Rachel Marshall has her own medical problems as a result of caring full-time for her children, Ava and Harry, who both have autism.
Rachel Marshall has her own medical problems as a result of caring full-time for her children, Ava and Harry, who both have autism. Sharyn O'Neill

Health issues exhausting for Rachel

SHE'S tired and her body is wearing out, despite the fact she's 39 years old and her eldest child is only eight.

But her story of her medical woes, lack of sleep and financial struggles are not news to others in her situation.

Rachel Marshall, a full-time carer to her two children, gets two to five hours sleep a night.

She has spinal stenosis, has had six clots in her lungs, had a kidney infection that got so bad she became delusional, and currently needs a knee replacement.

Her eight-year-old son Harry was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old, and her five-year-old daughter Ava was diagnosed only a few months later.

"I've got spinal stenosis from lifting her (her daughter Ava)," Rachel said.

She said Ava used to have 200 seizures a day, eight different types of seizures, which were finally controlled with medication.

At times, Ava had to wear a helmet, even when she went to play at the park.

Rachel said most of the time she would hold Ava while she was having a seizure.

"When she was seven months old she had her first major seizure," she said.

"She stopped breathing.

"Three days later she had another major seizure."

Rachel said she drove straight from Boyne Island to Rockhampton to take Ava to a paediatrician.

She said Ava now has episodes at times where she reverts back to being like a baby and only crawling.

"You take every day as it comes."

She said on a daily basis, she had lots to do.

"The children can't do much for themselves."

She said once she has them ready for school and takes them to school, she still doesn't get to stop.

"I'm on call."

She explained that one of them could have a breakdown at school, have issues with being separated from her and Ava wasn't fully toilet trained yet.

"We can't go shopping without having screaming fits."

When asked what she does when she gets sick, Rachel said that she just kept going.

"Last year I was in bed for six weeks," she said.

"A friend who also has disabled children took my kids to school."

Two Christmases ago, she had such a severe kidney infection, she became delusional and should have been in hospital.

Why didn't she go to hospital?

She said she called an ambulance years ago to take her to hospital, only to find they wouldn't take her children in the ambulance and wanted to leave them with the neighbours - who were strangers.

The constant worrying about the health of her children could be seen as a contributing factor to Rachel's health woes.

Rachel said Ava has had her adenoids and tonsils removed and had been in and out of hospital for epilepsy.

Harry has had lots of grommets and had his adenoids removed three times.

And this doesn't include speech therapy and other therapy treatments the children have needed because of their autism.



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