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Mary's Story

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Mary's Story

Mary's Story

The key to becoming a carer was playing Who Wants To Be A Millionaire

Finding time for yourself when you're a carer can sometimes seem like an impossible task. You may have to take on new responsibilities and it can often become hard to prioritise what needs to be done.

But Worcester mum-of-three and wife Mary, who is sharing her story as part of National Carers Week, has a solution.

She manages her priorities by playing her own version of the family-favourite TV show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

She said: "When I feel overwhelmed with all the things I have to do, I play a little game of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? It sounds trivial, but it really works for me.

"First, I make a list of all the things that need to be done, and I eliminate the tasks that I know can be done at a later time, or delegated to someone else. Then if I've still got too much to do, I ask myself 'what would successful people do in this situation?' - that's my ask the audience part. My last resort is to phone a friend for advice.

"Going through the three stages helps me whittle down my to-do list. It makes me actually think about what's important and what's not. It's the easiest way for me to manage my workload."

In January 2019, Mary's partner of 15 years had a near-fatal stroke followed by a massive brain haemorrhage.

As a result, the language centre of Richard's brain was damaged and he developed the brain injury-related communication disorder, aphasia.

Following her husband Richard's brain injury, 49-year old Mary has taken on the role of his full-time carer.

She said: "It's been extremely difficult to balance work and home life. I've had to take on the huge responsibility of caring for my husband, managing a business, single-handedly raising two young children and trying to make time for myself and my wellbeing."

"Richard's brain injury completely turned my life upside down. Everything I do now has to revolve around Richard and his needs. He couldn't get through daily life without my support and help."

Mary has also had to take responsibility for the family business, which she says has made it even more difficult for her to split her time and energy.

She said: "If I could give one piece of advice to other carers in the same situation as me, it would be to try and prioritise things as best you can.

"You can't do everything, and you need to accept that. Try to think logically about your priorities, not only in terms of the loved one you are caring for, but also for the rest of your family, yourself and your career."

"Caring for Richard hasn't been without its challenges, but I'm able to stay positive because I know that his condition won't be like this forever.

"I know that we will never get the 'old' Richard back, and that's ok. But every day he makes small improvements which gives me a glimmer of hope.

"Unfortunately not all families are as lucky as ours when it comes to recovery after brain injury. But it's still important to celebrate every success, no matter how small."

Mary and Richard have also taken advantage of the support on offer at their local Headway group.

Mary said: "The speech and language therapy at Headway Worcestershire has been so helpful and Richard has seen a real improvement since starting the sessions. It's been a huge breakthrough for him.

"Not only that, but the therapy also makes me feel more supported. I'm able to learn techniques and new ways in which I can communicate with Richard which has really helped in our relationship."

 

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