As per Facebook, I am happy to share my story in regards to the challenges that I currently face with ‘that piece of water’ being such a barrier to me and my family at present.
At Christmas, following 3-4 mths of pain and reduced mobility and doctors ignoring my mums pleas, I managed to convince my mum to go through the doors of A&E (St Mary’s). After 26hrs on a trolley in the corridor, she was told she had a fractured hip and may need chemo (that’s literally how the news was broken to my mum that she had cancer….). This started our stressed experiences of ferry travel for myself & my daughter (who lives in Kent, so will use Wightlink. I live in Basingstoke so will naturally use Red Funnel). There were no ferries as fully booked and lack of sympathy to our plight of getting over to the island to be with my mum who was scared and on her own. My mum at the time was the main carer to my stepdad who has dementia, COPD and stoma in situ (from having bladder removed due to cancer) and was now on his own at home in East Cowes so we needed to get over to him too. 24hrs later we got over and being Xmas, ferry costs were expensive. We spent the next two weeks trying to sort out emergency care packages with social services for my dad and supporting my mum through the devastating news that she had cancer as well as a fractured hip. After 4 weeks of backwards and forward journeys from mainland to the IOW (costing us hundreds) and many tests, biopsy’s & scans, my mum was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer that had spread to her bones & liver. This was such a shock to us all and family rallied round to support. My brother and nieces live abroad (Gran Canaria & Mallorca) and they had the added stress of flight bookings BUT their flights were cheaper than the ferry was costing me! My mum came out of hospital after 6-8 weeks – again, needing to rely on me or my daughter to bring her home and also attend hospital appointments – all costing return ferry trips (car needed to transport my mum & stepdad). My stepdad also went into hospital for 2 weeks with suspected sepsis which prompted more travel. Some ferry travel was daily returns and sometimes 1-2 night returns – this would be determined by ferry cost as if I stayed, I would have to book a hotel as my parents only have a 1 bed bungalow. Hospital appointments, radiotherapy – which is on the mainland at Portsmouth – so whole day ferry travel for my mum btw – has meant many many ferry bookings. There is no pattern, regularity to these sailings – each day and each week can be different for us at the moment.
My mum was only home 2 weeks before needing to go back into hospital due to becoming unwell and has since been in the hospice (coming up for 6 weeks now).
Because of the piece of water being such a barrier to us supporting my parents as much as we would like, we looked at moving them back to the mainland and found them a 1 bedroom flat in Basingstoke. This would mean it would be easier to support them both without the additional costs of the ferries.
2 weeks ago we thought we was getting my mum home with a robust care package but she became ill again and now has spine compression which has now resulted in her no longer being mobile and needing 24/7 care. This has meant also treatment for the cancer is no longer possible and she is now in palliative care and limited life expectancy.
This means too that the flat in Basingstoke is no longer an option and my mum will also not return to living with my dad in their bungalow in East Cowes. This again has been such a blow for my mum and us all. My stepdad is so lonely and has 3 carers a day – 1 in the morning, 1 at tea-time and 1 at bedtime. This means he is on his own all day and then overnight. He and my mum have been together all their married life and he misses her terribly. It’s been so hard to see him sob and cry like I have this past couple of months. For my mum, she’s gone from being the main carer to her husband, a housewife, cooking, cleaning and mobile to now being non-mobile, bed ridden and needing 24/7 care and everyday not knowing how long she has left….. and not able to be with her husband. How is this fair?
As my stepdad needs support to get from the bungalow by means of a wheelchair and then the same from the car, many charities (Inc taxi services) will not support as cannot do the transfer from home to car so he relies on us as family to come over and take him to see my mum. I work full time as a nurse for the NHS. I took 2 months off but had to return at the beginning of March and currently relying on my NHS trust to support my leave requests and days off to travel over. The ferry companies offer NHS discount, but i started to realise that voucher codes worked out cheaper.
I’m on the ferry now as have many appointments today with social workers and consultants to decide the fate of my parents. Their wish of just being together may not be achievable due to cost and capacity restraints and I fear that my regular ferry trips over to support them will continue. And of course, I want to come and see my mum as much as I can and treasure the time i have left with her.
I’m happy for you to share my families story and how this has impacted on our life’s.