Family Carer: Maxine Hall

“I have two co-existing emotions: exhaustion and dread.”

I am exhausted because in the past six years, I have had only about 20 days when I wasn’t a full- time carer, and 14 of those were when I was in hospital with an ankle broken in eight places. 

The daily grind of laundry, making sure my husband eats properly, attends his medical and dental appointments and attempting to keep him from descending into the deep depression which saw him hospitalised several years ago, wears on me. 

Added to this, I have my own severe health problems.

We have bought a wheelchair equipped vehicle at our own expense, but there is still a great deal of physical activity involved in order to get my husband and his walker or chair into it.

Fear is a constant. 

Will he choke/ fall/forget to take his meds/ have a toilet problem today?

His speech is becoming impaired – is it dementia? A minor stroke?

How long can I keep doing this? How long must I keep doing this? 

I am entitled to leave, but where? An acquaintance in a similar situation to mine has to book her husband into a care facility a year in advance, IF there is a vacancy. These places do not like short term placements – “too much paperwork” apparently.

Initially, friends and family were full of empathy, sympathy, offers of help – “Let us know if we can do anything.” But that wore off years ago. They meant well, but our life has shrunk and we now have only a small handful of visitors. To be fair, most of our friends are also old and many of them have health issues as well.

My husband is assessed every six months or so, but they seem to be more box- ticking, keep- this-person-at-home-to -save-the-money exercises to me. I am enraged that I can hire somebody (who?) for $75 a day to be a carer, but I am worthless, as far as my role is concerned. 

Love does not conquer all. 

This is modern slavery, as far as I’m concerned.

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