With our Carer of the Year Award scheme under way ANDREW HIRST tells the story of Christine
CHRISTINE has had a tough time in recent years.
Her youngest son, 17-year-old Ben, was born in 1991 with complex health problems.
He had skin problems which needed cosmetic surgery and at just 10 days old he needed surgery to close up the holes in his head.
When he was six months old Ben’s grandma noticed that he was not using his left side. His development was late and after numerous visits to the doctors, Christine insisted on further investigations.
When he was 18 months old Ben had a CT scan under anaesthetic, which confirmed hyperplasia.
After an assessment when he was two Ben was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He continued to receive medical treatment, including surgery on his eyes, ears and major surgery on his skull.
Christine has another son, 25-year-old David.
In 1995 her husband began to feel unwell, suffering rapid weight loss and severe pains. After thorough investigations he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and had to stop working.
Christine became a full-time carer for her husband and son.
In 2004 Christine started to suffer pains in her shoulders and extreme tiredness. She was later diagnosed with fibro- myalgia, which causes widespread and chronic pain.
In 2006 she enrolled on the Kirklees Council Action for Carers and Employment programme, where she received support with training.
Christine successfully completed a Helping In School course and completed a voluntary placement in a school. She also goes to Carers Gateway coffee mornings and social and information events.
Last October Christine became even more unwell. After extensive investigations she was admitted to St James’s Hospital in Leeds for major surgery, followed by more treatment.
Christine, her husband and Ben all care for one another now.
Christine has benefited from a carers assessment and she now receives practical help in the home to ease her caring responsibilities.
Ben has achieved so much considering the amount of time he has spent in and out of hospital.
He has just passed his driving theory test, is taking his GCSEs and has been accepted as a student at Huddersfield New College.
Christine, Ben and her mum have a trip planned to Lourdes in June.
For advice and support contact Kirklees Council Carers Gateway on 01484 226050 or email email@example.com
Alternatively, Visit the website at www.kirklees.gov.uk/carers