My husband was diagnosed in 2000 with multiple system atrophy and after searching the internet I found the Sarah Matheson Trust (as it was then called), of which we became members. A year later I read in the membership magazine about a telephone contact scheme that the Trust, was hoping to start up. I contacted the Trust and they put me in touch with a lady in Croydon, Surrey. We live in Nottinghamshire but, of course, distance was no object to a telephone scheme so that was ideal for me.
The lady telephoned me in August 2001 and introduced herself as Brenda. We talked for a while and found that we had a lot in common. Brenda is a carer for her husband Michael and I am a carer for Peter and also at that time for my mother. We both have daughters, both work part-time and are of a similar age. At that initial call we seemed to jell and arranged to telephone each other in turn every Sunday, which I am pleased to say we still do. We have supported each other through happy times such as our daughters’ weddings and the births of our grandchildren, and the not so happy times of loss of close family and hospital stays, etc.
As each Sunday draws closer I find myself looking forward to speaking to Brenda as we chat for about an hour, and some weeks it can be that we talk about everyday things and nothing to do with our caring role at all. Other times we can ask each other about a certain problem we might have come across and discuss how to make things easier. Another time we might just have a good old moan. There is no set pattern and I feel that we are just friends who can talk about anything and never be judged by each other.
Three years ago Peter and I went on holiday to Kent and Brenda and Michael met up with us for the day at Leeds Castle. We had a lovely day, we all got on well and it really was good to put a face to a name.
As a carer I feel that support is very important and especially from someone who knows what you are going through and I really do value Brenda’s support and friendship and hope that it will continue for many years to come. I would advise anyone who has the opportunity to join such a scheme to do so as I have found it invaluable and have also made a very close friend.