During covid my whole life changed. I work for the NHS on a critical care unit and am a single parent to a little boy. My dad and mum usually help out with adhoc care. My brother Mark has learning disabilities, and in December 2019 he had to move in with my dad as an emergency placement as he was abused by carers in his supported housing. My dad and Mark were shielding. My mum was also shielding with my step-dad. My dad and mum usually help out with adhoc care for my son, so all my support systems were suddenly removed. I had to work (whilst my son went to keyworker school or the childminder), then look after my son and provide food and other deliveries for both of my parents and my brother. I couldn’t look after my brother, because of the risk of passing covid to him from work, and I felt really guilty about this. My 72 year-old dad had all the strain with no carers or respite.
In May 2020, I was positive for covid. Since then – 26 months now – I have had Long Covid. I have trouble with fatigue, brain fog, high heart rate, shortness of breath, dizziness, gastro issues and was unable to return to work until February 2022. I am now on a phased return, working from home and gradually building up my hours. I am now classed as disabled and have my own blue badge. I feel really guilty to have given my parents another child with a disability (all be it a very different kettle of fish) but I find myself trying to downplay my disability because of course it isn’t anything like as bad as my brothers. No-one could see how ill I was or help me either as they were still shielding.
Throughout all of this, I still had to battle with social services to get care for my brother. It took a year to get my brother the care he needed, but he now lives in an annexe attached to my house and we have the loveliest relationship.
All names have been changed.