I had a conversation with another carer recently. This conversation took place on a Friday night but it only really began after we’d wished each other a good weekend. And we both recognised the truth that, although the weekend was about to begin, there would be no distinction between a weekday and the forthcoming so-called days off.
This is something I’ve only acknowledged to myself over the past few weeks. When other people are looking forward to a couple of days relaxation away from work, I just feel flat. Simply because there is no line between Friday evening and Saturday. There is no end of shift or regular day off. I never really know what to say when people wish me a good weekend. I’ll reciprocate the sentiment, of course, because I know that weekends are important to people for all kinds of reasons – time off work, time to see family, and so on. But for me, and the other carer I was talking to, each weekend is very much like every other day – and that includes birthdays, Christmas, etc. That’s because the symptoms MW has are constant. She needs to be got out of bed, washed, dressed, have food made for her, have her catheter emptied, be taken to the toilet to defecate – the list goes on. MS doesn’t take a day off for her.
This realisation was reinforced today by news of a poll carried out by the Carers Trust which says that 60% of carers feel isolated, suffer from depression, are physically exhausted and have financial problems. The story’s case study featured Norman Phillips, a man who had to give up his career to care for his wife who suffers with MS. Norman said that he’d pushed himself to the point where he became depressed, injured his back through moving his wife, and ended up in a cardiac unit after collapsing. He was exhausted – his shift never ended.
The Carers Trust poll seeks to highlight to Government that the UK’s 6m unpaid carers are in need of more support in their never-ending shift. I wonder if they’ll listen?