13 Oct Shirley and Bill share their story | National Carers Week
Being a full-time carer is a labor of love for Shirley Blain, but she’s the first to admit the constant nature of the job can wear her down and impact her own health.
Mrs Blain agreed to share her story this week to help mark National Carers Week – an initiative to help recognise and celebrate the 2.65 million Australians who provide care and support to a family member or friend.
More than 25 years ago, Mrs Blain’s husband Bill had a hip replacement. What was supposed to improve his quality of life, unfortunately took a turn for the worse.
“It became infected and after about five months trying to get it under control, they took the prothesis out and replaced it with another new one,” Mrs Blain said.
“Then nearly eight years ago, Bill got cellulitis on his legs and it went to his hip…he got very unwell and was hospitalised for five weeks on IV antibiotics.”
Ms Blain said the infection was something Bill would have for the rest of his life and it reared its head it the worst possible way last November.
“We were managing it and then one day last November, Bill stepped out of the shower and the wound on his hip burst and the infection went everywhere. The hematoma that was full of infection had been building up and it just let go,” she said.
“Bill was treated here at Timboon and District Healthcare Service (TDHS) initially before being taken to Warrnambool. He was there for four months and went into theatre seven times.
“The prosthesis is still there, but the bone is not viable, it has been destroyed by the infection.”
Ms Blain said Bill returned to TDHS for another month before finally sleeping in his own bed in April this year – five months after the lifechanging event.
“The cavity in his hip will never be closed now – it still has the infection in it and the wonderful TDHS district nurses come every day to clean the wound out, change the dressing and check on Bill,” she said.
“We also have irrigation, where they wash it out once a week at the moment. It has become our life, but I always say that if the positions were reversed and I was in his position that he would do the same for me.
“He has always been a very good husband and we have always worked well together. He is a very easy patient – I’m very fortunate that way.
“Ultimately the responsibility for a lot of things I never used to be responsible for now fall to me.
“We’re just starting to talk about some occasional respite care for Bill, to give me a bit of a break and a chance to do a few things. We’ll work through that soon.
“A lot of other carers have Alzheimer’s and things like that to deal with, so I count myself lucky. But, I do think Carers Week gives good recognition for a tough job.”