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Sick mum, sick husband, full time job, two children. WWYD?

(86 Posts)
gaelicsheep Fri 06-Dec-13 13:15:10

I will try to be brief. Mum is extremely ill, has cancer and we fear is about to receive a terminal diagnosis. Mum and Dad live 4 hours away (and a nightmare journey at that). DH is also now ill, needs urgent endoscopy for suspected internal bleeding - possibly an ulcer, but God knows and extremely worrying. DH looks after two young DCs, one of whom is only 3 and just goes to nursery for two short days a week. DH so tired and unwell that he really isn't fit for doing this. And then there's me - trying to hold down a 40 hour a week job and not doing a great job of it at the moment. Have talked to work - repeatedly, as I've had my own heath troubles - and have the distinct sense that they are starting to lose patience with me.

Result, I feel torn at least three ways. What on earth do I do? Where do I start in picking my way through this? Feeling very very down today, sorry.

gaelicsheep Fri 06-Dec-13 13:16:33

Oh, and Dad is also unwell - has been all his life - and probably won't cope with caring for mum, just to add to the situation.

Golddigger Fri 06-Dec-13 13:19:35

Have you other relatives that you can call on to help?

gaelicsheep Fri 06-Dec-13 13:20:46

I have a DB, currently abroad for work. My dad's sister lives close to them, and it's a blessing knowing that, but she works full time (all hours god sends) as does her other half. There's no one else any closer than me.

HaPPy8 Fri 06-Dec-13 13:22:41

How long is your DH expected to be ill for?

gaelicsheep Fri 06-Dec-13 13:22:45

And unfortunately no relatives anywhere close to us to help out with DH and children.

GoodKingWencesLACK Fri 06-Dec-13 13:23:00

Aw, chin up sad It sounds really tough.

Is your DM getting support locally? through MacMillan or Marie Curie?

Could your youngest get more nursery provision? Is he at school nursery? Ours do extended care, and if there is space they can go five days a week if necessary (and is cheap at £12 per half day session)

Is there any support you can call on locally yourself? local children's centre, or carer's service? friends? Could you look at reducing your hours, even temporarily? Would that be financially viable?

I am a care worker, and though it's predominantly elderly, we have had a few short term contracts where an ill parent got help through social services. We would go to help with bathing the kids and getting them ready for school/bed etc. They were generally single parents though.

gaelicsheep Fri 06-Dec-13 13:24:14

God knows Happy8. I am trying not to panic, but of course I'm terrified they will find something worse than an ulcer in the scan. A bleeding ulcer is serious by itself of course. He has been so unwell for so long, he has severe migraines, pretty bad depression, and of course this is making all that worse. Thank God I made him go to the doctor about his tummy troubles, which have also been going on for some time. Seems like a ticking time bomb.

Timetoask Fri 06-Dec-13 13:24:57

OP, that sounds extremely tough.
Could you apply for some months of sabbatical from work until things get better? Specially your DH's health?

Could you parents move near you? Get help near you? So that you can keep an eye but be able to continue looking after your family?

Golddigger Fri 06-Dec-13 13:25:27

You need all the help you can muster. Whether that is neighbours, or a second cousin twice removed.

GoodKingWencesLACK Fri 06-Dec-13 13:27:44

Your Mum and Dad at the least should get in touch with the local council's adult services for an asssessment of their needs by a social worker; even if it's just carers in to prepare meals a couple of times a day or do their shopping. It's means tested, so they may have to make some sort of contribution.

There is help out there for your parents; if they are happy to access it, and I know that some people just aren't as it is quite intrusive allowing carers into your home at first.

3littlefrogs Fri 06-Dec-13 13:27:55

Have you asked about carer's leave?

Does your work have a HR dept? Are you in a union?

Maybe CAB could advise?

My friend was in this exact situation - she was in the civil service and they did have a carer's leave scheme.

Floralnomad Fri 06-Dec-13 13:28:31

Speak to your GP and see if you can get signed off with stress for a few weeks so that you can get your head around what to do .

gaelicsheep Fri 06-Dec-13 13:28:36

There is no support organised yet for my mum and dad. We need to get this latest set of results really (due next week) but she really is ill - it's dreadful to hear her getting worse and worse whenever I speak to her. I need to be able to get up to see them, but I'm frightened to leave DH with the children and I can't take the kids with me the way things are for mum and dad at the moment. My Dad is also fiercely independent which doesn't help, and will probably run himself into the ground before accepting any help.

Reducing hours is not an option - no - we need every penny, especially at the moment when we're looking at extra long journeys etc, plus I don't think work would take it kindly at all. Our nursery is probably about £12 per half session as well, but that certainly mounts up! That is my next port of call, to see about putting DD in for more days. We'll have to see how DH gets on. I have managed to get agreement from work that I can leave at 4 if DH needs me and make up my hours working from home, but that gets so tiring by the time I've sorted out the kids and tea and DD has finally gone to sleep. I don't get down to working until at least 9pm.

Artandco Fri 06-Dec-13 13:29:34

Can the nursery take youngest longer? They might give you a temp contract rather than termly of you explain the reasons ie dh in hospital. So could sign up for 2 weeks full time.

Or can you afford a nanny temporarily? 2 weeks would help wouldn't it? A nanny/ housekeeper might be happy o run errands for your parents on the mornings youngest is in nursery and would help with childrens things in house ie their food and bedrooms and clothes.

3littlefrogs Fri 06-Dec-13 13:29:58

I agree that your parents really need to contact SS and MacMillan to get advice and support. What would they do if they had no family?

HaPPy8 Fri 06-Dec-13 13:30:29

Its very difficult to make plans when you don't know what to expect, i feel very sorry for you. Some good ideas above, Im not sure i can think of any other suggestions. I hope your family is well soon.

bigbrick Fri 06-Dec-13 13:31:11

You are putting food on the table and this needs to be done. If you didn't have your job it would be a problem to all. So you keep going to work. Your dh needs to rest up it sounds and hope he'll be ok. Can you pay for someone to look after the kids at home whilst you are at work? When I was unable to look after my kids because of medical reasons we asked for help at home from someone who had worked at the creche my youngest went to some mornings.

gaelicsheep Fri 06-Dec-13 13:32:11

Oh dear, I do sound negative, but the thing is I can't afford to get signed off because I've used up the paid sick leave for the year. It's a rolling sick year and I had a bad bout of flu early last year, meaning that's my paid sick leave gone until at least February. Also I'm really afraid that would put my job at risk. It's a small private company, nothing like a carer's policy unfortunately.

Thanks for all the suggestions though. It is helpful getting other's points of view, who can look at things a bit more dispassionately.

PeterParkerSays Fri 06-Dec-13 13:32:36

Do you have any annual leave available, or is it all earmarked for school holidays?

Is there anyone you could stay with who lives near your mum and dad, so you can be up there but not in their house?

Artandco Fri 06-Dec-13 13:35:25

Can the nursery take youngest longer? They might give you a temp contract rather than termly of you explain the reasons ie dh in hospital. So could sign up for 2 weeks full time.

Or can you afford a nanny temporarily? 2 weeks would help wouldn't it? A nanny/ housekeeper might be happy o run errands for your parents on the mornings youngest is in nursery and would help with childrens things in house ie their food and bedrooms and clothes.

YoucancallmeQueenBee Fri 06-Dec-13 13:37:43

First of all sympathy, I have lived through a not dissimilar period. You will get through it but it will be tough.

First of all, it sounds as though your job is really important, as it is what keeps your whole family supported. You are going to have to make some tough calls on your priorities here, but always bear that in mind. Your job is important.

Secondly, I'm sorry your DH is in a bad way but can you encourage him to take a bit more responsibility for himself. I noticed you said that you made him go to the doctor - why are you having to do that? Can you have a chat to him about stepping up and supporting you a bit more?

Now to your parents, you need to encourage them to get support and get organised. How much income do they have? How sensible and together is your Dad? Having just gone through a diagnosis of cancer to death and out the other side of one of my parents, I would say that the support from the NHS was not great, not awful, but not great either. Do a bit of research on local caring agencies, you probably won't need to get in touch with them yet but it would be good to have their number in case you do need to. They are not cheap but can offer short bursts of help at an hourly rate, which may not break the bank either. Find out what charitable support & local authority support your parents may be entitled to as well. Once you have a terminal diagnosis, your Dad can get attendance allowance & he should be able to get council tax discounts too.

You will have to be a bit hard sometimes & just set your priority for that day / week & focus on that. No fairies or magic wands to wave - sorry.

SinisterSal Fri 06-Dec-13 13:39:04

I would see if any reliable local teenager wants some posket money after school a couple of afternoons a week. Would give your husband a break, you could maybe power through stuff at work til late without worrying, which might soften their cough for when you need to leave early on other days.

YoucancallmeQueenBee Fri 06-Dec-13 13:40:09

Also, not sure how many bedrooms you have in your house, but an aupair is the cheapest form of childcare. Might be something to consider.

cate16 Fri 06-Dec-13 13:42:44

What sort of childcare is the 3y old in? I run a preschool, and in cases like yours we would provide any extra hours possible - so if a another child is off sick/holiday your child would be given the space temporarily.
Cost wise we would come to an 'arrangement' depending on various situations - each case would be different.

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