“I’m alive.” If not for her single-minded devotion to her son, Eric, who in 2005 was shot through the head by a sniper during his second tour in Iraq,
Christine Schei may not have heard Eric speak these words. Despite dire predictions of Eric hanging onto life in a vegetative state were he to live,
Christine refused to accept any outcome other than a life that Eric could participate in and find enjoyment.
Now, ten anguished, exhausting, yet fulfilling years later,
Christine feels vindicated in her certainty that all Eric needed was the right therapy, time and support, and her love. She never gave up and never said no to the all consuming responsibility for Eric’s care, and it was this unconditional love and support that led to Eric now laughing and smiling, thankful to be alive and able to express that feeling.
Eric’s disability is still 100 percent. Each day, Christine brushes his teeth, shaves and dresses him, and feeds him his meals.
At night Christine showers him and gets him ready for bed. She manages his medications and schedules different therapists who come to their house to improve Eric’s mobility, speech and independence.
Even as she is comforted by the progress Eric has made, she worries about the future and how she and her husband will care for Eric as they age. The responsibility to be Eric’s primary caregiver is unrelenting.
Christine knows well the isolation many caregivers feel, which is why she became a Dole Fellow Caregiver.
She hopes to support and educate others so that they can move forward in their lives regardless of the challenges they face.