Category Archives: Who Cares?

All about Carers and Caring

It Comes in 3’s…

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I begin every single blog post with a lament to my lack of content so I’m not about to break tradition. With every post comes empty promises and an oft broken intention to fill the site with witty (sort of) and engaging (sometimes) insights but, in reality, I’m just a lackadaisical liar. I’ve never really had much willpower – last year I decided to commit to PETA’s 30 day Vegan challenge but day two had me crying into the fridge, clutching a block of cheese and by day three I had conceded and devoured a bacon sandwich as if I’d been starved for months. I felt guilty but, y’know. Bacon.

Anyway. Three years ago today I decided to start this blog in order to give people an insight into my crazy life and approximately 10 posts down the line, here we are! Seeing as it’s my blog’s 3rd birthday, I thought that actually blogging would be a GREAT way to celebrate…

Caring has taught me a lot so, in keeping with the ‘3 theme’, I thought I’d share three lessons I’ve learned, alongside three pictures of me aged three, because… why not?!

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My 3rd Birthday. I’m the one singing Happy Birthday to myself into the orange mic…

#1 Education’s everywhere…

We’re instilled with the idea that institutionalised education is one of the most important things in this life and spend years of our childhood being prepared for further education before we’re even writing in full sentences. I’d read Moby Dick by 6 and my First School teachers had my mum convinced that I’d end up as some MENSA protégé (despite the fact that, to this day, I’ve never mastered the 8 times table) but, at 20 I was a University drop out. I cite my Caring responsibilities for interfering with my studies but in hindsight I realise that it was my faculty’s lack of understanding and sympathy that forced my hand. After weeks of asking for extensions / work to complete at home on days I couldn’t attend I was met with “attend or drop out, it’s not our problem”, so I dropped out. I was beyond embarrassed but one day I sat on the sofa after setting up Katie’s afternoon NG feed up when I thought to myself “Hey! Some people go to university to learn how to do THIS stuff!” I mean, I’m not about to declare myself a self-certified doctor and start some sort of black market medical unit, but I will be forever proud of the things I learned because I was a carer. *snaps latex glove*

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Nailing my ‘go to’ pose, aged 3…

#2 What’s a martyr? Nothing, what’s-a-martyr with you?* 

I’ve often heard Carers being referred to as Martyrs and I didn’t know whether I was OK with that until I read a quote from Mark Twain: ‘martyrdom covers a multitude of sins‘.  It really resonated with me as I’ve always said that my journey as a Carer was peppered with cock-ups. I started this blog because I wanted to expose those ‘sins’ for what they are; basic human error and, often, reckless abandon as a result of physical and emotional exertion. In my opinion, putting others before yourself doesn’t make you a martyr, it just makes you a decent ‘Human Bean’ (to coin one of Katie’s brilliant phrases!).

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Yep. Nailed it…

#3 Boundaries are important…

I grew up in a very tactile, female-centric household, all ‘Girl Power’, weeing with the door open and synchronised periods, so when I became a Carer it was very easy for me to attend to personal hygiene requests and assist with mobility related issues. I have since learned, however, that although these aspects of caring were completely acceptable when I was a carer, they became totally weird when applied to everyday life; my boyfriend eventually got very annoyed with me constantly asking him if he would like to be washed and I found that it wasn’t one of my best ideas to force an old lady to ‘safely’ cross the road with me when, it transpires, she was happily waiting for the bus to the bingo hall but ended up disorientated and upset on the wrong side of the road… We live and learn, eh?

*I am not  sorry…

 

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The Resurrection of a blog, like Jesus but less wholesome…

Bugger it, I’ve not blogged for two whole months! You must have missed me terribly darlings. (Please just humour me and nod…) February and March have passed me by in a haze of near death experiences, concussions and surprises through the post (more to come on that soon…ooh I’m a tease! :p), so I have lacked on the blog front. It does mean, however, that I have a tasty chunk of brain fodder for you to sink your teeth into.

Yum:

So, near death experiences. Momma has spent the last 10 weeks in absolute agony with her back. She has three bulging discs that are pressing on her spinal cord. The nerve that controls leg movement and bladder control has been severely compromised so she’s struggling to keep on her feet at all. Next time I find her on the floor in a puddle of her own piss at least there’s a medical term for it… Due the intense amount of pain she was in, mum babes was prescribed some weird and wonderful pills to take the edge off. Unfortunately the tablets not only reduced her pain, but also her responsiveness and reactions. She’d taken her second dose of the day, gone upstairs for a nap and when I went to check on her an hour later, she was unconscious.

She was probably dreaming about this:

 

Whilst I was feeling like this:

Now, I can’t speak for everyone who has found themselves in this situation but I’ll say that, for me, it was fucking terrifying. There’s a split second where everything is blank. You know in the movies when it all goes into slow motion? Your own voice sounds like Darth Vader’s, you’re as sober as a judge but you feel like you’ve swallowed a ton of something illegal? All I could think was “Shit, shit. What am I supposed to do? Who’s coming to tell me what to do?” And as soon as the feeling comes, it’s gone again; your sensible subconscious gives you a kick up the arse and cool, calm and collected ‘you’ reigns.

I called an ambulance, obviously, and she was rushed to hospital with blue lights flashing and sirens wailing. God that woman knows how to make an entrance. I sorted out care for Katie, jumped into a taxi and raced to the hospital. I actually said to the driver: “Step on it!” Told you it was like a movie…

When I arrived I was ushered into the ‘Relative’s Room’ by a nurse who told me that the doctor would need to speak to me. Now, I’ve been in that situation once before when momma didn’t come round from an anaesthetic. There are no words to describe that empty ache in your stomach, like your whole world is about to fall from under you and all you have to console you in that dark little room is a Chaplaincy leaflet and a battered bible that has been leafed through more times than Hugh Hefner’s copy of the Karma Sutra. I’m not at all religious but it is in these situations that I find myself beginning to bargain with ‘God’. “Please don’t take my mummy away from me, I’ll do anything. Anything!” I get a little delirious and begin to make bizarre offers of exchange: “Make all of my hair fall out!” “Turn me into a toad!” “Make me grow a beard!” I kid you not; sometimes you just can’t control the shit that gushes out of your mouth in times of duress.

The doctor finally came into me to say that momma had suffered a severe allergic reaction to her painkiller and had two incredibly close calls, nearly losing her life both in the ambulance and again in resus. She was barely stable and the next 12 hours were crucial. It was then that I thought the Relative’s Room could really benefit from a mini bar… I’d have raided the whole thing and still have needed more.

She made it through the night and I didn’t grow a beard, nor did any part of my body gain amphibian qualities. (Have I pulled the wool over God’s eyes?!) It was a tense week that followed but she was incredibly well looked after by the intensive care unit at George Eliot Hospital. She’s awaiting spinal surgery and we’ve made sure that those demon tablets don’t come anyway near her again so it’s just a matter of keeping her comfortable until she gets sorted out.

You’d think that was the end of the drama for two months but no. I swear we go through absolute shite just so I can write about it for your entertainment! You’d all better be bloody grateful. ;) I suffered two concussions. Yeah you heard, two! I am a ridiculous klutz. The first one was due to me tripping over my own feet and falling head first into a wall and the second was caused by a suitcase. I don’t even know how it happened and I’m not going to attempt to explain. So that was two A&E visits for lil old me!

Concussion #1 – Rocking the neck brace, no?!

Then just last week I was admitted into hospital as I had a pretty bad issue with my heart. I had surgery when I was 11 to correct an abnormality and I’ve suffered with it ever since.  C’mon, get your violins going…that’s it! I happened to pick up that nasty norovirus that’s doing the rounds too. (That’s the ‘winter virus’. The one where awful stuff comes out of your two main orifices…) I don’t know, you go into hospital with something relatively simple and come out dead! Ah, I know I’m overreacting ever so slightly but it’s hard to stay realistic when the whole world is falling out of your arse… Ugh!

Anyway, we all seem to be as well as can be at the moment but no doubt something’s going to go tits up soon and I’ll be blogging about a hilarious incident involving a blob of shit and some sort of vodka induced sickness…

Happy Easter by the way..!

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Can’t cope, won’t cope…

Hey darlings! Can I call you darlings? I’d like to give an affectionate name for you; my collection of readers. Ricky Gervais has ‘Twonks’, Tulisa has ‘N-Dublets’ and ‘Muffins’… I’ll have a little think. Suggestions on a postcard?

It feels like an absolute age since I posted last. There are a few reasons as to why and I feel that, to reward your loyalty to my drivel, I’d better explain myself. I’ve spent the last week or so trying to get over a nasty virus (who knew one person could house SO much snot?!) and have been horrendously busy making important phone calls, writing letters, learning to dance this ‘hump’ that Rizzle Kicks keep singing about, researching world wines (read ‘researching’ as ‘drinking’) and digging my way out from under a mountain of paperwork. My mum had a form to fill in the other day so we decided to make a makeshift office in order to motivate us (we sat next to each other at the table and shuffled papers). It was a welcome dose of normality actually. Mum Babes (that’s what I call her…) used to work in an office at the MoD so she said it was quite nostalgic. I made the office environment more realistic by sending out an inter-office memo to my ‘colleague’. Well, I drew a penis on a bit of paper and threw it at her. I really am quite proficient at procrastination…

My side of the ‘office’. Note the Mickey Mouse straw in the bottle of wine. That’s incongruity if I ever saw it.

Wine tasting. It has to be done…

Another reason for my absence is that I’ve had the worst case of writer’s block EVER. If Jackie Collins had suffered the same then the literary world would be a better place. I think I’ve been trying too hard to force an idea but have recently realised that inspiration is like the female orgasm; sometimes you just have to accept that it’s not coming… On the subject of acquiescence, I’d like to talk about coping. I’ve been steadfast in my resolve for this blog to be a ‘No-Moan-Zone’ but I also want to be realistic. I audaciously likened myself to Wonder Woman (with smaller tits, don’t forget) but no-one’s superhuman, least of all me. But I do have a mechanism. In times of duress, I shut myself off from the outside world completely. I want to do everything alone because that’s how I’ve been raised; to be strong and independent. And I’ve had the best role model for it. Mum Babes has raised two children alone for 21 years. She’s contended with Katie’s disabilities, my ill health (chronic asthma, heart surgery aged 11, viral meningitis at 15) and her own illnesses. If I was ‘down with it’ I’d say she was a ‘real G’. She’s hot, too.

So. Coping. Everyone does it differently; some people don’t do it at all. A relative of mine had a nervous breakdown after her son cut his finger open… If I can give any advice (and you should all know by now that I’m not that good at giving it..!) it would be to find a coping mechanism that suits you. I use humour – you may have noticed! Last week my mum was rushed into hospital with chest pains. (She’s home now and being looked after by Nurse Amy). It was very stressful for both of us but we naturally resort to humour to get through. In this particular instance she made me sniff her armpits to make sure she didn’t stink. You never know who you’re going to meet in the middle of a chest X-ray…right?! We cracked some commode-related jokes, I did a little dance behind the curtains…you get the picture.  When I was 15 I was admitted to Birmingham Children’s with Viral Meningitis. To lighten the mood, mum put on one surgical glove, wore a sick bowl like a hat and Moonwalked around my hospital room. I was sitting on a bedpan at the time. It was so funny that, well, I’m sure you get the picture…

I also drink and dance to ‘cope’. For me, the hardest part of caring is wanting to sink a bottle of brandy but knowing it’s morally irresponsible to ‘drink on the job’. I will have a little tipple though. When it’s quite I’ll pour myself a drink and dance like a video ho until I can’t remember what I was stressed about to begin with. (I’m not admitting to alcoholism here, by the way! Although, you’ll often see me sneaking back from the corner shop with a carrier bag clanking suspiciously :p). Obviously not everyone will be placated by ‘my way’, but that’s my point. It’s MY mechanism. Do something that makes you feel like ‘you’. Just for a moment. Shut yourself off from the world/shout at everyone/scream into a pillow/ get drunk/do something crazy/ laugh at nothing/dance it out/cry… Do something that provides a release, however short lived that might be.

This is me mid ‘tipsy-dancing':

 

I don’t really know what else to say. I’d better go as there’s a quarter of a bottle of brandy going begging and a sexy bit of reggae has just come on the radio… amy-signature

We found lust in a hopeless place…

Happy New Year darlings! I hope you’ve all had a great Christmas and a good start to 2012. I’d planned on an early night in my snuggie with my Hello Ladies DVD for NYE but ended up dancing around the living room, completely pissed and doing gymnastics in my underwear… If that’s a sign of things to come then I can safely say that this year will be GREAT ;)

Here’s me in my snuggie:

Here I am smooching Steve:

The above quickly turned into this sort of debauchery:
Bottoms up!

Bottoms out!

Fancy a snog?

I’m not a fan of venturing out into Club Land for New Years. I did it once in 2008 and have decided that it’s definitely not for me. Paying a ridiculous amount of gold to get into a club where you’re all crammed in like sardines, awaiting sloppy midnight kisses from strangers? Thanks but no thanks.

NYE 2008 – This guy’s New Years resolution was probably to lure in innocent girls with his Scooby Doo facade, then turn into some kind of modern day Jack the Ripper (He tried to kidnap me shortly after this picture was taken…) We did go out in Coventry though so I suppose I was asking for it:

On the subject of smooches from strangers, this blog is going to be all about the early stages of relationships. I find it very easy to talk openly about love, lust, sex and rock ‘n’ roll but it’s not all been plain sailing. I know I’m only 22 but I’ve had my fair share of dating dilemmas and I want to share them with you. You lucky sods ;) It’s common knowledge that finding your soul mate is bloody hard but when you’re a carer it’s akin to finding Wally when he’s hiding inside a candy cane – nigh on impossible.

Being a carer has made me incredibly picky as I have to find someone who’s not only tall (no-brainer) handsome and a snazzy dresser but is also understanding, kind hearted, tolerant and as emotionally strong as I am. I am aware that this man probably doesn’t exist but I’ll keep searching, everyone needs a project, right? It’s also difficult because, as a carer, you’re constantly giving upwards of 80% of yourself to someone else as standard. You often don’t have the time or energy to give to someone new, which makes the initial dating such a pain in the arse. In an ideal world, I’d skip the ‘getting to know each other’ side-stepping and go straight into that ‘comfortable’ phase. You know – where you can walk around the house nude, burp like a man or admit that all the orgasms from day one have been faked. (I got a B in GCSE drama, FYI. I’ll leave you with that thought for a minute…) But seriously, it can be a damn ballache laying down foundations of a relationship when you have such time consuming responsibilities. I don’t expect guys to be empathetic (well you wouldn’t anyway would you?!) but it’s hard to establish a ‘date timetable’ when you’re constantly attending hospital appointments, changing NG tubes, being Superwoman etc. It can also be incredibly daunting sharing your life story with someone for the first time, especially when you reveal that you have a moral obligation to put your family (or whoever you care for) first. Just last week my mum had arranged to go for drinks with a friend of a friend of hers. She had fun but the guy admitted that their mutual friend had tried to warn him off her, citing Katie’s complex care needs and mum’s health issues  as a reason for him to back off a bit.  What a shallow bastard. It didn’t deter mama’s date but it made me so mad to think that people could be so heartless. You may think that this is a one off occurrence but you would be wrong. It’s happened to my mum a number of times and, often being consumed by paranoia, I’m convinced that it will happen to me too. How horrendously weak are some people? I am kind of grateful though, I’ve decided it’s my way of sorting the wheat from the chaff.  If you crumble under pressure and can’t cope with adversity then you’re probably shit in bed anyway…

My fellow independent women are probably shouting “why do you need a man?!’’ My answer is: I don’t, not really. Sometimes I use men’s shower gel liberally during my bedtime bath. Then when I’m sleeping I sniff my own armpit and it’s pretty much the same as being in bed with a man – sans the dodgy smells and grunting… Then there’s the other obvious male ‘replacement’. You know the one I mean; I broke mine last year. I will say this to the ladies though; make sure you buy one that will ‘suit’ you. I won’t elaborate further but just to warn you, it can be horrifically embarrassing turning up in A& E because you’re having a severe allergic reaction to a certain phallic ‘rabbit’…  My mum found this out the hard way.  J.H.Christ!! Latex allergies are highly inconvenient. Turns out it’s hereditary. I found out that I have one after a trip to the gynaecologist. I don’t feel we know each other well enough for me to divulge further so I’ll leave this little anecdote for another time ;)

Beware the Rabbit…

I did mention that I have become quite picky. You can blame Disney for adducing my old fashioned outlook on relationships. (In the sense that I expect guys to open doors for me and I don’t really mind baking them a cake whilst they call me ‘the missus’) Here’s a short list of my requirements:

Turn On’s
-Understanding, tolerant, kind, patient <insert other soppy qualities here> guys
-Funny guys
-Snazzy dressers
-Glasses
-Tall guys
-Funny guys
-Glasses
-Bit of a beard
-Tall guys
-Well, basically this:

Turn Off’s
-Assholes (No, not THOSE ones…)
-Manipulative, mean, cocky guys
-Small men
-This:

(I’m aware he’s wearing glasses, there are exceptions to every rule…)

When you’ve been 6ft and ginger for a long time you stop expecting propositions from guys but recently I’ve been inundated and I’m finding it incredibly strange! The 14 year old gangly geek inside of me keeps shouting “they’re obviously taking the piss” whilst the horny adult argues: “get ya leg over girl!” I’ll admit that it feels a bit weird to say out loud that I have ‘admirers’ but I kinda like it. (Don’t judge me; I’ve never really been able to say “oh, so-and-so fancies me!”) However, I do think that most guys are invariably attracted to this:

 

…and then back off quite a bit when they realise the realities of care and all that it requires. I am one of the most tactile people you will ever meet and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I can also be incredibly guarded as I’m petrified of getting hurt after laying myself bare. (Emotionally, I’ll have you know! I use the ‘three date rule’ for physical bareness :p) When you’re a carer you really need all of your reserve energy for yourself and you can’t access it if you’re wasting it by snivelling over a break up.  I really am procrastinating here, I haven’t made a point but I think that might actually be my point..? As a carer, you can’t make solid plans. Every day is a surprise whether you like it or not. If you’re single then someone has to fit in with your way of life, like it or lump it.

So there you have it. I have no advice to give to single carers because if I did, I’d have applied it to my situation and you can obviously tell I haven’t… But I’m not really bothered. I’ve won a Carer’s Award, made it into a National Magazine (Reveal) and appeared on National TV (Text Santa & ITV Central News) all as a result of things I’ve done by myself. My mum has managed to raise us alone for 21 years and she’s by biggest role model. The Spice Girls can shove their Zig-A-Zig-Ah up their bleached arseholes because that’s more girl power than they could ever hope to have…

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P.S Despite me not surreptitiously seeking a man, if Steve Merchant knocked on my door, well… ;)

Mistletoe and wine. Lots of wine…

It’s only bloody Christmas Eve!  Can you believe it? I’m not ashamed to say that in the Cook household, we have been feeling particularly festive for ages! Starting from mid-November (some years it’s been late October, I shit you not..!!) the tree goes up and the Phil Spector Christmas CD is put on loop. (I’ve literally just found out that he’s a murderer…we’ll have the Smurfs Christmas Party on next year!!)  We tend to use Katie as an excuse for our festive zeal but this is an honest blog so I’ll admit to turning into a giant child the moment Christmas cards appear in the shops. I love everything about the holidays. (apart from the kids being off school…no-one likes that) I love how everyone looks more attractive under the mistletoe, I love how it becomes more acceptable to drink wine at 1 O’Clock in the afternoon if you put it in a Christmas mug. People are cheerful (falsely, but hey, I don’t expect miracles) the winter air is always fresher and I can sniff tinsel in public without people thinking I’m a complete loon – I’m a sucker for the smell of tinsel, it’s like crack to me.

We even have Christmas toilet paper. It’s nutmeg scented so my lady bits are as festive as I am…
Here’s me with an afternoon Christmas mug of wine:
During the festive period, you can also make children behave with a simple “Santa’s listening!!” Oddly, I’m grateful for Katie’s learning disability in a way, only as she still believes in Father Christmas. It really is very sweet. But that’s not why I love it so much. If she’s misbehaving, from around early November onwards, mum and I need only crack out ‘’Santa can hear you!’’ and she instantly becomes cuter than Shirley Temple. A few weeks back she went through a phase of being a total shit. She shouted, moaned, cried, hit, huffed and grumped her way through an entire week and my mum completely lost her tether and shouted “You know what Katie? Santa doesn’t exist. It’s been mummy all along! You’ve been so naughty that you don’t deserve any presents!” Now, any other child would have cried at those words. Not Katie. This is a child that has survived 9 operations; she’s more resilient than Chuck Norris. For real. She STILL believes in Santa. At 21, her absolute faith in something that brings her joy is unwavering. That’s pretty special. My nan used to berate my mum for keeping up the illusion, but if a girl who has little quality of life can find solace in a fictitious yet ever present figure, why discourage it?  I remember the time I found out Santa didn’t exist. An 8 year old Katie had spent 3 months in hospital. She’d had her birthday in the October and Christmas rolled around and she was still no better. In fact, the January after would be when we’d be told to take her home to die. So we took Christmas-in-a-box to the hospital. She’d woken up to presents at the foot of her bed; pumped full of anti convulsants (that were slowly poisoning her to death – more on that later) hands and feet punctured and tissuing from countless IV’s and being fed through a tube she exclaimed with all the triumph of a well child: ‘He’s been!’ I was 9 and I saw Katie’s reply from Santa on her bedside table. It was in my mum’s handwriting. Now, I was a very logical child (I’d read Moby Dick at 6 and wrote letters to the Tooth Fairy asking her to explain the finer points of magical aeronautics…pretentious doesn’t cover it!) and I knew right away that the whole thing was a farce. I was crushed. Katie has had a life wracked with pain and disappointment, to destroy her tiny bit of pure happiness would be unthinkable. She can be such a ballache but she really is one hell of a special kid and I love her unconditionally for it.
Christmas time is very special. For me, it’s a time not just for receiving new gifts but a time for appreciating the ones you already have.  I’ve had some very close calls with the two most important people in my life. I can’t count the times I’ve been told that I was about to lose them both. Christmas is a celebration of life, the lives of our loved ones. We should appreciate that a year has passed and we’re all still together, for we know not what the New Year is going to dump on us . (In my case, probably a lot more shit scooping and rolling around the living room floor during a night of brandy and the Steve Merchant Hello Ladies DVD I’ve asked Santa for… ;) ) It’s bittersweet that the most wonderful, loving and jolly time of year falls during the coldest month in the calendar. I stole that from The One Show. It’s a metaphor. Lap it up…
Wow. That was pretty poignant! Here, watch a video of Karl Pilkington explaining Christmas to lighten the mood…you’re welcome ;)
Christmas for carers can be very difficult. You don’t really have time off, sometimes the person you care for falls ill / becomes difficult to handle etc. but we just smile and carry on. I sup up, pull a cracker and listen to dirty Christmas Carols to brighten the tone (and to lower it, naturally :p) If you can put all your struggles and grievances aside for one day out of the year and truly appreciate life, even if you have more difficulties than Bob Geldof has trying to get a snog under the mistletoe, then you really have embodied true Christmas spirit.
We used the ‘Elf Yourself’ app, as we do every year, and the results are hilarious. Obviously my mum and Katie have mobility issues so seeing them leaping and dancing around like crazies makes my day! Have a look:
I’m going to sign off for the year now as tonight mum and I will be playing Santa. I’m a little disappointed that Katie wants to leave St. Nick a glass of soya milk and not a glass of brandy / wine / cosmo / mojito (all in the Christmas booze cabinet) because “he needs to lose some weight.”  Bugger. Mum can drink that then..! So from my family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas, however you are spending it. I wish you all the best for 2012.
See you next year!!
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Granny for sale…

 I’m back! Here I am, fresh from not one but TWO TV appearances! Don’t worry, I haven’t gone all ‘diva’ on y’all! I’d like to say thank you for all the wonderful support I’ve received re: Text Santa and Central News. You lovely lot! I’ve not blogged until now as I really have been incredibly busy over the last week; mainly writing ridiculously important albeit stroppy letters to the DWP and practising my autograph…
I had a lovely time at the Text Santa live show last week, here’s me inside the ITV Studios:
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And this is me being utterly debauched at our hotel after the show:
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My beautiful friend Sophie and I before the show started:
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We were sat right at the back and I needed to pee the entire time BUT I saw The Wanted in the flesh… Ooh, that Jay. (y’know, the one with the curly hair?) Phwoar! I wanted to roll him into a little ball and put him in my knickers for a bit…
Speaking of undergarments, I have had an utter bollock of a week. Until now I have been far too proud to talk about finances but it’s such a pressing matter in the carer’s community at the moment. (yes, we have a community. We’re not as annoying as Jehovah’s Witnesses but we’re equally as stubborn) Do you remember me likening the government’s treatment of state dependents to being rogered in my previous post? Well I’ve just had my tiny ass well and truly pillaged… A few days ago I received a letter kindly letting me know that my Carers Allowance will be stopping in January. Apparently, taking care of my mum and sister 24/7 isn’t enough to warrant the giant sum of £55 a week that is ICA. What a load of shite. I wouldn’t mind if I had the time to go out and get a job but, unfortunately, amongst all the arse wiping and general mollycoddling there are many days where I don’t even have time to think about knocking one out over a picture of Stephen Merchant, let alone trying to combine caring and working.
I saw on Twitter today that Nike have sent over free football boots to that pointless, ugly fucker Wayne Rooney. It makes my blood boil to think that huge corporations financially support thick plonkers like that, yet our own government shits all over people like me – despite us carers saving them £119billion a year. That is not a typo. I’ll spell it out to reiterate: one hundred and nineteen BILLION pounds a year. I’ve never been so insulted in my life (apart from this one time when a random man said I looked like Carol Decker…cheeky fuck) I don’t usually let things get on top of me but it’s hard not to when, in this world, money is essential for survival. Katie has severe cyanosis –when your extremities turn blue from even the smallest bit of cold – so in these arctic temperatures our heating is on full blast. We’re actually contemplating selling our telly to pay the gas bill. This is plan B, my first thoughts were to sell my Nan but I don’t know where she lives. Typical. It also has to be the TV because mum won’t let me go out and become a woman of the night. Frankly, I don’t think I’d get much interest anyway but it’s the thought that counts.
I’ve decided to just come out and be honest about struggling financially as very few people realise that carers are often living in poverty / considering selling relatives etc. Just because I dress like this:
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and not like this:
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does not mean that I am living in the lap of luxury. Far from it. I’m simply trying to make the best of a bad situation. After all, life can be shit enough without walking around looking like you’ve stolen Britney’s wardrobe and have more STD’s than Frankie Cocozza…

Now, does anyone want to buy a telly?!

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ITV Text Santa

I’m incredibly honoured and excited to be part of ITV’s new fundraising initiative, Text Santa. It’s a big entertainment extravaganza kicking off this Sunday at 9:30pm – after the X Factor. You can text to donate and 100% of raised funds go the the six Text Santa charities. My lovely little family and I are representing Carers UK and are the stars (:p) of their appeal video. We’re feeling pretty proud of ourselves for putting our story out there. Hopefully it’ll rocket me to fame and I’ll end up marrying Steve Merchant and living happily ever after…

Visit the site: www.itv.com/textsanta (this is not a hyperlink. I don’t know how to do them so don’t expect anything tech-y from me. I’ve only just learnt how to comment on my own blog…)

I’d like to give Carers UK a huge shout out as not only are they a brilliant charity, but they know how much I publicly favour the ‘F word’ (they follow me on Twitter…) and have therefore placed a great deal of trust in me by allowing me to be an ‘ambassador’ of sorts. (Not really, I’m impeccably well mannered in public, honest!)

On the subject of Carers UK, I’d like you to please take the time to find out about them, carer or not, as they are doing a fantastic job and really need all the support they can get. I hate to chat politics but it’s becoming increasingly difficult not to, since carers and vulnerable dependents of the social care system are being fucked in the arse by the government. If you’re a carer and you’re worried about how the cuts will affect you or someone you care for, save yourself the ballache of contacting Social Services and give the Carers UK Adviceline a call:

And check out their website for some very valuable information: www.carersuk.org (again, don’t expect working links… )

So, that’s my obligatory ‘serious’ post for the month. Apologies if you’re just using me for laughs, the funnies will be back very soon! Don’t forget to tune into Text Santa tomorrow night. I know you’ll all be watching the X Factor final so you have no excuse!

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Not now, I’ve got a headache…

So I mentioned in my previous post that I won the ‘Carer’s Award’ at The Stroke Association’s ‘Life After Stroke Awards’ in 2007. It was all true, here it is:

It weighs a ton and although I’m incredibly proud of it, I would definitely throw it at a burglar should our house be broken into. I’m pretty paranoid about things happening to the house/mum and Katie, whilst I’m out. (I know I’m only 22 but I’m notoriously old before my time. I have a favourite cardigan and love my cat, Tigger, more than most people.) There have been times when my mum has been confined to her bed (4 achilles tendon surgeries, 5 mini strokes and the removal of an ovarian tumour will do that to ya) and I have been reluctant to leave her alone whilst I go shopping. I read a story on the internet once about a woman who died alone and before anyone found her, she’d been mostly eaten by her cat. Naturally, I overfeed our cat just in case I’m out, mum collapses and Tigger is hungry enough to start nibbling at her unconcious body. It’s costing a fucking fortune in Felix but at least I have peace of mind…

Does he look hungry to you?

Mum and I are sometimes able to go out together for some quality time. (Katie has 15 hours of respite a week which is pretty shit but we’re grateful. She has a better social life than we do…) Now, I don’t want to sound pretentious but in our small town, everyone either knows us or wants to know us. We can’t walk five minutes down the street without someone stopping us for a chinwag. Gets right on my left one. Usually it’s some asshole shouting ”Wow, you’re tall”. Like I hadn’t noticed. ”Fuck me, am I?!! Thanks for letting me know pal…” or ”How tall are you?” ”6ft so you need to be AT LEAST 6’2” for this ride” ;) The other day a guy actually shook my hand when I told him my height, as if he was congratulating me on my success. That’s right, being tall is a craft I’ve been working on. Fuckwit. Anyway, my point is that we only ever have three hours to spend in town and that’s damn precious time! We have bills to pay, food to buy, wine to choose…so what really fucks me off is when people who are familiar with our situation monopolise our time. Sitting in our favourite coffee shop (Caffe Nero: mum’s is a one shot, soya latte and I’ll have a hot, skimmed milk – thank you!) is a treasured moment, as we don’t get chance to have a good old gossip amongst the shit collecting and mothering at home. Just the other day we were deep in conversation (Shag, Marry, Avoid: Dr Christian from Embarrassing Bodies, Denzel Washington, Mr Bean – the results were quite surprising!) when an elderly couple we’re acquainted with plonked their wrinkly asses down at our table and proceeded to dominate the conversation with ‘tips on selling a motor home at this time of year’ and did we ‘know that you can get a fried egg batch from Wetherspoons for £2.20?’ That ballsy little voice inside my head wanted to shout ”if you fuck off now I’ll pay for you BOTH to have a Spoons batch, filling of your choice!” But the well-mannered sap inside prevailed and I waited patiently for their teeth to fall out. They stayed for an hour. A whole, fucking hour! They were like two cockroaches that wouldn’t die. You know, the ones that live for days without their heads. So it begs the question; where do we draw the line between frank and rude? How do you hint that you’d like someone to leave you alone? Respite is incredibly important for carers. We rely on it much like Amy Winehouse relied on crack; it’s an equally volatile relationship. I’ve decided that next time, and there will be a next time because people fucking love us, I’ll just stand up and be honest. So if you see us out, remember: you get to go home at the end of a 9-5 to relax and forget about your day. For us, it’s a 24/7 grind and we love the time we get to spend as mother and daughter. If you’re not invited to join us, piss off and leave us alone. And if you’re offended by that, well, there’s an old couple sat in Wetherspoons enjoying a fried egg batch that would LOVE your company…

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Introducing Me.

If you hadn’t already guessed, (or been bribed by me to read this shit) I’m Amy. I’ve started this blog with the intention of changing the public perception of carers; although it may end up just being a selfish, cathartic outlet for my wine fuelled ramblings about how terrible it is being a carer and how I have to justify the amount I drink to get through it. Carers aren’t all boring, moaning bastards who go to the corner shop in their slippers and claim they ‘don’t have time for a shower’. Well, I can only speak for myself… A lot of us make light of all the horrendous struggles that have befallen us. I mean, there is a funny side to waking up at 7am to find little lumps of shit on the stairs and your mum shouting tentatively from the toilet ”Help…I didn’t feel it come out. I have had a stroke!” You pull on a pair of marigolds, pick up the surprises and laugh about how many hits you’d get if this were on Youtube.

This is my mum. Hot stuff isn’t she? You’d never know she’s had a stroke and shits herself at least once a month:

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So back to me. I’m 6ft and naturally ginger; I didn’t think my life could get any worse until I became the main carer for my mum and sister when I was just 16. Studying for my A Levels (Literature, German and English Language, hold the applause) I was thrown in at the deep end. The kind of deep end you’re only comfortable in wearing scuba gear. My little sister Katie (below – looks like butter wouldn’t melt but in the coming posts you’ll see what a sneaky little a-hole she can be. I still love her immensely though!) had just come out of hospital and was bed bound, tube fed and had very little quality of life.

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My mum suffered her third mini stroke (TIA) and we thought we’d lose her. By ‘we’ I mean me. My grandparents had fucked off on a mini break and I haven’t seen my poor excuse for a father since I was 2. So I took over, like Wonder Woman but with smaller tits. I cooked, cleaned, washed, ironed, fed, bathed, medicated and aspirated Katie’s NG tube (you draw stomach fluid through a syringe to make sure it’s in the stomach and not the lung. Heavy.) all whilst back and forth between home, the hospital and Sixth Form. So that’s the rough outline. I can officially say that I’m an Award Winning Carer as I won the Stroke Association’s Carer’s Award in 2007 for this particular incident. Power to me, I think so! I also model on the side. Here’s proof:

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More on that soon. Check back for more hilarity and tales of my scrapes. I’ll also be posting useful links and tips for carers so don’t just bog off, I’m worth your while I swear.

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