Nursing Student’s Story

Nursing Student Helping Special Needs Son

For seven years, Liliana Carvalho cared for her son, Luis Carneiro Jr., who has cerebral palsy, without the aid of an in-home nurse. Since birth, Luis has been bedridden and unable to care for himself. Even today, at age 9, he is unable to walk or talk and must receive his nutrition through a feeding tube.

“I had done office work my entire adult life and stopped working when my son was born. I had no desire to work in the medical field until I was put in the situation where I became a nurse to my son. It was then that I realized I had the gift for it,” said Carvalho, who is married to Luis Carneiro Sr. and also has a healthy 6-year-old son, Ruben Carneiro.

Today, an in-home nurse cares for Luis, while Carvalho attends classes at the New Community School of Practical Nursing in Newark. She enrolled in the 16-month course leading to the LPN back in March of 2012 and plans to graduate in the summer of 2013.

“I heard about it through one of my (son’s) nurses,” Carvalho said. “She had a friend going to New Community and I was looking for schools.”

Since her enrollment, Carvalho said the knowledge she has gained has helped her greatly when it comes to understanding her son’s cerebral palsy, a muscular disease resulting from damage to the nervous system, which in the case of Luis, happened during birth.

“I understand more now the physiological and anatomy behind it…when I see him breathing a certain way, I know why. A lot of things I better understand,” she said.

Ellen Boddie, the program director, whom Carvalho describes as very practical, yet thorough, in her teaching, has helped Carvalho better understand her son’s disease.

“With all her difficulties, this girl has never missed class and is carrying a B+ average,” instructor Boddie said.

At this point, Carvalho can never see herself going back to office work again, calling the medical field “far more exciting and rewarding.”

“What I am doing with my son, I think I can apply to help other people in need. If you are able to help somebody who is sick or just needs a hug, that will be much better than sitting in an office dealing with money,” said Carvalho, who formerly handled collections for a furniture company.