About carers Carer Stories Elaine's Story ELAINE'S STORY Elaine spoke about the benefits of our holiday lodges in Suffolk. Transcript available here I’m Elaine, a 24/7 Carer for my husband Michael, who has acquired brain injuries, cancer and is an insulin dependent diabetic to name just a few of his problems. I’ve been looking after him for almost 14 years now, and I have to say it’s not a career I would have chosen to do, and it certainly brings its challenges. He can be both very demanding and stubborn at times, his emotional side and logic are really poor, his memory is not great either, so it doesn’t take too much to either stress me out or wear me out. I’m sure all you other Carers out there know exactly where I’m coming from, but, I have to admit, I wouldn’t want it any other way and am grateful for the time I spend with him. Northamptonshire Carers have played a huge part in both our lives and I know it’s them that have given me the strength to cope with whatever problems we have. A couple of years ago we were offered a week’s holiday in the disabled lodge the Carers own in idyllic Constable country, set in beautiful parkland. What a difference that week made to both of us, waking up to the most beautiful birdsong. We both love the countryside and most of you that know me, know I absolutely love all animals, so I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it was. Every day I’d open the curtains to watch the ducks waddling by with their families, the squirrels happily diving from one tree to another. Michael spends a lot of his time watching the television at home but at Saxmundham, he was on squirrel watch, often giving a running commentary on their antics - it stimulated him so much. I would take him around the lakes of the park in his wheelchair every day, and he’d often remember something we’d seen the day before. We got to know a resident that used to fish every day. He, like Michael, was ex-military so he’d love to sit and talk to him. We’d then proceed to Michael’s favourite area, The Carvery; the biggest love in his life is his food. Due to his brain injuries, he is constantly hungry. This was inside the Clubhouse and I have to admit we rarely eat out, but that was so enjoyable and very reasonable too. It certainly saved me cooking most days. I believe there was entertainment in there most nights too, but once he’d eaten, I would have to take him back to the lodge, or he’d have pestered me for yet another meal after an hour or so! In the mornings, I’d open our door whilst I was preparing breakfast and without fail, a little robin would come and perch on the door handle. I had to watch Michael as he kept raiding the bread bin to feed him and all the other wildlife. I was afraid he’d upset the other residents and attract the rats, so had to limit him to 2 slices a day but the fun he had with those 2 slices was unmeasurable. As for myself, I was so much more relaxed I actually managed to read the whole of the daily paper – I rarely get past the third page at home before I have to put it down. I also got to do the jigsaw what was in the lodge. What a luxury that was. Michael was quite happy to sit and take in the beautiful views. I would try to take him out most days in the car. We found an owl sanctuary and the owners kindly gave him a glove so that he could handle a barn owl. We travelled to Southwold, a quirky little resort where the lighthouse is in the town. We had a great time finding the base of it. We had so much fresh air that we both managed to get a reasonable night’s sleep. Michael can be up at least 4 times during the night but the most touching thing about it all, was at night whilst I’d be helping him to get ready for bed, he’d look at me, often take hold of my hand and say “Thank you”. It was so touching as he usually takes me for granted. I can’t begin to tell you what that meant. Sadly the week was over all too quickly but the effect that break had on me lasted much longer. It made me understand that however ill Michael is, his ‘spark’ is still there. It’s difficult for him to express his feelings but I could tell deep down how happy he was and that he still cared for me, I wasn’t just his Carer. I was so grateful to Northamptonshire Carers for giving us the opportunity to relax and enjoy not only the beautiful surroundings and the luxury of the lodge, but each other too. Moving on with our launch for more accommodation, it would be really great if the next one was a little more accessible as you really need transport to get around and truly enjoy the area, as it was situated quite a way from the nearest village or town. It was fine for us but Carers that rely on public transport would find it very difficult to enjoy the resorts further afield. Thank you so much to everyone that made that amazing week possible. We may be able to assist with a short break either with or without the person you care for. You will need a Carers Assessment which can also explore other arras of support that may be of use to you.