one coughs while swallowing. The entire restaurant stops to stare and fears choking while you continue eating; knowing as long as they are coughing, they’ll be fine.
  • You realize your life is harder but not worse than others.
  • You change a diaper of a little baby and marvel at their tiny little bottom.
  • You are the go-to girl or guy for any need that comes up in your extended family.
  • You are no longer bothered by the nicks on the corners of the walls and doorways, rather seeing them as a reminder of how thankful you are your son can get around the house with his walker.
  • Your child cuts another student’s clothes with scissors and you think, “wow, his motor skills are improving.”
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