In Praise of Carers

A week or two ago I watched a remarkable video produced by Lisa Barker (@livelifelisa) in support of World Kidney Day 2014.

World Kidney Day 2014

The video triggered a period of personal reflection and my mind focussed on two things. The first was the effect dialysis at home had on the two people who cared for me, my wife and son. They both had to make enormous changes and sacrifices in their lives just to support me. That they made those changes and sacrifices was no surprise; they loved me. And still do!

Most of us would make those changes to our lives to support and care for a loved one but we shouldn’t underestimate the sacrifice or take it for granted. At the time, both my wife and son were studying for degrees. My wife was also working full time and would regularly begin her course work once I’d completed my dialysis at around 11 p.m. finishing between 2 and 3 a.m. It’s undoubtedly true that I’ve not always shown my thanks and gratitude for their support, you’re not really thinking straight when dialysing, but I’ve never taken their care and support of me for granted. My gratitude is deep, sincere and never-ending.

The second area of focus triggered by Lisa’s video was that of the professional carers who have helped me through dialysis, transplant and the comorbities that have accompanied them. Now it would be easy to cynically denigrate the value of our professional carers with comments such as “Well, it’s their job isn’t it” or “They’re getting paid for it”. In my experience that sort of dismissal is both unwarranted and unjust. The vast majority of those professionals involved in my care have been empathetic, understanding and respectful. Add those factors to their professionalism and expertise and you have all of the reasons I need to be grateful for them.

So what of the future? Well, my wife and son still love and care for me, bear the brunt of my dark days and understand when illness prevents me from joining in. What about our professional carers?

In recent weeks I’ve come across two nurses neither of whom are involved in my care nor have I met them, however both of them have given me great hope for the next generation of nurses. The first is Wendy Sinclair, a lecturer in Children and Young People’s Nursing at Salford University, the second is Amelia, a student nurse also at Salford University. Both of them inspirational and comforting in their own way. Through Twitter I’ve been afforded a glimpse of their commitment to nursing but above that lies a commitment to patients and I sense joyfulness in what they’re doing, typified by a recent tweet from Amelia (@_amelia_19).

“Wow is all I can say after watching a full kidney transplant and being involved in pre and post op care #honoured #amazing”

My future looks good thanks to the ongoing love and support from my wife Audrey and son Jon. Our future under the care of Wendy, Amelia and all of their professional colleagues looks good too! Never take the love and support of all of our carers for granted, they are central to own health and happiness.


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