I’ve met a lot of inspirational people in my life. The calibre of people out there doing extraordinary things without recognition is astonishing. Yes, there are plenty of paid professionals out there doing amazing things but this shoutout is for the unsung heroes. The mamas, papas, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, children, neighbours, aunts and uncles who are caring for someone they love. We don’t talk about it often enough, but caring for someone you love comes with a magnitude of stress. You need to excel at multi- tasking whilst staying level- headed every day.
I’d really like to pay homage to the carers around the world; the ones in my family, the ones I’ve just met, the ones who have crumbled behind closed doors but walk out with a smile, the ones who desperately need a good night’s sleep, the ones who are exhausted and burnt out and the ones who will read this blog and totally relate. Carers will almost always put their own needs last. We do it willingly, subconsciously with love and truck loads of humility.
I recently made a friend who cares for her young son with a disability. Although looking after a child with complex needs is a bit different to looking after a grown man with complex needs, we seem to have many things in common; we work like nurses, think like doctors and pray every minute of the day that everything runs smoothly, for a change. You also need to love abundantly because, after all, that’s why we do what we do.
Juggling issues/ situations/ problems/ complications like a clown in a circus (also known as home or place of residence) is a pre- requisite of a job in the caring-for-a-loved-one industry. Like the recent example of Paul’s two and a half week stay in hospital due to continuously seizing, I seem to have my fair share of challenging days that extend to weeks and sometimes months. Apart from visiting him 3-4 times during his hospital stay, I was remotely coordinating all things medical. In one day I would speak to three different doctors throughout the day, sometimes twice or three times a day. I had to move appointments around, make new appointments, organise a urine sample (don’t even get me started with the fuss that took,) speak to his case manager, FaceTime with carers, mediate an escalating situation between a nurse and care staff…..do the shopping, prepare dinner, help with homework, change Paul’s bedroom around, clean out his wardrobe (so satisfying to have chucked Paul’s favourite yellow t-shirt out because I was sick of looking at the holes every time he wore it.) I may as well have been riding a unicycle whilst juggling balls and balancing a bowling pin on my head as well. All in a days work.
Then Paul came home with a course of anti- convulsants and a promise that the pharmacy will deliver the rest in blister packs to our home. There was no seizure medication delivered to our home and by the time I realised this, his course given by the hospital had also finished. To make matters worse, this all occurred on a public holiday when everything was closed because the universe was testing my loyalty and patience. Of course, I rang the pharmacy incessantly all day. If nobody answered after the first 10 times, I deemed it necessary to continue trying to ring for the rest of the day. Maybe the pharmacist fell asleep in the dispensary? You never know. Alas, to no avail, I tried calling the hospital; no help because it’s a public holiday. Can’t call the GP, its a public holiday and he’s off doing his public holiday duties that do not involve seeing patients at his clinic or dealing with his patient’s frantic wife who is now going psycho because nobody wants to help her. I rang another pharmacy, pleading to allow me to bring in the discharge summary and promising to deliver scrips the next day if they could just supply the medication. Their advice was to send Paul back to hospital where he could be given medication. But what is the freakin point when the hospital dispensary is not open on a public holiday because… ITS A PUBLIC HOLIDAY!?!
So I made myself a cup of coffee and decided that Paul was just going to miss a couple of doses of medication, he wasn’t going to die and all would be well. To top such a fantastic day off, the carer’s kindly brought my attention to the delightful news that a mouse had been spotted running along the skirting board and under the couch in the lounge room. Oh the joys of having to catch such a tiny rodent that moved like a Ferrari on a straight stretch of road! That mouse got the better of me and has lived to tell the tale of how 3 carers (one armed with a broom) couldn’t catch him. He successfully ran rings around us for over an hour until we were forced to give in and let him live his best life in the lounge room with the warmth of a roaring fireplace.
To all the carers out there, I can tell you until I’m blue in the face to look after yourselves, take some time out for you, do the things you love… we’ve all heard those words, we all know what we should do. Please remember, we cannot give from an empty cup so do what you have do do to keep that cup as full as possible. Your loved ones, your family, your friends, the community and the world needs you. You are the epitome of humanitarianism. Don’t let the tangle of stress beat you down; dodge the hurdles and climb the walls. Be like the damn mouse now taking residence in my lounge room.
You are the gift, the heart and the soul this world needs. Thank You.
P.S. I’ve gotta get myself a cat.
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