Simulated picture of a Live-in Carer and patient

(As long as you don’t mind dealing with a lot of shit)


How to be a Carer of a person with multiple problems arising from cancer treatment.

Keep calm and have patience in abundance.

Remember that a woman can do anything.  Men probably can too when it comes to the crunch.

Have a strong stomach for icky stuff.

Do a lot of research.

Never accept anything without questioning it.

Remember your gut feeling is usually right.

Be tech savvy because programable nutrition pumping machines don’t come with instructions and are not logical.

Keep important phone numbers at hand at home and on your mobile phone.

Makes notes every day.  You’ll be amazed at questions doctors ask because they don’t have any notes passed on to them by other doctors or nursing staff especially when you’re dealing with three different hospitals.  Type notes up on your computer and run an up-to-date copy off for every major event.

Observe the patient’s reactions and changes which may be related to changes in medications or new medications.

If you’re calling the ambulance at night put all house lights on – inside and outside – because there’s no street lighting in non town/village areas (our house is 200 metres from the gravel road).

If patient has collapsed at home, keep very calm even if they look like death warmed up.

Buy twice as many PJs as you think are needed and don’t be surprised at how hard it is to buy summer ones during the summer, especially ones the right size. You can’t be choosey about the colour either.

Be lucky to have a good small ceramic mortar and pestle for turning to powder pills which have to be administered via a feeding tube.  Getting them in is another thing because they don’t really dissolve and quickly like to form a sediment.

Be good at making baby food and transitioning to moist grown up food.

Have lots of rolls of paper towels and big and thick tissues.

Don’t mind doing repetitive rather boring stuff.  

Get a pee bottle.

Be excellent at timetabling and shopping with very limited time.

Be good at filling in very lengthy forms.

If possible, have private top hospital health insurance.  Out of pocket expenses have been inconsequential.

Be lucky at getting a park at the hospital carpark (good luck with that indeed).

Try not to forget to feed yourself and keep on enjoying a wine or two or three.

Note: this is an extremely short version of my experiences over last thirteen months.  There are some details which no one really needs to know – like what really bad constipation is like when your bladder has gone to sleep after an operation (who knew that could happen and why weren’t we warned?) and why they demand half your teeth have to be pulled (well that did cost a small fortune). The good news is that the patient is close to being back to normal.

By Vivienne