Fourteen years ago my mum was dealt the toughest of blows. She was diagnosed with primary-progressive multiple sclerosis — a disease that has, in a sense, robbed her of her life.
During this time I’ve watched my strong, vibrant, vivacious mother gradually lose her independence, and it still breaks my heart today.
Her condition has deteriorated slowly over time, but in the last 12 months we’ve seen a rapid change. So much so that earlier this year Mum had to say goodbye to our family home of nearly 20 years and move to a high-care facility in Brisbane’s east.
Asher House, where Mum now calls home, is run by Wesley Mission and is home to 12 young people living with high-care needs. The home offers them permanent, safe, and independent living with 24-hour care.
Here, Mum is well cared for and made to feel at home, and the house is beautiful — really, really beautiful. We couldn't ask for a better place for mum to live. But it still doesn't change the fact that five out of seven days, most weeks, she's alone — without me, without my dad, and without the comfort and security of our family home. Confined to a motorised chair, unable to do anything for herself. And this is something I think I'm still coming to terms with.
The thought of her being alone, although well cared for, sends my anxiety through the roof. I worry about her a lot, but mostly, I worry about her mental health. Mental health is such a huge factor for people suffering from multiple sclerosis, with many people dealing with chronic depression and anxiety on top of their illness. It's soul-destroying. And when I hear Mum talk about being virtually trapped in her own body I can't help but worry.