As part of Carers Week, we spoke to Martin Baum and his wife, Lizzy to find out about their relationship and whether they feel caring plays a part in the dynamic. In this blog, Martin discusses the importance of raising awareness of caring and the contributions that carers make to the MS community.
For as long as I have been writing about my relationship with MS, Lizzy - my wife/carer - has featured in many of my blogs. Wife and carer, the clue is in the title because after 30 years that is how we roll in our own domesticity. Three decades on there is no obstacle we cannot overcome, no discriminative mindset we cannot counter, no prejudicial attitude we cannot rise above.
Although I have never been one to hide our light under a bushel Lizzy - being less of a braggart - has left me to tell the tale of our dynamic, an unsung hero preferring to stay in the shadows. So when I told her of an offer by the MS Trust for us to record a podcast for MS Carers Week, the last thing I anticipated was for Lizzy to accept the opportunity to tell her own story the way she saw it, without me writing about it in her stead.
For the past 30 years she, too, has lived with the ugly and unforgiving side of the illness.
I have only ever known Lizzy to stoically get on with caring for me. Never complaining about the challenges of living with MS, although I am the MSer in the family. Yet, in truth, I am not. For the past 30 years she, too, has lived with the ugly and unforgiving side of the illness. Of course, it was not as if I didn’t know but she has never been one to talk about our MS lifestyle to anyone who did not need to know. Then came the podcast.
There were questions to me, to her, for us both to answer. Nothing was off limits in this open conversation. Although we were both in the room when the recording happened, shyness was not about to intervene to save my blushes from any contradiction to my own carer narrative. Lizzy was open to answering whatever was put to her with complete honesty.
After all the years of caring for me, finally someone was asking her what it was like to be a carer, as told from her own perspective and not from mine. I sensed this was a cathartic moment and I asked her why she had never done anything like this before. She paused, smiling, took me by the hand and kissed me on the cheek. “Martin,” she whispered tenderly, “I’ve never been asked.”