We all like labels, right? Ted Baker, Ralph Lauren, M&S?

Up to June 4th 2012 I was just me, a nearly 40yr old, single, wine drinking, cat owning, sister, aunt, a friend, sometimes the funny one or even the fat one. But that was as far as my labels went and some I liked, some I didn’t. Then on that day I became a Carer. A carer to my mum, and then to my dad. Suddenly I had a label with a meaning. I’m not sure I actually sat and thought about it, it wasn’t a choice, I wasn’t asked if I would like the role. It just happened and everything changed.

My mum had suffered a right-sided stroke which meant a left-sided weakness. She would never walk, be independent, cook for herself, get up and answer the door, do anything for herself again. Ever. She would need 24 hour care.

Turns out everyone was right, there is no Life Manual, specifically one for disease or despair or disability. You learn as you go….

After her seven week stay in hospital, a period of visits, encouragement, asking of questions, adapting the house, learning of equipment, my mum could come home. Once you get over the sheer joy of agreeing that your mum can be discharged from hospital, you realise you have absolutely no idea what happens next. What care does she receive, from whom, who pays, who do I call if I’m worried, who do I call if my mums worried, if something doesn’t work, if someone doesn’t turn up, what medication gets given when and by whom? That’s when the realisation of what being a carer entails hits you so that you want to get back into your car, drive back down the M4 and pretend that it’s just another day. But you can’t. You have to become chief medication-giver, equipment fairy and acronym-solver.

So, with very little information, we embarked on a journey that has been fraught with tears, laughter, learning, anger, a lot of frustration and loss. Turns out everyone was right, there is no Life Manual, specifically one for disease or despair or disability. You learn as you go….

I know I don’t wear the uniform of a health care assistant or nurse, doctor, physio but I am that persons carer. I am the person with the label who sorts it all out. I am the daughter of the lady in the wheelchair. I tell my mum life’s good, it’s just different. My name is Kate.

Becoming a carer doesn’t always fit into your life choices or hopes for the future. If you are looking after someone who couldn’t manage without your help there is support and advice available. Contact us on 0800 181 4118

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