Learning that a loved one has been diagnosed with a disability can lead to a series of emotions; from denial and confusion to a sense of being overwhelmed and feelings of isolation.
Such was the case for Darrell Clark. He and Jennifer met through a mutual employer. They began dating and enjoyed an active courtship together working out, hiking and camping. Soon they married. As is the case with many newlyweds, they envisioned a beautiful life raising a family, traveling, remaining active and having fun.
“I didn’t sign up for this!”
All of that changed five years ago. Jennifer had been diagnosed at age 19 with Charot Marie Tooth (CMT), a disease that causes muscle degeneration. Her symptoms now began to worsen. Jennifer started to lose the use of her hands, her rheumatoid arthritis increased and she was in constant pain. At the same time, their 12-year-old son, Anthony, and four-year-old twin daughter, Mackenzie, were both diagnosed with sensory processing disorders. Mackenzie was born at two pounds, 14 ounces with a bilateral left palette and cleft lip. She has undergone four surgeries and has cognitive and speech delays.
Darrell took an early retirement to become the primary caregiver for his family.
To relieve Jennifer of her pain, her doctors continually increased her pain medication. Darrell soon found that Jennifer was in a daze most of the time. Working 60-70 hours per week, he had to take early retirement to become the primary caregiver for his wife and three children. His initial reaction was, “I didn’t sign up for this!”
“When you are struggling, speaking with other families going through the same thing and sharing your stories can be lifesaving. That’s what Lift has done for our family,” Darrell said. Through Lift, the Clark family has begun to EMERGE with new found joy and hope for the future.
Everything changed when the Clark’s moved from California to Missouri. There they connected to the Lift Disability Network and discovered a loving, supportive and welcoming community.
Darrell said, “I wouldn’t change any of the circumstances related to Jen’s health issues. I am blessed because through her illnesses it has brought us closer to God. It has taught us God’s intention for a covenant marriage. Through her illness I have learned humility and what it means to be a servant leader. We have three awesome kids who make life very interesting with their various issues. Because of Jen’s health issues God has provided a community of families who have the same struggles.”