It’s interesting what people say to you when you tell them you look after your mother who is soon to be one hundred years old. Some say you are doing a wonderful job, others understand how hard it is or just say that they couldn’t do it and there are those who make the comment that we must not have thought she would live that long when we took on the task.
Well, the LSO and I did expect the AP to live this long and in the beginning were happy that she probably would given that she is incredibly well looked after. What we didn’t expect was that the person we thought was sweet and lovely has turned out to be difficult, domineering, demanding and at times extremely unpleasant. Even being trapped by the circumstances would have been more acceptable if this person we no longer know had been who we thought she was. That is a rather convoluted statement but it is what the situation has become.
The AP appears to have little regard for us and can be unbelievably rude, making snide and very nasty comments about others as well as about us. We can only put this down to the fact that the brain is deteriorating and the better thought patterns are being buried or destroyed. Certainly as the time approaches for her to go North she is becoming more and more obtuse and changeable, pleasant one minute, unpleasant the next.
The LSO says she is making a point, but what point? It is completely lost on me and I refuse to allow her to rule my actions or my thoughts because that will not be good for me or for the LSO. I actually think she resents him, partly because she thinks she could tell me what to do if he wasn’t here but also because he is more volatile in his temperament than I am therefore more unpredictable. I need a quiet life to survive; I don’t like confrontation but will react if pushed hard enough. In truth, I realised that when the LSO was so very ill last year that had the unthinkable occurred the first thing I would do would be to arrange a care home for the AP and sell the house. There is absolutely no way that I could survive living with the her on my own and that became patently obvious when the LSO was in hospital. He is a great buffer, thank goodness.
Well it’s only twelve days to her departure and the beginning of our month of freedom and a brief return of our personal space so it is just a matter of weathering less than two more weeks of the AP.
The long grey days this winter have been depressing and have done nothing to help the time to pass easily. I still have a deep sense of anxiety but a sunny day does a great deal to dispel some of the fog that lingers on the outskirts of my mind. I do feel that some positive thinking and taking some positive action would help to ease the angst but it’s finding the energy to stop being negative and basically shake off the torpor that has crept into my soul.
I am still very positive about the diet and although it is not a rapid loss, it is steady. My sleep patterns are slowly improving too which is a huge improvement. I enjoy the fact that the recipes I have found have been ‘family friendly’ and apart from a couple of times I haven’t felt the need to go down the ready made meal route. This has meant that no explanations have been necessary which in turn means no constant questions from the AP.
It’s interesting to note that as we are getting closer to the AP’s trip to bonny Scotland she becomes more imperious and words like ‘thank you’ begin to vanish and expressions such as ‘do this’, ‘can you’ and ‘put that’ become more prevalent. But this time I will not be provoked or harried and find that ignoring the situation or just refusing to jump to attention is a far better approach.
I just think the LSO and I need some time on our own, in our home and without the stream of appointments and demands from the AP. Just some space to do our ‘own thing’.
Fifteen days to go.
Growing older isn’t easy and one of the problems that comes with it is a growing sense of unease. Having the AP living with us has helped to accentuate these feelings of uncertainty because we can never relax and truly be ourselves. I am aware of a sense of anxiety inside that threatens to engulf me but I cannot let that happen. Self confidence is being slowly sapped away and I feel frequently that I am living on an emotional razor edge about to tip over into a void.
We are enclosed in this box with this rather dotty old woman whose levels of intelligence have become eroded with old age and in turn we have had to lock away our own emotions as well as our reactions to any given situation. The LSO and I have never argued much in the last twenty years or so, maybe the odd bicker and a bit of sniping but now we cannot let anything go. We have to continually smother our reactions to happenings in our lives and that has included everything whether happy or sad because there is always this shadow looming over us. Tears are shed in private, laughter is not so frequent. There is nothing that can be done about this because it comes with the territory.
I am hoping that with the arrival of Spring these disturbing feelings will go and that they are just the result of the long, grey, wet days of this Winter.
I am still continuing with the 5:2 diet and slowly reducing in size which in itself should help to improve my feelings and hope that given time things can only get better. Sadly the situation with the AP can only get worse but that we will face as it happens.
At least we have our month of personal space looming and we can for a short time to what we want, when we want without making any excuses.
Freedom in twenty days, it can’t come soon enough.
I woke up the other night to find myself wide-awake. It was perfectly quiet apart from the even breathing of the LSO and the gentle swishing noise of the vaporiser. I had been dreaming about bubbles and suspect that it had been triggered by the comment made earlier in the day by a friend who has had an operation which has kept her housebound now for several weeks. She described her existence as living in a bubble and I thought, yes, welcome to my world but while I lay awake I realised my life is slightly different, it is more like being behind a semi transparent, self healing film.
Everything outside is a bit muffled but every now and then something causes a tear in the surface and noise bursts through in the form of a visit or a telephone call. These occasions are hugely welcome and help us to maintain our sanity but they also highlight how our lives have changed since the AP came to live with us. It’s a fact that although it is not the AP’s fault she continually puts pressure on us and we cannot relax and just be ourselves. We can’t even be a bit miserable because that is questioned and with the best will in the world we all have our down moments. Yesterday was a case in point, we were heading out to a friend’s birthday dinner party when the AP asked why we were so miserable. We weren’t miserable just busy sorting everything out, making sure everything was locked, putting dogs in their right spaces, putting lights on, as you do. What the AP forgets is that all she has to do is get ready whilst we have everything else to sort out including ourselves. The evening turned out to be very pleasant and it made a change to be with different people, chatting and laughing.
No moods are helped by the continuing grey damp days. I am sure everyone will welcome Spring as this has been a particularly long, dismal and cold winter. In the meantime we have twenty-five days to go to have a month of no pressure. Well not entirely pressure free because we are putting in a new water tank and boiler and that week will create another set of problems but at least we can solve them without any interruptions from the AP and her multitude of appointments.
Why today? I woke up feeling ok but by the time I had eaten breakfast, washed and dressed I felt under a cloud. The LSO was rather short tempered and irritable this morning so perhaps that has affected my mood. Usually I just shrug it off but not today.
I feel that there is little genuine thanks felt for the amount I/we do for the AP, sounds are uttered but they are forced. They certainly didn’t exist for the first three years of her sojourn with us so I can only put the change down to the impending month away or is it still the threat of a care home. Who knows and I guess we never will understand what goes on in her head.
It makes me realise that the feel good factors are few and far between these days and I just get up to the same old routine day in, day out with no light on the horizon. Our lives have become so predictable and so very boring, doing the same things, going to the same places all because they need to work for the AP. We are in need of a break but I fear that nothing much will change even then unless there is a collective will to do so.
I find myself working around the obstacles that are created by the raft of appointments that the AP insists on having. These break up the days and even control when we eat, leaving little space to do the things I want to do. But what really do I want to do? Curl up in a corner and hope it all goes away? Rush off into the sunset to a desert island? Well, none of those things really, just the freedom to do what I want to do when I want to do it without having anything else getting in the way. Stupid little things such as spending a day without any interruptions sorting the wool box. I suppose that all sounds a bit selfish but I have worked all my life, enjoyed a brief and pleasant interlude of retirement that disappeared the day the AP came to live with us and for the past four years I have watched my life slip away.
Has this wool box become like my mind? It certainly bears a resemblance to it containing much the same jumble of odds and ends. There are half finished jumpers, single balls of wool in a variety of colours and plys, new wool left gathering dust, a mix of knitting needles of all shapes and sizes jumbled in with buttons and stitch holders. There are pattern books and paper patterns stuffed in the bottom of the box too. No wonder I can never find anything. I must sort through it all and perhaps in the process will be able to clear the fog that sits permanently on the outskirts of my mind threatening to invade as it has today.
Roll on April 5th and a month of carefree existence, twenty eight days to go.
Well, perhaps the title is a little misleading. I am attempting to move forward be it in small steps but I do believe that is better than not moving at all or even slipping backwards.
Looking philosophically at everything I am always interested in how there is a balance in everything. It equates I suppose to the fact there are always opposites at work in our lives. Good and evil, Yin and Yan, hot and cold, happiness and sadness, up and down, in and out and many more. I can remember years ago saying to our children that the world has to have these opposites, otherwise we can never experience the good things in life without the bad. But it does seem to be at times extreme and sadly we had the news today that our son and his partner have lost the much wanted baby they were expecting at the end of August. We are all upset at the news and my heart physically hurts for them and it is difficult to see any reason for all this. There are few words that express all our feelings, all we can do at times like this is keep the love alive and believe in the future.
I need to adopt the same attitude to the AP as she is being more and more irritating as April approaches. I do feel this is probably a sub-conscious reaction to the fact that she is going away for a whole month and will not be able to try to manipulate or dominate us for that time. I have been particularly careful to only do things that I want to do and I am avoiding issues that are contentious as well as ignoring the bullying tactics the AP employs to attempt to try to rule the household. I guess this could be contributing to her attitude at the moment.
The arrival of little Lucie in our lives has been a great experience, she is a remarkably bright puppy and is a delight to have around and even the benign Barney is beginning to settle to the fact that she is here to stay. Puppies are hard work but her presence has taken the focus off the AP and this has really helped the LSO and myself to cope and put strategies in place to keep the AP firmly in her place. She is having to take a back seat which is where she should have been in the beginning and although manoeuvring around the AP’s needs and the puppies needs can be difficult and at times demanding, it is definitely possible.
On another positive note I can report a weight loss of six and three-quarter pounds in two weeks whilst following the 5:2 diet. There is no noticeable change in shape, well I can’t see it but the weight has definitely reduced and I am delighted. I don’t find the regime difficult and in some ways actually enjoy the fast days knowing that I can eat well but reasonably for the other five days. Long may the reduction continue.
I must tackle the wool box, it is time to start knitting again.
The LSO and I are in a strange place at the moment and I am dealing with a raft of mixed feelings and emotions. The new puppy arrived on Friday to much excited barking from Barney and much squeaking from Lucie but that didn’t last long as her feisty little character popped out and she barked back. I don’t know who was more surprised, us or Barney.
In the meanwhile the arrival of Lucie has put the AP’s nose firmly out of joint as she really is an adorable little scene stealer. The AP’s way of dealing with it all is to make a point of not listening to anything that is said to her and to talk over us when we reply to her questions so she doesn’t hear the answers. It’s a real catch 22 as we have to ask her to stop talking and listen which makes her instantly bad tempered and unpleasant. The thin veneer of niceness disappears in a blink and anything or anyone is responsible for her own failings but never her.
It also looks as if the third grandchild due in August will not happen but that is another situation which has deeply saddened us all. Not of course the AP, she has lost the ability to understand the depth of the problem and can only relate to those things that directly impact on her.
Our daughter arrived for a flying overnight visit yesterday despite the appalling weather conditions and I cooked Sechuan beef but that meant creating a separate meal for the AP who cannot cope with the chilli heat. Not too difficult to do, I just had to make a separate sauce and use the same vegetables and fillet of beef. But because we were all chatting and a great fuss was made of both the dogs it meant the AP was not the centre of attention so she didn’t eat and just pushed her food around the plate. I felt a real sense of irritation, why did I bother, in fact why do I bother at all? It is such a thankless task and meanwhile the LSO and I just see our lives slipping away in a sea of monotony.
She did manage to have a glass of wine with the meal and a very small glass of Vermouth with lemonade beforehand but then decided to go to her room. This morning she was particularly demanding and probably not feeling one hundred percent but it is never a good plan to drink any alcohol and not eat. I don’t deal at all well with the AP’s mood swings in the mornings so I just let her get on with it all.
However Lucie continues to be a real joy and a breath of fresh air in the claustrophobic and frustrating environment that has become our world.