Carmel’s friends call her “the pink lady”. Her life is full of colour. Her hair is shades of purple. And her home is filled with bright tinges. From her pink curtains to her on-display collection of treasured barbie dolls, on the surface, Carmel appears to have a full, vibrant life.
But in Carmel’s case, appearances are deceiving. And while her smile lights up her face, years of pain and suffering begin to show as she shares her story.
Two years ago Carmel’s sight and hearing began to deteriorate. “It was frightening,” says Carmel. “My health took a real dive. I couldn’t hear anything, I couldn’t see anything.”
Carmel’s brightly decorated home reflects her colourful personality and the joy she now feels, having overcome many obstacles, thanks to the support of Wesley Mission.
Day-to-day tasks suddenly became overwhelming. “When I went out, I couldn’t see a bus or a car. I couldn’t even ring a taxi because I couldn’t see the numbers on my phone. It was really daunting,” Carmel explains.
And Carmel quickly became isolated. “When in a social situation, it was embarrassing. I couldn’t hear what anyone was saying. I would go for coffee with friends or family and it was just terrible because I couldn’t join in the conversation. So I avoided it.”
It wasn’t until a week-long hospital stay that Carmel was diagnosed with ‘musical ear syndrome’, a condition that causes auditory hallucinations, thought to result from a problem in the brain’s wiring.
At the same time Carmel’s health deteriorated, she almost became homeless. Living with her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, her beloved family was suddenly transferred overseas for work. And because of her declining health, Carmel couldn’t go with them.
As her health worsened and on the brink of losing her home, Carmel reached out for help at her local community centre. “I explained my position that I was about to be homeless because I just couldn’t function.”
Carmel’s can now visually enjoy her collection of treasured barbie dolls after having multiple cataract surgeries.
They connected her with Wesley Mission. Carmel couldn’t believe how quickly everything fell into place. The next day Wesley Mission met with Carmel and started putting plans in motion.
Carmel’s Wesley Mission caseworker, Caroline has been a crucial member in her support network during this season.
Carmel (left) and Liesa, Wesley Community Housing’s Community Engagement Officer harvest homegrown vegetables together
Thanks to Liesa and the team at Wesley Community Housing, Carmel now has a place to call home.
Moving in mid-2019, Carmel is now surrounded by the comforts of her own home and decorated to her own tastes. Carmel’s colourful home matches her bright face, which lights up with a beaming smile. For the first time, Carmel’s life has balance. The strains of her life have come together in full symphony.
Shortly after moving into her new home, Caroline supported Carmel with her first surgery to receive a cochlear implant to improve her ‘musical ear’ condition.
Following her cochlear implant came Carmel’s first cataract surgery. And just before Christmas 2019, Carmel received her second cataract surgery. Since her health began to deteriorate, Carmel’s had six surgeries in total.
Wesley Community Housing Engagement Officer (right) has provided Carmel with the support she needed to navigate through her health concerns.
Carmel says she’s thankful for her support system, including Caroline who has been there along every step of her journey.
Along with her new home, Carmel now has a community she can lean on, including her neighbour upstairs she now calls her friend.
Pottering in her community’s garden has become a new hobby Carmel can enjoy since having her cataract surgeries. Thanks to a partnership between Wesley Community Housing and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Carmel has participated in gardening days organised by Liesa.
Carmel has developed a bit of a green thumb as pot plants now overflow her balcony. She also relishes the easy access to fresh herbs and vegetables from the community garden.
Carmel gushes with thanks for Wesley Mission. Her overflowing thankfulness to Liesa, Caroline and all those who have supported her along her journey, speaks volumes to her true generous nature.