Time for a big decision – Is it time I went back to work?
Throughout the month of February and March I have been thinking a lot about the possibility of returning to work. As you will know, if you have followed my blog, I have just spent the last year caring for my Dad, although my caring role started back in April 2015 when my dad had his heart attack, I was still employed, and was lucky to be allowed to be quite flexible with my hours, as well as working from home, allowing me the time to look after my dad.
However, when the chance of voluntary redudancy came up, I jumped at the chance, and was happy to have this agreed.
The last year has been difficult, but my dad needed me, and I was happy to be in a position to take on the role of his carer (although my dad always said, he would be ok if I went back to work, I knew this was not the case, and I needed to take responsibility for his wellbeing) Dad has had no further issues with his heart, he continues with his medication and uses his inhalers, which all help, but the diagnosis of Parkinson’s and his ongoing COPD, plus the onset of short-term memory loss has added to his overal health issues.
My dad has lots of good days when he is really well, and then other days he does not feel up to doing anything, when he feels exhausted and tired. These are the days I find hard, as I always try and involve him in everyday life, and encourage him to come out and get some fresh air, even if is just a short car journey to the local shops, or a visit to the garden centre (which he loves) but saying that, I do know when I need to leave him be, allowing him to just stay at home reading his paper, and watching television. Dad sleeps a lot these days, and I am aware once I leave him during the day he will have a sleep on and off throughout the day.
Looking at the possibility of a return to work has been on my mind for the last few months, I always thought that I would return, I envisaged taking at least a year off, and I have done all I can within the last year to get the help my dad required through the community services teams. This consisted of cardiac therapy, rehabilitation programmes, physiotherapy, speech & language therapy, and most recently assessment at the memory clinic. All of which my dad has found helpful and supportive throughout the last year.
Over the last few months I had been able to see my dad taking more of an interest in things, looking forward to the spring so he could enjoy planting in his garden, and the warm weather had certainly brought out the best in him. I was starting to discuss my return to work with him, and he was quite supportive of that.
Dad has always said that I should do what I needed to do, and that he would be ok, but that is easier said than done when you see such a dramatic change in someone who has always led a healthy, active and independent life.
So, my decision to return to work was made, I started to look for work, applied for a few posts, nothing really exited me, but they were within my area of expertise. I was short-listed for one post, and attended the interview, but wasn’t successful, however it was all experience for me, as it had been over 10yrs since I had an interview. My progression in my career had come with promotions within my work area therefore, interviews were something new, but I was ready to take on the challenge.
During the early part of the year from January to the end of February my dad was doing well, and looking well, he seemed to be taking an interest in himself again, and looking forward to the warmer weather. I was continuing my search for a new post, and we discussed the possibility of putting a care package in place for my dad, just a few days a week, which would give me peace of mind that dad would have professional Carers popping in to check on him, if I was to return to work.
In early March I found the perfect post for me, it was in my work area, it was something I had done for the last 12 years, and I was really excited to see a post (which doesn’t come up very often) that I knew I had all of the essential criteria, the background, the qualifications, and the experience. . .I applied for the post, and patiently waited for a response. . .
However, a few days later, after a visit to dads GP we were informed his on-going blood tests were coming back with worrying results, these had been repeated throughout February and March, the results had shown a drop in dads kidney functions and his blood count was low, he was showing signs of aenemia and weight loss. Dads GP went through a series of questioning on health matters with my dad, and subsequently referred him back to the hospital, continuing with checks on his bloods etc. . Another worrying time.
Dad had started to look poorly, he was getting tired easily, exhausted when walking for no more than five or ten minutes, and he was also struggling with his balance and coordination. I had noticed his short-term memory was becoming worse over just a short space of time, forgetting his medication, taking his evening medication before his morning medication, or not taking them at all. I was forever finding some of his medication in the bin, and on questioning, my dad couldn’t remember how they had got there.
I had to be careful just how much I pushed my dad, as I didn’t want him to feel confused, therefore I would take it one day at a time, start again, and make sure I was always there to put his medication in his hand throughout the day, and watch him take it. . I hid all of the medication, as I didn’t want him forgetting he had taken it, and looking at taking more! I was feeling very worried, and in need of some help and support myself during this time.
Throughout this time, I was wondering if I would hear anything regarding the post I had applied for, I was already having mixed feelings about my decision to go back to work, and these issues were bringing me back to the worry I had about leaving my dad. Within the next week, I received an invitation to attend for interview for the post, I had two weeks to prepare a presentation for the interview, and I was really happy to have been invited.
My worries regarding my dad had increased, but despite this, I accepted the invite for interview and proceeded to work on designing my presentation, but my mind was in turmoil throughout this time. I wanted to attend the interview but I had to address the possibility of not being able to accept the post if I was offered it, due to the increasing awareness of my dads health issues, and my responsibility for his welfare. I felt torn between my need to continue with my career, and my dads need for me. . .
I made the difficult decision to inform the employer that I would have to decline their kind offer of interview and explained my reasons, thanking them for the offer, and wishing them good luck with their recruitment.
My decision was made, I needed to be available to support my dad through these on-going tests, as well as supporting him with his every day needs, especially with the worrying sign of his failing memory and frailty. I couldn’t consider putting his welfare in the hands of other Carers, I had come this far with him, I couldn’t leave him to deal with this alone. .