Faces of Caregivers: Audrey Goral

“I didn’t know it at the time, but on 9 June 2019, I became a family caregiver.

My twin brother, Cory, sustained a high-level spinal cord injury. I was present when his diving accident occurred, and I stepped up as his main advocate right away. My decision to be Cory’s primary caregiver was solidified as I realized our mother was overwhelmed with the curve ball our family was thrown in addition to other personal stressors she had been dealing with. I spent three months with Cory at Craig Rehab Hospital, in Colorado, learning all aspects of Cory’s care while juggling his insurance/disability/bureaucracy stuff and my own job. I absorbed as much information as I could before moving back home to California in October 2019.

I managed to keep my sanity through the initial four months by training for a triathlon, forcing myself to have some me-time. We made the decision that Cory would live with me while he continued to work on his recovery and try to figure out his new “normal” living with quadriplegia. We have paid caregivers to help some mornings/nights, but most of his care falls on my shoulders. I feel like I’ve learned a whole new career worth of knowledge through caring for Cory; nurse, PT, OT, pain manager, urologist, wheelchair technician, and more.

Personally, I’ve grown to be more assertive in difficult situations through advocating for Cory’s needs. Over the past two years, I’ve lost focus on my needs/desires and needed help concentrating on what I need to live my best life. I’ve reached new levels of exhaustion where I become an angry person and not nice to be around.

With the support and tools I’ve gained from the No Barriers program, I can try to fend off my cranky side by making self-care a priority. I was lucky enough to participate in the June 2021 No Barriers Caregiver Retreat, a welcomed break to refocus on me. The No Barriers program has helped grow my support network.

It provides a safe space for caregivers to share deep thoughts, let out the tough feelings we’ve bottled up, challenges us to focus on ourselves with reminders about prioritizing self-care, and to just have fun with people facing similar challenges in life.”

Audrey Goral

November 11, 2021 Support our Caregivers Program
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