I truly cannot believe that everything has escalated so rapidly. One minute I’m thinking things aren’t too bad, well, at least bearable and the next moment the old proverbial has hit the fan and with a vengeance. Am I just so naive that I didn’t see it coming?
Last night, sitting down with the AP to watch TV a trivial incident occurred over her hearing a bell ringing in the house, or so she thought, At that particular time no bells did ring but she insisted they had rung. We knew it wasn’t in the house and suggested that the sound might have been outside or perhaps the cleaners mobile. For some inexplicable reason the AP kept on about this making all kinds of things up. One being that no-one was around at the time which wasn’t true. The LSO was there and he pointed this out, at which point she turned on him with real venom, told him that he was stupid and to shut up.
Oh dear, not a good thing to have said. No point in going into detail but suffice to say it caused untold damage. The AP did as she usually does in these moments and went upstairs to her room in high dudgeon. We made the decision after our astonished anger died down to talk to her in the morning.
Morning came and she did, surprisingly, apologise but to me not the LSO. A first but sadly too late. We tried to explain that it was unacceptable behaviour but she ended up in complete denial along with a string of lies about what the LSO had said in the past and to cut a long story short that she has never felt welcome anyway since day one. Well that went down like a lead balloon. So we have just wasted four valuable years in the latter part of our lives to look after this ungrateful woman.. I guess that was the final nail in the coffin for me and I realised that she can no longer live here. I have started the search for a suitable care home but feel utterly defeated. We perhaps could have saved the day but for the last comment and now there is no going back.
Can things get worse? Indeed they can. My brother is undergoing emergency surgery today on a leaking aneurysm and has asked that we don’t tell the AP. We are just praying for a good result.
This is a question I find myself asking more and more these days. Today is my birthday and although at my age it is just another day I suppose I still would like it to be a little special. Well I have my wish, it has become special but not in a way I would have liked. The AP has upset the LSO and the whole situation is trivial but it highlights, once more the growing problem we have looking after the AP.
She asked the LSO to choose and buy a birthday card for her to give to me. This was done by the way, in her presence whilst we were all out on a day trip . Now, I don’t know about anyone else but I always choose cards to suit the person I am sending it to, conveying the right message I would hope. The LSO chose one he knew I would really like and showed the AP who wouldn’t have seen it clearly in the shop but will have pretended to see the image. She was duly given the card but once home it appears that the AP didn’t like the card chosen and told me today she thought it inappropriate and it wasn’t a reflection of her. It was a beautiful painting of a hare and I love hares. What did I get instead, a glittery, sugary Christmas card with a wreath as the illustration, in fact the same card as I got last year. Does it matter that that is how she sees herself or even that it is a Christmas card? No, of course not but the LSO is a little put out and on top of that he got no thanks! What’s new there then?
Yesterday we took the AP to the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden and had a lovely lunch in the Hare and Hounds pub in the village. This is all part of our attempting to make life better for all of us and when the birthday card was purchased. It was a good day out, enjoyed by all but getting out of the car I noticed the AP had a small hole in her tights and commented that perhaps she could do with me ordering her some more. Her response was that she couldn’t see a hole, although there was one in the knee apparently but her trousers hid it and then she proceeded to the front door muttering under her breath that I was basically talking rubbish. I am beginning to feel that I am living with the local bag lady and a vinegary one at that but if that is what she wants, so be it.
I must admit I do have trouble equating the vanity displayed by the AP with her refusal to buy a pair of tights. She can’t see herself but resents it when helpful suggestions are made by those who can still see.
Last Monday was the AP’s annual visit to the Health Practitioner at the surgery and it was suggested by the nurse that the AP should have a personal alarm. Her response to this suggestion was classic; she didn’t need one as she has the LSO and myself and didn’t I agree with that? I certainly did not and pointed out that in nearly four years the LSO and I have been out, on our own, at night twice although that is not counting the 5 weeks a year my cousins have her staying with them. No, just the other approximately 190 weeks and it would be a real treat to just go to the cinema and not have to worry. Leaving her alone for one hour is difficult enough but anything much beyond that is not possible.
It was also suggested that there are various places she can go to meet people and enjoy cakes and biscuits and a chat but that fell on stoney ground as our conversation during the trip home in the car illustrated. But there is a glimmer of light on the horizon, a lady will be coming to visit the AP at some point to explain what is available.
When we are young there is a sense that everything is further away. After Halloween and Guy Fawkes night the next big celebration is Christmas but when you are small that seems to be ages away. When you get older time seems to fold in on itself and fly by.
Except now. Time only flies for the LSO and myself when we are enjoying ourselves and that is when the AP is away. The rest of the time we are constantly aware of this shadow in our midst.
I was dwelling as usual, on the predicament the LSO and I are in and wondering how on earth we allowed this to happen. What seemed like a good idea at the time has become a living hell for us, trapped in our own home and living with a stranger who tries to control and dominate us.
We thought we entered into this with our eyes wide open but we really hadn’t a clue what we were up against and once again it comes back to the fact that we really do not know our parents. I saw my mother as someone I could talk to, lean on when I needed or thought I needed support but where has she gone? Looking back I realise that she was probably a domineering parent when I was a teenager but I was too young to recognise it or to analyse it. After I left home any visits were short and sporadic and there was no time for such a critical attitude. She can be pleasant to be with when she makes an effort but as soon as she feels thwarted or misinterprets something that is said to her it all changes. This does not make for a comfortable existence as we never know when the tide will turn and this spoilt, demanding, childish and selfish person arrives back in our midst.
I think the worst thing about the whole situation is how she makes us feel so guilty. As if we are not allowed to have any freedom or fun on our own. If she can’t do it why should we seems to be her agenda. The fact that she has had her life and is now pushing 100 years appears to have no bearing on anything. The AP is determined to make us live at her level and sadly we have allowed this to happen. We realise now that should have laid out the parameters in the beginning.
But this must stop now.
We are trying to follow our own advice and not allow her to antagonise us or rather not rise to her baiting. Easier said than done, but so far though things are slightly better and the AP is being kept in her place. Even the LSO is making an effort and not being defensive when the AP has a dig.
Heaven knows how long it will last but we do need to keep this up. More changes are on the way and she will kick a bit but our sanity and quality of life are more important.
The AP has returned and the dear relatives who have looked after her for a month have departed homewards and I feel so down. There are no words to explain this sense of utter despair that has overwhelmed me. As I prepared the dried fruit for my fourth Christmas cake I could have cried.
The AP has not returned in any way nicer it would seem, in her attitude towards the LSO and myself and has already started using the basilisk stare as if she hasn’t heard a word that is being said to her. When she doesn’t respond we explain again to be told with a screwed up face that she has heard everything. This is not easy. Her sweet little old lady pretence slipped at breakfast time in front of the family but a quick recovery was made although her attitude had been observed.
The minute they had gone she headed up to her room. I do not like what this woman has become and am at a loss to know how to deal with this situation. Somehow I must find the mental strength to rise above this terrible feeling of despair and gloom but how on earth do I do this. I have never been someone who wallows in self pity or enjoys being down and depressed. I have always felt that life is worth living and managed, despite difficult times in the past, to pull myself out of being miserable and have found something positive to hang on to.
This time I am really struggling.
I also wonder how much of this extreme emotion is because I have been told I am a Type 2 Diabetic. Maybe some of my reactions are down to the fact that I have just been put on medication to help control the condition as my attempts at dieting have made little difference to my blood sugar levels, in fact the very opposite. I have only been taking these pills for two days so I doubt they are doing much yet and I still have to endeavour to lose weight.
I guess part of the whole problem is the enormity of what I/we are dealing with but if someone else was saying all this to me what would be my reaction? Well, I know I would say two things and one would be to not look at the entire situation as a whole all the time, take small manageable steps in the right direction. Then the other piece of advice would be to take each day as it comes. There is no point in doom and gloom and misery is catching, of that there is no doubt. It is time to man up or in my case woman up and despite the uphill struggle, deal with everything, stop wallowing and follow my own advice.
I have just read through what I have written and actually feel slightly better. What is it about putting down feelings in words that is so cathartic?
Ok, it is official that stress makes you fat and it’s worse if you are over sixty. I can definitely relate to that statement because despite my best efforts my body refuses to do what it is told or so it seems. I am not a happy dieter, I love to cook and I love eating out so I am probably my own worst enemy in truth.
Having been diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic I have made a huge effort to toe the dieting line but generally I hardly lose any weight unless I survive on a lettuce leaf for every meal. I know, that’s an exaggeration but it really does seem that way. I tried a really low carb diet for a week and lost four pounds but the following week I reverted to a more mixed but sensible diet because we were on holiday and I put on three pounds. I do think the first part of a severe eating regime causes a large fluid loss and looking on the bright side at least I didn’t put on four pounds or more.
I am now restricting sugars which isn’t difficult as I don’t have a really sweet tooth and I am keeping carbs down by reducing the amount of bread, potatoes, rice and pasta I eat which is difficult as I am a carboholic. Hopefully I will see a difference in weight by the end of the week. I am aware that exercise is just as important and I do swim as much as I can but do need to walk more. The LSO suggested getting the bicycle up and running and provided the photograph above which about says it all really. It’s certainly a reflection of how my body feels at the moment, in need of some attention.
The AP returns on Monday but I refuse to become stressed out about it. Somehow both myself and the LSO must survive all this and enjoy life as best we can. Being resentful brings only misery and that can become a habit too hard to break and I really do not want to go down that road. The LSO and I have always managed to laugh a lot which is such an important part of being well and staying healthy and we must not lose that facility no matter what happens. So how do we do this? Well, by a sheer determination to rise above this situation and to not be beaten into the ground.
I can hear the trumpets in the distance.
That must be a good sign.
How many times do we go around with a song going round and around in the brain? Have you noticed how it always gets stuck in a rut too. Mine today is John Tams singing the song that was used in Sharpe ‘Over the Hills and Faraway’ which must be an indication of how I feel about the AP at the moment
We have just one a week to go before the AP returns from her month long visit to kind relatives in Scotland and my heart feels like it is tightening. It has been a most enjoyable few weeks experiencing the pleasure of freedom. We have just returned from a lovely weekend staying with our son and his partner in their new home, chilling, chatting, watching TV and eating out. Last night I slept like a log which hasn’t happened for years.
Sitting in bed with a morning cup of tea and looking at the Thames Estuary glinting in the sunlight I experienced a sense of well being which was further enhanced when I opened my phone to find a message on Facebook from my cousin’s wife in Ayrshire. It was a small video on the ‘Power of Positivity’, quotes from the Dalai Lama and what jumped out at me was that ‘A positive future cannot emerge from the mind of anger and despair.’ Following this I read that ‘Hard times build determination and inner strength. (Do they?) Through them we can begin to understand the uselessness of anger.’ I agree with some of that but when you are ground into the ground it is hard to even think clearly let alone make an effort to have compassion. Am I angry, no not at the moment anyway. Do I feel despair? Yes I do. I need to find some semblance of empathy for the AP in order to deal with the mixed feelings I have at the thought of her return. All food for thought. The Dalai Lama is a wise man. One quote I particularly like is ‘Remember that not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck’ It actually makes me smile – let’s hope it’s true.
But in the meantime we still have some respite left and are planning how to use these few days to get the most out of them. As the great man says ‘See the positive side, the potential and make an effort”
Nine days to go.
Well we are just about two weeks into our break from the AP and after a delightful seven days in the wilds of North Norfolk I feel much more like my old self. The trip away was a gourmet’s delight which sadly highlighted the fact that we live in a culinary desert but the coast is only an hour away so we really must make more effort to visit it.
It was a bit unnerving when the BMW’s, Range Rovers, Mercedes and the odd Porsche 4WD arrived in their droves towards the end of the week and we were surrounded by a sea of Boden, Labradors and Hunter’s wellies but we didn’t allow it to spoil our enjoyment either of the excellent and varied cuisine available or the glorious beach walks with the dogs. There was such a wonderful choice of good places to eat that I felt like a kid in a sweet shop and to just top everything off we managed to get a cancellation at a Michelin starred restaurant and celebrated a rather belated forty-seventh wedding anniversary eating the most wonderful of meals. It has made us determined to return to The Neptune at a later date to sample the tasting menu but we will definitely need to book a room for the night.
Unfortunately we had to come home a little earlier that originally planned but that was because the weather suddenly turned much colder and wetter and we were just not equipped for it, no wellies, no warm jackets. Bit of an oversight really but then the weather has been so mild for so long that winter seemed ages away. Nevertheless it was lovely to return to our own space. It’s amazing how a break can make you appreciate what you have and being on our own there is no pressure to do anything we don’t want to do. Although the heap of ripe chillies that greeted us on our return has meant another batch of hot chilli sauce is already underway.
Such a heavenly sense of freedom. It is just so important that we make the most of this return to normality because in fifteen days time the AP will be back. Am I counting? It’s hard not to when you know that within a few days of the AP’s return we will be back on the emotional rollercoaster although this time the LSO and I will try, I hope, to get out more on our own. Well that’s the plan at the moment.