Help, My Caregiver’s Car Caught on Fire!

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by Kevin Schaefer |

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My life is a sitcom. 

Recently, I was chatting with my friend Young, a columnist for Charcot-Marie-Tooth News, about our writing processes. He was rather amazed when I told him that I rarely plan column topics. In my life, it’s never hard to find material. 

Case in point: My caregiver, Randy, was unable to come to work the other day because his car caught on fire on the way to my house. When I looked at the time and saw that he was running late, I tried calling him on my Amazon Alexa. When he didn’t answer, I called his wife, who delivered the news of Randy’s explosive conundrum. 

Still a bit groggy from napping, I had to double-check that I was hearing her correctly. I wasn’t dreaming. She was in too much of a frenzy at that point and didn’t know many details, but she did assure me that Randy was OK. 

Frazzled, I had no choice but to find an alternative solution to my care. My mom was almost done running errands, and she was scheduled to babysit my niece and nephew, so I knew she’d have to get me out of bed quickly. Given that my nephew requires more attention than super-powered infant Jack-Jack in “The Incredibles,” multitasking when he’s around is out of the question. 

“Hey, Mom, Randy’s car is on fire so he won’t be able to make it today. Can you come to get me up?”

“OK, I’m on my way.” 

The lack of shock in her voice just shows that chaos is a regular component of our lives. We even have a sign in our kitchen that reads, “Around here, normal is just a setting on the dryer.” 

Mom worked her super-mom abilities and got me up and ready before my niece and nephew arrived. No big deal. She’s able to transfer, shower, and dress me faster than the time it takes me to decide what I want to watch on Netflix. I usually just wind up rewatching “New Girl,” given how easy it is for me to relate to Jess’ idiosyncratic adventures. 

Thankfully, Randy was perfectly fine. At the time of writing this, the fate of his car remains uncertain. He did, however, get a rental vehicle so he could return to work the day after the accident. He’s still not sure exactly what malfunctioned, but it was enough to produce a few flames. Our week began with a manic Monday, but “ordinary” is a foreign concept for both of us. 

At least when I’m late to work, my excuses are infinitely more creative than the “dog ate my homework” routine. Instead, I can utter phrases like, “Sorry, my wheelchair broke down,” or, “My parents couldn’t hear me because my Alexa device misinterpreted my voice commands.” Now I can add, “My caregiver’s car caught on fire” to the never-ending list of true absurdities. 

Netflix, are you reading this? I promise I have plenty more stories. 

So, to answer Young’s question about how I’m able to improvise column ideas with minimal effort, this is why. Tune in next time for another exciting installment of “No, really, this did happen.”


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


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