Keep on smiling.

There is no doubt that laughter is the best medicine and some hysterically funny jokes, videos and stories have emerged from this lockdown. They certainly take the mind off the seriousness of what is happening here and around the world.

We try not to watch too much news on TV but inevitably the late afternoon briefing has become compulsive viewing which is no doubt the same for many thousands of people. The AP is tucked up safely in the Care Home and can’t seem to get a handle on this pandemic and according to her no-one is taking it seriously anyway. When I spoke to her this week she asked why had I not been to see her so I explained again that no visitors are allowed. This elicited the response that she had heard me outside in the corridor on several occasions recently and she gets quite distressed and upset when I don’t go to see her. I explained that one of the Care Assistants must have a similar voice because I haven’t been to see her for over three weeks because of the lockdown.

The whole situation left me feeling a little bemused and then of course I realised that she was just reverting to type and it was the old ‘trying to control me’ bullying technique coming into play. Had I really forgotten the dreadful years the LSO and I suffered looking after her? Her utter determination to control and manipulate us whilst telling everyone how wonderful we were. No, I guess that will take many years and it may be that I will never have fond memories of my mother but lately has been easier in that we cannot visit so that dread has gone. Mind you it isn’t something to be thankful for since it is because of the coronavirus that I feel the way I do which is ironic to say the least.

It is interesting to note that for the LSO and myself being tied to the house is not too much of a problem. We had up until last August been forced to socially distance for over five years, unable to go anywhere or do anything for most of that time. So although we had begun to really enjoy our freedom, we equally have been able to settle back into a routine that had been a habit but at least we don’t have the AP causing us grief. She really was a huge black cloud hanging over us, definitely a large bat in the attic.

I am thoroughly enjoying cooking and baking again and have managed a couple of inches of my sweater while the LSO has produced some wonderful lino prints which is good to see again. The AP slowly ground us down, knocking any sense of creativity or love of life out of both of us as we fought to survive her vindictive and malevolent nature. This was something we never saw at all until she came to live with us but bit by bit our love and appreciation of life is returning along with a sense of humour which has always been a huge part of our relationship.

Although I am not lighter I feel lighter but just have to endeavour not to end up being rolled sideways out of the house when some form of normality eventually returns.

The meaning of life.

An ominous title but not a philosophical one. I found myself inexplicably humming the ‘Galaxy Song’ from the Monty Python film ‘The Meaning of Life’ . Goodness knows where that came from but I seem to remember that the opening verse was “Whenever life gets you down and things seem hard or tough, And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft, And you feel you have had quite enough.” The rest apart from the end is lost somewhere in my memory banks except something about the Earth evolving and revolving at 9oo miles an hour. That trips easily off the tongue.

You have to be of a certain age to recollect those hysterically funny films produced by the hugely talented Monty Python team and now we have at least twelve weeks of social distancing the LSO and myself might well download them to watch again along with a comforting glass or two of a fine wine of course. This is certainly a time when spirits need lifting and humour does just that.

I also seem to remember that Mr Creosote was in that film too. I think my sub- conscience is telling me something and you don’t have to have an exceptionally high IQ to know what that is; the danger of being trapped indoors and bored is the inevitable attraction of comfort food and overeating and that is something to be avoided. It’s just all too easy to snack on things that make you feel good and these always seem to be sweet or fatty snacks, never a nice light stick of celery or some carrot batons and a dip. No it’s the shortbread biscuit with the coffee, yum, the bag of crisps that is just at hand, that piece of homemade cake, the fine handmade chocolate, even more yummy and lo and behold another pound in weight on, followed by cries of where did that come from!

So definitely a warning and not just to the curious, beware the handy snacks!

Finally the last bit of the song. ” So remember when you’re feeling very small and insecure, How amazingly unlikely is your birth, And pray there’s intelligent life somewhere out in space, ‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth!” There’s certainly a lack of toilet rolls, kitchen rolls, tissues, tinned food and flour to name but a few!

Bored already.

Today, I suddenly became overwhelmed by a sense of utter frustration as the LSO and I watched the news which as is the norm now, being dominated by the Coronavirus but not with anything particularly definite. Just a string of ‘what could happen’ without any idea of timings. The talk is that the over 70’s which inevitably includes us, will have to self isolate to avoid catching this bloody virus but when! Having been more or less in that position for over five years and having finally got over our sense of being institutionalised we are now facing crawling back into our shells for possibly up to four months.

I guess, in truth that’s a drop in the ocean for us and yes, we can do it. We have hobbies, the dogs and a lovely environment but it is just so very, very irritating and already I am bored at the prospect. Self motivation goes out of the window and that must not become a habit. We had plans to see the family over the Easter break and now that won’t be happening. We have just got back our freedom of movement and have been thoroughly enjoying exploring places again, eating out when we feel like it and doing things at a whim only to have it all curtailed again. At least with modern technology as well as FaceTime isolation isn’t total but I just hope the government are astute enough to organise things in a sensible way. Perhaps astute, sensible and politicians in one sentence are an oxymoron, time will tell. But truth be told we are not ready to depart this mortal coil as yet and we will follow sensible guidelines in order to hopefully avoid catching this virus.

It is mind boggling that there are some selfish members of our society who are stockpiling among other things, toilet rolls. Common sense should tell them that these things, if bought sensibly will continue to be available for all but no, the stupidity continues at an embarrassing rate. It’s nothing new though, we have seen all this before from petrol shortages because people were filling up cars to sit on their drives to panic buying of milk and bread. It really is all so unnecessary, people should stay calm and think more about others and less of themselves.

Well, on that note I think it’s time to get my knitting out, who knows, I may finally finish the sweater I started over a year ago.

Feeling disconcerted.

Suddenly all focus is on the latest global virus which has become an ever-expanding problem. I had not particularly worried about it at first because I guess having a mother still living at one hundred and one, soon to be one hundred and two, does give me a different perspective on the LSO and myself, certainly in terms of how old we are.

But with the general focus being on the vulnerable and the elderly I was quite shocked to find that we are in the latter group of people. Up until now I have never thought of myself as elderly and it has left be feeling somewhat disconcerted. But I suppose heading towards three quarters of a century is definitely in the zone. In fact with a history of chest problems and diabetes I am not only in the zone but actually at risk apparently. Goodness, how did that happen!

I then started taking more notice of news flashes and reading more about how to avoid infection, so we are armed with wipes and gel but not a mountain of toilet rolls! Panic buying does not come with the territory for me but being of a certain age means I do have a small stock of essentials in all the time. It’s an ingrained habit that comes from being a child in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s when rationing was still around and even then I was aware of how little everyone had after WW2. Old habits just don’t go away.

It is probably why I find dieting so difficult. I resent giving up the things I really enjoy and for many years now we have had a pretty comfortable existence for which I am hugely grateful. The coming months will be a strange ride for everyone until this virus burns itself out. But I shall still continue dieting because more than ever I need to become non-diabetic again.

The case of the hopeless dieter.

This title sounds like a story from Sherlock Holmes but sadly the problem will not be solved as easily. My body is not responding to the low carb diet, I am not gaining weight but neither am I losing any. My glucose levels aren’t brilliant either so maybe the new drug isn’t working as well as it should or maybe it just needs to be a higher dosage.. it’s early days and my next set of tests are two months away. The LSO sent me the picture above which he called “Skinny Pole’ which is definitely not me. Funny B…. but you have to laugh.

Maybe I need to look at portion control and use a smaller plate for my meals, it’s certainly worth a try. I also am aware that this long, cold and wet winter is not helping. I hate mud so I am not walking the dogs with the LSO which is something I need to address but this little voice in my head says ‘when the weather improves’ but I have been listening to that voice for several months now.

The imposed institutionalisation as a result of being the AP’s carers is difficult to shake off and I am aware that I have become disinterested in a great deal that made my life tick before she came to live with us. Five and a half years of being trapped have taken a heavy toll. Her nastiness, vindictiveness and her cunning controlling ways have left a permanent scar that isn’t going away easily. The fact that we have to visit the AP in the care home has become a necessary chore and something the LSO and myself both dread. We never quite know what we will find when we get there, today she was in bed, in a deep sleep so we left her requested boxes of tissues and came home. There is no point in waking her as we have found to our cost in the past because all we are met with is confusion.

She will be one hundred and two years old on April 30th. Will she make it, who knows? She is just a bag of skin and bone, drifting in and out of a kind of dream world. It’s sad really because although she is well looked after she is just existing, waiting for the inevitable to happen. Being cynical, I guess it’s in the care home’s interest to look after her well as it guarantees another week of fees which are going up in April a mighty 5.9% from £1070 to £1133 a week.

I wish our pensions did the same!

Struggling with hindsight.

How often have you heard people say ‘ it’s all very well but that’s an understanding with hindsight’? In fact how often have I said it myself.

I had called in to see a friend who has had a knee operation and during our conversation she asked after the AP, was she happy in the care home and how was the LSO and indeed myself finding things?

Now there’s a question, as for the AP, well she’s happy to a point but its hard to really understand what she thinks. She has retreated even further into her own little world which crosses the boundaries between mostly dreams and past recollections with a little reality thrown in occasionally but only if it concerns herself. For example needing tissues, make up or toothpaste. I am sometimes her mother and sometimes her sister but seldom me but she hasn’t got dementia, she is just old and a little senile.

As for myself and the LSO we are happier now having our freedom, privacy and our home back after a long five and a half years but the damage her vitriolic presence did to us, both emotionally and physically is immense. During the last five months I have come to realise why we were never going to come out of this well. No-one can understand what it was like because to everyone she met she always said how wonderful we both were to the point of boredom so no-one would be able to equate her gushing niceness with the domineering, vindictive and controlling old woman we witnessed on a daily basis. All they ever saw was this rather dotty but sweet old lady and if we expressed our discontent we must have been exaggerating. Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact the true depths of her nastiness could not be adequately described. Occasionally as time passed one or two visitors had a glimpse of how nasty she could be and began to understand a little of what we lived with but unless you experienced the situation over the long term, it’s impossible to imagine.

We still have to visit her in the home at least once a week and even that can be a tortuous experience but now, at least, we can get up and leave thank goodness.

It has made dieting difficult to settle down to but finally I seem to be getting my head around the Keto way of living. I seriously stuck to it last week and was delighted to register a pound and a half off which was better than it being put on. This spurred me on to start experimenting with things like cheese crisps because I do need a little snack every now and then. The first batch of Parmesan crisps were lovely and crunchy but the flavour was too strong for me. I then tried a mix of cheeses which tasted about right but are a bit rubbery, perfectly edible but not crisp. So it’s back to the drawing board.

As a result of this eating regime and the reduction in alcohol consumption I am sleeping better and have a remarkably clear mind but unfortunately I have a health check up next week with the Practice Nurse and I am hoping that my excess weight has not resulted in a return to Type 2 Diabetes.

Even more reason to stick to the diet.

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.