Once again some time has elapsed since my last blog but I have not been idle. Since starting ‘Banting’ I have lost eight and a half pounds and that is quite an achievement because the first week is eating normally and I am now one third of the way through the six week period of restoration discovering a whole new way of thinking about food in general.
My blood pressure is slowly reducing and I have yet to check my blood glucose but I feel that must be improving too. One of the biggest plus points is the fact I feel so much better and much more like my normal self; I no longer am oppressed or depressed by the AP and indeed will take no nonsense from her. That doesn’t mean I am cruel or uncaring, just determined not to be bullied in any way.
The last four years have knocked holes in the LSO and myself but now the AP cannot push us around anymore, we have finally got the measure of her and in truth of ourselves too. But it took a rather terrifying situation to make us both realise how serious it had all become and how at the end of all this we need to be fit and well in order to enjoy what time is left to us. We cannot dwell on what has passed but we are now improving what is in the present and hopefully the future too.
Another result of this new found way of life is that my pleasure in cooking has also returned. I had begun to wonder as I sank further and further into illness, depression and despondency if this was going to be how our lives were going to play out, bored, boring and disinterested in just about everything.
Thank goodness for our hugely supportive medical practice and the intelligent and ultimately workable advice and support from our children, in particular our daughter whose in-depth dietary knowledge has been a godsend.
I can in all honesty say this time that there truly is a light at the end of the tunnel.
……and that’s not just in the ground either. We are certainly baking in a heatwave and I really do find it too hot both during the day and then also during the night. This has meant restless sleep and long days feeling tired and definitely under the weather in every sense of the word.
I haven’t written a blog for a while, not because things are any better here but because I have been experimenting with a different diet. Much as I loved the 5:2 diet it didn’t love me and after the three vertigo attacks, the continual headaches, the high BP reading and the general feeling of being unwell, I decided to take my daughter’s advice and have a proper look at the Real Meal Revolution or Banting as it is often known. That was two weeks ago and I have managed to lose a magnificent seven pounds despite one of those weeks being an observation one. It took the whole of that week for me to understand the principle of the RMR and I still have much to learn. It is a high fat/low carb/moderate protein regime and the wide range of recipes and weekly meal plans available online as well as in the books make it a pleasure to follow. Yes, I have had carb withdrawal symptoms and because I have to also cater for the LSO and the AP I cannot clear all my cupboards of the carbs I can’t eat as recommended by the RMR. Today for instance I made a quiche for the AP for lunch and the smell of the pastry cooking was almost too much to resist but resist I did and I enjoyed my salmon and cucumber roll wrapped in lettuce with a charred pepper salad.
Needless to say the AP has no idea I am doing all this and will probably only notice when I have lost a lot more weight. She would be a pain if she did know anyway because she would be constantly asking how I am doing and wanting to eat the same meals which in truth she would dislike. Her ARMD works at least in my favour for this!
I do feel much better, my BP is slowly reducing with help from one very low dosage pill a day, my glucose readings are at an acceptable level although I am still Type 2 Diabetic but at least they are stable. It certainly all bodes well for the future when hopefully I can come off all medication. Today has been the first day for many weeks when I haven’t had a headache, well, so far anyway and I feel all in all, that my health is improving.
It was the LSO’s birthday recently and the family all came to stay for a night at the weekend causing a flurry of activity at this end. It was a lovely weekend but the AP didn’t enjoy it as much as we did because on this occasion she was not the centre of attention.
She continues to try to control us and we are continuing to keep her firmly in her place but it is exhausting and both the LSO and myself are weary to the bones of having to deal with her petulance, rudeness and ‘know it all’ attitude (and that comes from a point of really knowing nothing). She is constantly making up stories, getting most things utterly wrong these days when talking to others and comes over to visitors as being a dear, sweet old lady but the AP can manage that only in the short term. There is no pretence with us. We see just a conniving, bullying and at times thoroughly unpleasant old lady. A fine example of her pretending to be so understanding and caring was when I inadvertently overheard her talking on the phone about how it is difficult for the LSO and I to get any proper holiday because of having the dogs and looking after her and also how much we do need a break. The dogs are the least of our problems! The AP was repeating my words said to her one evening when she was resisting having to go away and I pointed out to her that the LSO and I need some personal space and time together. She was almost word perfect on the telephone and yet cannot remember who was playing in the tennis an hour ago. In some ways it makes the whole situation worse. We have always rather hoped her strange and often nasty ways are a result of her extreme age and perhaps a touch of senility. But I now realise how utterly cunning and conniving she has become. Thank goodness she will be heading up to Scotland towards the end of September for a month and the break cannot come soon enough for us. It could be a long eleven weeks!
I did comment in a previous post that I had made an important step in the right direction finding ways to cope with the difficulties that have arisen looking after the AP. But as things have turned out I’m not so sure now.
Earlier this week the LSO and I drove to Birmingham to watch our ten year old grandson compete in the ISA National Athletics and I am delighted to say he won gold in all three of his events. We are immensely proud of him and thoroughly enjoyed not only seeing our daughter but in witnessing his marvellous achievement. It was only marred by the behaviour of the AP the night before who obviously resented us going and had made that perfectly clear from the moment the visit was mooted, not only because she wasn’t going but also because she was being sent elsewhere to be looked after until we returned. She tried her utmost to control every minute of our time away, wanting telephone updates as to where we would be and wanting a definite time when we would be back. We just said no, no point as we could get held up anywhere on the journey. But in her typically unreasonable and dogged way she just kept on despite us asking her to just leave it alone, we had explained the problems and finally it all blew up or rather I did. This was one day, just one solitary day to allow the LSO and myself to have a few hours together, without her cloying presence, to support our daughter and our grandson. It was just so very important and the AP should have been pleased for us to do this, not jealous and difficult.
We did in fact get back about 8pm because we didn’t stop anywhere for dinner but headed straight home. The LSO dropped me off to sort the dogs and went to collect the AP which was a noble gesture because I had no desire to see her and am still utterly disgusted with her self centred and selfish attitude. We got a garbled version of her day and the obsequious comment about our day which was said in a patronising tone ‘it is good that you could share it together.’ Needless to say she was ushered up to her room at speed and the LSO and I sat down to a late, rather meagre supper but accompanied by a much needed fine, chilled white wine.
The last eight months have not been easy and I have at times felt quite unwell having continual headaches, restless sleep, three vertigo attacks and feeling utterly exhausted too. There is no doubt that looking after the AP is hugely stressful because of her intransigent attitude, general rudeness and her continued determination to try and ‘be in charge.’ It has taken a huge toll on my emotional and physical well being. The latest piece of medical news is that I have gone from a steady and healthy 130/70 blood pressure reading to a very worrying 180/90, true hypertension in only a matter of weeks. At least I know now why I have been feeling so under the weather during the last couple of months and it’s a bit of a wake up call which cannot be ignored.
Until the next post then.
A couple of blogs ago I mentioned that our eldest grandson who at the age of ten is representing his area in the Independent Schools Association athletics. The LSO and I are going to support him but it involves a huge amount of organisation to ensure the AP is looked after.
The drive down to the South East from Norfolk gave me a good deal of thinking time about the situation that the LSO and I have found ourselves in and the difficulties we have encountered from taking on the care of the AP. I made several decisions about many things and not least was how to cope with her inability to accept her shortcomings with some grace.
Last night I told her what was happening next Tuesday which I knew would cause the screwed up face because she feels she is being off loaded onto people. The fact they are happy to help seems to completely pass her by and her reactions are totally self, self, self.
It was an opportunity for me to tick one of the items on my ‘thinking list’, to talk to her about her inability to really look after herself. Her reaction was definitely lacking in grace and what I expected, a screwed up face and I was told not to say things like that. I understand the reaction but at a hundred years old, arthritic, blind, deaf and with short term memory loss it does mean there are limitations to what she can do and for how long she can be left on her own. I explained that none of us are getting any younger and we too have had to accept that there are some things we cannot deal with anymore. This applies particularly to the LSO who has never really been the same having been so very ill last year. I also pointed out to the AP that should an emergency arise suddenly, we would need to consider respite care for her.
OK, that didn’t go down well. The response was that my seventy-eight year old cousin would drive down for her and miraculously spirit her off to bonny Scotland, a mere twelve to fourteen hour round trip. The fact they may well have their own responsibilities or even, lucky people, be on holiday never occurred to her and when I challenged her on that she said she would get a taxi. If it wasn’t so ridiculous and self-centred it would be laughable. She did stomp off to bed soon after this chat making me realise once again how difficult she makes things for us.
Well at last the seed is sown and perhaps next time I tell the AP the LSO and I are out for the day and she will be looked after elsewhere, she won’t screw up her face. But in the meantime we need to look into respite care or the possibility of a carer coming to the house.
Always in life there is are imaginary lines that are there in everything we do. The lines has numerous of functions, some are warnings but sometimes they can encourage development. So which line am I standing in front of today?
Yesterday evening was a fine example of the AP dominating the conversation all evening with endless stories of the past. the LSO and I have heard them many times and tend to turn off to them. Each time they get a bit more muddled and embellished becoming a stream of endless drivel. The AP managed to have an inevitable dig at me but only succeeded in making herself look silly and causing me to mentally back off even further.
At the moment she is pretending to our visitor that she can see but because I attend all her sight tests I know exactly what the AP can and cannot see. I had to finally leave the room especially when a comment was made about wonderful teachers who make a difference to their students. She then went into a long diatribe about a teacher ninety years ago who apparently also taught my cousin and remembered my mother as this hugely clever girl. I suppose we all feel the need to blow our own trumpets occasionally. The AP seems to have chosen to forget that I had been a teacher for thirty five years and I was good at my job. It’s difficult to know whether she means to demean me or is just becoming plain daft. I would prefer to think the latter but sadly when I hear her conversing with people I realise that she still possesses some native cunning that manifests itself in a sly nastiness. It is hard to understand my mother’s desire for superiority, why is it that she cannot accept her own short comings? Why can she not appreciate what she has instead of making our lives a misery?
I guess the line I am crossing at the moment is one of disinterest and detachment and sadly I am heading towards thoroughly disliking the AP. I am finding it hugely difficult to make an effort with her and am instead retreating into my shell which I know is not the right solution to the problem. I can but hope that crossing this particular line will help me to survive, I feel I am drowning in a never-ending sea of greyness. I am mentally struggling to find a positive approach when every bit of my being is crying out for a release from this state of imprisonment.
I am told there is a light at the end of the tunnel but at the moment it feels like it is the train coming towards me and if it isn’t that, it is a very, very long tunnel.
Having the AP living with us is a real trial now. I find myself not wanting to spend any time with her because conversations are so stilted and surreal and she is also trying to be such a smart arse that it is embarrassing . She is regressing more and more and yesterday was a fine example of this. We had visitors staying , a friend of hers, about our age who has become a friend of ours too and our nephew who was on a flying visit. After the initial greetings and a bit of small talk the AP was no longer the centre of attention so she became rude and belligerent with me when I suggested she join them in the garden. ‘Why should I? ‘ was the response in an aggressive tone of voice. ‘Only a suggestion’ I replied to be huffed at and told they would be talking. ‘It’s what people do when they meet but you must do what you want’. After a stomp around the hall the AP did go outside.
We are getting more and more of this petulant and rude behaviour but in some ways it is good for me because it hardens my resolve to not be bullied and makes me more determined to have some quality of life with the LSO. I do get irritated and feel a bit down at times but I am finding a growing sense of detachment that is protecting me from the terrible angst felt before but in truth it is still a constant source of negativity that doesn’t go away. Given the opportunity the AP will have a dig about me to others and I have no defence because these people only see the dear, sweet old lady not the day on day reality that the LSO and I put up with. I am sure I must appear to most of our visitors as a hard and sharp person but I cannot and will not let the AP dominate us ever again. The years of misery and emotional damage she has caused us cannot be changed but at least we can improve what is in the here and now. Sadly she is becoming quite unlovable.
We are arranging a day out soon without the AP to go and watch one of our grandsons competing at the ISA National Athletics Championships in Birmingham. I had the pleasure of seeing him run in the qualifying trials and was so delighted and proud when he won all three of his races.It is hugely important that the LSO witnesses his grandson compete and supports his efforts. Children grow up so quickly. We must not allow the AP to stop us having this pleasure in our lives and we are fortunate to have some friends who will help us on this occasion. It will be the screwed up face no doubt but it will be happening.
The dogs are a huge comfort as well as a distraction and the lovely Lucie continues to grow both in stature and personality. Dear Barney continues to plough his own furrow but is a lovely gentle old man looking a bit like a canine Terry Thomas now.
The AP could take some lessons from him, not I may add, to be a Terry Thomas lookalike.
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.