About four 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.
I struggle at times to cope with the AP and her stupidity. Actually that is an understatement because, in truth I am constantly amazed at her hare-brained and idiotic ideas based on no knowledge whatsoever. Old age has robbed her of the common sense she once possessed as well as her manners and when there is any kind of confrontation she resorts to being nasty.
I also struggle with how I now feel about my mother who is nothing like the person I thought I knew. I am beginning to really dislike this stranger in our midst. Some how I need to turn my mind off and find inner peace to cope with all this and it isn’t as if I have nothing to do, so it must be possible. Our days are busy and at times relentless especially at the moment with Christmas looming.
I was accused today of always looking for trouble because I don’t agree with someone who is one hundred years old fasting. The comment is interesting in itself because the only person in this household who looks for trouble is the AP. She couldn’t be further from the truth about me though. I definitely don’t look for trouble and have no time to even consider it, preferring a quiet and stress free life, but I felt sick inside after this comment because this is just another fine example of how used and unconsidered the LSO and myself are by this incredibly selfish and self centred old lady. There is no comeback to it and this evening she will be sweetness and light as if nothing has been said.
It is definitely true that familiarity breeds contempt and there is no doubt that the empathy I had for the AP in the early years has been completely eroded away by five years of dealing with her controlling and manipulative ways and her unpleasantness when she can’t get her own way.
I also find I have nothing to say to her and I know this is not helping the situation. I am aware that growing old isn’t easy, the LSO and myself are not young and have our own problems to handle. I did think that we could really make a difference for my mother when she first came to live with us but we had no idea at that time what we were going to have to deal with. Indeed we have helped her to live longer which is ironic given the situation now. She is remarkably fit for someone her age, her meals are small but regular and always made to ensure she has a good nutritional balance. But there is little thanks or consideration and the LSO and myself often feel we are the below stairs staff in our own home.
For ten days I have suffered from being a mucus making machine with a hacking cough courtesy of a cold virus. It was a great source of concern to me as the day of our son’s wedding was approaching at speed. I really didn’t want to be the one leaving the ceremony sounding like a seal under water or causing the guests to back off in horror at the awful sound. Fortunately I did manage to suppress the cough with the help of a variety of lozenges and a certain amount of alcohol. It turned out to be a really special day, a gloriously fun time with both our son and the bride looking stunning, they make a gorgeous couple and their obvious happiness throughout the day was a glow that affected us all. We all thoroughly enjoyed the event even having the AP with us wasn’t too bad with both families helping to guide her through the day which was a relief for the LSO and myself. Our lovely daughter and son-in-law spent time chatting to the AP who did find the noise difficult to cope with. It was the first time we had met our new daughter-in-law’s family but the small numbers and the windmill venue all helped in making us comfortable together and there was much laughter and talk both there and during the rest of the day.
On the diet front I was delighted to find on the morning of the wedding that I had finally cleared the first two stone marker but as the candid wedding photographs show, I am only half way through the total weight loss, so a while to go yet. But it didn’t spoil my day as mostly I felt slimmer and I was thrilled to actually fit into my favourite velvet trousers for the occasion with the Jaeger jacket actually fastening! Roll on May when I should be facing a summer of being a lot lighter and therefore a great deal more comfortable in my skin in every sense of the word.
We had hired a chauffeured car for the day which took all the pressure from the LSO who could enjoy a drink without worrying. The alternative would have been hotel bookings, taxis and kennelling for the two terriers all making the day a very costly one. It did mean we perhaps left a little earlier to head home because the AP kept nodding off but in truth I would only have had too much to drink if we had stayed longer! The drive back was uneventful and extremely pleasant thanks to Pedro the driver whose friendly and amiable personality all helped add to the pleasure of the day.
Well, the LSO and myself managed a whole three hours out with friends last Friday evening as a start to our new regime. It was such a pleasure to just be doing something we wanted to do and the AP said she was happy to stay and look after the dogs. That’s a laugh too because it really is the other way round and as it turned out she wasn’t at all happy to let us have a bit of freedom.
We weren’t back late, about 8.30pm and all seemed ok. The AP toddled off to her room and seemed in reasonable spirits or so we thought. This image was quickly nipped in the bud when she announced to the LSO when he took her morning tea in that she felt a bit ‘tickly’ around her throat.This led to her telling us later that she had sickness and diarrhoea and had been up in the night, not that we heard anything which is strange as she wakes us up every other night. She then refused her breakfast and spent the day in her room with lots of fluids and a few dry crackers. A bug you might say or maybe a virus? Well, perhaps, but we have had this scenario a couple of times when we have had the gall to do something on our own. The LSO did say before we went out on Friday that there would be a payback and lo and behold there has been.
It was interesting that when we came to sterilise the bathroom there was not a single sign of any kind of upset. The LSO had cleaned it thoroughly on Thursday and it was pretty spotless so we are pretty sure, since the AP cannot see to clean up and furthermore we keep cleaning products out of her reach, that it was a prefabrication to elicit some attention and make a point. Childish I know but we are getting more and more of this sort of behaviour. Did it have the desired effect? No, the AP made a miraculous recovery when she realised we were pretty unmoved by the charade and even announced she was less wobbly having had nothing to eat for twenty four hours. Amazing!
Will it stop us going out, no, if anything it has made us more determined than ever that we will make a little space and timeout for us.
A Bhuddist prayer that is just so right but how do we find inner peace? It is something I keep asking myself and as yet have found no answer. Looking after the AP is a thankless and soul destroying task which leaves both the LSO and myself living on an emotional treadmill. It is one that we just want to get off but there is no easy solution to help us do this.
The AP thinks she is being really clever but sadly we now see her for what she truly is, a devious and manipulative old woman who thinks she can do and say what she likes no matter how hurtful her words may be. She doesn’t like it when we retaliate but just thinks that it is all forgotten in a few days. After nearly five years of her selfish and self centred attitudes we tend to be permanently on our guard against the next stretch of nastiness. What a way to live our lives. It is so true that words have the power to both destroy and heal but in this household it is only the LSO and myself who employ the latter. Some would see that as a weakness on our part but I believe it is our strength. I refuse to play her at her own game, the AP wants me to be a mirror image of herself but we are poles apart in every respect and thank goodness for that, I am not like her and never will be. It is a true irony that she lives with us. It was something I never wanted but I allowed common sense to rule my heart. That’s a paradox in itself but in this case has been proved to be true.
Meanwhile the AP just sails onwards, playing her silly little games and choosing to remember only what she wants to remember.
I think I could be in need of a padded cell or at the very least a padded wall to bang my head against. Last night the LSO finally had had enough of the deliberate provocation being displayed by the AP and told her that if she didn’t like or want to live here that it was time she went into a care home. He told her she was making our lives a misery and making me ill and that he had finally had enough of her and the whole situation. He even told her what was wrong too. I am cutting a long story short but it really was such a trivial matter that created the problem in the first place and it doesn’t warrant a discussion. But what does is the AP’s unbelievable reaction this morning.
She is absolutely fine she announced when I took her breakfast in and everything that had been said had obviously been conveniently forgotten or swept under the carpet, that is if she even understood a word of what was said last night. The AP isn’t suffering from dementia, although her short term memory is shot to pieces but she is very cunning and manipulative. Her powers of comprehension are definitely waning too except when it comes to money and whether she has won anything on the lottery.
Lunch was a quiet affair with a smattering of talk about the snooker final she will watch this afternoon and nothing was said about her leaving/staying/attitude etc. She obviously has no intention of going anywhere and we have to hope that she understands the thin ice she is standing on although somehow I doubt it. I have little to say to her, she clearly has no concerns about me and is locked in her own small selfish world. Sad really because for me I no longer have any deep feelings for her and certainly there will be no fond memories when she finally departs. I don’t even want to be in the same room with her and am beginning to fight an active dislike of this self centred person who was once my mother.
All this because we thought we were doing the right thing nearly five years ago. Five years of our lives on hold at a time when we should be free spirits and enjoying the twilight years. How utterly naive and stupid we were.
I haven’t written a blog for some time mainly because life has either been good or at least acceptable but not anymore. The AP is back and with her comes continual stress.
It is astonishing how one little old lady can cast such a long shadow over our lives. Having had almost six gloriously stress-free weeks the AP has been back less than two weeks and I have rapidly rising blood pressure and a sense of utter frustration that we took on this ungrateful, selfish, arrogant and now, ultimately stupid old woman.
It is absolutely horrendous how quickly she has destroyed the equilibrium that existed in our home and in our lives. We try so hard to help, to aid, to put simply, look after this person but it is a thankless task and we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Nothing we do seems to help or be truly appreciated and I am now back to being on edge and stressed. She seems to resent the fact that we deserve a life and is jealous if we go off on our own. Despite medication my blood pressure is hovering around hypertension stage two and I am fighting to remain calm and have some self control but she seems to delight in making our lives and mine in particular, an utter misery. Who is this woman? Certainly not my mother or the person I thought of as my mother
I really cannot allow this to happen and I must find some ways to counteract her nasty, selfish ways. But how?
Up until now I really have been doing well. Since starting the diet I have lost 26lbs and have gone from being Type 2 Diabetic to non-Diabetic. As the practice nurse put it, I am normal and I must keep on with what I am doing, it’s working! I was utterly thrilled to get the news and now need to get the BP down to a healthy level. Whilst the AP was away it had stabilised around 130/70 but since the return of the shadow, the bat hanging in the rafters, it has risen at an alarming and dangerous rate. The AP has no knowledge of any of this and even if she did I doubt it would dent the ego. She is incapable of accepting any responsibility for her actions and always blames others when things go wrong
It really would be ironic that if anything happened to me the first thing the LSO would do is sell up and put the AP into a Care Home. That is obviously something that hasn’t occurred to the AP.
I have always been aware of how the AP’s presence casts a shadow but I actually hadn’t realised how much of one. We are half way through our month of freedom which is why I haven’t written a blog for a while. When the AP departed for Scotland a great weight seemed to lift off the LSO and myself and the lack of pressure due to the lack of the AP is just wonderful and invigorating.
We have done so much in this time so far, loving every minute of our freedom and are determined to make the most of the rest of the time we have left. Just being able to visit a friend when the LSO goes fishing is a joy in itself. Those lucky people who have no restrictions on their activities may find this all a little sad but for us it is as if a ray of sunshine permanently shines in our home. I only wish I could find a way of preserving this feeling when the AP returns at the end of the month. Sadly we know from experience that it will all vanish once the shadow comes back and again we will return to having a bat hanging in the rafters.
But we still have twenty one days left and although six of those are taken up having our two grandsons here it will still be great to be free. With them we can just head off for the day, not worrying about anything and eat out if we want to since we do not have to rush back to cater for the AP. The two terriers can come with us if it is a long day out and just planning what we can do is liberating in itself.
Weight-wise things are progressing, 23lbs lost so far at a steady 1lb or so a week. I struggle a little with cravings every now and then but really nothing that bothers me too much. I am by no means sylph-like and still have a way to go but I feel so much more positive about it all and to have finally found a regime that really works is a miracle in itself.