Jamie Dwyer has been a healthcare professional for more than a decade — with six of those years working as a nurse. After spending 14 years assisting adults with special needs at a group home in New York, she joined the Care Options for Kids family. And, for the past two years, she has been a home caregiver for 21-year-old GC, a young adult with mitochondrial metabolism disorder. The condition has left him bed-ridden and he needs around-the-clock assistance, but that has done nothing to dampen his spirits.
“My favorite part of the day is arriving for my shift and seeing his huge, beautiful smile,” explains Jamie. “No matter what, he’s always happy to see me arrive in the mornings.” In addition to enjoying working with GC, Jamie loves that he’s one of ten siblings — GC is the oldest, and the youngest one is two years of age. “I’m one of eleven kids. So being in his home reminds me of when I was growing up,” she laughs. “It can get chaotic, especially when they all go Jamie, Jamie, Jamie! I love that I’m their person. They also know that I’ll do things for them, but GC always has priority.”
On a typical day, Jamie feeds GC through his g-tube, then they sit together to watch all of GC’s favorite shows. “I used to never really watch TV, but he’s got me hooked on Hawaii 5.0 and Impractical Jokers. He loves those shows, and it’s so much fun to watch them with him. And now that it’s football season, we have to watch every single Washington Redskins game — and I better root for his team. He makes sure that I’m paying attention and cheering!”
Jamie also recounts how she has become like a family member. “Last year, for hurricane Dorian, we left Florida to be at a safer place with GC’s relatives in Tennessee. It was so wonderful to go on that trip with them and seeing him enjoy himself outside of the room where he’s always in,” she smiles. “It was also so heartwarming to see his aunts and uncles and grandparents loving on him.” She also remembers fondly celebrating Halloween with GC. “We once went to a Halloween celebration at a hospice care he used to be in,” she reminisces. “He was so excited to see everyone, get his face painted, and get WWE wrestling symbols drawn on his arm. It was so much fun to watch him enjoying himself so much. It’s a bit sad that we can’t go this year because of COVID, but I’m glad he had that experience last year.”
As Jamie tells her story, you can hear all the children calling her name and playing in the background. “I remember on my second day here, their grandfather came to visit — he comes every day to spend time with GC. He said: You came back! Impressed that I did, because a home with so many children and a special needs adult can be a challenging environment, but the reality is that I love it. I fell in love with GC’s personality from the first day I met him. I’m telling you, he’s always smiling, and everyone loves that about him. It really is amazing. His smile — it lights up the world.”