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My Story: Caring Extraordinary - Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger
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My Story: Caring Extraordinary

contributed by Linda

My nephew, Josh, recently became a father at the age of 19. The baby girl came about a month early and had trouble breathing at first. She was transferred from the local hospital where she was born to the regional children's medical center about an hour away. Josh's girlfriend had a caesarian section and complications, so she was unable to go with the baby.

Josh shocked us all. He went with his daughter and camped out, sleeping on an air mattress on the floor until they found a place for him to sleep in the hospital. I'm so proud of him. Several days later, when she was released, the new mom joined her baby and and my nephew.

I remember so well how draining it can be to live at the hospital. It's physically draining, emotionally draining, and financially devastating. Last year, my husband had a stroke, and I spent day after day sleeping on a chair/bed (uncomfortable, and who can sleep with all those people coming in and out every hour or two). I fed the vending machines and wracked up my credit card eating meals at the hospital. If you've never lived through anything like that, the best way I can describe the sensation is that you're more tired than you've ever been but you have to carry an extra 50 pounds of water strapped to your back up a hill. Every little thing that you have to do for yourself takes your focus away from the person that you're caring for. You can forget to eat or sleep. You need other people so much at a time like this. You need other people who will pour something into you and help you through it.

On the way to visit my nephew and family, I stopped at one of those stores where everything costs $1 and filled up a canvas bag with stuff like flavor drop-ins for bottled water, candy, cookies, meat snacks, cheese and crackers, and peanut butter crackers. I threw in a word puzzle book and a deck of cards. I was surprised at how much I could fit in the bag, and it wasn't a big investment for me. I lost my job at the end of December, and I watch what I spend very closely.

Later, at the hospital, I glanced over at the vending machine and saw that there were no snacks for less than $1.20. These kids have little to no money. They appreciated that care package so much. I know it's going to help them, and it's an encouragement to have people demonstrate their love in a practical way. They told me that I'm a great aunt when the baby was born, but now, they say I'm extraordinary. If you get a chance, do something extraordinary for someone in a similar circumstance. The high that you get will be some of the best therapy in the world.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by email to MyStory@stretcher.com

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