Julie Ayotte jumped unexpectedly into the role of caregiver starting the night her husband Mike Healey was rushed to the ICU after a fall in the shower. Mike, a successful software engineer, was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma, which is a highly dangerous injury caused by a brain injury strong enough to burst blood vessels, which makes pooled blood push on the brain and cause damage.
>> Watch the video: Julie’s story of learning to be a caregiver
The first few days after Mike’s fall, Julie rode the emotional roller coaster of wondering whether he’d survive the initial brain bleed, and the surgery that followed, and then wondering what their life would be like after that.
Julie has a degree in both advertising and culinary arts and spent time as a chef before taking on her current role as Director of Sales at McCrea’s Candies. From the start, she set out to navigate the challenges associated with Mike’s diagnosis, prognosis, and recovery, with no prior experience in her unexpected, but important, new role.
When asked to characterize what she does on a daily basis, Julie says that her role as a caregiver involves doing whatever she can do to set Mike up for success.
“I embraced my new role as caregiver as trying to make things as easy for him as possible, while still maintaining a full-time job, and doing all the things I need to do to live a full life as well.”
– Julie Ayotte, caregiver to a traumatic brain injury survivor
In this new role, Julie says she is always learning, adjusting Mike’s and her own routine, and adapting to new information. Here, she passes on her 5 best tips for caregivers.
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Julie’s final words of wisdom on caregiving? “You can’t learn to be a caregiver; you just do it for love – because you love the person for whom you are caring. I wasn’t willing to give up on Mike or our life.”