I’m so pleased to welcome Pat Abercromby to my blog today, she has written a post about writing a book from a carers point of view. Check out more about the book below along with this wonderful guest post.
When you realise you have just one life left to live, how do you make peace with the mistakes of your past?
Fran should be looking back on her life with pride. She’s risen to the top of the job ladder, having left behind a council housing estate in post-war Glasgow, to forge a colourful, fulfilling career and enjoy all the trappings of success.
But instead, Fran is consumed by regret. A shocking revelation has cast her life, and her thirty-year marriage, asunder. She finds herself the full-time carer for her husband, a man she now accepts, she has never loved. The sacrifices she has made, the personal freedoms she has lost, have left Fran crushed. Her free-spirited friend Iona is her one salvation. Their friendship has survived the storms of conflict and loss since childhood, their deep affection for one another the only constant remaining in Fran’s life, a life she no longer recognises as her own.
Her husband’s new brush with death will give Fran the chance to reflect on what she has left, the choices she has made and the two men she has loved and lost.
Can Fran find a way through the ruins of her marriage and find inner peace, to make the most of what remains of her life’s journey?
Writing a book from a carer’s point of view.
The statistics for unpaid carers looking after a family member are staggering. One in eight adults are carers, and the total number of carers of all ages currently stands at seven million people. Every day, another 6000 people take on a caring responsibility which equals over two million people each year. 58% of carers are women and 42% are men At least 1.5 million carers are looking after someone with long term mental health issues like dementia. 50,000 of carers looking after someone with mental health issues are children or young adults.
Before I became a carer myself, I was vaguely aware of these numbers but like most things in life, until you are affected by the experience yourself, it is easier not to think about it too much. My husband had a serious stroke in 2007 which left him almost blind, unable to walk and needing a wheelchair and a year later suffering from epileptic seizures which have resulted in vascular dementia. His life changed in a heartbeat, but so did mine. Almost overnight I had to give up my career to become his full-time carer. It was a while before I could accept that this was a forever change and that he was never going to get better. Through joining a stroke club and a carer’s support group I met many other carers ( most of them women) and came to realise that many shared the same frustrations, limitations and loss of identity that I was experiencing. Caring for someone, particularly someone with physical and mental health issues is an all-consuming 24/7 task. There is simply no time to be, or even remember the person you once were.
I was luckier than most because my husband was a Mason and they paid for him to go into respite care for four weeks of every year which gave me the opportunity to have a decent break. But I needed those breaks throughout the year just to catch up on sleep and relax a bit. It was only after he had to go into full-time residential nursing care two years ago, that I had the head space to consider writing Just One Life. It bothered me how many carers are unsupported and not acknowledged for the sacrifices they have had to make to look after their partner or family member.
Because I am a carer and have experienced many of the frustrations my main character Fran goes through, trying to meet the needs of someone whose core personality is reduced to that of a needy and tiresome child, I think I was able to bring some honest dialogue between them into the story. Carers often feel guilty because sometimes they completely hate the cared for person for being so utterly dependent and then torture themselves with feelings of pity and helplessness for the shocking quality of life that once healthy person now has. That is just the way it is, we can only do our best. Another thread in the story is about friendship. Carers more than anybody need friends to talk to, someone who understands their frustrations and does not judge. Preferably someone with a sense of humour!
This story, Just One Life, is dedicated to all carers and to friendship.
About Pat Abercromby
Living in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, Pat Abercromby has enjoyed a varied career – from recruitment consultant to journalist in Saudi Arabia and massage therapist – eventually setting up a training school for Seated Acupressure Massage. Today she continues to work within the field of corporate wellness with her business partner Davina Thomson with their joint company Wellbeing Direct. She also co-wrote and published Seated Acupressure Massage with Davina Thomson in 2000. In her spare time, Pat enjoys being an active member of her local creative writing group, classical music and the outdoors.
Book & Buy Links
Title: Just One Life
Author: Pat Abercromby
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: 27 April 2017
Review Format: N/A
Other Formats: eBook | Paperback
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | SpeedyHen