From Caregiver to Needing Care – a Full Circle Journey

“Each patient is on a journey of recovery; no two paths will look the same,” said Stormont Vail Health Physical Therapist, Amy Newbery.

While each journey may be different, there is usually an important similarity… a caregiver who goes out of their way to make sure their loved one has what they need. For Sandra Richardson, her journey began when her father started to age.

Sandy, a special education teacher, and her husband of 30 years, Paul, have enjoyed living in California with their grown children and now, grandchildren. However, there were no second thoughts about her and Paul moving back to Kansas to help care for her father when the time came.

“He is going to be 89 this year and has macular degeneration. So, he’s now blind,” explained Sandy.

Husband and wife, Sandra and Paul Richardson.
Husband and wife, Sandra and Paul Richardson.

“You know, the hardest part with my dad is having to leave and making sure that he’s going to be safe. But we do this for him to maintain the integrity of life that he still has left, in spite of his eyesight. We just want to make sure his quality of life is everything we can make it for him.”

Unfortunately for Sandy, Paul, and Sandy’s siblings who also help with their dad, an unexpected twist was right around the corner.

“My knees started failing within four or five months of moving here,” sighed Sandy. “It just happened one morning – I woke up and didn’t have my knees. So, I hobbled around for six months until I saw Dr. Mumford because I heard he was the best.”

All of a sudden, the woman who was working hard to be the best caregiver possible, needed care herself. Beginning in March, Sandy would undergo two complete knee replacements and an extensive physical therapy regime while her husband Paul stood next to her every step of the way… Literally.

“He is just the best,” said Sandy, tearing up. “From breakfast in bed to setting me up on my bike at home. He’s always asking, ‘What do you need?’ or ‘What can I do?’ I’m still using a shower chair, but he gets me in and gets me out. Just absolutely couldn’t have asked for a better care provider during all of this.”

A women getting help with a physical therapy exercise

“And he’s an excellent motivator too!” chimed in Amy Newbery, PT. “He’s kept her very focused, keeps track of how far she walks on a little app. Plus, he’s the comic relief.”

“Yes! We always say we keep him around for the entertainment factor because he’s funny, but the truth is, he does an absolute great job,” said Sandy. “He never complains, he’s always there – has brought me to every single session since March.”

When asking Paul Richardson how this journey has been going, he was quick to throw a joke out. “I don’t know if I want to leave her alone anymore… I’m kind of liking this too!” he laughed. “But no, it’s all been more work, but I’m just glad I’m here to help. Be thankful for what you have and be thankful that you are able to help.”

Now, Sandy is excited to be nearing the end of her physical therapy appointments so she can get back to being a caregiver herself and fly out to visit their children and grandkids.

two people walking through a physical therapy area
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