Ten months ago I began writing this blog to help me cope with the hugely onerous task of looking after my ageing mother. Writing has been a great release and has helped me to keep problems in proportion. I joke that it has kept me out of the asylum but there is some truth in that statement and although I still have bad days at least they are more isolated. The LSO reads the blog and hopefully it helps him too. It takes two of us to deal with the situation and even then it is often too much for both of us and it is at that point I feel a blog coming on and the need to offload the anger, frustration and resentment that has built up as a result of having a one hundred year old woman living with us whom we no longer recognise or truthfully, understand.
The situation deteriorates each day now. The AP has become ever more self orientated and sees very little beyond herself and her ability to compute what is said to her is lessening. This is difficult to deal with on an every day basis because meaningful conversations are an impossibility except in very short bursts. If she is trying to go somewhere her concentration is totally on what she is doing and even if you speak to her at that time, she doesn’t take in any information. If the AP asks a question, the answer has to repeated several times before any understanding occurs. She still tries occasionally to dominate us but we have put strategies in place to deal with those moments and I must admit to a sense of detachment growing which is a blessing.
Normal courtesies are forced when speaking to us and thank you doesn’t come naturally anymore. She does try but it’s sad to see how difficult it has all become for her. She gushes all over others which is definitely a ‘get me a bucket’ time for us but it is often a release to have people here then her focus is altered.
Before the the AP came to live with us the LSO and I were always busy, we entertained people, went out and had a spontaneous lifestyle, enjoying our retirement. In the last four years all that has gone and the current situation has left us despondent and depressed and although we realise that we must weather this period in our lives it is hard to know what to do to improve things. How do we regain the enthusiasm we had for life in general before the AP became our permanent house guest?
There isn’t a simple answer and it is a road we have been down many times during the last four years.
Well hopefully I’m back on track with the dieting. It certainly feels like an uphill struggle at the moment but I am sure that is all down to my attitude and weaknesses when it comes to food and drink. I am not overly fond of sweet potatoes for instance unless they are fried which is a bit of a drawback and so many recipes include these rather tasteless vegetables. I can of course leave them out or substitute something else but I often look at a recipe, see them in it and move on and end up doing something utterly unsuitable because I am cooking for three very different tastes.
But I am not giving up and am back to the swimming and hope to manage to fit in walking the dogs with the LSO at least once in the day this weekend.
The AP is keeping a low profile at the moment which is good in one way but rather worrying because from past performances we know she cannot sustain a pleasant exterior for too long. Her short term memory continues to fade but not where money is concerned which is quite amusing, she is obviously hanging onto that faculty as long as possible but everything else is out of the window and we are definitely living in echo valley. She continues though to irritate me with her assumptions that when something needs replacing in her rented property it cannot be the fact that the item in question is just old and worn out but it is always that the tenant has damaged it in some way. We have also witnessed the return of the ‘I know’ attitude but we are just ignoring that at the moment.
As I have said before, it is just a matter of time before the vinegary spleen rises up and we will be forced to say something. She continues to try to bully and dominate us every now and then but we cannot allow that to happen again. I am hugely weary of the whole situation but also have to accept that we can only do what we are doing and try to keep everything on an even keel. It is now over four years since we made the fateful decision to have the AP living with us, it is a decision we both regret. I try to not be bitter or dwell on the lost years but the LSO finds it much harder to deal with it all. Friends do find it difficult to understand but in most cases they lost their parents when they were much younger and before their mothers or fathers changed and change they do. There seems to be some kind of watershed that takes place after about 94 years. I do not recognise the person my mother is now; all refinements have been stripped away as she has aged and the brain begins to die leaving behind the more unpleasant sides to her personality.
All very sad.
There is no tangible reason to feel this way but for the last couple of days I have had this awful sinking feeling. The sun has been shining, everything is blooming in the countryside around us and generally life could be and has been much worse. I don’t feel like this all the time, it just suddenly occurs and I am aware that I feel rather down and a little depressed. I try not to analyse it because I don’t want to make up reasons or even try to pinpoint anything that may have happened or have been said to create this feeling. I know that would only make it worse and possibly fabricate a situation that wasn’t there in the first place. The AP is back in residence and although she is being fairly amenable there are undercurrents just simmering under the surface and I know that it wouldn’t take too much for them to break out.
Part of my feelings could be due to the relentless out-pouring of money at the moment with not enough coming in to fill the vacuum. Having just paid out a great deal of money to put in the boiler house and the new boiler system we have now had to bring in a team of gardeners to sort out the front garden and it is costing rather more than we had originally thought. That always seems to be the case with most things today, think of a sum and double it should be the maxim. But the garden is out of control and the LSO can no longer deal with it so we need to get it back in check and then go on a maintenance regime. This means that the projected hall, stairway and landing decorating has had to be put on hold until the Autumn which is possibly a good thing.
In the midst of all this I have come to the conclusion that like the garden, I too need a maintenance regime both mentally and physically. A lot of pampering would help, a restful holiday in the Maldives would be good, as well as a thorough make over and of course, a lottery win to pay for it all. Whilst drinking my morning cup of tea today I was mulling over everything and found myself thinking how convenient it would be if a team could suction away all the excess fat I’ve acquired just like the gardeners are removing the weeds, then the skin could be renovated and smoothed over just like the soil that is appearing in the border. It probably is possible but no doubt at a great cost and of course, time.
Time, well that is another issue.
Well, our month without the AP is over and her one hundredth birthday has been successfully celebrated in style and is now over so we are back to the same old routine and the same old repetitive conversations.
At least with the summer looming the weather will be better and the AP can sit out under the shade and catch a few rays. They might work a miracle and improve her attitude and behaviour but I won’t be holding my breath. Sadly the AP’s very presence has ratcheted up the angst and watching her pretend to all and sundry during the celebrations that she is this dear, sweet little old lady has caused the LSO and myself much frustration. The reality is very much the opposite. At this very moment I am listening to the conversation between my lovely cousin from Canada and the AP and no matter what is said the AP manages with amazing skill to bring everything back to herself! I have to be thankful that there is some conversation at all because in truth I have nothing to say to her which is sad in itself but anything in the present is promptly forgotten, hence the repetition and the past is always the same old stories over and over again.
Our month off was pretty stressful but all the boiler work is completed and the results have been definitely worth it, just having a shower is a joy. But the LSO and I now need a break! What a joke but I suppose October isn’t too far away as long as my equally lovely Scottish cousins will have the AP back.
Now I must really get to grips with the diet and next Monday I will start the 5:2 diet in earnest. I am also looking at a low carb regime following Genius Foods. Our darling daughter has sent me some information on podcasts to listen too and the LSO and I will be following this new, according to the LSO, tyranny (typical male response) as soon as I have sorted the meals out. I haven’t gained the weight I lost originally but equally haven’t lost any more. I try to tell myself that being positive is the way to go but do know that as far as the AP is concerned it can only get worse but in the meantime I will endeavour to be a better person and think better thoughts.
Hope springs eternal and all that ….
When you have any kind of building work done it never ever runs smoothly and I am sure most people reading this statement will all nod sagely, sigh wearily and knowingly.
Builders live in an alternative reality which runs on a completely different time scale from the rest of us, they also have little regard for the mounting costs that rise on a daily basis despite the heartrending cries that although we really appreciate the work being done we do not have a bottomless purse.
The last time I wrote a blog the sun had finally come out to play or so it seemed on that day but the fine weather was short lived and it became once again, wet, cold and miserable. Not only had the work been late starting because of, yes, you guessed it, the weather and once again it was held up and slowed down again by the weather. It has been like living in another world, bleak and grey and extremely cold with no heating and no hot water for what felt like an eternity but in truth was only for about five days. We do now have hot water and glorious showers and the central heating is back on but all is not finished yet and we have at least one more day of disruption. Just in time for the AP’s return on Friday evening.
We have not had the month off that we had hoped for but are, nevertheless grateful for having the break from the responsibilities and demands made on us that looking after the AP creates. This weekend is the celebration of her one hundredth birthday and fifty people will be descending on us one way or another. We will become glorified taxi drivers, cooks, bottle washers and bed changers with a mobile population moving through the house for four days and also well into the month of May.
The venue is arranged and everyone invited to share this momentous occasion has been informed of timings. The shopping list is huge and I am just hoping everything fits into the fridges.
Thank goodness we have a decent washing machine and tumble dryer otherwise we would be walled in with bed linens and towels but hopefully with fingers crossed, a very efficient new boiler system in place. Although as I am writing disaster has struck and we have no central heating again with the hot water still running on the electric heater in the water tank. Oh dear! What is it with anything to do with building works, nothing ever quite runs to plan.