Another life.

After a spell of really warm weather, then some torrential rain, we are back to the great greyness and it is cold. Cold enough to tweak the central heating on which comes as a bit of a shock three-quarters of the way through June.

It doesn’t help with dieting either; I was enjoying the barbecued meals with lots of salads and vegetable kebabs which are spot on for a low carb diet. Now I find my mind lingerering, be it briefly, on more wintry casseroles and soups but no, I will not succumb to these thoughts and tonight it is a warm salad which I suppose is a bit of a compromise. I have now lost 30lbs, another 6 lbs off will put me about halfway to my target which I am hoping to reach before my 76th birthday.

My cousin and his wife came down from Scotland for a few days last week and although I was a bit concerned about how I would manage, especially as with so many of our friends and relatives we have developed a culture of ‘wining and dining’ but it was fine and I even lost some weight. The G&T’s were definitely off the menu replaced with fizzy water with a slice of lime and lemon.

But the recent visits of relatives and our children with their families has all been a challenge, be it a lovely one, to not slip into old habits and so far, so good.

I really do feel that I am finally throwing away the shackles that have seriously blighted not only my life but the life of the LSO. It is two years since the AP went into the care home and it has taken all that time to get my ducks in a row. I still speak to her every week and sort her affairs out but in truth lockdown has done us a favour because at the moment we don’t have to see her, well only infrequently, which is giving me the time I need to mentally and physically heal.

Mindfulness.

Well, here I am almost four weeks since my last post and the 16lb loss is now 24lbs off but I have reached a bit of a plateau which I refuse to be down about. I do need to move a bit more but I am back to swimming twice a week and I have resorted to doing some stretching exercises only intermittently and have bought some resistance bands. I just need to read the book and then remove them from the wallet they are in, they are way more effective that way!

Lockdown has done me no favours and I am sure many can equate to this feeling. I have definitely become a bit of a couch potato and the very word ‘exercise’ can reduce me to a jabbering wreck, full of endless excuses as to why I should avoid it.

Also whilst battling the little devil that sits on my shoulder I am trying not to look too far ahead because then I might just cave in due to the enormity of the task facing me. I need to lose a further 42 lbs to be in a true health zone and to become non-diabetic as well as fitter and just as importantly very much happier in my skin.

So I am taking small steps and enjoying my new mindful eating and the fact that I can now bend over and pick things off the floor, bonus.

It’s the word ‘mindful’ that intrigues me. Has anyone else noticed how often it creeps into so much literature. It’s obviously a new buzzword, an all encompassing word to take the place of others, such as meditation, stress busting, good old fashioned awareness among but a few. There is even a mindful chef!

But being serious it’s interesting how I have found that mindfulness when applied to eating can actually make a difference. Also I have never, until recently been quite so aware of how the past seven years have impacted on everything to do with our lives. How overwhelmed we have been by it all and how the circumstances that brought about a great deal of unhappiness, distress and in my case, illness could have been avoided if the LSO and myself had been more mindful and more fully present in our own lives. The AP would not have come to live with us and we would both have had fond memories of her. Sometimes it is not right to do what seems to be the right thing, the attempt to offer her warmth and kindness fell on stony ground. At some point we should have put our own needs first.

Now I am struggling to even ring her nevermind go and see her which is so sad; so it’s definitely a time to meditate before making the call. Will it work?

Hopefully.

An Update.

After a rather rickety start to my new weight loss programme I am finally losing pounds, twenty-one to date so I am feeling not only a lot better but more positive about everything.

It’s a calorie counting regime that verges slightly on low carbs but allows me to eat most of what I like within reason and doesn’t put me on a guilt trip. Sounds perfect doesn’t it? No, I’m not getting smug, therein lies disaster and the inevitable ruin of the weight loss and yes, it has it’s restrictions such as logging everything I eat and drink.

That’s another issue of course and I’m not talking about the gallons of water I am drinking, this time it’s the reduction of my alcohol intake. I have ditched the habit of decades which is the evening, pre-dinner G&T and the LSO and I only share a bottle of wine three days of the week. Astonishingly it hasn’t been such a miss and I feel almost saintly about it all but some may say that the wine will have to go eventually and the answer to that is, never. Life is too short, especially at our age to not have some pleasures in the week and a fine bottle of wine shared with a delicious meal is a joy.

I may just have to run up and down the stairs!

All hasn’t been completely fine and dandy though; I had a little blip last week when we went to visit the AP in the care home because she had reached the grand old age of 103 years. We booked the visiting pod but it was all a bit of a disaster because she was particularly vinegary and apparently couldn’t hear us or chose not to and said we had forgotten her birthday even though she was wearing the rather elegant top we had bought her. It’s difficult to really understand but she seems to save her nastiness and spleen to vent only on the LSO and myself which can be hard to take given how much we have done for her over many years and continue to do so despite her attitude. The visit also brought back some of the past and was a reminder of how thoroughly divisive she had been whilst living with us. This really saddened me because I had finally arrived at a good place regarding my mother; needless to say after about half an hour of a non-conversation that was mostly about her we departed, having had more than enough and headed home to sanity and the dogs. Fortunately the angst didn’t last too long but I did indulge in a G&T that evening. I think for the moment we’ll stick to the weekly telephone calls when she is generally nicer, although dotty.

But all in all, life looks brighter even if today is wet and cold.

Progress.

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog, in fact a month because I have been utterly self-consumed sorting out my new regime. It has been an uphill struggle to find out what I can and cannot eat but there is some progress. I am pleased to say I have lost 16lbs so far and feel much better in myself. There is still a long way to go but I do believe that this time, I will get there and stay there. That’ll be a first in the last decade or so.

I have been testing to see how certain foods spike my blood sugar or cause a drop and it has been interesting to view the overall result. The general trend is definitely down which is good and I have discovered that full keto is not a good idea but low carb, low calorie and smaller portions do seem to be working. I haven’t as yet discovered how low I can safely go in order to keep losing weight and reduce my glucose blood count.

In the midst of all this the LSO and I are lamenting the freezing Spring weather we are experiencing at the moment which has meant our tomato plants grown from seed are spending nights in the kitchen and days in the greenhouse. It’s like cooking in a jungle and I keep looking for little men in pith helmets to pop out from between the leaves. They are sturdy looking plants and hopefully will be planted in the greenhouses some time next week. I will then look forward to producing endless freezer boxes of homemade passata, in between the inevitable plum and bramble jam sessions.

For those who have followed the blog you may be wondering that there is no mention of the AP. That is partly because there is not much to say about that particular situation but she is still going strong, well looked after in the care home, a bit dotty at times but generally ok and she will be one hundred and three years old at the end of this month. What do you buy for someone so old?

In the words of the AP herself, it’s utterly bonkers.

Just a hint…

….of Spring. Our Snowdrops were a little later than usual this year and at one point were covered in a frosty coating of snow thus living up to their name. I just love it when they finally appear because although it is still a bitterly cold winter this year, these delightful little flowers are definitely a hint of hope and rebirth, of better and warmer days to come. They are such a cheerful, fresh flower and yet so robust, arriving during the dark and cold days of Winter. They always make me smile.

We are all still in the grip of the pandemic and the road ahead is not looking particularly smooth just a great deal more of the same old, same old. In the midst of all this the LSO and I realise we are not getting any younger. We have limited contact with our family who are all flat out coping with it all and we have been unable to see them for months.

News programmes continue to dredge up a continuous stream of inane comments accompanied by equally nonsensical and repetitive questions for politicians. The powers that be never learn to stop making definite predictions that just cannot be upheld. But nevertheless, thanks to one small snow white flower I feel there is hope on the horizon and that better days will arrive eventually.

In the meantime I will make a plan for my weight loss and head to the studio to begin a new project.

No horizons.

We have woken up for several days lately surrounded by dense fog and on one particular day it never disappeared at all; it just kept becoming slightly more transparent then rolled back again. Apart from the occasional and refreshing sunny day, it has been cold, damp and grey. A bit like our lives in lockdown really only now we fight the brain fog that threatens to engulf us too. Conversations are punctuated with ‘thingymebobs and thingamajigs’ as we struggle to remember basic words.

When the AP came to live with us neither the LSO or myself expected the sudden change in her personality that caused us so much grief for so long. It was a relief when she finally went into a care home although that situation has its own set of problems and we did, for a short spell have our freedom back but the coronavirus and yet another lockdown have left us marooned in our home again.

I had, during our brief break for freedom, thought about changing the title of this blog. During those five and a half years not only did our horizons shrink but so did our energy levels. The whole situation seemed to suck the very life out of us both and in truth that is happening again now for differernt reasons and it must be the same for many people. So, I guess there is little point in changing the title. These are indeed worrying times and all we can do is take care, be kind to ourselves and others and have hope that the vaccine is eventually effective and we can all get back to some kind of normality.

I haven’t abandoned the weight loss programme; I am eating smaller meals, reducing the alcohol intake and I have stopped baking for a while although we are demolishing the Christmas cake. These little tweeks to our lifestyle seem to be having a positive affect for the time being.

I am now considering heading into the kitchen, in a most positive way of course, to bottle the Crab Apple gin I made two years ago.

Resolutions.

This time last year we were facing the joy of a New Year with thoughts drifting towards Spring and even holidays. Now, after a pretty dismal, at times boring and definitely worrying ten months we are facing further weeks, possibly even months of lockdown. It was certainly easier to cope with in the beginning but then we were coming into Spring and Summer with lots to do and a determination to not let it all get us down. It was so much easier to cope with during those months but after weeks of dull and mostly wet and cold weather, a Christmas that was a family free zone for us, we are feeling the pressure of having no freedom. I am sure there are many people who feel the same.

Yet, still we hear of those who don’t care about others, who are unaffected by the rising infection rates and continue as if the whole situation is a spoof. How many people have to die or become permanently affected by this virus before the hedonistic and self centred members of our society will listen to the pleas for sensibility and common sense.

The LSO and I have almost given up reading or watching the news because so much of it is either inaccurate or full of doom, gloom and what may happen not what will happen. So much speculation that seldom leans towards positivity just makes me feel more beaten down than ever. The general desire to hear bad news rather than anything good seems to be endemic to all and I always thought it was something the aged tended to enjoy.

Certainly with the AP, bad news was received in a very positive way and repeated to absolutely everyone becoming a little more disastrous and inaccurate each time it was mentioned. Talking about the AP did actually make me smile which is a rare occurrence. There she is, firmly locked down in the care home and seemingly doing really well. She has avoided even a cold so far and this is a real problem to her because the AP would love to have something wrong. Nothing of course that causes any real problems just enough to be a point of discussion and elicit sympathy. At a 102 years of age she is remarkably well and of course, in the home, well protected which makes me realise just how vunerable we all are.

Resolutions have got a bit lost in all this boredom but I really must turn my thoughts to weight loss in lockdown. Well maybe after the Christmas cake is finished.

Omming for England.

I’ve been doing a lot of ‘omming’ lately to try and keep my BP under control whilst trying to adopt a zen-like approach to life in general and failing miserably.

I actually thought I had finally sorted out all the AP’s affairs concerning her provision of care. How wrong could I be? A couple of days ago I received another invoice from the County Council asking my mother to pay a further £1050.00 covering the first two weeks of September. Having already paid what I thought was her first contribution during this Property Disregard twelve weeks, a system where part of her fees are paid by the council after a financial assessment has been done and which I had understood she was entitled too; I now find that she does not qualify for it . How did I get it so wrong?

When I added up the sums of money concerned I discovered they came to the exact same amount as the Care Home costs. Well that works…….not! The whole point in me contacting NCC in the first place was because her money was running out and I couldn’t sell her property to fund the rest of her care, because of Covid 19. This was then to be followed by a deferred payment which is basically a loan with interest added and once the property has sold, will be paid off.

Well after a couple of days of many emails and phone calls I discovered that the current situation we find ourselves in, is not considered a crisis by NCC standards so the AP is not entitled to a Disregard and she will have to continue paying the full cost of her care home fees. The Property Disregard is a very grey area and like so much the government sets in place, it is confusing with everything being at the discretion of the Council concerned.

It’s a pity that the people I was dealing with at the County Council hadn’t realised all this from the beginning of the negotiations; I had never hidden the fact that the AP was in a care home and the home were as surprised as me at the outcome. Still, it’s what it is and I just have to live with the situation, sad though it may be, that having worked all her life, taken very little out of the system but put a great deal into it, that the AP at the end of her days cannot have a little help.

Whilst all this is happening I have also been ringing the hospital about the injections I now need to stop the wet AMD in my left eye getting worse and the build up of even more stress. It is not something to be left too long and I was beginning to feel a bit panicky about it all. Then suddenly the sun comes out, the phone rings and lo and behold it is the appointments at the hospital offering me a slot on 2oth October.

So although I am saddened but not surprised, by the attitude and lack of old age care in this country I at least feel more at peace, life is less fraught and the looming clouds have lifted. I just need to stay calm, get the BP down and some weight off. Not too much to ask, is it?

Watch this space.

After a strangely anxious week I am now coming down to earth having spiralled up into the clouds.

I had to visit an eye hospital for tests this week because my left eye is showing signs of wet macular degeneration. It’s fortunately in the early stages and hopefully I will respond to the treatment which should start next Tuesday.

The LSO ferried me there and had to sit in the car for the duration of the visits. I donned the inevitable mask, registered and set off up to the department. By the time I reached the top of the stairs I was almost hyperventilating and felt hugely nervous about the whole situation. Heaven knows why, this was just a consultation. The next day we had to return for more tests and by this time my blood pressure was through the ceiling much to the horror of the nurse who was looking after me. She was so lovely and helpful, explaining everything in detail and trying to keep me calm. I didn’t feel particularly uptight but a second reading wasn’t much better.

After the tests were over I had the pleasure of turning a sickly yellow, from the dye injected for the photographs and produced a nuclear wee for a couple of days but thankfully no other side effects.

I am now waiting to hear from the hospital but the high BP got me thinking about our lifestyle because it was too high to be just white coat syndrome.

During the last six months we have consumed alcohol almost everyday. Discussions on having alcohol free days hardly ever happened partly because some meals just have to be accompanied by a fine glass or two of wine and there was and still is, the inevitable boredom of life in general these days. Then there are the pre-dinner aperitifs which at times were almost post luncheon drinks on really bad weather days, beer for the LSO and sherry or gin and tonic for me. Sometimes if we haven’t had wine with the meal a measure of single malt whisky will be poured as a nightcap, of course.

This all led me to looking at units of alcohol and assessing what we actually are consuming on a regular daily basis. OMG, just too much, no wonder my blood pressure is so high.

So changes are afoot, two alcohol free days a week is the aim and a reduction in the amount we drink during the other five days. Can we do it? It’s simple really, we must do it, if we want to be healthy and maintain a good quality of life.

Watch this space, I might benefit from some weight loss too!

Life in a vacuum.

I actually feel that I can’t breathe properly at the moment. I am in a state of confusion. Why? Well the ‘why’ is because I just have too many grey areas of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ surrounding me.

First there is the coronavirus which has created a vacuum for most people, social distancing, mask wearing and the problems of going out. On it’s own, not so much of a problem that can’t be overcome but then I come to the AP and everything changes.

The home she is in is expensive and because of her total assets she has to be self-funding and her immediate savings are dwindling at a rate of knots despite her pensions going in every month. Although she is 102 years old, frail and definitely dotty she doesn’t fit into any nice little niche for claiming extra money so I am having to contact the County Council for assistance.

The government, in March, instructed all landlords and letting agents to leave tenants in their properties until September even if the tenancy has run out which the AP’s has. The rest of the AP’s care home funding is to come from the sale of her property but even if the rule is lifted in September the tenant has to be given three months notice. Who wants to move over Christmas, heaven only knows when the house can be sold?

In the meanwhile I wait, wait for the Council to come back to me for further details, then I wait, hopefully to hear they will help whilst also waiting to see if the embargo on landlords is lifted, it’s just the uncertainty of it all and it is all so very, very frustrating. When I spoke to the AP on the phone yesterday she came out with the startling revelation that she thought her care in the home was free, that the NHS were paying.

I wish! For over five years we looked after the AP with absolutely no help, in this country there is no place to go, no help given unless you are on the poverty line. It doesn’t matter that you have worked all your life, paid all your taxes, didn’t block beds in the NHS; but is there any recognition of this? No, not a thing, you just go on paying and people like the LSO and myself have to disappear down rabbit holes trying to sort everything out. Now just to put a lid on everything I am being made, by the government, to feel even more uncomfortable because I am overweight and all this just creates an even bigger vacuum. It will take me many, many months in an ideal situation to lose weight but this is not an ideal situation I find myself in.

Did I hear the LSO getting out the wine glasses…..that’ll be a large one for me please!