This is not a book or movie review; I just thought this was an appropriate title.
On this international week of people with a disability, I wanted to pay tribute to the people without whom I could not live my awesome independent life; my carers.
Some people might not equate carers with independence. But the way I see it, my carers are there to help me take care of all the small tasks that I can’t do on my own, so that I can get out and get on to all the things that I can or would like to do. Without my carers, I simply would not be able to get out of bed in the morning (literally).
I recognise the many privileges I have with being able to write such a positive article about my carers. Number one, my disability is not so severe that it prevents me from being able to advocate for myself. This means that I have been able to communicate with my carers easily about what I need, plus I have a say in who takes care of me. I’m also lucky that I get to live at home and that the NDIS allows for us to hire in home care support.
But mostly, I’m lucky because I have come across some amazing carers in my life who have done more than just their job. They have put a smile on my face, made me feel like a dignified human (extremely important) and some have even been able to become my friends because of how well we relate and get along.
I think there is still a negative stigma surrounding people with carers. The thing is, there are so many reasons why a person might need a carer, and everyone is different. Some need them more often than others. For people like me, a carer is there to help with physical tasks like getting dressed, getting onto the toilet, cooking and tidying up. My carer is not a babysitter – I’m not a baby, duh.
But I’ve found that some people who have seen me with my carer expect me to be with them all the time and it’s just not the case. I go about my life mostly on my own and a good carer will see that their main priority is to give me as much independence as possible.
My carer is not there for intellectual or emotional support. I go to uni and study on my own, and they are not paid to give me counselling. However, I’ve also found that my best carers are the ones I can trust and talk to the same way you would talk to a friend.
The relationship between a carer and a client is, to me, a very unique one. Unlike a friend, they are there to do some very personal jobs. Things that you would never share, even with your best friend. But unlike a parent, who usually looks after you for free and with unconditional love your whole life, a carer is still being paid to do a job and I believe that if you don’t treat them with as much respect as they do you, you will lose them.
For example; I can’t say f-off to Iva when she wakes me up in the morning like I used to with my dad.
But lucky for me I’ve had such amazing carers who have been so easy to work with and who are really lovely to me. A lot of the time I like spending time with my carers because they are like friends to me.
Take Iva, my most recent addition to my team of carers. She’s this lovely lady from the Czech Republic whose been in Australia for about 11 years, I think. She’s actually a fashion designer by trade and absolutely stunning. I often wonder what she’s doing in a job like this. but from the first day I met her, she had the sweetest, most caring personality I’ve ever witnessed. I found her very easy to work with and she never once questioned my intellectual capabilities. She’s what I would describe as emotionally intelligent. As an added bonus, Iva and I have so much in common! We’re both Pisces, we both love the ballet and we’re both into fashion; particularly pretty dresses.
Then there’s Damalie who I think has all the qualities of a wonderful carer. She’s just so incredibly… caring. All she wants is to do the best by me, even if it means obsessing over the little things. She’s constantly striving to improve even though I’ve told her she’s got everything down pat (I’m not a complicated person, really). Damalie is always willing to do as much as she can for me and my family. Sometimes, I leave little jobs for when Damalie comes (like wrapping Christmas presents) because she’s always willing to help with anything and she does a great job. The great thing about having a carer like Damalie is she helps satisfy the neat freak in me. She’ll help me tidy and organise anything and do it really well. This might not seem like much, but to someone like me who is on the verge of OCD but can’t reach the clothes I want to sort, this is a BIG deal.
And then of course there is Charlene. The cool, gorgeous, young thing who I just adore. Every night at around 9 or 10pm, Charlene comes to help me get ready for bed and this is when I get to fill my girl in with all the happenings of the day. With Charlene I feel like I can really trust and talk to her about anything. Our age proximity means that we can really relate to each other. We have the same sense of humour. We talk about boys and funny things that have happened to us in our lives. She’s also fun to hang out with. I took her to my friends’ wedding, and she was so cool about it. It was not like having a carer with me, it was like having a friend. And like a true friend, she helped carry my nasty-drunk-self back to the car. Bless her soul. Charlene is also one of the wisest people I’ve met. She gives great advice when needed and we often have really deep conversations about life, our hopes and dreams for the future. Funny though, our deep conversations always happen in the bathroom. Sometimes we’ll be in there for an hour just talking without realising that she was supposed to leave 5 minutes ago. Charlene always hugs me goodnight and finishes my day with a smile.
There are so many carers past and present, who have absolutely changed or had a huge impact on my life. I am eternally grateful to anyone who has ever looked after me. I might not be the most difficult client in the scheme of things, but caring is tiring just the same. Everyone has been so kind and patient with me and I really don’t know what I’d do without you all.
Well actually I do… I’d still be in bed right now.