Dawn managed to hold her life and her family together even as Kristin’s health began to deteriorate further during her early- to mid-20s. Prader-Willi patients often do not live into their 30’s and Kristin was placed in a nursing facility at age 26 to care for her expanding needs.
“Kristin was very sick and looked like she’d be in a nursing home for quite a while,” Dawn said. “Between visiting her, work and raising the boys, I felt I didn’t have enough time in the day.”
So Dawn opted for the caretaking-est choice a caretaker could take.
“I thought if I was working in the nursing home that she was at, I’d have more time with her. Maybe I could be a CNA (certified nurse assistant) like the women who cared for her. One of them told me about this CNA academy, so I decided to enroll, with the idea that I would work in that position, near Kristin, for as long as she had. I felt like it gave me 30 hours a day instead of 24.”
If 30 could fit into 24, Dawn would make it so.
Strongly encouraged by her CNA instructor to go onto a full nursing program, Dawn talked to Kristin about the constant prodding she was getting to move forward. Kristin had thoughts on the subject.
“She said, ‘You should do it, mom, you’d be the best nurse ever. Look how good you’ve done taking care of me all these years.’ It was then I decided to attend nursing school.
“The school was pretty tough but I made it into an accelerated program with a scholarship because I couldn’t otherwise afford it. I would spend as much time with Kristin as possible, often falling asleep studying with my head on her knees."
But all the efforts and opportunities to be with Kristin were coming to an end.
“The program was very rigorous, but I was still surprised when they refused my request to postpone my final because Kristin’s condition was worsening fast. I would have to take the test or be dropped from the program. Kristin told me I needed to take the test, so I did.
“I handed in the final, walked quietly out the door, answered my sister’s call and learned my daughter had passed away. I slid down that door in the hall and just collapsed.”