Mackenzie’s mum Samm Conforti used to play rugby for Hucclecote Ladies’. Her nickname was ‘Ginger’ and she loved the sport until one bad tackle ended up with her being admitted to hospital with a suspected broken neck. Tests revealed that, amazingly, she had escaped a break.
After the birth of her third child, Samm was in incredible pain and was finally diagnosed with Hypermobility Syndromes – a condition where the joints over-extend painfully. As bad as this diagnosis was, it was probably this condition that had saved Samm, years earlier, from breaking her neck.
Her daughter Mackenzie supports her mum. She says: “I am ten years old and my mum has Hypermobility, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Syndrome. I have been looking after my mum since I was seven. I normally do the washing and do some shopping at the corner shop. I worry about my mum a lot and I look after my two little brothers Luca, four and Xavier, three years old. My mum has to always have naps and warm muscle baths all of the time to make her muscles a lot stronger. She is also on strong painkillers.”
Fibromyaligia is something that causes increased sensitivity to pain and causes muscle stiffness. This results in extreme tiredness, headaches and difficulty sleeping. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome causes fragile skin and unstable joints. It also causes stretchy skin and joint hyper mobility.
Gloucestershire Young Carers visited Mackenzie and her family and Mackenzie was referred into one of the charity’s ‘respite’ groups which meet regularly after school. There she takes a break from her caring role and can share her experience with other young carers and youth workers trained in young carer issues.