Imagine this... Take a foot-shaped balloon and fill it full of water. Now overfill it, until it becomes deformed. Colour it angry red with purple and dark red blotches, and give the surface a scaly appearance.
Not a pleasant image? That was the reality of the appearance of my foot last week. It was worse than this. I had a quite severe case of cellulitis. It started with a fever and within 12 hours, I was unable to walk too. Yesterday was the first day that I was able to walk better than a pathetic hobble; and I'm quite a lot better today. But never mind me...
Marie's anxiety increases when I'm unwell. I'm sure that she hopes that (a) it's nothing serious and (b) I'll get better soon; but it comes out as "Will you have to go to hospital?" (she would have to stay with someone else while I was there), and "How are the kids going to get to/from school/nursery?" (someone else will have to take them). On this occasion normal treatment did not require a visit to the hospital and Joseph has been on a half-term break from school. Marie has been looking after my needs and has been (as usual) very caring.
When I can't stay with Marie for any time more than a day, she goes to her parents' home. We didn't need that this time, but Marie did have them take the children to stay with them for a week. It was either stay with their grandparents or stay imprisoned in our home. I often work at home, but as luck would have it, some of my staff were on holiday and I was supposed to be working away from home in a different town. Marie is able to work, but only in the premises beside our home. I had to ask some of my staff to work in different premises and change their hours so that Marie could work here and free them up for another site. I am extremely fortunate to have helpful, flexible staff (who know my situation) and between us all, everything in the business is running smoothly.
Collette has been ferrying urgent supplies into our home as required and a large order for groceries and other mundane domestic supplies was made online to be delivered tomorrow. The parents of one of Joseph's school friends has agreed to bring Joseph home from school this week and the lady running the nursery is to look after Orla when required and collect and deliver her. My very understanding doctor has offered to make a house call because I can't leave home while Marie is at work. He's not obliged to do this - isn't he fantastic? And the pharmacy delivers my medication.
So you see that we have a well-oiled machine here - all geared to Marie's agoraphobia.
But it would take so little to make it all grind to a halt.
What would happen if I became more seriously ill and Marie got too stressed to stay here? Or if I was hospitalised? Where would Joseph stay to avoid missing school? If Marie's parents couldn't look after her, who would? Would one of her sisters take time off work to care for her? Who would look after me? Who would care for the carer? I'm sure that there are lots of carers who would have trouble answering the same question.
It's not easy, looking after an agoraphobic.