About 10 years ago, in the days before my MS, I had a whole raft of self-imposed jobs.
As a new age man, one of these was doing the washing. Yes, this combated the usual bloke’s role in a heterosexual household, but to counter this, I was very macho about it. I definitely had a my-way-is-the-only-way attitude. Naughty.
In fact, I managed to keep this up until I started Lemtrada treatment 1½ years ago. Since then, I’ve never had the energy. If it ever comes back, I’ve now learned my lesson — I’ll be a real man and not do the washing! OK, OK, I’ve gone for the joke, but what I’ve finally accepted is that I have to choose carefully what I do. Fatigue is going to get me, so I choose things at which I can at least be somewhat effective.
I do internet household research (if anything needs buying; I’m currently working on a new fridge and microwave. It’s an exciting life!), keep everyone’s smartphones up to speed, deal with bureaucracy of all kinds. In the U.K., hardly anyone swaps power suppliers, although we’re all supposed to. I’m not surprised, it took me months to organize, and my advice is don’t contemplate it if you have a job!
But besides my income when I worked full-time, there were all those other chores. Grass cutter, hedge trimmer, car washer, do a bit of hoovering (well, only that bit over there, but it all counts right?), general handyman (or at least willing-to-give-it-a-go man). Oh, yes, and pool boy — that one I was actually good at!
We always had window cleaners, though I’d occasionally do the insides. It was a legacy of having worked as one for a few weeks in Halifax, Nova Scotia (exotic), and so considered myself a semi-pro!
It all adds up. We now employ gardeners, a cleaner and a pool-cleaning company, and we use proper handy people more than we ever did. It turns out my able-bodied self was actually quite valuable.
There are advantages. The Independent reported this summer that Canadian researchers found that people “who hire a cleaner or pay the kid next door to mow the lawn might feel like they’re being lazy, but our results suggest that buying time has similar benefits for happiness as having more money.”
We started with a cleaner because of the very practical suggestion of my MS nurse — every physical household chore had been dumped on my wife. This, on top of becoming my caregiver, was now more than a full-time job. Anything to reduce her load.
The end of our garden had been an eyesore from the very beginning. My wife is a bit of a gardener, and I was a hack-it-back merchant, but neither of our approaches could deal with something so bad that a bomb site would be an improvement. At least with a bomb, the earth would have gotten a good turnover! So we got garden professionals in who did a splendid job. We then retained them.
If I’d never gotten MS, chances are the garden would still be a wreck.
It’s not quite like living in “Downton Abbey,” but it’s a start.
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