I’ve Been Unwell Recently

Feeling unwell isn’t fun at the best of times. When you’re responsible for somebody else’s wellbeing, it can be even worse. If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, or you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might have noticed that there hasn’t been an update for several weeks. The reason for this is that I’ve been unwell recently. I’ll spare you too many details, but effectively I had a viral infection causing large amounts of pain on one side of my face.

Kath Rella Unwell
Mwahahaha! I’m a virus! I only exist to piss you off!

So for the past week or so, I’ve been feeling rather crappy. When you’re unwell, everything seems to be extra stressful. I slept much worse than usual; a mild irony given that I was working on a post about sleeping before I was taken ill. That lack of sleep no doubt amplified the pain in my head. Of course, it also left me in a state of near-permanent fatigue. Everything became much more difficult.

Focus on Getting Better

Ordinarily, my primary focus as a carer is my mum. I have to make sure she’s well, looked after and attend to the chores she can no longer manage – which is pretty much all of them. However, there’s nothing to be gained from exacerbating my own illness. With a viral infection, all that can be prescribed are painkillers and rest. Antibiotics won’t work, so you can only treat the symptoms, not the cause. Bleh.

Kath Rella Kang and Kodos
Foolish Earthlings! Your Amoxicillin is useless against viruses!

It can seem hard to rest when you’re looking at a list of chores that need doing. The bins need sorting out for the garbage collection. There’s tidying to be done in the living room. There are meals to prepare. The toilet needs a clean. When you’re feeling 100%, then most of these can be knocked-out as though they’re second nature. However, when you’re unwell, then they become a list of tortures that must be endured.

Kath Rella Unwell
When you’re unwell, cleaning the living room can appeal as much as spending an hour on whatever the f— this thing is!

Look At What Needs to be Done

The truth is though that a lot of the chores can be set aside until you’re feeling better. Unless your living room is dangerously cluttered, it will probably survive a week or two without a full tidy. The garbage men will be back, so unless you produce huge amounts of rubbish, you can probably stand to miss a collection. And assuming that your toilet is usually cleaned, it’s not going to become a hygiene-emergency in a week! It’s okay to say “sod this” and go lie on the sofa, resting your head on a comfy pillow. You might get antsy looking at your untidy house, but feeling better about yourself is the first step in getting better. The more you push yourself, the more you’ll feel unwell and the more you’ll feel like a rugby ball in a ruck as the symptoms pile on top like the All Blacks.

Kath Rella Unwell
We’re coming to get ya! (Getty Images)

Treat Yourself

There really is no better time to treat yourself than when you’re unwell! In my case, I decided that on the worst day, I just couldn’t bring myself to cook. So I ordered from Dominos (having checked vouchercodes.co.uk first!). This got me out of cooking for a day, and I got some cheesy goodness – although personally, I find their pepperoni doughballs and cookies much better than their pizza! Of course, I cannot suggest you order a pizza, or other such takeaway every day during your illness! Never mind the damage to your overall health, there’s also the damage to your purse/wallet. It’s a little thing though that relieves a bit of stress, and makes you feel a bit better. And the better you’re feeling, the easier it’ll be to keep up with the serious caring chores that you can’t ignore for a week or two.

Kath Rella Unwell
My preferred comfort food!

Make Sure Others Know You’re Unwell

If, like me, you prefer to suffer in silence, know that this isn’t a good idea when you’re a carer. On the day I decided to go to the clinic, my mum clearly didn’t understand that I was unwell. She asked me first to grab her cakes and/or chocolate while I was out, became annoyed that I was gone longer than I had intended (the clinic was surprisingly busy) and then also moaned when I gave her ice-cream from KFC instead of the chocolate or cake she’d asked for (I dropped by on the way home, even though I didn’t feel like it). I was actually rather pissed off about this and had something of a rant on a forum I’m a member of as a consequence.

Kath Rella Unwell
How is ice-cream not better than this, anyway?

If I’m honest, though, I hadn’t really conveyed just how unwell I was to my mum. I still feel she was somewhat unreasonable to moan that she didn’t get exactly what she wanted, despite my attempt to ensure she still got something. Yet, I also realise that I hadn’t really explained to her just how much pain I was in. My trip that night involved going to the clinic and becoming utterly dejected when I was informed that it was a virus. Then I had to find a pharmacy that was open, and then I felt I had to get mum something! All the while, I’m conscious that all these expenses are adding up (although fortunately, I’ve been much better with money recently!). I was stressed, tired and had an awful time in the clinic and I should have made her aware just how ill I was.

Kath Rella Unwell
My head felt like this apple.

It’ll Make Things Easier

The following day, I told her how unwell I was feeling. At this point, she did apologise for her behaviour. What I realised was that while it’s admirable to try and carry on like normal when you’re unwell, you’re actually making things more difficult for yourself. The people you care for will have an expectation of you based on their perception of what is normal. If you try to carry on like all is normal, then their expectations won’t change, and all those things I’ve suggested putting to the side will stand out as not having being done. You have to cut yourself some slack, but you also need others to know that they need to cut you some slack too. You’re not Superman or Supergirl. You’re you and sometimes you need a little leeway and understanding yourself.