One of the things I’ve always marveled at during my time working at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, is that when you talk to most members of our staff, they usually have a pretty specific reason about why they’ve chosen to work here.
It’s not true in all cases, but more often than not, there’s a story.
When I work with my patients, I try not to impose my story and my “why” on them and their families. But inevitably, it comes up.
My younger brother, Peter had a stroke around the time of his birth and was eventually diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy (CP) when I was a child. Being both his big sister and the oldest in our family, I quickly took on the role of a secondary caregiver.
I certainly had help as we had multiple caregivers in the home over the years that were truly amazing, but those experiences caring for Peter profoundly shaped who I am today.
I watched him go through countless appointments and multiple orthopedic surgeries. I saw him deal with rounds of casting and the pain that follows after surgery, but that’s not all I saw.
We were a very active family. We traveled a lot, enjoyed time on the lake and took family ski trips to Montana, where Peter was able to participate in adaptive skiing. We were also spent time at our local church. Peter loves music and my father sings and plays the guitar.
My siblings and I played several sports growing up. Peter was our biggest fan. We were his biggest fans, too, when he began to play sled hockey and compete in the Special Olympics.
I also got to see him gain greater independence as he grew. He now lives in a group home near my parents in Fargo, North Dakota.
For me, I decided upon a career in medicine early on in my life. I always thought that I would work in family medicine, but during medical school, I did a rotation at Gillette with Marshall Taniguchi, MD. Being at Gillette was like coming home; it’s where I knew I wanted to be.
My brother changed my life in more ways than one. He’s why I do what I do.
I’m immensely proud of him and grateful to have had the privilege of being his sister.