Carly Alterman is a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. She grew up in South Salem, New York, and is currently living at home while studying for the MCAT. She plans to apply to medical school after exploring the medical field during her two gap years. Now here’s Carly.
Growing up, Carly Alterman loved that she was able to spend a lot of time with her dad, Harvey, who had retired from his dentistry practice due to chronic Lyme disease. Starting in third grade, Carly, along with her mother and brother, acted as a primary caregiver for her dad, whose disease was progressing. Even while Carly was taking on adult responsibilities, she didn’t fully realize how different her life was from her peers until she was older. In this episode, Carly talks about the strong connection she shared with her dad, what it was like to care for him while growing up, and how she handled the sadness of his passing with the support of her friends.
Here are some of the things Carly and I chatted about:
Her dad’s experience being diagnosed with Lyme disease when not much was known about it
The defining moment when Carly transitioned into the role of a caregiver
Why she didn’t immediately realize that caregiving for a parent was out of the norm
Her father’s incredible optimism, even in the face of a painful, worsening condition
How seeing her friends at their bat mitzvahs highlighted how different her life was
The sixth sense she experienced with her dad, including knowing he wasn’t ready to pass away
The challenging decision to move her father to a nursing home so he could have 24-hour care
The experience of losing her dad in her sophomore year of high school
Why it takes a lot of explaining when people ask about her father’s illness
How she feels connected to her father through her chosen professional path
The importance of always checking for ticks after you’ve been outside