When the carer needs care

Wake up, eat, go out, come back, eat, play, sleep. Simple really.

And then mum went and fell down the stairs.

Kiss it better, put a plaster on it, don’t think about it and it will go away. Simple really.

Stop! Yes, you read that right: mum went and fell down the stairs. This isn’t a kiss it better situation. or a simple plaster affair. This is serious. This involved accident and emergency departments, a splint, bruising, pain killers and crutches. But it could have been so much more serious. And for that I am eternally thankful, despite the pain.

So what happens when the carer needs care?

By defination of a carer you are supporting and looking after and seeing to the constant needs of another. You are the lifeline, the advocate, the stronger one. The carer sacrificially puts the needs of the other person before their needs daily, whether this is in a paid capacity or not. And for many, like me, this is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week job. There isn’t sick pay, or holidays, or even lunch breaks. Training is in your ‘spare’ time and has to be juggled around appointments and therapies and the care needs of the person you support. Parent carers like myself work behind closed doors, silently doing all that needs to be done to ensure the welfare of your disabled child or children is put first. We carry out therapies because there are not enough hours of speech therapy or physio or nursing care available. We administer medication as efficiantly as any nurse and our patients date of birth, allergies and personal information rolls off our tongues as easily as our own does. We fill in forms and specialise in the day to day care of conditions we have had no previous education in. We are nurses, therapists, entertainers, interpreters, cleaners, cooks and drivers on a daily basis.

But every carer is human. Accidents happen. We have emotions and feelings and sometimes, actually more often than we realise or want to admit, carers need care too.

So for me that has meant a period of rest and reflection. And allowing others to love and support me. And that is something I have found hard. Not only because I am used to being the strong one but because my beautiful children have found it very challenging too. It may sound a cliche but seriously my heart was often in more pain than my pysical body at times.

While I dealth with this:

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my boy reacted like this:

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Because he has autism and can’t cope with change. Because he is at the stage of requesting things by taking mum’s hand and leading her to what he wants and he can’t transfer that skill to anyone else. Because he has global developmental delay and can’t understand that mum is injured. Because he can not tell us what he wants or what is going on as he has no speech. Because he is just a child after all. And he gets the care, not mum. It’s hard to realise that person who does your washing and ironing, keeps your house clean, puts food on the table for you, changes your nappy and works the television is, after all, just like you and has feelings and pain and needs help at times. Gosh, many a teenager still struggles with that concept so no wonder a four year old can’t grasp it overnight!

So when he went to his room we found he had smeared. All over walls, bedding, toys, himself..well everywhere really. The mess, the smell and urgency to get him away before anything was ingested would be overbearing for anyone, but when you become soul carer to two disabled children and an injured wife, well it must have felt like the whole world was against him. In my eyes my husband is a hero. My admiration for a man who can face all that and still smile has just got so much stronger. But you would never known he had dealt with that behind closed doors. Because that doesn’t make news. It is just daily life. It is love in action.

And when we took him to a hospital appointment Isaac screamed. That ear piercing, get me out of here, all consuming scream. Continually. Because he was in his disability buggy, mum was on crutches and his sister was trailing behind. Because it wasn’t possible for one of us to supervise his urge to walk up and down in straight lines gazing at the ceiling lights. Because he was at a hospital and clinic he had never attended before and he hates change. Because we had picked him up early from school in order to go. Well, in reality for any number of reasons really. But the fact was he screamed. Continually. Even while we were trying to speak with the paediatrician. Hey, we are carers and parents and we are human too. It hurt our ears as much as it did everyone else. We needed headache relief like everyone else.

Do you ever stop and think that someone you know could be going through something like this behind closed doors?

He does sleep (albiet with the help of a supplement), and most weeks are not this bad. Thankfully.

But when I started blogging I said it would be an honest account. So this is life.

And then he does this:

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He used a point for the first time EVER and actually tapped the ipad in the right place for the first time. His smile and the achievement and the love of his twin sister sharing the moment. Well, that is worth the screaming hospital appointments, and the smearing and the pain in my knee. That is why we care.

Injured knees mend, headaches from screaming ease, poo can be cleaned. Seeing a child reach a milestone is worth it. Hearing that first word makes it worth it. Knowing your child is breathing, eating and growing makes it worth it. It really is incredible to be a full time carer.

But the emotions and the intensity and the fact accidents happen and carers are human mean that no matter how big a smile a carer has, never forget that carers need care too. And that isn’t just because they are injured.

You never really know what is going on behind closed doors. Let someone know you care please. Hug, smile, do something nice for them, and don’t judge. It could be you they care for one day after all. Or you could find yourself being a carer.

Today has been a good day. There has been no extra cleaning, or extra high pitched screaming. No pain killers needed and the knee is improving. We all woke up, ate, went out, came back, played and went to sleep. Simple really.

But the week the carer needed care taught me that we are all human. And it’s ok to need help sometimes.

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13 thoughts on “When the carer needs care

  1. Brilliantly written, thank you for sharing. To be honest is to open up your world to others who might be able to take heart from your words and apply them to their own situation.
    Very glad to know the knee is mending, but your amazing news about Isaac’s milestone has really made me smile. Well done Isaac 🙂

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  2. Respect! This great piece covers so many of my concerns as an autism parent. Identify with everything you say and like you so thankful I have a great “other half” to get through things with! Have shared this and want everyone I know to read it but most of all want service providers and politicians to acknowledge it also. Brilliant, honest and powerful!

    Like

  3. Patience is what you have in abundance. You also a natural skill for writing. It is when you combine the two it makes your articles so interesting.

    Like

  4. Pingback: When the carer needs care | Carers Chill4us

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