Remember Atlas, the Titan of mythology who supported the sky on his shoulders? I was feeling a bit like him on the weekend. I live with my husband Ken who is not in good health, and his 96 year old mum who is frail and needs help on several levels. My paid work entails looking after aged and disabled people, and I am a volunteer for an organisation which caters for socially isolated people. One of my friends works for two aged care hostels, and also cares for her husband and two children, all of whom suffer some kind of disability. She once said to me "Gina, you must take holidays regularly - away from home and work, away from needy people. You live with, work with and volunteer to work with needy people, but there is nobody to care for you if you need help. Believe me, it can get you down eventually, even if you like what you do".
She was right. She became very ill last year and as far as I know, still hasn't returned to work, nearly one year on. I thought of her last weekend, when I'd finished off the housework on Saturday afternoon and looked around for my two charges. Ken had a busy morning, and was so tired by lunchtime, he stretched out on the bed and went to sleep. His mum said she was feeling tired too, so she had a snooze on the couch. Gosh I felt good! To have my afternoon free to do what I wanted to, without being on call for food,drink, help with something, etc. I spent the next two hours on the computer, writing long overdue letters to friends!
Then, last night I was granted a reprieve for a few weeks. Not the way I would have wanted, if I'd had a choice, but accidents do happen, and we had one at our place.
MIL had a fall in the lounge room. I called an ambulance immediately, and she was taken to the Austin Hospital. Her hand was painful, so they took X rays and found one of her fingers was broken. Her hand and arm up to the elbow was put in plaster, and they were going to send her back home, but I kicked up a fuss and said it would be impossible for me to care for her in that state. She needs both hands to use her walking frame, and without that to support herself, she wouldn't be able to go to the toilet on her own, or walk around the house as she normally does. Ken and I would be on tenterhooks the whole time, and probably wouldn't be able to sleep in case she got up to use the toilet and had another fall. Ken and his sister backed me up on this, so the doctor had her transferred to a Private hospital not far from us, where she will probably stay for at least a couple of weeks, and then go into respite of some sort. She will be assessed by a physio and occ.therapist this week and they will tell me what has to be done. She has to have the plaster on for about six weeks, and while that is on her arm, I can't look after her at home, as I can only help her if she is mobile.
So, as I said - I have some freedom again, although I will be visiting her every morning, taking the daily paper in, and any clothes or other items she might need. But I won't have the 24/7 responsibility for that time, and I have to admit, while I am coping well, after two months I was yearning for a break. Ken's sister was planning to take her Mum to stay over there this coming weekend, so they have an unexpected free weekend too. But when (if) MIL comes back here, Ken and I will be holding his sister to her promise of taking MIL to her place on a regular basis. Ken has a new health issue to deal with, and we need some time on our own to allow him to adjust. He can't tell his Mum about it, as she would worry, so he had been bottling it up inside for the past month. As much as he is now concerned for his Mum, he is also relieved that we will have some space together.