Feeling shellshocked.

Maybe I feel like this more than I realise these days. We are almost a week into our twenty-eight day break from the AP and it has been a glorious relief to be free from the tensions and the manipulation.

Then just as we are truly beginning to relax and enjoy our space and our time together we get a call from my cousin to say the AP has had to visit the hospital because her leg has swollen up. An ultrasound has revealed a clot in her groin and that her kidneys aren’t too good but at almost one hundred and one years old its to be expected. But she isn’t so ill that they needed to keep her in overnight and she returns for further tests on Wednesday.

But none of this is what has left me feeling the way I do. No, it was the conversation I had with my cousin that left me reeling a little. Apparently the AP who has resisted all attempts to even look at a care home just for emergency purposes down with us has been hinting that she could go into one in Scotland near them. I also heard from a friend down here that she had told them that her nephew wanted her to live with them but I didn’t want that. News to me!

So how has this left me feeling? Hurt that we have lost five years coping with this difficult and selfish old woman, who at a manipulative whim thinks she can just up sticks and depart? Sad that she obviously feels that all our efforts have been a total waste of time and have been utterly unappreciated? Angry that she is so devious and controlling? Well, I guess all of these things.

But at the end of the day anything can be arranged. I can handle all of her affairs from here and my cousin and his wife can visit her in a home up there. If it all comes to pass it will probably be the last I will see of her. The drive up there is only something to be done once or twice a year. Would I be happy with that? If it’s what the AP wants I have to be, sad, but at the end of the day what does any of it matter. I don’t really know what I feel about any of this and cannot understand why she feels the need to play these games with everyone’s emotions. Maybe it is all just part of being so old, so out of control of your own life and in need of finding a way to simply feel wanted. But in truth if that is the case all she had to do when she came to live with us five years ago was accept what we had to offer and to relax and enjoy life.

In the meanwhile we are visiting a Care Home near us later next week.

Life is a like a card game.

In the mornings the LSO always brings me a cup of tea in bed and has done so since we both retired thirteen years ago. It’s a real treat, having worked all my life I make the most of the peace and quiet usually indulging in a few games of Gin Rummy on my phone. How decadent is that!

But during a moment of contemplation, having lost more games than I had won I realised just how like a game of cards our life has become. The AP is a general pain in the neck being some of the time aggressive and difficult, making up stories to justify things and those moments represent the games lost, those are the losing days. Other times she can be pleasant, amenable and cooperative and those are the winning days but are seldom experienced unfortunately.

She announced the other day that the LSO and I had no idea how poorly she has been since stumbling at Keep Fit and sitting on her bottom. We do have her living with us so are well aware of her state of health and she has seen a doctor, been taken to the hospital and had x-rays that proved no damage had been done, so I asked when had she been so poorly? Then the LSO asked her to define what ‘poorly’ means to her and this did cause a bit of a rumpus as she truthfully has not been ill and in fact is extremely fit and well given her great age. Truth be told she would rather not go to Scotland and was hoping to get out of the month away. She really doesn’t see why the LSO and myself need a break from her and in fact doesn’t care that we need some time on our own, we are there just for her it would seem.

It was pointed out to her that if she was that ill she needed professional care something we as amateurs are unable to offer and indeed, are not prepared to do anyway. We would need to get her assessed and then decide what the best course of action would be and ultimately it could be a Care Home and this statement elicited a very nasty response which was “Well, you’ve finally got your own way”. Nether of us had any idea why she should think this or what she meant, if it was the case she wouldn’t have been living with us for the last five years. It just made us feel once more that we have lost five years of our freedom at an age when we should have been enjoying our lives as much as possible.

The end result of all this was that she was told in no uncertain terms that she would be going away and when back we would discuss the options available to her. We are now enjoying a short winning streak.

Her suitcases are down from the loft and we have fourteen days to go.

Who needs a funfair.

There is no doubt that looking after the AP is a thankless task. Having her living with us means living life on an emotional rollercoaster. I recently read an article about using kindness to deal with recalcitrant old people and decided to change tactics with her. I thought I was strong enough to rise above all the emotional blackmail and was determined that she would not get to me. For a little while it worked and the LSO and I relaxed. That was a mistake. We then decided to take her with us on a flying visit to our daughter thinking this would make her pleasanter to have around. How wrong could we be. She obviously saw our different approach as a weakness to be exploited and before very long we were witnessing the return of a vindictive, jealous and thoroughly manipulative and controlling old woman. That evening whilst two of our friends were around she decided she would snipe at us thinking there would be no comeback with others there. Why she feels the need to do this is beyond me when all she has to do is pretend to be a sweet old lady but inevitably it backfired on her.

Needless to say this incident did not have a happy ending. When she tried to set us up and make us look bad, enough was enough and to cut a rather boring and long story short she was told that she was out of order and to depart to her room. The AP didn’t like this but nor did I because to do it I was angry, really angry and that left me dealing with a huge rush of adrenaline and cortisol. There is no doubt that she knows what she is doing because the next day she is all sweetness and light and gushingly pleasant which usually makes me want to rush to a bucket and be sick. Previous to this episode she announced to the LSO’s financial adviser who visited us that she had no family left, her son was dead her husband, her siblings and this went on with the LSO and myself standing there. Our visitor was hugely embarrassed and actually said ‘what about us’ to which there was a silence and then the AP said, ‘Oh, of course!’ Heaven knows what that meant and if it wasn’t so insulting it would be laughable, a dear, sweet old lady she definitely is not.

So what now? I guess it is back to living with all our mental barriers in place ready to fend off the next attack. The AP hates the fact that we are uncooperative and rather reticent with her, she cannot cope with it but we have found that it is the only way to deal with her. Certainly the only way to keep our sanity. This is no way to exist in our own home and there must be another solution to our problem other than the inevitable or a care home but what that is I really don’t know. I have come to dislike this woman that we have to look after.

We have twenty days to go to our few weeks of freedom and they can’t come soon enough.