My dad was taken into the hospital with sepsis and he returned home to the services of a visiting nurse, physical therapy, occupational therapy and a carer. But this only lasted for six weeks. I was then left on my own caring for him as well as holding down a full-time job.
I had to hire a professional carer for ten and a half hours every weekday – as it worked out, for the majority of the year. We eventually had to reduce these hours, as the cost was cutting too much into our day-to-day living expenses. It was also very difficult when the carer couldn't make it, as this was often at short notice and I would have to ask for holiday from work. These days off were always agreed, but they began to happen quite often.
Then I requested three day’s holiday for Dad's knee operation and it was approved. Unfortunately, there were complications after Dad's surgery, which increased his hospital stay by two days. Although I'd kept work informed via email, when I returned I was asked to a meeting with my supervisor and the department's administrator. Later that day I received an email from my supervisor saying that she had "accepted my resignation". Dumbfounded, I got in touch with the union representative and asked why she thought I would quit a £40k job? But, I was told to pack my belongings, leaving any company property on my desk, and leave the office forever at 5pm.
I was stunned, but I had no time to grieve the loss of my job because Dad was by then learning to walk on his new knee and I had to focus on him.
Subsequently my union representative asked me to provide copies of my father's medical records as confirmation that he had been in hospital. I scanned and emailed the documents to her. But then I discovered that losing my job meant my medical coverage would be cancelled. I received very little severance pay, even after nine years of service. With an employment lawyer wanting to charge me £400 just to look at the severance documents, and with so much going on at home, I decided to just sign the paperwork.
I try not to be bitter towards the people I worked for. There was laughter, tears, regret, fun times, sleepless nights, highs and lows – and I can’t say that I’d change anything. But this has been a great learning experience.
Caring involves more than just saying "I love you, take care, I’ll see you later". I now have a greater compassion for other people and for myself. This experience has also been a wake-up call for me to make plans for my own future.