HUSBAND and wife Stuart and Helen McIntosh are a couple who truly know the meaning of the vow ‘in sickness and in health’.
While Helen suffers from epilepsy, her husband Stuart is wheelchair-bound following a fall at work.
The Newcastle couple are not only carers for each other but also help to take care of their two sons, who have disorders on the Autism spectrum.
Now they have both been nominated for the Sentinel’s Our Heroes Awards in the Adult Carer of the Year category.
Stuart, aged 48, of Seabridge Lane, said: “I was working as a production manager for a pottery firm about 20 years ago when I fell and severely damaged my ankle.
“Because I couldn’t stand up for long periods, I got a job as a bus driver.
“However, in the end, I had to leave my job to look after Helen and the boys.
“Now, I help to look after her and she helps to look after me.
“I know I always worry about Helen if she is out on her own in case she has an epileptic fit.
“Life as a carer can be a constant battle because you feel like so many things are against you.”
Helen, aged 49, said: “I was diagnosed as having had epilepsy since I was five years old.
“I was working in an administration role at a company when I was made redundant in 1988 after an incident at work.
“I was pregnant at the time with my first son Philip and had a fit at the top of the stairs.
“Luckily someone caught me or I would have fallen down.
“I was basically told by my company that I shouldn’t come back unless I could promise not to have any more fits at work.
“A lot of things can trigger a fit, including poor sleep and high stress.
She added: “My 24-year-old son Philip was diagnosed with having a disorder on the autism spectrum when he was 18-years-old and my 22-year-old son Mark is now going through the process.
“As a carer for both my children, it can be quite stressful in that I feel like I can never relax.
“I help to manage their every day life, including things such as sorting out their bills.
“I do worry about both of them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Luckily, we have had lots of support from a charity in Wolstanton, called Lifeworks, which supports individuals with Asperger’s syndrome and autism.
“My two boys don’t live with me but a lot of people don’t realise that you don’t have to be living with someone in order to be their carer.”