I have been ill. You know, the kind of ill when the principle thought in the confused jumble of thoughts fogging your over heated brain is “When will the antibiotic start working?” You learn to keep still as a stone in the hope of stemming the waves of nausea so you can keep the medication down and control the temperature. Nothing else matters but getting better and if anyone had told me in those first few days that it would be two weeks before I could be useful again, I would have been aghast. But so it proved. For a Carer this is a problem. What happens to your Charge? What happens to the household?
For us, Roch’s two Personal Assistants had to come in every day for six days, taking it in turns to get him up, showered and dressed, and under his direction, to prepare the evening meal. Tom was able to help him to bed every evening. The essentials were done. I was too ill to need or want anything much. Tom brought me what I needed when he came home from school. What happens to people who don’t have these options?
Once the acute period of my illness passed (I had tonsillitis), and my temperature was down, I was still too weak to resume my duties, but help was at hand. My sister Maura came over from Dublin and ran the household for us for a week. She shopped, cooked, organised laundry and made sure I started to eat properly again. What a star she is. The PAs looked after Roch’s needs in the mornings but no longer had to cook an evening meal. Monday was the first day I dressed and was able to feel useful again. Maura has gone home now and I am almost back to full strength. I am trying not to overdo things and aiming to get back to work for the weekend. I know if I do too much I will end up with a migraine. So did I run myself into the ground? Probably. But it’s hard to avoid it. I certainly forced myself on when I was feeling really dreadful but what else can you do? People tell me “I don’t have time to be ill. I just don’t give in.” Okay well how do you manage that, then? I didn’t have time to be ill but I was forced to give in. Tips welcome.
It was a horrible time for everyone and I don’t know how we could have managed without Maura and without the help from Roch’s PAs, although I know Roch found dealing with his PAs incredibly frustrating at times. How he longed to be able to look after me and do everything himself, like in the old days when I was ill. Like the chicken pox Christmas – when Kate, Tom and I all had chicken pox and Roch held the fort, ably assisted by my mother. Gallons of calamine lotion were lovingly administered. What an itchy Christmas that was.Or the time I got that putrid sore throat, which made me so ill on a Saturday night that Roch had to drive me to an emergency room somewhere – I was practically delirious – and we only just made it to a late night pharmacy in time to get the antibiotics. On that occasion the medication worked almost immediately, which was just as well, as when I woke on the following Monday, Roch had come down with a mysterious virus, which felled him for three weeks straight. Family life is like that.
It’s hard for him to feel he can’t look after us like this anymore. My priority must be to avoid illness, I guess. I do have a good, healthy diet, I usually sleep well enough – I could probably do with more exercise. I don’t smoke or drink alcohol (well, perhaps the occasional drink!) Vitamins?
I have arranged for some Reiki healing this week, before I go back to work. I need to do something to stay well. I don’t have time to be ill. I didn’t give in, but my body did.