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Rio Oso woman gave up career to care for ailing brother
Becker muscular dystrophy is an inherited disorder that causes slowly progressive muscle weakness of the legs and pelvis. It is related to Duchenne muscular dystrophy, but is a less severe variant.
Rio Oso resident Chelsea Scheiber knows about sacrifices.
Scheiber gave up her aspirations of becoming an anthropologist to care for her older brother, Travis, who is restricted to a wheelchair and suffers from Becker muscular dystrophy.
About 10 years ago, she left Eastern New Mexico University and traveled halfway across the country to make sure her mother and brother stayed healthy. It was a decision that effectively put an end to her career goals.
"It was either stay away and watch them decline together, or come home and make sure everyone is as healthy as possible," she said.
To this day, Scheiber is still taking care of her family in their south Sutter County home. In the mornings, she works in Natomas and reprograms databases. At just about every other time of the day, she serves as Travis' primary caregiver. Whether it's bathing, grooming, laundry or dinner, Scheiber takes care of all his needs.
Her work hasn't gone unnoticed. She was recently one of 10 people honored with an international caregiving award by the second annual Shire BRAVE Awards, a worldwide program that honors the courage and devotion of nonprofessional caregivers.
Shire received more than 550 nominations for the award from 10 countries last year. Nominations were ranked based on qualities such as respect, courage, dedication, impact and patience. Each recipient received $10,000.
When Travis heard about the award, he couldn't help but nominate his sister.
"She deserved it," he said. "Life would not be so much fun without her here." Scheiber said she's glad the award exists because caregiving is a full-time job that receives little recognition. "It's seven days a week," she said.
Every day, Scheiber wakes up before 5 a.m. She feeds her animals, goes to work, then comes home and starts making dinner for Travis. She takes him to the bathroom, transfers him between chairs, changes his clothes, gives him warm blankets and much more.
"He doesn't have enough muscles to stay warm," she said.
Travis said he also has assistants come by the house to help when his sister is gone. His body movement is restricted to his hands and forearms, so getting out of his chair or into his bed, for example, can be difficult.
As Travis gets older, he said, his disorder makes it increasingly difficult to do even the simplest tasks on his own.
"Things become more difficult until they become impossible," he said. "Then you find a different way to do it."
To make moving around easier, Travis has created some of his own medical equipment, he said. He partially built a metal crane, which is bolted to his bedroom wall to assist during transfers.
The homemade equipment is not only more comfortable, but less costly, he said. In all, the family estimates they pay about $60,000 for his medical expenses each year.
While moving back to Rio Oso may not have been in her original plans, Scheiber said she has no regrets. After all, she now lives next door to Travis, whom she considers her best friend.
"I had plans, but you have a way of going forward," she said. "Life is a journey, and Travis taught me slowing down is always a good thing."
CONTACT Griffin Rogers at email@example.com or 749-4783. Find him on Facebook at /ADgriffinrogers or on Twitter at @ADgriffinrogers.