The majority of special needs caregivers I’ve met or talked to throughout the years have mentioned negative side effects related to being a caregiver. Some are mild such as headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, or weight fluctuations, and other symptoms are not so mild and can land a caregiver on the road to rehabilitation for months, if not years. This was the story for Vance Goforth, a caregiver I recently interviewed on my podcast Coffee with Caregivers. https://anchor.fm/jess-ronne/episodes/Jess–Vance-and-Kristy-Goforth-ejfd4t He suffered from a heart attack due to the stress associated with caring for his son Joshua who has profound special needs and autism.
Statistically, 30% of special needs caregivers admit that being a caregiver has worsened their health. 43% report experiencing high stress and 26% say that their health is fair to poor (compared to 15% of the general public) source – National Alliance for Caregiving.
I’ve personally experienced numerous side effects from being a caregiver – not only to Luke but to 7 other children as well. I don’t believe that every symptom is directly related to the stress of care giving, but I do believe that most can be attributed to the stress of life which involves caring for 8 children; including one with profound special needs which has resulted in a much more difficult reality over the past couple of years.
I’ve had IBS, weight loss, weight gain, panic attacks, brain fog, insomnia, cystic acne, a sty that wouldn’t go away for months, facial twitching, achy joints, candida overgrowth, leaky gut, eczema, wrinkles (lots!) mental health struggles, depression, racing heart, jitters, and the most recently, hair loss. Yep, for a few months during Covid my hair was falling out in chunks and leaving bald spots behind. Not good.
I believe it began when Luke ended up in ER in December 2019 due to a shunt malfunction. He finally returned to school mid February and then was released from school indefinitely in March due to a worldwide pandemic. He and his 7 siblings all released and now home 24/7. This was one of the most difficult times of my life – even more so on many levels than my late husband’s 3 year battle with cancer. It was around the end of April that I noticed the large chunks of hair falling out every time I brushed. Or took a shower. Or even simply shook my head, and I freaked out. I seriously thought, “This is it. I’m going bald.”
Of course I did what anyone would do and immediately headed to Google which confirmed my worst fears. Yes, high amounts of stress over a prolonged period of life can cause hair loss BUT – within 6-9 months of the stress being remedied the hair loss should diminish and growth should return. I gave myself about 6 months to total baldness because I had no idea how I was going to relieve my stress levels in my current reality.
However – I did start to research and put a plan in place.
My plan included:
A good pre–natal vitamin. Heck, this supplement gave me lush, beautiful locks when I was pregnant. Maybe it could help now too. Get yours
Biotin Serum. I used this twice a week after I washed my hair (which I only did twice a week to maintain the natural oils that I desperately needed at this point). Buy now
Biotin vitamins. Took these daily. Purchase here
A new biotin, vitamin infused anti -thinning shampoo and conditioner. These are a bit pricey but a tiny bit goes a long ways. I still have more than half remaining after a few months of usage. These are worth every penny if I do say so myself. Get yours.
I started this plan in May, and by the beginning of September, my hair had greatly improved to the point where felt I could comfortably get a few highlights again – something I had been avoiding due to the hair loss. I no longer have chucks falling out, and in fact, the sparse areas on my head are beginning to grow back. All the hallelujahs.
Maybe this information can help someone else – caregiver or not. No one enjoys hair loss! Right?!
Just keep livin!
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