Trying to Prepare for the Future: It’s Worth the Thought Now

Considering a career after my years as an ALS caregiver are behind me

Kristin Neva avatar

by Kristin Neva |

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After college, I worked at an after-school youth program. I loved my work, and I made ends meet on my modest salary. I met and married my husband, Todd, who had a good job, so when we started a family, I decided to stay home with our children.

I looked forward to the future. Watching our two kids grow up. Family vacations. Perhaps Todd would take an overseas assignment with his company. Maybe we’d have more children. We didn’t know what the future held, but it was full of promise and possibility.

Seven years into our marriage, Todd was diagnosed with ALS.

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My relationship with the future became filled with fear and anxiety. The upper end of Todd’s three- to five-year prognosis would put our kids at 5 and 9 years old, and then I’d be a single mom. How would I support two kids with a degree in youth ministry? My mind raced, and I couldn’t sleep. A counselor helped me get a grip and not look too far into the future.

Today. Live in today.

I don’t really fear the future anymore, but I’m resigned to it. What will be, will be. But there’s a part of me that still craves agency. I want to chart my course rather than just letting it unfold as a passive bystander.

Over the past 12 years Todd has had ALS, I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to do for the rest of my life after he’s gone and my role as a caregiver is over. I’ve been considering teaching, as I’ve always liked working with kids.

I recently looked into Michigan’s alternative routes to teacher certification. Perhaps it would be something I could start working on now, from home, amid caregiving.

I attended an informational session via Zoom with a downstate college that was just recertified to offer an approved preparation program for those who have a bachelor’s degree in any field. I would first have to pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification. I ordered a preparation guide, and it seems passing the test would be within my abilities if I reviewed Piaget’s theories of cognitive development, basic algebra, and other material.

If accepted into the program, I’d be enrolled in an intensive one-year program, in which I’d work in a local school full time and attend classes on some Saturdays. That program is off the table for now, because Todd needs a full-time caregiver.

The program could be an option later.

“You won’t be around to ask when I need to make a decision. What do you think?” I asked Todd.

“I think you’d be an excellent teacher.”

“The college just got approved by the state to offer the program for another five years,” I said.

“Five years, huh?” he said. “What are you saying? Do I need to leave you enough time to start and finish the program?” He laughed.

“I’m sure they’ll get approved again after the five years is up,” I said. “Don’t hurry your departure.”

Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


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