Over five years ago we made a decision that was to change our lives completely. We suggested to my then 96 year old mother that she comes to live with us. There were sound reasons behind our decision as she was not looking after herself very well and was looking very weak and wobbly. We also felt that her relationship with us was good and vice versa and we would make this work. We really had no idea what we were doing; what we were taking on or how it would affect us.
There is no doubt about it but growing older is a pain in more ways than one. Joints ache, muscles ache, sleep is erratic and generally everything is more of an effort but somehow I need to get a grip on things and deal with all these minor problems before they take over.
I must be more positive about everything and find ways of sorting things out and first it has to be weight loss. Once that is underway I am sure everything else will start to get better although it cannot become a cross to carry.
We have just had a visit from some friends of my mothers and I do find catering and dieting quite difficult. The low carb, 16:8 diet is by far the most effective but a combination of cooking for others, three meals a day, does absolutely nothing for my will power which just goes out of the window so here I am, looking at a half pound weight gain which given the situation isn’t too bad.
Sleep deprivation is a real problem though, I am woken up by pains in my back, shoulder and leg at least ten times and more most nights. I probably have one good night in every fourteen days. There are no efficient pain killers I can take so I have resorted to CBD oil which does help but not with sleep. I can certainly walk more easily and as long as I don’t overdo things can cope during my waking hours.
I am not particularly worried about anything either, having the AP in a Care Home has taken a huge amount of pressure off the LSO and myself. Yes, we do have to visit but only once a week, then we are told by her that she is living in a brothel which is just laughable. But we’ve heard it all before; it is just a similar situation to when she was in hospital with ‘Eric’ servicing the nurses who partied all night and sex taking place in the broom cupboard. The dog patrolling the corridors at night has also turned up in the Care Home but thankfully not ‘Eric’ as yet! No, she hasn’t got dementia, it’s just the AP’s rather lewd interpretations of the sounds she hears at night. She is still trying to control our lives but it won’t be happening. Thank goodness she isn’t here.
Certainly something is needed, a new body would help but unfortunately I know it is in fact just willpower I am lacking and at the moment I am having trouble finding any.
I am loving having our lives back and although I also know it is impossible to have back the past five and a half years I keep wanting to do all the things we couldn’t do then, immediately, especially enjoying meals out. This is definitely not conducive to weight loss and at the moment I haven’t gained any extra pounds but neither have I lost any and I am far too heavy.
This last week we have both been recovering from further bouts of illness with the LSO catching a really nasty and lingering cold. I cannot remember the last time he had one but it seems as if we have both relaxed and perhaps we have allowed ourselves the luxury of being unwell. We decided to have a few days away in the Lincolnshire Wolds, taking the dogs with us, partly because we needed a change of scenery but mostly because we could and it was an extremely pleasant experience. We both relaxed and enjoyed the peace and lack of pressure and have returned home in a much more positive frame of mind.
Unfortunately we did have to visit the AP which is always an effort. We sit there listening to her continual stories and moans trying to make some kind of conversation but it truly is a lost cause. She is utterly wrapped up in herself and has become extremely rude and condescending about the other residents. Even in the home she tries to control us demanding that we get things for her when all she has to do is ask a care assistant. Frustrated that she is now out of the loop she makes ridiculous statements but we just nod sagely and head for the door and freedom.
A friend of mine told me that her cousin, who had been in a similar situation to the LSO and myself, struggled with feelings of guilt when her mother died, but only because she didn’t feel guilty about the loss, just relief. I can relate to that completely and do not want to even visit the AP in the Care Home, I actually feel resentful that this manipulative and divisive woman is still able to steal some more of our time. But those are fruitless thoughts and need to be extinguished, I am not like my mother and do not wish to become anything like her; in fact I can think of nothing worse.
But I do need to be more disciplined with eating and drinking in order to lose weight so its back to the daily tracker for starters.
It’s been a while since I last wrote a post and that is partly because of the number of visitors we have had but mostly because of a really nasty chest virus that flattened me completely. It just came out of the blue and four weeks on I am still coughing like a seal but much less than before.
In fact apart from my weight everything is improving and the cloud has lifted from the LSO and myself with us both beginning to enjoy our new found freedom. Our home is returning to us bit by bit and has become a pleasure to live in again and although we still have a great deal of sorting out to do, there is no rush.
The lack of loss of weight is a bit of a pain but I have enjoyed the family and friends we have had staying as well as beginning to get back my love of cooking. We have enjoyed meals and days out and I really haven’t given too much thought to the diet. Well that will have to stop because this morning I jumped on the scales and the scream could be heard echoing in the fields around us, flocks of birds were rising from the trees and all the dogs in the area started barking. I really must recalibrate and get back a positive mindset in order to lose weight again. All easier said than done but I have cut the anaesthetic alcohol intake down and feel better for it.
Also in between everything that has been occurring I have not been lying down being dramatic but have been putting the LSO’s effort in the greenhouses to good use. Gherkins have been pickled, cucumbers turned into a tasty relish and there are enough boxes of homemade tomato passata in the freezer to get us through winter. Then of course, there are also the two varieties of plum jam in the cupboard using fruit from our farmer friend’s orchard and lurking in the background are the chillies which will be made into sweet chilli jam some time next week. Stored in the fridge are jars of pickled garlic, home grown of course as well as a luscious paste of roasted garlic in the freezer. I have just made a Baba Ganoush dip for this evening from our own aubergines and do feel a sense of real pleasure in doing all this. That feeling had been driven from our lives by the malign attitude of the AP.
Do I feel any guilt about the AP being in a Care Home? Not one bit, in fact I struggle with the fact that I am just so happy to have our freedom back and delighted that the old me is returning. We do visit her each week but quite honestly I find it an enormous effort. When we are there the AP makes up stories, moans about everything although in between wingeing has lately been telling us how good it is to see us, that’s a first! She told my cousin that she hadn’t realised she would miss us so much which stopped me in my tracks. Really? Talk about rubbing salt in the wound, it just reinforced what we had always known, that she had just used us for her own selfish ends, constantly being manipulative and divisive as well as treating us as her personal servants but not any more. She is definitely in the best place for her, as well as us and although we still have her in the background she is not casting a cloud over our lives anymore.
Well, the AP is now officially a resident in the care home. The LSO and myself are hugely relieved for a variety of reasons, not least that we have our freedom back but what I now feel has come as a real surprise. She is well looked after there and seems to be quite settled which is all good.
I thought I might feel an element of guilt because I was so pleased not to have her presence in our home and also to have our space back but instead I realised that the main emotion I was experiencing was anger at having lost more than five years of our lives in such a miserable way. I actively did not want to see the AP and found this a most disturbing feeling. We are still discovering that we can do just about what we want and it struck both the LSO and myself that because we have been so trapped for so long we had actually become institutionalised. But yesterday having discussed how I was feeling with a friend who understood our situation I woke up this morning feeling much more at peace and far less antagonistic towards the AP. That has to be a positive and I am determined that the LSO and myself will make the best of the time we now have.
I have set a deadline for a new eating regime to begin on Monday; we have a friend staying until Sunday and after that I will start to attempt to lose weight in earnest. I have come to the conclusion that because no diet is really sustainable in the long run I will mix and match, starting with the 16:8. I will still do low carb but include on non fast days, a little potato or rice, potatoes because I really miss them and rice only occasionally because it definitely improves the gut function. Not a strict Keto because I will become bored with that and give up. I need to have space to enjoy meals out and to discover my love of cooking again which after the pickiness of the AP took a real battering. A return to swimming is a must as well as walking the dogs now that the stifling temperatures have reduced.
It’s a wonderful feeling to be looking forward to the future and to finally realise that we have reached the light at the end of the tunnel and it isn’t the train hurtling towards us.
It is impossible to truly express the level of relief that the LSO and I are experiencing now the AP is finally being looked after in a care home. We have a meeting on Tuesday with the manager of the home and hopefully a future plan will be put in place. The AP is very poorly now, the weeks of refusing to eat properly and being sick have taken a massive toll on her both mentally and physically and she has become extremely weak, unwell and struggling mentally. We are just thankful she is where she is because we could not be doing what the assistants in the home are coping with, she can just about walk with the assistance of a frame, is unable to leave her room at the moment and moans continually about how poorly she has been. Am I lacking in sympathy? Perhaps a little, having witnessed the pantomime of the past eight months, her ridiculous desire to have something wrong to get attention and the pressure that has been brought to bear on the LSO and myself. I certainly knew I had reached the end of the road and that changes had to be made.
But it is still sad to see how quickly she has deteriorated although having said that, there is still a spark of spleen in there. We arranged for the chiropodist who has done her hands and feet for the past five years to continue to do so by visiting the home. She doesn’t normally do home visits but agreed to this one. The AP’s response wasn’t ‘how kind of her’ or ‘I and so pleased about it’, no it was a vinegary ‘she will be hoping to get some extra work from the visit’. I certainly don’t miss this unpleasant aspect of the AP’s personality.
But for the LSO and myself it is lovely to have our space and our lives back but after so long being trapped in our own home we are finding it a slow process adjusting to our new found freedom and the fact that we can make spontaneous decisions. We have even booked a short three day week break in October in a holiday home in the Lincolnshire Wolds that allows us to take the two dogs. This is heady stuff!
The other situation I must address is my need to lose weight, the past six weeks have been so difficult that I have done little to keep on track but after this weekend I will start in earnest. I need to reduce my carb intake again, cut down the alcohol because I am no longer in need of the anaesthetic effect and also endeavour to do some fasting. I am at least back to doing some walking with the dogs which is a plus point.
There are few words that can describe the last six weeks. We have somehow weathered the AP’s childish attitude and tantrum that put her in hospital for sixteen days. After numerous blood tests, chest and stomach X-rays and finally a CT scan of her head there was found to be nothing wrong with her other than the fact she is a hundred and one years old and suffers from arthritis. Inevitably there has to be some degradation at her great age.
The vomiting, the inability to eat and finally the ‘EXCRUCIATING’ pain in her leg have all vanished. So what was it all about? Incredibly it would appear to be a perceived lack of attention from us and all in general that created this unstoppable hysteria. Needless to say she has done herself damage both mentally and physically but she seems to be happy enough after her first week in the home, getting lots of attention and with people around her. There have also been friends and family visiting most days which has eased the pressure on the LSO and myself. These are all plus points because the AP will be staying there, she is just too frail for us to care for her now and we need our time and space back.
We are now just starting to come down from what has been five and a half years of misery, of being utterly trapped with no personal space and no privacy. But the most interesting outcome of this whole sad business has been the knee jerk reaction from various ‘friends’. The minute the email went out saying that the AP is now in a care home having spent a couple of weeks in hospital, we had several responses from people wanting to rush over and inevitably expecting us to entertain them in our Irish B&B, they stay, we pay. Where were they all when we really needed help? When the LSO was seriously ill two years ago, did anyone offer to come and get the AP, take her with them for a short holiday to give us a rest and the LSO an opportunity to recuperate? No, of course not. They were all happy to use us as a staging post, an overnighter with full board included and apart from my cousin and his wife in Scotland there were no offers of any real help from anyone else. Now she is in a home and we don’t need help they are wanting to rush here having made little effort for years and all because she might be about to depart this mortal coil. What a sad state of affairs, at her age it could happen at any time.
Fortunately those who have made an effort over the years have given a more measured and thoughtful response. Some have commented on the need for us to find tranquility and others have emphasised the importance of making the most of our freedom and enjoying life together. There has also been the understanding that we have done so much above and beyond what was required and they are thankful we were prepared to do it. Actually sacrifice is more a word I would use since the LSO and myself have lost a large slab of years at a time when we couldn’t afford to lose them.
I probably sound to anyone reading this to be bitter and twisted but at the moment I am tired and emotional, still experiencing anxiety attacks and in need of a real rest and a break. Fortunately time is a great healer.
What an emotional and physical rollercoaster ride the LSO and I have had for the past month. The AP’s stay in hospital has continued despite the continual discharge notices being sent to the social services but we have almost reached a final solution. It has been a laborious and painful process with the minimum of assistance from those who are supposed to be in a position to help and constantly maintain they are but I can assure anyone reading this, that it is definitely not the case.
The constant vomiting and apparent lack of desire to eat have left the AP thin to the point of emaciation and weak. She was wobbly before but now is much, much worse. The hospital, occupational therapists and social services wanted to return her to us but since she is now unable to get up or down the stairs she would be isolated in her room with little stimulus and few conversations which had been a small part of the problem before she was admitted.
We have learnt so much in the last few weeks and in particular that the current system does not want to hear from us as the carers and will not do anything to help our situation. They suggested social service carers coming in the morning for an hour and in the evening for an hour for two weeks to assess her situation leaving the other twenty-two hours every day for us to deal with and then we would need to bring in a private care company. The AP is now unable to even shower on her own and has had several falls before going into hospital and we are no longer young or fit enough to cope with this. Anyone planning on taking an ageing parent into their home to care for them, don’t do it. After five and a half lost years we are definitely tired and emotional but we had naively thought there was help out there but if, like the AP who resolutely refused outside help or going into respite care you are really stuck between a rock and a hard place. There really is no proper constructive help out there and as carers in our own home we have no rights. It’s a shocking revelation and it is so very, very wrong.
After much stress and a seventy-three mile trip to the hospital every day I realised I had really had enough but nothing about our situation is simple. We knew that the best solution was for her to go into private respite care for a month at least and then we would see how she was and play it by ear but the AP has to agree to do this otherwise we would have to have her back. We have no support at all even though it is patently obvious that she cannot do anything much for herself at all.
Well, surprisingly, after a care meeting at the hospital she has agreed to it and on Monday will be taken straight to the care home in hospital transport. This is a truly expensive option but she really does need proper care and supervision and we need our lives back.
Hopefully it will be the final solution and she will enjoy the care and attention and we are only six miles away.