Being Close to Someone With Chronic Illness
When I was a toddler, my mum was in hospital for quite a while and my dad had to look after me on his own. I became accustomed to my mother going to visit the doctor or going to hospital for appointments fairly regularly. I didn’t know that not all mothers did this.
When I was 6 years old, we were on holiday in Norfolk when my mum became very ill and was admitted to hospital for an operation. Seeing her in bed, with pipes inserted in her arms and nose to help her breathe, made me physically ill. My dad had to take me home to North Wales to stay with a friend while he went back to Norfolk to be with my mum and then bring her home.
As I grew older, I gained more understanding of my mum’s health conditions, which had been a big part of her life since her early 20s. She has Crohn’s Disease, arthritis, a thyroid problem and many other issues. She hasn’t worked since the 1970s due to this, and she only has one child; me.
But to me, she’s my mum. A sweet lady I enjoy chatting and laughing with. Her true self has always shone through, her immense courage has always inspired me. She lives in pain every day, but she doesn’t complain. She gets on with life and never lets her chronic illness stand in her way.
She always put me first, and has been a vital support to me in my own health problems. When I was in hospital after my cancer diagnosis, my mum understood the fear and loneliness of hospital life like no one else around me could.
It isn’t easy when someone close to you has chronic illness. I can see this as someone who has experienced illness myself and as someone who loves another person with illness. It’s important that you take time for yourself so that you can then support your loved one to your best ability. Make sure you indulge your own needs and hobbies. Don’t be afraid of seeking professional help, if you think your loved one is in need of more treatment or even for yourself if you are struggling. A simple cup of tea and a chat together can be all that you need to brighten the path ahead.
Sometimes I have worried so much about my mum and I hope she knows I am always here for her. I hope to go through life with as much grace and wisdom as she does.
Llinos is a cancer, anxiety and depression survivor from Cardiff, UK. She is a mentor to other young women, an author, speaker and fundraiser.