Walk a Mile in... Amy's Shoes
Just over a year ago, Amy had to leave her job to become a full time carer for her husband, Clayton, who suffers from chronic back pain. Listen to the story of how Amy juggles her role with looking after her young family, as well as volunteering with the local Girl Guides group.
Listen to Amy's story to hear what it's like to walk a mile in in her shoes or you can read her story below.
"Hello my name is Amy Manning. I live in Denby. I have been in my caring role for just over a year now and I care for my husband. He has chronic back pain and stiffness in his legs which makes it hard for him to walk. He struggles very much with mobility.
"It all started a few years ago. He woke up one morning and couldn’t move his legs. I find caring quite difficult because I have two young children and I have to look after them as well as Clayton, my husband. I dispense all his medicine for him because if I don’t, he won’t take it as it is high up in a cupboard, away from the kids, and he can’t reach as it hurts to stretch.
I cook for him as well because he can’t bend down to the oven. I make his cups of tea and take the kids to school. He does have a mobility scooter but at the minute it is out of action because the wheels need fixing and we can’t afford that. So now I have the added extra of taking my daughter to school every morning which Clayton usually does.
"I go to his appointments with him. I take him in his wheelchair. Pushing him along can be quite difficult because he’s quite heavy and we have had a few bumps along the way. I do find it very difficult to cope day-to-day with the kids and then Clayton. The kids want my attention for something and I will deal with that. Then Clayton needs help to get up to go to the toilet or whatever. We have got aids for him in the bathroom; he has got special aids to help him sit on the toilet and to help him get in and out of the bath. That makes it easy for him and he is independent then. Other than that, he walks with a walking stick round the house. He has a 3 wheeled walker that you push along but it doesn’t actually fit through the doors properly when it is folded up, so he doesn’t tend to use it around the house.
"I have to do all the shopping which is very difficult because I don’t drive. I go by bus all the time and I can’t always do as much shopping as I want to do because I have to think about getting back to Clayton to make sure that he is ok, getting back for the kids etc.
"I had to give up work to care for Clayton. The only other option was changing my shifts and that wasn’t fair on the rest of the staff. The only other shifts available were closed shifts which meant I couldn’t get home. Giving up work affected me more than I said it did. I do miss working but family comes first.
"I have a bit of a social life. I do Zumba on a Saturday morning which is great because I can just let go. It’s a way to get my frustration, my anger, my pain, if you like, out just by doing a really vigorous workout. I also do brownies on a Wednesday night and Girl Guides on a Thursday night which, again, is my time for me, away from home, away from dealing with what I deal with on a day-to-day basis.
"I have friends that know about Clayton’s condition. My family knows as well but I don’t get a lot of support from them because my mum looks after my dad and my friends don’t often come down. They will ask if we are alright and I say ‘Yes, Clayton has a good or a bad day’. Then they ask me and I say ‘I’m fine’ when really I’m not fine but they don’t tend to ask me anymore than that. They know that I’m not fine but they don’t tend to ask what’s wrong or what they can do to help. A lot of the time, I just feel down as well because I don’t feel like I have anyone to talk to; I don’t feel like I can talk to people that understand the condition. I’m a bit isolated where we are as well. Because I don’t drive, I have to rely on buses. As bus fares keep going up, it keeps getting more and more expensive to get out and about."