Family’s double health battle

Andrea Kelly with her daughters, Shannen (left), who suffers from autism and Hannah, who is a young carer
Andrea Kelly with her daughters, Shannen (left), who suffers from autism and Hannah, who is a young carer

A DISABLED mum who requires round-the-clock care has told how she balances dealing with her own condition with looking after her autistic daughter.

Andrea Kelly is both a carer and also receives care herself.

The brave 47-year-old has suffered from arthritis and fibromyalgia, which affects the muscles and joints, since childbirth and around 20 years ago it took its toll on her body.

She has been left with walking difficulties, and some days finds she gets out of breath just moving from room to room.

Her husband, David, 50, a worker at NSK, in Peterlee, cares for her and the pair often have sleepless nights, with David having to get up several times to massage Andrea’s hands and feet to combat circulation problems.

But Andrea juggles her own health problems with caring for her 17-year-old autistic daughter Shannen, who also suffers from depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and social communication disorder, which affects her ability to interact with people.

Andrea said: “I had broken bones from when I had my children and I also have arthritis in my spine, as well as fibromyalgia. The pain is terrible.

“I have hardly been out lately. My condition’s going to get worse, not better and it’s only medication that can help. “It’s going to be like this every day. sometimes I don’t want to be here.

“But you just think ‘don’t be stupid, get on with it’.”

Andrea said Shannen’s autism, which was diagnosed when she was 10, can lead to the youngster having mood swings.

She is a student at Sunderland’s Education and Services for People with Autism (ESPA) College and enjoys playing with her pet guinea pig and her guitar, which help her to relax and bring her condition under control.

Andrea, who receives support from Easington District Carers, based in Lee House, Peterlee, said: “A lot of people don’t understand autism.

“Shannen can have good days and bad days. We are all pretty down, when you are caring for someone it affects the whole family, and it’s not just me being poorly.”

Andrea, who lives in Brougham Court, Peterlee, and whose eldest daughter, Hannah, 20, is a young carer, is helping to organise a garden party to raise money for the carers’ group, alongside other members, Sue Silver, Pat Hassin and Phyllis Liddle.

Sue, of Easington Colliery, also suffers from fybromyalgia and is cared for by husband Kingsley, and Pat is her mum.

Phyllis, also of Easington Colliery, cares for her husband Albert, an amputee who lost a leg as a result of a bone disease.

Speaking during National Carers’ Week, Andrea said: “Easington District Carers are absolutely amazing.  “They are there for you if you need them and you can ring them up and they will come and talk to you.”

The garden party will take place tomorrow at Pat’s home, 13 Millom Court, in the Oakerside area of Peterlee, between 1.30pm and 4pm.

Highlights include a performance by The Pantastic Steel Band, face-painting, raffles, competitions, games and various stalls.

For more information on Easington District Carers call (0191) 5869134 and fellow fybromalgia sufferers can call Andrea on 07837 802353.