A light on the horizon and this time it isn’t the train hurtling towards us down a tunnel. Tomorrow we take the AP to meet up with my cousin and his wife who are going to look after her for a month. A whole month to ourselves, I am really quite excited about having our personal space and freedom back. To also be free for a while of the hurtful digs and lack of grace that seems to have become part of our everyday life. To have time to do the things we want to do without any criticism or being made to feel guilty. Oh joy!
One day to go.
Well it’s official according to the AP, we are naive! At 71 years of age, having more experience in every respect than the AP has ever had even at 99 year of age we have been told we were this at the lunch table.
Part of the problem is her lack of hearing and the echo syndrome; someone makes a comment and seconds later the AP repeats this as if she is the first person to say it. All very peculiar. I got up to destroy her old bank card and said I would cut it up. Seconds later we were told it had to be cut up to which the LSO said yes, that was happening and then as if he hadn’t spoken she told him that we were naive and didn’t know about things like that. Oh dear!
The next issue will no doubt be over her passport which expires when she is 101! I used it to apply for her disabled sticker and am being accused of not returning it to her. Unfortunately I don’t remember handing it back but it isn’t something I would hang on too. I am afraid it will be another ‘oh dear’ moment.
Two days to go and we will be able to breathe again and hopefully the stress levels will start to recede. I feel at the moment a knot of angst inside and a feeling of not having enough oxygen in the air.
There is no doubt that looking after an AP is a thankless task and leaves both the LSO and myself teetering on the edge of our nerves almost permanently. You really never know when the mood will alter, one minute she is quite pleasant and then it all changes and it’s usually when she can’t have her own way then she becomes irritable and petulant.
This time it was over the lottery. The AP is a bit of a gambler on the side and is convinced that she will win the ‘biggie’ one day so we have a pretty regular flutter on both the National Lottery, the Euromillions and the Thunderball. She does appear to be pretty lucky with the Thunderball in particular, well I suppose I am really the one winning as the AP gives me her money and I do it all on my online account. I am absolutely careful to ensure that she has her own separate ticket as we do not need to be accused of cheating and she has once got close to that so I always do a line more for us on a separate ticket if we play at the same time.
So after last nights mega win of £5 I asked what she would like to do this evening and after several possibilities she decided, out of the blue, to have a scratchcard instead. The AP has never in over three years asked me to do one of these on the computer for her. Unfortunately I will not do it as all that’ll happen is that I will be moving more and more money out of the bank account to cover the losses. So I said no. There was an immediate change of attitude and the face screwed up and I was forced to explain over and over again why I am refusing her request. No just isn’t enough unfortunately but no it will remain.
These are really very trivial issues but it is astonishing how they can irritate and eat away at your emotions. No wonder we live on the edge.
Three days to go to a month of getting our emotional stability back.
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.
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.
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.
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.