Life changed for Liz on Wednesday 23 December 2020 at 4pm.
David, Liz’s husband, fell over onto a concrete garage floor straight on his back. Liz was not there but heard him calling for help. She then called an ambulance but could not go with him to hospital because of COVID-19 restrictions at that time. Finally, at 11pm he arrived back home in a taxi with what was suspected to be a pulled muscle, however, further X-rays revealed that David had in fact, broken his back.
Liz describes not knowing what was happening as David was transferred between hospitals in the area and how this made her feel incredibly anxious. Eventually, David was transferred to Southampton Spinal Hospital. Throughout this time, David continued to be in excruciating pain most of the day, pain only helped with vast amounts of morphine. David is now unable to walk unless he has a rollator. So now Liz is his full time carer.
Before this, Liz was looking after David since he was first diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis in 2001. This is a rare muscle disease and can be fatal if not controlled by drugs. Throughout this time, Liz was caring for her husband on a part time basis whilst he was getting support first from John Radcliff Hospital in Oxford then transferred to Southampton Hospital’s Neurology department. Throughout the last few years, David has been in and out of hospital as the medication can cause many problems and he has no immune system.
Now though, after David’s fall, Liz has to do everything for him, such as: helping him dress, combing his hair, showering, getting night clothes ready, washing urinal bottles, making all meals, checking at night to see his CPAP machine is working on his face. It means Liz doesn’t even get a break at night because she can’t sleep properly as she needs check things all the time. The main help she gets is someone to help with the garden and housework every week but this still leaves Liz caring round the clock.
David often sits at the computer with cushions and watches TV, but he and Liz both know that if Liz wasn’t there he couldn’t live on his own.
Liz says she struggles being a carer because she has lost all her freedom. Her mind is constantly on David’s wellbeing and now all her and David talk about is hospitals and managing his pain.
The strain that caring has on her, means Liz is also struggling with her own health. Being on her feet all day has caused Osteoarthritis to flare up in her foot and she can now hardly walk. This puts her ability to care in jeopardy and is very frightening for her. Liz says that now, she too, is taking painkillers just to keep going.
It’s not just Liz’s physical health that is taking a toll from caring, but her mental health too. Liz says she is struggling with panic attacks daily and has nightmares at night. As a result she is on antidepressants but is becoming frustrated that there is not enough support for carers.
Liz says for her, her salvation is reading. She constantly has a book open and when she feel she can’t carry on, Liz reads a few pages to get her through. She also talks about the importance of having places where she know people will listen like a Dorset Carers Group she has started attending.
If like Liz, you could do with information, advice or guidance about your caring role, please contact us on 0800 368 8349 or email firstname.lastname@example.org