It’s carers week this week and that title carer, well what does it actually mean?? I often struggle to answer when someone asks me the question of what my job is – if I say I’m a carer I get; what level of care are you at? Which sector of care are you in? Where about do you actually work? Who do you care for? Then somehow when I say I care for my 2 sons who have additional needs it never quite feels like I have a “proper” job, I always feel inadequate next to someone who actually goes out to work, I always feel I’m not contributing to society enough, after all doesn’t every parent care for their child? I never thought I would find myself in the position of being a carer, it’s not really what I had planned but life had other ideas and now I find myself in the role – I didn’t apply, I didn’t get interviewed, I acquired the job out of love for my two boys. So on carers week I thought I’d give a wee insight into some of the things I do as part of my carers job title.
I administer medications three times a day, sometimes more during periods where my son is unwell, I lift and reposition my son several times during the day and night, I make up feeds and administer them through a feeding tube, I do physio with my son daily, I do chest treatments with my son daily, I push a wheelchair, I attend many appointments at hospital, nursery, home with a number of health professionals, I order medicines, I make phone calls, I change and help with toiletting, I bath, I do hydro therapy, I dress & undress my son when he needs, I clean up sick, I take my son to the places he wants to go, I cut up food into tiny manageable pieces, I help lift a spoon, I get drinks, I get toys, I help him do art & craft, I follow his instructions. I make visual timetables, I help calm meltdowns, I attend meetings at school, I keep my son safe from danger, I write social stories, I help with sensory issues, I make our home a comfortable environment, I research. And there are millions of people out there who do the same as me daily, millions of other carers.
I’ve given up my own chance of career, my social life has changed, I rarely go out, I don’t get holidays from this job, I don’t have a list of people to call for a break, I don’t ever switch off, I worry, I cry, sometimes I’m lonely, sometimes I wish it was different. But I also laugh a lot, I get to celebrate amazing milestones & achievements with my boys. Being a carer is exhausting physically and mentally, it’s relentless, it’s selfless, it’s hard work but it’s also rewarding, it’s fulfilling, it fills my heart with happiness.
I’m one of the lucky ones too – I have an amazing husband who supports me & parents who also help daily, some carers do this on their own, some carers work another job on top of caring, some carers never get respite. Some times I hear “you’re so lucky to be at home all day” and yes I do feel very fortunate that I can be at home with my boys but on carers week please know that I’m also working hard and trying my best for my boys! Next time someone tells you they are a carer for a family member please don’t think less of them, they are doing a vital role, they are devoting themselves to making someone else’s life better, they are caring out of love and on carers week let’s recognise that!!