Meet Nanci Kelly!
Nanci moderates our Nourish for Caregivers Private Forum (group) on Facebook, pouring out compassion and caring to caregivers day and night. We are blessed to have her helping us with the Nourish ministry since 2018. Below is Nanci’s story, in her words. She inspires us daily!
Life started out rough. I was in and out of the hospital pretty much the first year of my life. I was on oxygen for 7 months of my first year, due to pneumonia and bronchitis. I was about a year old when the doctors discovered the problem. I was born with a heart defect and it required me to have open heart surgery and be transferred to a children’s hospital 3 hours away. During that time, a doctor taped an IV to my foot too tight and it wasn’t noticed till a week later when it was too late. As a result, I lost all my toes on my right foot and part of my heel bone.
My childhood was pretty normal, but I did have some challenges. Because of the long term oxygen, my lungs “rubberized”. In laymen’s terms, my lungs don’t expand as much as they normally would. It was hard to run, hard to keep up, but I was in middle school and high school band, was involved in sports at church and was active as much as I could have been.
Life was great for the most part growing up, but a part of me had trouble understanding the reality of what I was going to have to deal with as an adult. I wanted to be a respiratory therapist. I wanted to make a difference in a child’s life as they had done for me. My doctor told me that because of my foot, it pretty much threw my body out of alignment and that my body as an adult would not be able to hold up to the stresses of that kind of job.
Fast forward now, age 38, and the doctor couldn’t have been more right. I have arthritis in my back all over, more severe in some parts, and issues with most of my joints. But, I don’t let it get me down. I try to lead a normal life. I have been married for 20 years and have an almost 18-year-old son.
My heart has always been in the medical field. My mom was an LVN before I was born for a short period of time. I grew up looking at her medical books and wanted to be like her.
In 2003, my father in law was diagnosed with throat cancer. My husband and his dad had transformed a room in their home to be a bedroom for us and the 3 of us moved in. Taking care of a 2-year-old and being a caregiver was hard. But yet, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. He got to know his grandson, I got to become closer to my father in law, and it was the first step for me being in the medical field I wanted to be in, but just not the way I expected.
My father in law passed away in 2004. Several years later, I had gotten a job as a non-medical caregiver at a home health company and loved it, but my body just couldn’t keep up with the demands. That job prepared me for me taking care of my own mother who was diagnosed with dementia in 2015 the week before Christmas. Then, 2 weeks after my mom’s 71st birthday in 2017, she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Sadly, she passed away in January 2018.
During that time, I was struggling with taking care of my mom, my husband, son, and myself. I was stretched in so many directions, my faith got lost. Nourish for Caregivers has been a great resource for me. The support, the ministry, and the extra prayers that have been felt, really helped me have faith in God again. Being a part of this program has given me purpose.
I started writing a blog, https://acespeach.wordpress.com/, to help me unload what I was feeling, but yet it turned into so much more. I wanted to be in the medical field to help people, but I never expected to help people like this. I think of my journey through all the trials and tribulations and see now it was God preparing me for something He knew was going to be my future.
Caregiving can make you feel alone like no one gets it. I am always around to talk to someone who needs support on the Nourish for Caregivers Private Forum, or you can send me a message via the blog. I’ve learned that faith the size of a mustard seed goes a long way.