‘I feel like I am a burden to everyone around me’

Aug 02, 2019
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The idea of being a burden can have massive consequences. Source: Getty Images

Last year in May I had a fall that injured the left side of my skull followed by a TIA (transient ischemic attack, mini stroke). I am no stranger to pain and heartache, however this last year has been extremely hard on the only person who cares for me, my wonderful husband.

I have a slightly lower left leg due to my first stroke nearly 13 years ago and some days it can drag a bit. Because I have no reflexes, I don’t grab out for any thing I just fall head first, backwards or sideways … You name it I have been there.

I’ve also lost my peripheral sight, which means I need to be very careful. When it comes to security around the house, seeing an intruder of the like for example, I could once have relied on my dog, Maxi, but he’s now gone blind. I have lights on in almost every part of the house just to help me move about.

Unless someone or something is positioned right in front of me, I don’t see them. It’s a nightmare when I go to places like shopping centres. I don’t see people cutting me off or pushing their trolley in my direction until it is too late. People can be quite rude about it, they don’t know of my condition, and it’s only when my husband informs them that I’m vision impaired that they become apologetic. Yet, I often find this embarrassing.

It’s meant that my husband and I don’t go out unless we’re seeing a movie and we avoid people by scheduling our visit for later sessions if they are available. It helps with parking too.

This situation is quite difficult for me. I have always been a people person. Even after I had to give up work six years ago because of illness and injury I still went out and about, saw people, family and friends. Now I have no driver’s licence and I spend a great deal of time at home. It has become my sanctuary, a safe place.

My husband leaves for work around 8am everyday and even is working on Saturdays due to extra contracts that have been made available, and every night he brings home work to do after dinner. He worries about me at work and I know there are few men that would do all that he does for me. Usually we try and go away overseas twice a year, however that is not able to happen for another couple of years.

Last year this wonderful man of mine had to have heart surgery twice. I feel guilty that he has to come home early to assist me when I’ve had a fall and knocked myself out. In the past three months I’ve had multiple falls. It’s very frightening.

I’ve tripped over the dogs and hit my head on the breakfast bar, which knocked me out cold. I don’t know how long I am out for most times. The most recent incident resulted in me calling my son and his girlfriend for assistance. They came and cleaned me and the floor. I had black eyes, swollen knees and shoulders.

I feel I’m a burden on others and I don’t like that feeling. Sure, there is the ‘richer, poorer’ and ‘in sickness and health’ parts of a marriage, but how much of that is one family (or person) supposed to endure? There have been many days where I’ve wished I was better and I could enjoy a normal life with my husband. I often joke that I must have been a real pain in a previous life and it’s all catching up with me. I can see the funny side sometimes.

There are no answers to the questions I have, I know that. I just want to be able to get these feelings off my chest. There are times when I struggle, those moments pass. As the song goes, ‘some days are diamonds, some days are stones’.

Are you caring for a loved one or in need of care? How do you feel about growing older and ‘being a burden’?

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