LIFE AS A CARER
Jeanette is the wife and carer of former farmer Daryl who was diagnosed with emphysema in 1997 and told he would no longer work. The realization that life would not be the same after this diagnosis is vividly retold by Jeanette.
After hearing the diagnosis I felt our world was ending. Life on the farm Daryl was raised on and his parents owned since the start of the 1900s had to go. The first year was hard on all of us, once a healthy and happy husband was know unwell and depressed.
Whatever was in store for us, our three children were a big help and comfort to me. Old enough to help pack and move into Pakenham, Daryl found the move very distressful as did I. In the early days of the illness we had several calls for the Ambulance, Daryl used to panic when he couldn’t breath making things worse. Once we learnt to manage it better, things improved slightly.
I think the worst side effect to the disease is the depression and mood swings. I can read the signs now, if we are in for a bad day Daryl is quite and moody he thinks that it’s not worth going on; I just have to try and work him out of it.
We bought a small caravan 6 years ago and travel when we can, the weather determines when and where. The thing I find the hardest when away, is not being able to do things like hot air ballooning, or bike riding, walk on a bush track, or climb stairs to lookouts, things other people take for granted.
Yes Daryl would say go and do the things you want to do, but it’s not the same if we can’t share the experience. Our family is a great comfort to me when Daryl is rushed to Hospital, the last time being September last year.
My biggest fear is one day I may loose my darling husband and best friend of 37 years to this horrible disease. One good thing to come out of all this our son-in-law gave up smoking, and our grandchildren say they will never smoke. People stop Daryl and ask him why he has the oxygen, Daryl is always happy to explain to adults and children alike.
Awareness is the most important thing to get across. Once your lungs are damaged your life is never the same again. Watching Daryl having trouble breathing is heartbreaking but we work through it and carry on till the next time. When the weather is good to Daryl he does what he wants and I don’t stop him. He says its his way of coping to stay as active as he can and enjoy life while able to.
I’m sitting watching Daryl working in the garden. He is a very determined man refusing help from me not wanting his disability to get the better of him. Stopping, resting and looking over his work I know he will achieve his goal.
I am very proud of my wonderful man he’s a fighter and will not let things defeat him. Approaching his 67 birthday I know there is plenty of fight in him still.
It was once said “life wasn’t meant to be easy” – we consider ourselves lucky in a way because there are people worse off than us, living with cancer and people going through disaster after disaster, God is smiling on us still. My advice is to get out there, live your life to the full, talk to people and keep going don’t give in. Remember there are people worse than you.
Life as a carer is a 24/7 job you do it because of love. I find it hard when I am not well myself as I to have health problems. When Daryl has breathing problems at night I don’t sleep which makes it hard.