A DEVOTED pensioner who became her husband’s 24-hour carer after a stroke left him with a life-changing brain injury has been shortlisted for a national award.
Janet Malcolm, from Penicuik, will be recognised at an annual awards ceremony organised by the brain injury charity Headway as one of just three people from across the UK in the running for the title of Carer of the Year.
When Janet’s husband Andy suffered a stroke in 2014, the former fireman was left with many long-term health problems. He suffers from aphasia - a condition that affects the brain and leads to problems using language correctly. His right side is also paralysed and he struggles with post stroke apathy – often leading to extremely low moods.
He also acquired epilepsy and experiences tonic clonic seizures which frighten him and make him anxious to go out of the house alone.
Janet has spent hours re-teaching her husband of 49 years how to use new adapted kitchen utensils and he is now able to make himself drinks and a choice of simple meals. This gives him back the self worth involved in being independent that we all take for granted.
One of Andy’s biggest struggles is his speech and communication. Janet is often alone at home with him every day. With the support of her local group Edinburgh Headway, she has been able to adapt to her new lifestyle with positivity and determination, she says.
Janet said: “There are still bits of my husband left from before the stroke and I just want to pull a few more bits back. We still have a life, we still love each other. It’s just a different life.
“I know it sounds obvious, but I just get on with it. I want to provide Andy with the best life possible and help him get as much of his independence back. It’s nice and very kind to be nominated. Edinburgh Headway has been so supportive. But I don’t do it for recognition or anything like that – I do it because I simply love my husband.”
The Headway Annual Awards celebrate the efforts of survivors of brain injury and their carers and this year are being held in London on 16 December.
Janet was nominated by Leigh Thornton, Rehabilitation Co-ordinator at Edinburgh Headway, who said: “Janet dedicates all of her time to making sure her husband is comfortable, spending little to no time on her own or doing things that she wants to do.”
“Janet puts him before herself 100% of the time. Even being on call in the early hours of the morning when insomnia strikes. Janet’s phone number is the only one her husband recognises on his phone, calling her from his bed to signal that she should come through. “Janet’s life changed suddenly and drastically when her husband had his stroke, but she tackles everyday with positivity, endless encouragement and the patience of a saint.”