Growing older.

There is no doubt about it but growing older is a pain in more ways than one. Joints ache, muscles ache, sleep is erratic and generally everything is more of an effort but somehow I need to get a grip on things and deal with all these minor problems before they take over.

I must be more positive about everything and find ways of sorting things out and first it has to be weight loss. Once that is underway I am sure everything else will start to get better although it cannot become a cross to carry.

We have just had a visit from some friends of my mothers and I do find catering and dieting quite difficult. The low carb, 16:8 diet is by far the most effective but a combination of cooking for others, three meals a day, does absolutely nothing for my will power which just goes out of the window so here I am, looking at a half pound weight gain which given the situation isn’t too bad.

Sleep deprivation is a real problem though, I am woken up by pains in my back, shoulder and leg at least ten times and more most nights. I probably have one good night in every fourteen days. There are no efficient pain killers I can take so I have resorted to CBD oil which does help but not with sleep. I can certainly walk more easily and as long as I don’t overdo things can cope during my waking hours.

I am not particularly worried about anything either, having the AP in a Care Home has taken a huge amount of pressure off the LSO and myself. Yes, we do have to visit but only once a week, then we are told by her that she is living in a brothel which is just laughable. But we’ve heard it all before; it is just a similar situation to when she was in hospital with ‘Eric’ servicing the nurses who partied all night and sex taking place in the broom cupboard. The dog patrolling the corridors at night has also turned up in the Care Home but thankfully not ‘Eric’ as yet! No, she hasn’t got dementia, it’s just the AP’s rather lewd interpretations of the sounds she hears at night. She is still trying to control our lives but it won’t be happening. Thank goodness she isn’t here.

The wind of change.

It’s been a while since I last wrote a post and that is partly because of the number of visitors we have had but mostly because of a really nasty chest virus that flattened me completely. It just came out of the blue and four weeks on I am still coughing like a seal but much less than before.

In fact apart from my weight everything is improving and the cloud has lifted from the LSO and myself with us both beginning to enjoy our new found freedom. Our home is returning to us bit by bit and has become a pleasure to live in again and although we still have a great deal of sorting out to do, there is no rush.

The lack of loss of weight is a bit of a pain but I have enjoyed the family and friends we have had staying as well as beginning to get back my love of cooking. We have enjoyed meals and days out and I really haven’t given too much thought to the diet. Well that will have to stop because this morning I jumped on the scales and the scream could be heard echoing in the fields around us, flocks of birds were rising from the trees and all the dogs in the area started barking. I really must recalibrate and get back a positive mindset in order to lose weight again. All easier said than done but I have cut the anaesthetic alcohol intake down and feel better for it.

Also in between everything that has been occurring I have not been lying down being dramatic but have been putting the LSO’s effort in the greenhouses to good use. Gherkins have been pickled, cucumbers turned into a tasty relish and there are enough boxes of homemade tomato passata in the freezer to get us through winter. Then of course, there are also the two varieties of plum jam in the cupboard using fruit from our farmer friend’s orchard and lurking in the background are the chillies which will be made into sweet chilli jam some time next week. Stored in the fridge are jars of pickled garlic, home grown of course as well as a luscious paste of roasted garlic in the freezer. I have just made a Baba Ganoush dip for this evening from our own aubergines and do feel a sense of real pleasure in doing all this. That feeling had been driven from our lives by the malign attitude of the AP.

Do I feel any guilt about the AP being in a Care Home? Not one bit, in fact I struggle with the fact that I am just so happy to have our freedom back and delighted that the old me is returning. We do visit her each week but quite honestly I find it an enormous effort. When we are there the AP makes up stories, moans about everything although in between wingeing has lately been telling us how good it is to see us, that’s a first! She told my cousin that she hadn’t realised she would miss us so much which stopped me in my tracks. Really? Talk about rubbing salt in the wound, it just reinforced what we had always known, that she had just used us for her own selfish ends, constantly being manipulative and divisive as well as treating us as her personal servants but not any more. She is definitely in the best place for her, as well as us and although we still have her in the background she is not casting a cloud over our lives anymore.

An unexpected reaction.

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.

A watershed.

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.

Looking on the bright side.

Things are certainly changing for all of us. The AP is becoming dottier by the day and seems to be retreating into her own little world. We have had her getting ready to go to appointments on days when there are none, mixing up times and places and then making up stories to fill the gaps in her memory. Lately she has started to eat her food with her fingers and holds her head in one hand as if it is too much effort to lift it up all of which infuriates the LSO but she only does it with us. If we have visitors or are out for a meal she uses her knife and fork.

Yesterday she announced that Serena Williams was Venus Williams mother and further more it must be true because they showed pictures on the TV to prove it. We explained they were sisters and far too young to have grown up children but what do we know! I guess all of this is normal in someone of such a great age in fact we are lucky it isn’t worse. Although it is quite difficult to be wholly positive when trapped in this alternative reality both the LSO and myself fight not to become too down or despondent as time slides by at a snail’s pace.

It isn’t all doom and gloom though, the plants in the greenhouses are flourishing and I am making cucumber relish for the first time. Years ago we used to buy a Dutch version of this relish then it just vanished never to be found again so I am hoping that this homemade version will be a good replacement. The warm and sunny weather has encouraged good growth and this year our fig tree is bearing many fruits and those will be a joy to eat. At this point the LSO points out that the lawns and hedges are also growing at speed, but I guess, looking on the bright side, we do have some good things to look forward to.

The number four.

Today is our daughter’s forty-fourth birthday. It is a stark reminder that time is slipping rapidly by and where have those years gone? We both remember the great joy we felt when she arrived and that feeling has remained constant to this very day.

Four is the number of stability and it just happens to be my life number. Pythagoras called the number four the Tetrad and believed it created perfect harmony so our lovely daughter has a double dose of stability and harmony this year.

It set me thinking about what we have to be grateful for in our lives and I would say our two children, their partners and our three grandchildren are pretty well top of the list but there are also other things that have made our lives good together. The LSO and I are lucky to be in this lovely home, we have good friends and although life has not always been a bed of roses we have survived almost fifty years of marriage and fifty-five years of friendship, in fact it will be our Golden Wedding next year.

I found myself breathing in slowly and deeply whilst contemplating all this, letting go of the stress and finding that we have much to be positive about and somehow, instead of moaning about how stressful everything is I need to find a way to harness these current emotions and to stop being a reflection of the depression that can sweep over us both. It would be going too far to suddenly become hugely compassionate because the five years of criticism and manipulation have left an indelible mark but I do not want our situation with the AP to define who I am or in fact who we are. Life is just too short for that.

Now back to the diet and hopefully my determination to succeed will not be ambushed the minute the sun sets over the yard arm.

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.