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.