Avoid the rollercoaster at all times.

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As I have said in previous blogs, living with an AP is similar to riding an emotional rollercoaster. I am discovering the hard way, needless to say, that it is necessary for self preservation and good health both mentally and physically to not react to difficult situations that arise. In other words don’t get on the rollercoaster and if on it, get off immediately.

This is, much harder to do in practice but I am learning. When the AP begins the wind up, the rudeness and the screwed up face I am trying to remain calm and in agreement; changing the subject if necessary. It isn’t easy as the AP is I suspect a tyrant underneath everything and wants to get her own way all the time. She certainly has succeeded in dominating our lives and that must change.

The LSO and myself are discussing ways to deal with all this and to start with we have decided that the best technique is to appear calm, collected and pleasant when faced with the AP being antagonistic and disagreeable.  Although occasionally she says something and the goal yawns in front of us, oh boy is that a difficult one! We will be discussing over the next month ways to have some time alone and with our friends without causing too much friction and also how to deal with the inevitable unpleasantness which is appearing more and more as the months go by.

Talking to people about this problem is fine in principal but can often lead to very well meaning suggestions being made that in truth we have thought about but realise are impractical. It really is a fact that unless you have experienced this situation you have no idea what it is like, hence we are in the position we are in. Would we, knowing what we know now take on the AP?  We are also aware especially when feeling tired and emotional that we perhaps overreact and realise that we must try to be more understanding. It can’t be easy being 99 years of age and not being able to do the things you have always been able to do. She too has lost her freedom and personal space but equally she has had a good long life and surely knows that our lives have come to a standstill because of her and that we need some time and space without her.

The LSO and myself really do need this break just to take stock and build up some reserves again.

Five days to go.

Take nothing for granted.

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The old Boy Scouts motto of ‘Be Prepared’ is one to be remembered when having an AP living with you. In our case it is always to be prepared for rudeness, childish behaviour, selfishness and lack of grace.

We have had a surprisingly peaceful few days with some evidence of pleasantness from the AP but that has now vanished in a blink.

It began at breakfast when I was told to turn the bathroom fan off, no please is added to this statement and as usual, no thank you for breakfast.

Lunchtime the AP comes down and moans that I haven’t got enough money out of the Post Office for her, as usual no thank you for getting the money in the first place. Whilst eating the doorbell rings and it is a special friend of ours just calling in. He stays for a cup of tea and then disappears out the back with the LSO to look at wood as men do. It begins to rain and I head indoors to be greeted by a screwed up face and the response that our friend did not say hello to her and has left without saying goodbye. The former is untrue as he did say hello and apologised for disturbing our lunch which made any physical greeting rather more difficult. As for departing without a word, true but it was raining and he didn’t say goodbye to me either. Am I offended, no, is the AP offended, yes and she has stomped up to her room to no doubt sulk but hopefully to continue her packing.

In the meantime no thanks for lunch. None of this does anything to endear the AP to us and I am reminded that I really have no idea who this woman is who lives in our house and is looked after by us. I feel that she is destroying our equilibrium and our lives when these happenings occur. My cortisol levels soar along with my sugar levels and none of this is doing either the LSO or myself any favours.

A good friend and family member said that he could see her trying to dominate us and take over our lives but our refusal to roll over is why there are these frustrated outbursts. Unfortunately the very nature of the situation means our lives have changed and certainly not for the better but I do feel that the AP cannot assume that friends of ours are automatically friends of hers. They are polite and pleasant with her which is good of them but not a given and we are so lucky that they still come to see us. We have become prisoners in our own home.

Eight days to go. I find myself praying that all goes well and we can look forward to a month of being able to step off the rollercoaster.

Mental attitude and character.

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The following quote came up on Instagram, it just said that ‘Character is the result of two things: mental attitude and the way we spend our time.’

It made me start to assess my mental attitude and that was really complicated. The latter was easy to answer but maybe too ‘pat’ in its simplicity. I spend my time looking at my four walls and feeling trapped but within those walls I cook a great deal, wash and do what is necessary to look after the AP, the LSO, myself and in the last two months a swathe of visitors. If I had more freedom what would I do? Probably not a huge amount that is different except there would be a choice. At the moment there are no opportunities to do anything without a great deal of planning. The saddest thing really is the lack of incentive to do the preserves and pickles that I have produced in the past. I feel overwhelmed by the amount of work they all entail and yet three years ago I would produce two batches a day without a thought when the fruits and vegetables were in abundance.

Does any of this reflect my mental attitude? Indeed it does and I am aware that I am becoming less out-going and beginning to turn in on myself. This insularity is worrying as it is a huge barrier to overcome if it is allowed to take hold.

My diet is not doing too well either as I struggle to cope with the demands of different attitudes to food not least my own! A ‘mañana’ attitude prevails as in ten days the AP heads northwards for a month and I am finding it hugely convenient to put off the realities of cutting back on carbs and calories until then. So I must pull myself together, think positively, become more determined to sort all this out and not work against myself.

Well, that’s the plan no doubt there will be modifications on the way.

Did I hear this correctly?

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It is a strange situation that we find ourselves in, both 71 years of age and we have become the carers of a 99 year parent. As I have said in a previous blog, it is like riding an emotional rollercoaster. One day all seems fine and she is nice to have around then the next day you become aware that there is an atmosphere for no apparent reason. The AP has retreated into the past and this often is a sign that she has been eavesdropping again and has then misunderstood something she has overheard. Some weeks ago I had had a shower and was sitting at the dressing table in our bedroom when I heard the AP’s door open. There was complete silence and when I looked out she was standing stock still at the top of the stairs listening in to the voices downstairs. The AP had no idea I was there and when I asked if all was well she visibly jumped. We had guessed this was happening and although she claims to be deaf and wears hearing aids she can obviously tune in when she really wants to listen in. There is a humorous side to all this except when we are accused of things we haven’t said or done.

I am frequently told that we haven’t given her information that has in fact been discussed with her in detail the previous day but that short term memory loss we can cope with, it’s the cry of ‘you never tell me anything’ that really rankles usually said with a screwed up face and some foot stamping. Unfortunately she has also started to make things up to fill a knowledge gap and to decide an idea she has had is a reality. No I don’t think it is any form of dementia, it is just the natural degrading of the brain with old age. In many ways the AP has most of her marbles intact.

Oh well, it could all be much worse and we are now only fourteen days away from being able to breathe easily and freely for a full four weeks.

 

To blog or not to blog?

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I was looking with interest at the blogs I follow when I came across an article on why others choose to follow blogs and that they do it only to get followers on their sites.

I suppose it’s a tit-for-tat attitude, I’ll follow you if you follow me?  It did strike me as a rather odd observation because blogging is a strange phenomena. It can be a form of networking for some but it isn’t really social media like Facebook or Twitter; it’s a little like Instagram with more depth. In all cases followers are encouraged and for many they are very necessary.

The LSO has had a blog for years that began as a website and the blog reflects his interests in landscape, in particular the area we live in, his love of printmaking and his passion for angling. I am new to blog writing and for me it is a kind of diary, a means of articulating my feelings and thoughts. My following of other blogs is a reflection of my own interests in art, reading and cooking in particular and although it is rather nice to have followers it’s not an essential. On the other hand it is very comforting to feel that you are not alone and to those who choose to read what I write, thank you. I am sure that many people feel this way.

I have found from a personal point of view that the whole blog writing process has been very cathartic and it has certainly helped me step back from our problems. This has helped me to cope with the stresses and strains of looking after a 99 year old parent who lives with us and to put things back into perspective especially when the LSO was so very ill this year. It has also made me more aware of my own shortcomings and to always bear in mind that no-one is perfect, even the AP. Ok, maybe that’s me being hopeful!

Fifteen days to go to our four week break, the light on my shrinking horizon is glowing brighter. The LSO and I will be using some of the freedom sorting out a few essentials in order to hopefully improve the quality of our lives when the AP returns from her four week vacation in Bonny Scotland.

 

You reap what you sow?

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I woke up this rather grey Sunday morning feeling pretty positive about life in general for a change. I got up, washed, dressed and came down to prepare breakfast. Our nephew is staying and for him it was bacon, egg, and fried bread. For the AP it was cereal, fruit, yogurt and a sprinkling of flaxseed. The LSO had already sorted his own breakfast earlier. For me it was grilled tomatoes on toast and they were delicious, straight out of the greenhouse. All in all a good beginning to the day then the AP started a conversation with her grandson and I felt an immediate sense of irritation wash over me as she bluffed her way to stardom making appropriate noises but having really no idea about anything. Why this feeling? It isn’t rational and is making me feel very unhappy. I need to have some empathy for the AP otherwise I am allowing her lack of it to affect my attitude to her.

So how do I turn all this around. I decided to refresh my memory about the Law of Resistance and it definitely rang some bells of recognition. I am becoming a victim, there is a definite sense of ‘poor me’ creeping in to my thoughts which I really must resist. I was reading that there is a Buddhist saying that says if we point a finger at someone there will be three pointing back at us. Interesting thought and it made me stop and think.

Our health is our karma, in which case I am affecting my own health and vitality with these feelings. Time to change, time to not resist the negatives but to embrace the positives. I feel like I am jumping into a void but I must find the person I was before the AP came to live with us. We, the LSO and I, need to discuss how we change things for the better for all of us. Not necessarily huge changes because I do believe that it is the small things that count.

Do we really reap what we sow? I guess so but if we study the Law of Grace everything can be put right but we have to make the necessary effort to do so.

Seventeen days to go to some clear thinking, to freedom, to spontaneity and to having some personal space back even if it is just for a little while.

 

Carb counting or calorie counting?

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Well that is the question. I have opted for both really, low carbs and low calories and so far so good. I lost nearly 5 pounds last week but doubt I will be as successful this week. Having visitors to stay is a difficult time to diet especially when eating out. I am still a novice at all this but after much reading I understand that if I wish to be back to pre diabetic I must lose weight and the quicker the better seems to be the maxim.

Fortunately I can still enjoy a glass or two of wine with my meals and that certainly improves things. Lots of vegetables, protein, small amounts of carbs, not many fats but good ones like olive oil and even cheese is on the menu with as many herbs and spices as I want, then with the addition of fruit and small amounts of milk and yogurt we have the basis of the diet. The biggest problem for me and the LSO is that I love big flavours and hot ones too and these don’t work for the AP.

AP isn’t really a foodie we have discovered despite her earlier protestations to the contrary. If it can be sucked up through a straw it is acceptable and it must always be easy eating, lots of gravy and very bland. On the other hand I can grill Lemon Sole for her, which is a particular favourite, with chips of course and her plate will be swimming in vinegar and lemon juice. At the end of the meal the AP will sit back and announce how much she enjoyed the delicate flavour of the fish! Still, everyone to their own.The long suffering friend was talking to the AP the other day and they were discussing last meals. I have no idea where the conversation came from but when the AP was asked what her last meal would be the answer was a tin of Ambrosia Creamed Rice.  I guess that says it all.

Seventeen days to go.