This is the post excerpt.
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 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.
So all in all, life is good for the time being.
I am delighted to report that the weight loss continues to be slow but steady although I haven’t had the best of weeks, for some strange reason I have been fighting various cravings. They have not been the usual desire for carbs in the form of the LSO’s lovely sourdough bread slathered in a really good creamy butter, no it’s been for something sweet. I have seldom felt the need for sweets or desserts and have always been able to take them or leave them unlike savouries such as crisps, pastry and bread. I found myself indulging in some dark chocolate and had to stop myself from gorging it all in one go. Is this going to be like every other diet tried in the past?
Definitely not, and as a result of these emotions I decided to do a bit of research and came to the conclusion that I had to get my stress levels under control and perhaps needed to eat a little more protein. Today I am definitely feeling a bit more in control.
The stress of course is caused by the AP who as her impending visit to Scotland looms is trying to be more and more controlling with an attempt at emotional blackmail thrown in for good measure. Then there is the astonishing statement made to a friend of ours earlier this week that ‘I can be as rude as I like because I am a hundred years old and and people just have to accept that’. Unbelievable really and laughable too! Anyway she was firmly put in her place by our friend who told her that the only thing that’s acceptable about her age was that people needed to make allowances for the fact that she was slower at everything. But where on earth did that thought come from? No wonder I don’t know who she is anymore.
But suffice to say the LSO and are are really looking forward to our break from her, to having our freedom and our home back even if just for a month.
Well, the RMR regime continues to work and I have now lost a healthy sixteen pounds so far. Not earth shatteringly fast but steady at mostly a pound to a pound and a half a week and I am happy with that. I don’t feel hungry or deprived, well, maybe occasionally when the LSO makes his sourdough bread and I look at the luscious, plump and sweet plum tomatoes from the greenhouse and have to fight the cravings. I have always loved tomatoes on toast. Although I am still overweight I am aware of reducing in size now and that incentive certainly helps reduce the cravings.
Our month of freedom is approaching and we are both desperately in need of a break from the AP who continues to be obtuse and difficult especially when we have to explain anything to her. I do sometimes wonder if it is deliberate, this selective refusal to understand anything said to her or is it just that her brain is deteriorating. We sound like a record caught in a groove, constantly repeating ourselves. Now that the month away in Scotland is looming she seems to want to control what we do more and more but I have finally found what is probably the most important word in the English language, NO. I refuse to be bullied or harassed by the AP and have developed a detachment that is extremely settling for me and unsettling for her.
I am not cruel, but when you are treated like servants in your own home it really does become important to stand our ground. Please and thank you are words we seldom hear when there is just the three of us, then, when we have visitors staying this gracious old lady suddenly appears, God only knows where from and she plays the grand old dame, totally in charge of her faculties. It’s all rubbish of course, as she nods sagely and appears to listen intently and manages some reasonable responses even when looking at images on phones and iPads that she is actually unable to see. But all this play acting means that most people think life is fine and dandy for us but the truth is the opposite. We are trapped in our own home with this vain, at time unpleasant and demanding old woman and that’s only the half of it. She has no grace and no empathy for others. The AP is the centre of her own universe and is incapable of truly being content with her situation.
Why is she like this? It could just be that she can no longer deal with even the simplest things in her life, the television for one is becoming something she cannot use easily and her life is out of her control, so she tries to control us instead. Unfortunately in doing so she has alienated us both to the point that we really are hugely weary of her very presence in our home and that is just so very sad.
The LSO is finding the AP particularly tiresome and he has become run down and generally disinterested in all the things he likes doing. This is not good and we need to find a way of combatting this terrible feeling of ‘what is the point’. We need to restore our sense of equilibrium and humour, the latter being sadly lacking from our lives these days. The LSO has a marvellous sense of humour but even that is in serious need of revival, humour and laughter have in the past got us through some difficult times, we need to restore it.
At least we have a chance of some recovery in sixteen days time, thanks to my lovely cousin and his wife who are coming to stay for a few days and are then taking the AP back with them.
Or in this case the first stone in weight off. I am thrilled to have finally found an eating regime that actually works for me and isn’t a penance, in fact I am enjoying the cooking and the planning.
The Real Meal Revolution (RMR) is a well thought out and balanced eating plan which provides support, advice, meal plans if needed and a huge supply of recipes to start you off which are family friendly and easy to do. There are also lists of foods that can be eaten always, those that need to be limited and the red list of ones to never eat. It is easy enough to devise meals using the green lists. The secret is definitely in the planning but you could probably say that of all diets in truth. The difference with the RMR is that it actually helps you to train your mind and your body in order to enable you to lose weight. It is not a quick fix and is a regime to be followed for life. Being ultimately a foodie I was initially worried that I would find the low carb restrictions too difficult but that has not been the case. The plan turns everything we have always been told to do about a balanced diet, upside down and it did take me a few weeks to get my head around it all but that is a necessary part of the learning curve. I certainly feel better, have less aches and pains and walk the dogs with greater ease. Mind you, this stone is just the first hurdle, I have several to clear over the coming months but at least I feel positive about reaching my goal weight.
The AP is aware that I am losing weight but doesn’t seem to understand how because we do all appear to eat the same meals. This is one of the bonuses of it all, she cannot meddle or tell me what she thinks I should be doing from her standpoint of no knowledge. Before we made the fateful decision to have her live with us the AP was living on sugar laden Heinz tinned soups and bought snack cakes, full of artificial flavourings and trans fats. Need I say more!
The only downside to it all is eating out. I love to go out for lunch or dinner but it is difficult to find anywhere that gives me any variety of choice. Pub meals in particular seem to focus on chips with everything, pastry dishes, bread rolls, breaded and/or battered fish, shellfish or chicken. Then there is the ubiquitous prawn cocktail which is enjoying a revival. It is invariably coated in a thick layer of glutinous mayonnaise of suspicious origin served, you guessed it, with bread and butter and I mustn’t forget the inevitable British favourites, sandwiches usually with a garnish of salad and crisps, filled baked potatoes, the ploughmans, lasagne with garlic bread and last but not least, curries with rice, poppadums, naan bread and sweet mango chutney. In the midst of all this there may be the lone salmon fillet to be had with salad and when I am really lucky, chilli beef with salad. Never mind though it will all be worth it in the end and I guess there is always an omelette with salad for added variety.
Where are we with the AP? Rolling towards our month of freedom and trying hard not to wish the time away, only four and a half weeks to go. She continues to irritate with her overbearing and condescending attitude and it will be lovely to have some time together doing our own thing.
It is eleven days since I wrote a blog and what have I done in that time. I guess nothing much of great interest. I called my blog ‘Shrinking Horizons’ when I began writing but really I should change it to ‘Shrunken Horizons’. The LSO and I live in this slightly surreal world and despite us trying our hardest to not become bored with our extremely limited existence, every now and then we are overwhelmed by a sense of futility. We really go nowhere and it’s sad to say that even a trip together to the bottle bank is a novelty. The picture on this blog says it all really, the door to nowhere, no glass, no knocker, no number. Its actually in the side of a barn, totally random.
The AP is becoming increasingly mentally challenging as she cannot recall anything she is told, only remembering when her bank statement is due or the payment of her tenant’s rent. She never seems to understand what is said to her either by us or anyone else. Tales become garbled and nonsensical and information relayed by others is mostly wrong.
Here we are, both in our early seventies and the AP shows no sign of flagging physically but I guess when you have nothing to do except cope with yourself it’s easy. If anyone is flagging it is us because as well as coping with ourselves we shop for her, wash clothes, towels, bedding changing everything as well as cooking, cleaning, managing her affairs, making her appointments then ferrying her backwards and forwards to them. It is exhausting both mentally and physically and is taking it’s toll on both of us. We are aware of time passing and the fact that we are not free to do what we want, when we want to.
I do wonder if the AP actually considers or even realises, how having her living with us has brought our lives to a standstill. If she does, does she care? I somehow doubt it because she has become totally wrapped up in herself and her levels of empathy and understanding have deteriorated. The AP has no idea what we do in the day tending to sit in her room or go to the summerhouse and assumes that we sit watching television. How she imagines everything gets done I don’t know.
We can never go far without her and truth be told we really don’t want to take her with us either. Conversation is becoming impossible to the point of irritation, with us becoming as confused as the AP as we try to make sense of what she is saying. If she was a pleasanter person I would feel some sympathy but the nastiness is always just under the surface waiting to break out.
We do have a break coming up thank goodness but I am trying so hard not to wish the time away. The AP is doing that for us very effectively. Am I bitter about the decision we made? I regret it but no, I am not bitter, just resigned to it all.
Well no matter how much I try to put a positive spin on the situation the LSO and myself find ourselves in it all inevitably turns around and the dreaded all encompassing cloud creeps in.
This time it is the LSO who finds the AP’s rudeness and general nastiness too much to deal with and like all these situations it is a build up of many small incidences that are ignored and then finally the end of the road comes and the abyss appears. This particular last straw was the AP taking nearly fifteen minutes to come down for her dinner last night. It completely incensed the LSO and finally after she had departed to her room he exploded. I can fully see his point of view but I have managed to become more detached to the AP’s ridiculous behaviour and if she wishes to eat on her own and a cold dinner into the bargain, that is entirely her problem. But the LSO, quite rightly says it is just plain bad manners after a great deal of effort has gone into preparing meals that she can eat. Agreed but unfortunately we are not dealing with someone who is either logical or caring. The AP is utterly selfish and only thinks of herself and just to put the lid on everything she has also become both nosy and intrusive, demanding to know things that are none of her business.
So how do we now deal with this? The AP just sails on like a galleon leaving chaos in her wake and is completely oblivious to the damage she causes.
Well deal with it we must. We are both desperately in need of having our lives back and are hugely aware of time passing. The AP has taken an important part of our time away from us but not in a good way, which was something we never realised would happen or even considered when we made our decision to have her live with us. Anyone out there who thinks they know their parents, think again. I thought I knew my mother but I don’t think any of us actually do. I realise now how much my father many years ago, protected me from her because he also knew how she drove my brother away, something I was totally unaware of at the time. My father must have been as stunned at that as I am now by her patronising manner as well as her controlling and bigoted attitudes.
I refuse to go back to the darkness and angst and misery she has caused us; somehow we will find a way through all this.
For those of us who remember Jesse in The Fast Show, he would emerge from his shed which looked very much like an outside khazi to tell the world about his latest dieting fad; then he would depart back to the shed. So in this blog I shall be mostly writing about my weight loss programme.
Well my new regime is not a fad and it is definitely having the desired effect. In 5 weeks I have lost 10 and a half pounds in weight and feel so much better than I did before. My blood pressure is slowly reducing as is the terrible angst I had been feeling and to improve matters further the AP cannot wind me up anymore. I thought cutting down so much on carbs would be really difficult but it hasn’t been and I no longer feel the need to snack in between meals. I generally don’t cook different meals for myself but just add the desired carbs to his and the AP’s plates. For example tonight is Beef Stroganoff, I will have buttered cabbage with mine and they will have rice and with the handy microwave patna rice available now it’s a doddle. The RMR has some excellent recipes on the site and really help if I get a bit stuck on what to cook. The meal plans also provide me with some excellent guidelines and I am becoming better at planning in advance instead of that morning.
I have battled a little with the protein balance but suddenly realised that if I am a bit excessive one day I can reduce the proportion the next day. Eating out no longer fills me with horror because I have discovered that restaurants will substitute the carbs in their dishes with extra vegetables or salad. The down side of eating out is the fact that in pub restaurants in particular an awful lot of the menu is dedicated to breads, batters, mash and the ubiquitous chip so I can be a little limited in what to choose. The wine is a bit of a problem because I do enjoy a glass or two in the evenings so although at the moment I seem to have found a balance I can see it becoming more difficult in the future.
I have also discovered some really quality gins that can be poured over lots of ice and I have found that a tot of good single malt whisky in a large glass with ice and soda makes a great summer aperitif. No carbs in sight but I guess too much alcohol would not be a good plan.
At the end of the day the regime cannot become a penance, life needs to be enjoyed, even if we still have the trials and tribulations of caring for the AP. So if I slip back slightly at any time I will not beat myself up about it but will just revert to being sensible the next day.