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Prisoner Cell Block Home
By Rita Pal


(Page 2 of 3)  

While I had some freedom to go to school, my mother had none. My survival was to pretend that things were different and I would frequently make stories up about the adventures of my father. My mother survived due to the intrigue and entertainment provided by new series such as Dynasty and Dallas that were aired on English Television.  The rest of my family and siblings had decided to ignore our predicament and visits became shorter. Their potential in-laws would come to visit and state “they are so poor, we can’t possibly be related to that sort of family”. Some would look disapprovingly at my father and simply shake their heads.  I was to learn many things about human behaviour like people's wicked stares at my father’s drooped face or avoidance of my family because they never knew how to deal with the problems we faced. It still happens today and we are over protective of my father. We have learned to read the signs and to stay away from anything that may harm my father. This is why we are known to everyone as “social isolates”.

Many people in the United Kingdom are left with no support from the state or organisations, and it is very expensive to hire private carers. They are thus left to fend for themselves and to survive the rough terrain of being a prisoner in their own homes.

We have been through the frustration of loneliness, desolation and discrimination yet through the dark times there has always been a new day with a new world that can be created for yourself.  As a child I read Gone with the Wind and Scarlet’s words spoken in the movie by Vivien Leigh indeed rang true.  “Tomorrow was indeed another day“ and if it was not, the day after definitely would be.

My mother and I have learned that we are the only ones to support each other because there is no one who would understand. Our perseverance has been rewarded; in 1994 my father improved and was able to care for himself despite the doctors stating he would die at the age of 60. He is now 70 years old and continues to defy the medical predictions day by day. We have the USA and their developments in brain injury rehabilitation to thank for providing us with this hope through our endless researches through cyberspace. My father lives a good life now, our tasks are easier and the years of darkness have indeed developed into a success that to us is more valuable than all the millions in the world.  

I struggled through medical school, combining it with the care of my parents. There would be no one who would comprehend the difficulties involved. Throughout medical school, I rebelled against the ignorance of patients' and carers rights. My perception of life and medicine changed forever. I know that behind every patient is a long-suffering carer who is seen and not heard. Throughout the 19 years we have cared for my father we have always found the following to be helpful:

  • Always to play music in the house to improve mood and positivity.
  • To plan the days so that the main tasks can be completed as soon as possible.   We usually make lists and ensure the tasks of the day are done and ticked off. 
  • To ensure that each person who is a carer is able to have at least half a day’s break per week to pursue his or her own interests. While I stay at home to take care of my father, my mother goes out and vice versa.
  • Friendships can be developed on the Internet. We found www.icq.com to be invaluable in forming friendships all over the world. This improved our social isolation and perspective. The Internet in general has revolutionised many carers’ lives and it cannot be stressed enough – every person should have a computer.
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