Everyone thinks that their home is their castle, but when you have care coming in that's just blown out the water.

In the first seven weeks after Mags came home, she had 35 different carers and that was on top of district nurses coming in.  It was too much and in the end I had to step in to get it sorted.  You have to know that you can say no to the care agencies when they're not giving you a good service.  Things improved after that but even so people come and go through our house like it's a railway station.  You become quite blasé about people just letting themselves into your house; we can be sitting with friends in the living room and hear a noise and just think, 'ah, the carers are here'.  Our friends are still shocked when virtual strangers turn up and let themselves in, though, you can see it in their eyes.

Gerry and Mags in the car

I used to be quite particular about my home, and certainly if we had people coming round then I'd make sure it was clean and tidy.  I guess I was quite house proud.  But when you've got so many people just coming in, it's impossible to keep it spotless.  It would have been a problem before, but now I'm not bothered if the place isn't hoovered - I take the approach that this is the way things are and if people don't like it then that's their problem not mine.  It's only a small thing when you analyse it and not worth worrying about.

You can say no to the care agencies

Now we've got the care company sorted, we've ended up with two carers that we really like coming in the majority of the time.  It makes it so much easier when they let themselves in as we know them that bit better.  Thinking about it, I don't bat an eyelid when they come in first thing in the morning, and they just say hello when they arrive and get on with their job.  For someone that always had to be in control at home, that's a big change.

The NHS staff at the hospital were great.  But they' ve got no experience of spinal injury outside the hospital, you know, with dealing with life.  It would have been great if someone had just taken me aside and told me, 'when you and your wife are back home, you are going to have to adjust to strangers just coming into your house.'  No one says that to you, probably no one thinks about you and your reaction because they are so busy preparing the patients for what they need to know.  It took me by surprise, I wasn't ready for the impact it had.  In the end, I was able to swim through it but forewarning would have helped and saved me that awkward period of adjustment.

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