In New York

In New York

Thursday, 7 March 2013

A horrible time

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.


  1. Sorry to hear you have been ill,I'm glad you are feeling a bit better. I am very lucky as i have been quite healthy since my husbands diagnosis. I also have a wonderful sister who would come to look after us but so far it has just been me and our 18 year old daughter who look after Jim. We have a carer starting middle of April as it is getting hard now. Jim and Roch sound at about the same stage of progression. I have been having reikki,reflexology and massage to try to keep me balanced. Take Care, I look forward to reading your blogs. xx Carol

    1. Thanks Carol - it's great to read your comments. Sounds like we have a lot in common!

  2. Sorry to hear you've been poorly Deirdre but glad you're starting to feel better.

    It's something that often lurks at the back of my mind as it's just me that cares for my husband (and the dogs!). Luckily I've managed to avoid anything worse than a cold but it brings it home that you need back up - no man is an island!

    We have a very good palliative care telephone helpline linked to the hospice, and I have been told that I should ring them if anything leaves me unable to look after Colin. Might be worth investigating if there's something similar at your local hospice.

    Take care.

    Helen x

    PS - Colin was on the Dispatches programe on Monday night, talking about palliative care in hospice. They did about 4 hours of filming and then only used 2 minutes! Obviously didn't say what they wanted to hear...

    1. Thanks Helen - very useful suggestion. Sorry to have missed Dispatches. How frustrating for Colin! You can never trust those media types, I'm afraid. They are pretty ruthless in pursuing their own agendas. Take care. Deirdre