A New Year, a new beginning.

Not only a new year but the beginning of a new decade which just illustrates to me the speed at which time is passing by and I seem to have been standing still for years, still ageing but not going anywhere! New years are a time when we tend to take stock of everything about our lives both past and present and always with a sense of hope for the future. Isn’t that why we talk of making new year resolutions, ranging from small things such as clearing unworn clothes from drawers and wardrobes, donating them to various clothing banks, to giving up drinking, being more active and also losing weight. The latter is definitely a resolution I will be making especially after the indulgences of the Christmas period.

Christmas was a really lovely occasion this year with all our immediate family here. It was only marred slightly by one small occurrence which was the AP trying to persuade our son, daughter-in-law and small grandson to stay and have Christmas dinner with her in the care home, not once but three times. It was an attempt to get at the LSO and myself for not having her here but all it did was make them feel guilty and it was just another example of her controlling and selfish ways. She couldn’t have coped with the chaos, the noise or the food and then there was no-one who could return her back to the home in the evening. Sometimes I feel a sense of real frustration setting in, just which bit of ‘Care’ and ‘Home’ does she and in fact some others, not understand. The LSO and myself are no longer able to look after her because the AP needs 24/7 care and just for a change, the lack of her presence did mean that the LSO and myself actually enjoyed Christmas which was a real bonus.

But remaining on the ‘time for reflection’ theme, I really do need to make some resolutions and stick with them. First on the list is weightloss which is essential for my own health and well being so its back to the low carb with intermittent fasting which I know works for me. The next thing that needs addressing is the great clear-out of not just clothes but all the junk in my studio which has been in there for nearly three years. Just thinking of it is exhausting and that comes to the third issue. How often in the past years have I thought of all these things that need doing then sat down, played another game of Gin Rummy or Wordscape or poured another glass of wine? Often is the answer, too often in fact so the third resolution which should probably be the first is to stop prevaricating and get on with things.

Do I feel better now having got all that off my chest? Not really but at least it’s a start. Do I actually believe the idea that a new year brings hope and new beginnings? No, of course not but there is no doubt that clutter is often a reflection of a state of mind so it can’t be a bad thing to tidy up or to have hope for a better future.

The aftermath.

I haven’t written a blog for about seven weeks which can only be a good sign as far as my emotional and mental health is concerned. For almost four years this blog has stood firmly between me and insanity of that I have no doubt; I have been able to keep things in perspective by writing down my feelings and my responses to intolerable situations. The inevitable run up to the Christmas festivities is partly responsible for the radio silence and now that the AP is in a care home the stress factors have vanished almost completely. I say almost because we still have to visit her once a week. This does nothing for our peace of mind because her behaviour with us is often aggressive, demanding and thoroughly unpleasant. We go out of a sense of duty but often come away feeling very down having listened to a string of moans about nothing in particular. We try to steer the conversation to lighthearted things but the AP can and does think only of herself. She is rude about the other residents, calling them thick and is convinced someone has stolen a pink bag she had in there. She probably took it to the dining room with her and forgot about it. The staff party all night too, shades of the hospital! I bet they wish they could.

None of this is new as she was horrid to us when she was living here but now we are seeing much, much less of her we have a much clearer picture of the AP and it isn’t flattering. She still tries to play her controlling games with us but now we can walk away from it all and we do, thank goodness. It is a completely different story when others go to visit her in the home and just like before she makes a huge effort and plays the sweet, slightly dotty old woman.

Christmas will be an interesting experience because the AP will be spending hers in the care home. She will not be coming back here not only because we don’t actually want her malign presence casting it’s long shadow over us but we cannot get her back in the same day. She cannot sleep here as the AP is unable to get up and down the stairs and her room is not habitable now, we are slowly regaining our space back. But, in truth she could no longer cope with the general noise and hubbub of the day. She is in a care home for a reason, we can no longer look after her and nor do we wish too. The five and a half miserable years of looking after her have taken their toll on both the LSO and myself at a time in our lives when we should have been free. I am now seventy four and cannot have that time back but what is so very frustrating and what makes me still very angry is the fact that all the AP had to do was be pleasant, accept and enjoy what we had to offer with some grace and we could have rubbed along well. What we endured was the polar opposite. My anger lessens as time goes by but I have no liking for the AP who tried to drive a wedge between the LSO and myself whilst being controlling, conniving, devious and thoroughly unpleasant.

In the meanwhile I have been dealing with the aches and pains that have woken me continually during the nights. I put aside the need to lose weight in order to concentrate on the niggling but nevertheless debilitating minor problems which taken as a whole were becoming a much bigger issue. There has been some success in that area thanks to CBD oil and a ten milligram dose of Amyltriptiline a day which apparently can help nerve pain in some people. It would appear to be the case for me and the pain in my lower back has all but gone which is a massive relief. The CBD oil took a while to have an effect but I generally am improving which is great because I can now look to losing some weight. At the moment I am eating smaller portions, keeping carbs low and endeavouring to not drink alcohol from Monday to Thursday. Is it working? Well not as much as I had hoped but the direction is downwards, just slowly.

Hopefully Christmas won’t cause too much damage but we have our family descending on us and for the first time in some years I am looking forward to it all.

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.

In search of willpower.

Certainly something is needed, a new body would help but unfortunately I know it is in fact just willpower I am lacking and at the moment I am having trouble finding any.

I am loving having our lives back and although I also know it is impossible to have back the past five and a half years I keep wanting to do all the things we couldn’t do then, immediately, especially enjoying meals out. This is definitely not conducive to weight loss and at the moment I haven’t gained any extra pounds but neither have I lost any and I am far too heavy.

This last week we have both been recovering from further bouts of illness with the LSO catching a really nasty and lingering cold. I cannot remember the last time he had one but it seems as if we have both relaxed and perhaps we have allowed ourselves the luxury of being unwell. We decided to have a few days away in the Lincolnshire Wolds, taking the dogs with us, partly because we needed a change of scenery but mostly because we could and it was an extremely pleasant experience. We both relaxed and enjoyed the peace and lack of pressure and have returned home in a much more positive frame of mind.

Unfortunately we did have to visit the AP which is always an effort. We sit there listening to her continual stories and moans trying to make some kind of conversation but it truly is a lost cause. She is utterly wrapped up in herself and has become extremely rude and condescending about the other residents. Even in the home she tries to control us demanding that we get things for her when all she has to do is ask a care assistant. Frustrated that she is now out of the loop she makes ridiculous statements but we just nod sagely and head for the door and freedom.

A friend of mine told me that her cousin, who had been in a similar situation to the LSO and myself, struggled with feelings of guilt when her mother died, but only because she didn’t feel guilty about the loss, just relief. I can relate to that completely and do not want to even visit the AP in the Care Home, I actually feel resentful that this manipulative and divisive woman is still able to steal some more of our time. But those are fruitless thoughts and need to be extinguished, I am not like my mother and do not wish to become anything like her; in fact I can think of nothing worse.

But I do need to be more disciplined with eating and drinking in order to lose weight so its back to the daily tracker for starters.

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 sense of release.

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.