Our work is unpaid, exhausting and lonely

Our work is unpaid, exhausting and lonely

We had lots of friends, Dave surfed, we had barbeques on the beach... I can hardly remember that time now.

Sue’s Story

Sue’s Story

Sue, 68, became a carer for her husband, Dave, after he had a stroke. He's since been diagnosed with dementia. Sue also has Parkinson's disease.

Sue and Dave used to live a happy, adventurous life. Sue worked as a midwife and district nurse in Cornwall while Dave was a carpenter and cared for their sons.

The couple also converted their house so they could foster vulnerable mothers and babies. "Our days were full," says Sue. "We had lots of friends, Dave surfed, we had barbeques on the beach... I can hardly remember that time now."

When their own children grew up, Dave and Sue became practicing Christians and started travelling. "On our first aid trip to Romania, we filled our Ford Fiesta up with second-hand clothes and just started driving," says Sue. "Our friends couldn't believe it!"

Everything changed one day in October 2011

On their way home, Sue noticed Dave's driving was worryingly erratic. Hours later, he had a severe stroke. "In that moment, I knew things would never be the same again, for either of us."

"We became like mother and child. He couldn’t drive, he didn't know how to get himself ready in the morning, or how to lock up at night. He became cold towards me. It felt like he didn’t love me anymore. It isn't that – it's the effects of the stroke – but you can't help feeling rejected."

 

In that moment, I knew things would never be the same again, for either of us.

I was exhausted and depressed

Sue's friends rallied round and would sit with Dave when Sue needed to go out, but the strain of caring took its toll. "I was exhausted and depressed," she says. "It broke me to remember the old Dave with his sparkly blue eyes. He'd lost all life in them."

Sue and Dave moved to Gloucester in 2012 to be closer to family. Over the next few years, Dave's personality changed dramatically. "He wouldn't let me kiss him goodnight, touch him, or even cook for him. My husband had gone – someone else was there."

Dave's dementia diagnosis came six months after Sue discovered she had Parkinson's disease. "It's been hard," she says. "There's no follow up, no support."

 

He wouldn't let me kiss him goodnight, touch him, or even cook for him. My husband had gone – someone else was there.

All carers need a break

That’s why Carers Gloucestershire plays such an important part in Sue's life. The charity offers a variety of services, including emotional, practical and social support, to help carers feel less isolated and alone.

The counselling service gives people the space to offload worries and come to terms with their caring role. And regular courses and meetings offer tips and practical advice to make life easier for carers. "They cover every subject: from how to deal with incontinence, to understanding the power of attorney," says Sue.

Time Out for Carers is another popular service. "All carers need a break," says Sue." Our work is unpaid, exhausting and lonely. These day trips feel like a real escape. Last time we went to a thermae spa in Bath. I can't tell you how much I relaxed. It was two hours of absolute heaven."

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Our work is unpaid, exhausting and lonely. These day trips feel like a real escape. Last time we went to a thermae spa in Bath. I can't tell you how much I relaxed. It was two hours of absolute heaven.

Like to help us support more carers like Sue? Please visit our fundraising pages for ideas. 

Or if you are a carer who would like support, please visit our support pages.