As people who care for someone else, on a regular basis, there are things in life that only we know and understand. Caring for someone else is like being part of a club and there are always unexpected moments to keep us on our toes.
One minute our heart is full from connecting with the person we care for. Then the next, we're at our wits end from having the same conversation on repeat or a lack of Blue Badge parking at our local shopping centre.
We have the patience of a saint (mostly 😉), the organisational skills of Marie Kondo and the medical knowledge of a junior doctor. Truly, from prescriptions to poo cleanups, we’ve dealt with it all.
So what does it really mean to be a carer? We’ve highlighted some of the unique, weird, wonderful and poignant things that only people who care for someone else can relate to.
From the good and the bad to the hilarious, we’d love to know how many things on this list have struck a chord with you, and what else you would add! Share with us on social media @mobilisecare.
1. Our step count can easily exceed 10k without leaving the house
Move over Mo Farah. We could easily start training for a Marathon with the amount of steps we rack up running around the house after other people. Oh and let’s not get started on the amount of calories we burn lugging shopping around and lifting people out of bed. Joe Wicks and Jane Fonda have nothing on our daily workout routines.
2. We feel like there’s no time to be ill
When we’re looking after someone else, our own health can take a backseat. Sure, we might be sneezing into our coffee, coughing up a lung and looking like an extra from The Walking Dead, but as far as our to-do list is concerned, there’s no time for a duvet day.
3. Instagram targets us with incontinence products
Ah, the good old days when the internet would send us ‘normal’ ads like tropical holidays and smartphones. Now we’re being targeted by the latest super-absorbency underwear technology and most of our browser history is medication names we can’t pronounce.
4. Relatives who don’t ‘care’ suddenly become experts
When we’re running ourselves ragged, providing round-the-clock care and somehow managing to keep it all together, a know-it-all relative will pipe up and tell us that we’re doing something wrong. Although they probably don’t mean any harm by their comments, it’s often the last thing we want to hear.
5. Looking at the array of cleaning products in Tesco may be as close to self-care as we can get
Forget fancy restaurants and spa weekends away, replacing our old washing up sponges is our version of a good time.
“I actually got very excited by my new washing up sponges. The company had packaged them beautifully and somehow they felt like a treat! ”
6. A full nine hours of sleep is a myth
Seriously. We can’t remember the last time we woke up feeling rested. The kitchen coffee machine has become our best buddy and nobody in our household should utter a single word to us until we’ve finished that glorious first cup.
7. The hospital has become our second home
We’re back and forth to the hospital so much that we know the nurses on a first-name basis and the grisly sights of A&E no longer phase us.
8. We’ve made more complaints than had hot dinners
After years of passive-aggressive emails to the manager, we’ve mastered the art of presenting our complaint evidence like a high-powered lawyer in a true crime case. Especially while dealing with bad customer service, products that don’t work, and places that aren’t disability friendly.
9. The laundry is a never-ending task
The vicious cycle of never-ending laundry never seems to get any better. No matter how many loads we put on or pants we peg out, there are always dirty clothes hanging about at the bottom of the basket at the end of the day. Sigh.
10. We can assess a door width from several hundred yards away
We’ve got absolutely no coordination on the dancefloor, yet somehow we’re able to shimmy our way through a heavy set of double doors with a wheelchair in tow. And like the Terminator zoning in on its prey, we’re always on the lookout for pesky potholes and raised curbs that might obstruct our path.
11. Our CV now includes therapist, chef, housekeeper, PA and taxi driver rolled into one
At this point, we might as well be called ‘Mary Poppins’.
12. We’ve used our caring situation as an excuse to get out of social events we’d rather avoid
Raise your hand if you’ve ditched the in-law's BBQ or a school fundraiser because you had no social energy left in the tank.
13. Our summer reading list consists of medication guidance, therapies and stool charts
Ok so the Bristol Stool Form Scale or the our guide to bladder and bowel incontinence are not quite the thrilling beach read we’d hoped to delve into on a sunny day, but at least we’ll be prepared when sh*t hits the fan.
14. Nothing makes us squeamish anymore
Speaking of toilet trips, we’ve cleaned up so many accidents over the years that it’s hard to find anything that fazes us these days. Poo? No problem. Wee? Doesn’t bother us. Even the Bushtucker Trials on I’m a Celebrity look like a breezy walk in the park to us.
15. We’re fluent in carer lingo
Whether it’s PIP and DLA payments, or AA or AFIP forms, people outside of our caring circle have absolutely no clue what we’re talking about most of the time. And that’s excluding our impressive pharmacy chat. We can correctly spell the names of conditions and medications that most people can’t even say.
16. We often realise we're actually the expert in the room
All that online reading has turned us into Mensa-level geniuses (with a super high IQ level!) about specific health conditions, without us even realising it. We reckon we could win Mastermind with our in-depth medical knowledge.
"I’m getting pretty accurate with my scoring for clinical assessment of Parkinson’s. I accidentally joined in a discussion about whether my husband's turning on the spot was a ‘two’ or a ‘three’. Luckily the team let me join in."
17. When we get time to ourself, we never know what to do with it
If we're lucky enough to have some time off, we can fill the space with anxiety, while we try and decide if we use the time to do absolutely everything we can't normally do. Or do absolutely nothing at all…
18. Our predictive text is unusual at best
We have to apologize to friends when texting “feeding the cat’ becomes “feeding the catheter”...
19. We have no filter
Sorry to anyone who gets stuck on a table with us at Sunday lunch. We’ve forgotten that it’s not polite to talk about bowel movements in public, especially when people are eating.
“I talk about poo, to literally anyone and everyone. I think I’ve even stopped noticing that some people might actually be embarrassed or disgusted!”
20. We wish things were different sometimes
We can’t help but wonder what life would be like if things had been different. We might picture our mornings without a life-changing diagnosis, or before their condition got worse. It’s natural to feel this way, and knowing our feelings can help us to process them a little bit better. Feeling a little (or a lot) sad, is a thing too - it’s our own kind of grief - a carer’s grief.
21. There are cold cups of tea all over our house
It’s our biggest annoyance. We make a cup of tea and the washing machine or medical machinery starts beeping. Next thing we know, half an hour has gone by and that lovely cuppa is ice cold and no longer drinkable. It’s a simple fact of life that tea stays firmly unfinished in our house.
22. Going to the toilet is the only time we get to sit down all day
We never thought it’d be something we looked forward to, but bathroom breaks are the one time we can sit down and (mostly) be left alone in peace. Bliss. Those of us also working, are also likely to consider our commute to be a bit of rest and relaxation!
“I used to hate my train journey to work. These days, it’s 45 mins of bum on seat, no demands me time”
23. To-do lists are our love language
As are mind dumps, planners, journals, charts, and trackers. Our friends compare our list-making skills to Monica Gellar from Friends, but without army-level organisation, everything would come toppling down like a house of cards.
If we'd like some inspiration on how to make our to-do lists work for us, take a look at our short blog.
24. Sneaky snacking in the kitchen is the norm
Scoffing down a couple of handfuls of crisps while putting the dishwasher on is a new daily ritual.
25. We only wear practical clothes
Today’s fashion trends absolutely baffle us. Crop tops look incredibly chilly. Flared trousers could get caught in a wheelchair. And you can’t tolerate a jacket that doesn’t come with pockets for tissues. These days, we wear clothes that make our job easier and that means comfortable, wipe-clean and functional.
26. We know all the hold music on our GP’s phone line by heart
We’re constantly on speakerphone listening to Take That and ABBA.
27. We sometimes daydream about having a minor injury or sickness
Nothing life-threatening of course, but a temporary ailment that might give us a little break from our caring… without us feeling guilty about it.
28. There are days when we have to laugh or we’ll cry
And caring can be relentless too. If we’re not in the thick of dealing with someone’s immediate needs, we’re probably already thinking about what needs to be done next. Sometimes it all gets too much, and we feel like we can’t just keep going.
29. …but it can be worth it for a smile or thumbs up
Because when we share a moment of genuine gratitude with the person we care for, it can be all the motivation we need to keep toughing it out and moving forward.
Feel free to also join us for a Mobilise Cuppa. These are free 45-min video calls where we can connect with around 12 other people who are also looking after a loved one. It’s an inclusive and friendly group, and a great place to laugh (or cry!) about the things only us people who care will understand.