In 2008, I had a heart attack.
I had a stent inserted but during the operation I had a second heart attack and so another stent was needed.
My life until then had been spent working in the care field.
It began as a roving first aid responder at Heathrow Airport, then moved to caring for the elderly in a residential setting.
After a year working nights as a Care Assistant in a Nursing Home my nose took me into the field of mental health and dementia.
I found the work fascinating and heartbreaking due to the callous, profiteering nature of Care(!) Home providers.
I managed a sheltered housing scheme for 8 residents in East Sheen – which I hated.
Management meant staying in an office, dealing with budgets, Doctors and social workers.
I moved on a lot back then.
Learning Difficulties, Challenging Behaviour and the most upsetting for me – Acquired Brain Injury.
Owners of Homes used me to clean sweep their businesses.
Each home was eager for my knowledge and ideas on dealing with ‘challenging’ clients and to train other carers.
Exploring other ideas I had meant working for Agencies where I lived in Clients homes.
24 hours a day, 7 days a week gave me even greater insights into the issues that my clients faced.
I chatted with neighbours of my clients, dispelling their fears and getting them onside.
I asked local businesses to help spend time with them and even give them some unpaid work.
All to get them out of the house and meet and engage with the community.
Exhausting and wonderful.
It transformed their lives and I hope transformed those who gave their time, cash and love to them.
The heart attacks meant an end to all that, sadly.
I discharged myself from hospital after three days.
For the first three months, I was crippled. Gasping for breath, my liver shut down and I turned an interesting shade of yellow.
My doctor was useless so I stopped going though I did continue to take 7 lots of medication for a year.
I was living in Islington at the time but it was isolating for me and expensive. Relying on savings meant I had to find alternative accommodation quickly.
An old friend kindly allowed me to stay in his flat in west London when he holidayed abroad. Another friend allowed me to sit in his workshop during the day to keep warm and even threw me some money and bought me food in return for answering the phone.
Soon I was offered other flat sitting opportunities and some people even paid me to protect their properties when they were away on business. A weekend here, a fortnight there – time passed and my health slowly improved.
One year after the heart attacks, my girlfriend was diagnosed with Breast cancer.
Never rains but pours eh ? Long weekends were spent at her place in Surrey
My girlfriend struggled through the chemotherapy and the rest of her treatment but, one year on, she was given the all clear. She had beaten cancer but our relationship had changed from lovers to carers for each other and we parted.
A year later and I began suffering other health problems. My breathing had never properly recovered and I developed many infections.My back and neck stiffened and caused me pain. My left hand began to hurt and I could no longer clench my fist. By this time, the Conservatives had been elected, London became meaner and many of my friends had left the city. I found myself struggling to find accommodation and work opportunities were drying up. Care work was no longer an option because of Insurance issues and my worsening health meant I was no longer reliable, even for the piecemeal work I sought.
Cutting my needs and relying more and more on my meagre savings I struggled on for another two years. During this time I met up with an ex partner who also was my oldest friend. She was living in Gwynedd, North Wales, with her autistic PDA son.
Social Services in the Gwynedd area are appalling. She has had no support and Bangor CAMHS refuse to acknowledge the boy has any mental health issues, at all. After one incident, in which the teenage boy used violence against her, I gritted my teeth and moved in with both of them. That was 18 months ago now.
All my years in Mental Health did not prepare me in anyway for PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance). Within weeks my blood pressure went through the roof, chest pains, my heart rate became erratic. I ended up presenting myself at Shrewsbury A&E. (I have had experience of Ysbty Gwynedd and #BCUHB, who treated me after drinking contaminated water and, again when my partner miscarried our baby – it is my hope never to go there again). All the tests were good – well for a man with my cardiac issues and the Hospital put it down to stress.
I then signed on with the local Doctors Surgery and was given statins. Blood tests followed. The statin caused so much pain I could hardly move. A different statin and then Ramipril – more pain than before. I stopped the statin then realised it was the Ramipril. After nearly three months of pain and distress – I stopped the medication. My health improved – my stress levels did not.
The Doctor noticed something during an examination and ordered a Lung test. I failed and was diagnosed with COPD. I have not been back to see her since. My breathing has worsened this last year, blood pressure still too high but I need to be able to move quickly to deal effectively with the teenager and also my disabled partners needs are increasing as she ages.
The boy had recently been given four hours of support a week to aid with his social independence skills. Without warning or a re-assessment of his needs the hours were reduced to two – illegal in law. Take note anyone who has had their child’s support pulled.
The Support worker and Officer do not engage in any communication with us re the work they do with him. They refuse to give email addresses – no paper trail – do not give honest replies and are very evasive of communicating anything. So unprofessional compared to the integrated planning around the client which I had been used to.
I believe my health issues are made worse by living in and dealing with the un-professionals in #Gwynedd. But without my support what will happen to the boy and my partner ?
In a few months my savings will be exhausted and what then ?