From our Special Correspondent...
I’m always touched by how many people ask me how he’s doing. In fact, I volunteer information about his health whenever I speak to or message with family and friends. The support he has is heart-warming.
When the COVID 19 lockdown was advised we decided to shield him less than a mile away at his parents’ home. It made sense to keep him safe whilst my daughters and I kept ourselves available to support my Mum and other family members, albeit from a distance. In hindsight it was such a good judgement call as in the first week of lockdown I began having symptoms of the virus.
As it happened, I was quite poorly for a few weeks and although I am recovering well it made me realise how valuable I am.
People began calling and asking how I was and I started to ask myself the same question. I started thinking about what I needed to get me well again, and to stay healthy. You hear stories of peoples fight with the virus and I know it’s changed how I see myself.
Over the past few years since his PD diagnosis I’ve tried very hard to keep life as it had always been and I often breeze around as if nothing has changed. Only a few people ever see the cracks, mostly the people that know me well, probably knew me pre PD. I’m a bit of a control freak (understatement) and the diagnosis of a life changing disease to a family member might be tougher to manage for people like me. The path ahead becomes uncertain and the goal posts keep moving. I’ve changed my hopes and dreams for my family so many times in the past few years yet I’ve never broken down and expressed in words my sadness and bitterness towards this disease. I’ve just tried to put the puzzle back together even though the pieces don’t really fit anymore.
I’ve met some wonderful people with Parkinsons, and their families. Some of those in the caring role truly are super women and men! However, I do worry that like me they might be getting caught up in the things they need to do for others and are forgetting how important it is that they value themselves. It’s very easy to lose yourself whilst you are caring for someone and taking the responsibility of a family, and it can often be an excuse as well as a reason for not looking after yourself. It’s not enough that we make everyone else happy, we have to be happy too!
I used to think it was selfish when some of my girlfriends took time for themselves. I wondered how they managed to find the time or even the head space to do some simple like reading a book! I have started to realise that it’s not being selfish, it’s practicing self-preservation. Those same girlfriends are some of the most caring, self-less people I know and they have learnt that before you can care for others you need to care for yourself first.
Since realising how valuable I am I’ve started to do some of those things that I kept putting off because something or someone was more important. I’ve done silly little things that have made such a difference to my day. I also now take the vitamins, drink the water and put the fluffy blanket on the sofa when I need time out.
I will always have the desire to care for others because that’s in my genes but in the future I’m going to continue to exercise a little more self-preservation and put myself first more often. Whether we are carers, mothers, fathers or anyone who has the responsibility of others we mustn’t forget that we can’t give our best if we aren’t at our best. I’ve decided to scrap the old puzzle and invest in a new one.