Through the eyes of a carer for someone with a mental illness


A physically unwell Chris

For the past 15/16 days Chris has been being sick and unable to keep food down, he got to the point last Friday that he couldn’t even keep liquid down so was taken over from the psychiatric ward to a general ward where he was given anti sickness injections, blood tests, ECG’s and so on. They booked him in for an endoscopy and he was sent back to the psychiatric ward. He continued being sick over the next week, this slowly started to cause him to become very faint and on the verge of passing out quite often, they monitored him but it was a case of wait for the endoscopy.

On Thursday night I went to visit him and was allowed to take him out for a walk to the shop, but on our return he told me he felt faint and everything was spinning, I managed to get him to a rock, it was pouring with rain, everywhere was wet but he sat down. Once he felt somewhat ok again we continued to make our way back. Once again he was forced three or four more times to sit down in the wet to stop himself passing out. I was extremely concerned and notified the ward when we got back. They didn’t seem concerned and once visiting had finished I returned home.

I had just got through the front door when Chris text to say he was doubled over in agony. He couldn’t move, so I told him to press his call button and tell them asap because there was obviously something going wrong. Chris compared the pain to that he felt when he had a pneumothorax, I was worried sick about him, the next few hours were awful, the psych ward didn’t seem concerned at all about his well being, the doctor put him on a tablet, his pain got worse, they called the doctor back but meanwhile he couldn’t move, he needed the toilet and no one helped him, he had to crawl there. I had phoned them to say of my concern but they made me feel like a complete pain in the backside, they finally did bloods around midnight and sent him for an x-ray, the psych nurse said he would let him know as soon as the doctor got back to him about it but at 2am and still nothing I advised Chris to go and find out himself. He went to find out to be told by staff they had ‘forgotten to tell him’ the doctor had put it down to constipation but would only write up meds in the morning, he said he couldn’t cope with the pain and needed painkillers, they would only give him two paracetamol (yes for pain as bad as pneumothorax pain) he then threw up blood and after hours of complete agony, the doctor finally made the decision he needed to go to a general ward, but because they were short staffed he had to wait for an ambulance . Nine hours after the pain started he was finally on the Acute Medical Unit where he was given IV Fluids, something for his stomach, IV painkillers, numerous drugs, they told him they had bloods on standby in case he needed a transfusion and that he would be having an Endoscopy that afternoon (Friday).

I had spent the whole night on the phone to him, texting, ringing, making sure he was ok, I was worried sick and couldn’t understand why they weren’t getting him help, this wasn’t just a bit of tummy ache, this was Chris unable to move, doubled up in agony. I was close to ringing him an ambulance and sending that to him, If they hadn’t of acted after he threw up blood and got him somewhere where they would help him and not just leave him in his clothes in a ball on his bed where they ‘forgot’ to tell him what was going on, I would have done. I couldn’t sleep because I didn’t feel anyone was looking after him.

He was given the Endoscopy as they have suspected stomach ulcers now for the last 6months at least and they thought he might have a bleed somewhere between his throat and stomach, but everything came back clear. This means they are not sure why he is so unwell, which to be honest is a huge worry.

I went to see him last night, I stopped by the psych ward for his PJ’s feeling very uncomfortable about the way they had treated Chris the night before. I then found AMU where a lovely lady pointed me in the direction of Chris, I walked into his bay after the maze of corridors I didn’t recognise because it is a brand new unit and peered around the four beds, my first thought was, well where is Chris, and to my amazement I had to double take.. I didn’t recognise him. He looked so unwell, pale, exhausted, his eyes not the familiar eyes that peer back at me. I had to stop myself from getting upset, pull it together and pretend I was ok. He continued to be sick the whole time I was there, but on leaving I was happy that the nurses cared about him, would look after him and knew I would be able to go home and get some rest myself.



‘You are always with us Daddy.’

It is so important that even though Chris is in hospital, that our four children still continue the relationship they have with him when he is at home. Ok it isn’t going to be in the same way but we can adapt things so they can continue to build on their relationships with him. This I feel isn’t only just important for the girls but equally important at reminding Chris what he has to live for and what is waiting for him at home.

They speak to him most days on the telephone, letting him know bits about their day, ok Cora is too little at only 8months to hold a conversation but she cadaddy photon say ‘Dadada’ and she can listen to her Daddy’s voice. They look forward to speaking to Daddy; we often call if they are missing him or if one has hurt themselves and want Daddy. They have also been to visit him as I wrote about on my blog ‘A Trip to the ‘Family Room’ it was lovely to watch them with him, it was like nothing had changed, and children are very resilient.

However, as you can imagine they miss him greatly, four weeks is a long time for them, a lot longer than it feels for me. I was talking to my mum about ways we could help them dealing with Daddy being in hospital and what they can do to feel closer to him when they miss him. She came up with an idea, having photo of him, with a message on the back, written to each of them from him so that when they missed him they would have something to look at and remember he is always with them and always thinks about them.

As you can see from the photo I printed off a photo of him, the same for all of them, he wrote a message on the back for each of them and I laminated and cut them out. They have taken their photo with them everywhere they have been, and instead of getting really upset that they miss him, they have taken out their photo, it has provided comfort, while I provide the cuddles.

School and playgroup have been amazing about it as well, they know why my girls have the photos, and they gave them little holders to put them in that you would normally wear to show your identification so that they don’t get lost. Such a small thing, but one that has been so important in continuing their relationship with Daddy, while he is unwell.