There is no doubt that looking after the AP is a thankless task. Having her living with us means living life on an emotional rollercoaster. I recently read an article about using kindness to deal with recalcitrant old people and decided to change tactics with her. I thought I was strong enough to rise above all the emotional blackmail and was determined that she would not get to me. For a little while it worked and the LSO and I relaxed. That was a mistake. We then decided to take her with us on a flying visit to our daughter thinking this would make her pleasanter to have around. How wrong could we be. She obviously saw our different approach as a weakness to be exploited and before very long we were witnessing the return of a vindictive, jealous and thoroughly manipulative and controlling old woman. That evening whilst two of our friends were around she decided she would snipe at us thinking there would be no comeback with others there. Why she feels the need to do this is beyond me when all she has to do is pretend to be a sweet old lady but inevitably it backfired on her.
Needless to say this incident did not have a happy ending. When she tried to set us up and make us look bad, enough was enough and to cut a rather boring and long story short she was told that she was out of order and to depart to her room. The AP didn’t like this but nor did I because to do it I was angry, really angry and that left me dealing with a huge rush of adrenaline and cortisol. There is no doubt that she knows what she is doing because the next day she is all sweetness and light and gushingly pleasant which usually makes me want to rush to a bucket and be sick. Previous to this episode she announced to the LSO’s financial adviser who visited us that she had no family left, her son was dead her husband, her siblings and this went on with the LSO and myself standing there. Our visitor was hugely embarrassed and actually said ‘what about us’ to which there was a silence and then the AP said, ‘Oh, of course!’ Heaven knows what that meant and if it wasn’t so insulting it would be laughable, a dear, sweet old lady she definitely is not.
So what now? I guess it is back to living with all our mental barriers in place ready to fend off the next attack. The AP hates the fact that we are uncooperative and rather reticent with her, she cannot cope with it but we have found that it is the only way to deal with her. Certainly the only way to keep our sanity. This is no way to exist in our own home and there must be another solution to our problem other than the inevitable or a care home but what that is I really don’t know. I have come to dislike this woman that we have to look after.
We have twenty days to go to our few weeks of freedom and they can’t come soon enough.
I am delighted to report that the weight loss continues to be slow but steady although I haven’t had the best of weeks, for some strange reason I have been fighting various cravings. They have not been the usual desire for carbs in the form of the LSO’s lovely sourdough bread slathered in a really good creamy butter, no it’s been for something sweet. I have seldom felt the need for sweets or desserts and have always been able to take them or leave them unlike savouries such as crisps, pastry and bread. I found myself indulging in some dark chocolate and had to stop myself from gorging it all in one go. Is this going to be like every other diet tried in the past?
Definitely not, and as a result of these emotions I decided to do a bit of research and came to the conclusion that I had to get my stress levels under control and perhaps needed to eat a little more protein. Today I am definitely feeling a bit more in control.
The stress of course is caused by the AP who as her impending visit to Scotland looms is trying to be more and more controlling with an attempt at emotional blackmail thrown in for good measure. Then there is the astonishing statement made to a friend of ours earlier this week that ‘I can be as rude as I like because I am a hundred years old and and people just have to accept that’. Unbelievable really and laughable too! Anyway she was firmly put in her place by our friend who told her that the only thing that’s acceptable about her age was that people needed to make allowances for the fact that she was slower at everything. But where on earth did that thought come from? No wonder I don’t know who she is anymore.
But suffice to say the LSO and are are really looking forward to our break from her, to having our freedom and our home back even if just for a month.
Well, the RMR regime continues to work and I have now lost a healthy sixteen pounds so far. Not earth shatteringly fast but steady at mostly a pound to a pound and a half a week and I am happy with that. I don’t feel hungry or deprived, well, maybe occasionally when the LSO makes his sourdough bread and I look at the luscious, plump and sweet plum tomatoes from the greenhouse and have to fight the cravings. I have always loved tomatoes on toast. Although I am still overweight I am aware of reducing in size now and that incentive certainly helps reduce the cravings.
Our month of freedom is approaching and we are both desperately in need of a break from the AP who continues to be obtuse and difficult especially when we have to explain anything to her. I do sometimes wonder if it is deliberate, this selective refusal to understand anything said to her or is it just that her brain is deteriorating. We sound like a record caught in a groove, constantly repeating ourselves. Now that the month away in Scotland is looming she seems to want to control what we do more and more but I have finally found what is probably the most important word in the English language, NO. I refuse to be bullied or harassed by the AP and have developed a detachment that is extremely settling for me and unsettling for her.
I am not cruel, but when you are treated like servants in your own home it really does become important to stand our ground. Please and thank you are words we seldom hear when there is just the three of us, then, when we have visitors staying this gracious old lady suddenly appears, God only knows where from and she plays the grand old dame, totally in charge of her faculties. It’s all rubbish of course, as she nods sagely and appears to listen intently and manages some reasonable responses even when looking at images on phones and iPads that she is actually unable to see. But all this play acting means that most people think life is fine and dandy for us but the truth is the opposite. We are trapped in our own home with this vain, at time unpleasant and demanding old woman and that’s only the half of it. She has no grace and no empathy for others. The AP is the centre of her own universe and is incapable of truly being content with her situation.
Why is she like this? It could just be that she can no longer deal with even the simplest things in her life, the television for one is becoming something she cannot use easily and her life is out of her control, so she tries to control us instead. Unfortunately in doing so she has alienated us both to the point that we really are hugely weary of her very presence in our home and that is just so very sad.
The LSO is finding the AP particularly tiresome and he has become run down and generally disinterested in all the things he likes doing. This is not good and we need to find a way of combatting this terrible feeling of ‘what is the point’. We need to restore our sense of equilibrium and humour, the latter being sadly lacking from our lives these days. The LSO has a marvellous sense of humour but even that is in serious need of revival, humour and laughter have in the past got us through some difficult times, we need to restore it.
At least we have a chance of some recovery in sixteen days time, thanks to my lovely cousin and his wife who are coming to stay for a few days and are then taking the AP back with them.
Or in this case the first stone in weight off. I am thrilled to have finally found an eating regime that actually works for me and isn’t a penance, in fact I am enjoying the cooking and the planning.
The Real Meal Revolution (RMR) is a well thought out and balanced eating plan which provides support, advice, meal plans if needed and a huge supply of recipes to start you off which are family friendly and easy to do. There are also lists of foods that can be eaten always, those that need to be limited and the red list of ones to never eat. It is easy enough to devise meals using the green lists. The secret is definitely in the planning but you could probably say that of all diets in truth. The difference with the RMR is that it actually helps you to train your mind and your body in order to enable you to lose weight. It is not a quick fix and is a regime to be followed for life. Being ultimately a foodie I was initially worried that I would find the low carb restrictions too difficult but that has not been the case. The plan turns everything we have always been told to do about a balanced diet, upside down and it did take me a few weeks to get my head around it all but that is a necessary part of the learning curve. I certainly feel better, have less aches and pains and walk the dogs with greater ease. Mind you, this stone is just the first hurdle, I have several to clear over the coming months but at least I feel positive about reaching my goal weight.
The AP is aware that I am losing weight but doesn’t seem to understand how because we do all appear to eat the same meals. This is one of the bonuses of it all, she cannot meddle or tell me what she thinks I should be doing from her standpoint of no knowledge. Before we made the fateful decision to have her live with us the AP was living on sugar laden Heinz tinned soups and bought snack cakes, full of artificial flavourings and trans fats. Need I say more!
The only downside to it all is eating out. I love to go out for lunch or dinner but it is difficult to find anywhere that gives me any variety of choice. Pub meals in particular seem to focus on chips with everything, pastry dishes, bread rolls, breaded and/or battered fish, shellfish or chicken. Then there is the ubiquitous prawn cocktail which is enjoying a revival. It is invariably coated in a thick layer of glutinous mayonnaise of suspicious origin served, you guessed it, with bread and butter and I mustn’t forget the inevitable British favourites, sandwiches usually with a garnish of salad and crisps, filled baked potatoes, the ploughmans, lasagne with garlic bread and last but not least, curries with rice, poppadums, naan bread and sweet mango chutney. In the midst of all this there may be the lone salmon fillet to be had with salad and when I am really lucky, chilli beef with salad. Never mind though it will all be worth it in the end and I guess there is always an omelette with salad for added variety.
Where are we with the AP? Rolling towards our month of freedom and trying hard not to wish the time away, only four and a half weeks to go. She continues to irritate with her overbearing and condescending attitude and it will be lovely to have some time together doing our own thing.
It has finally arrived, Spring has landed with a truly incredible burst of sunshine and warmth typically just as the schools go back for the Summer term. After weeks and weeks of grey, wet and thoroughly depressing weather it is a real pleasure to wake up to clear blue skies. The land has also sprung into action with blossom bursting out all over and the fields are full of tractors and massive pieces of farming equipment sowing and planting at speed.
We are halfway through our break from the AP and the LSO and myself are enjoying our freedom despite the pressure put on us by the new boiler work. Although the diet is not exactly on hold it is a bit intermittent. As well as eating out we have found it difficult to deal with the lack of movement on the planned improvement. It has finally got underway beginning over a week late and stuttered along for the first few days as the builder fitted in other jobs that had also been held up by the bad weather as well as his dental appointments. It is just not true that doing this keeps the clients happy and we were beginning to get increasingly upset by the delays and the lack of action. I eat when stressed. I know it’s all a bit pathetic really but sadly true but I will get my act together again.
Hopefully the small building will be completed by the weekend and the new boiler and tanks should be in place and up and running by the end of next week. Well, that is in an ideal world which unfortunately is not inhabited by builders it would seem.
Never mind, at least for another two weeks we can still enjoy having our personal space back, eating what we enjoy and doing things spontaneously.
…..you don’t always see them but you know they are always there. This rather lovely statement was given to me earlier this week as a gift to hang in my studio and the best thing of all about it is that the friend who gave it to me really means it.
Our eighty year old farmer friend was also waxing lyrically the other day and saying how important friends are and when you find someone to love hang on to them because they are extremely precious. All wise words and all true. The world would be a much emptier and lonely place without friends. Friends care for you and accept you for what you are; they are not critical or manipulative but are there when you need them. I had always considered the AP a friend before she came to live with us but that feeling has sadly long gone, driven away by her selfish determination to dominate us. She constantly tries to be in charge when in fact she is here as a guest and should have more respect for us and the fact we have put our lives on hold to look after her.
The house is a pleasure to be in at the moment and the LSO and I are enjoying being able to do what we want and eat what we like and it’s a great feeling but our planned boiler replacement is still delayed because of our awful weather and that is worrying. We only have a small window of opportunity to work in and that is gradually becoming eroded. A friend is coming to stay in ten days time and I can see us boiling water for washing and if the weather doesn’t improve, huddling around the wood burner to keep warm. I think I heard the LSO muttering that we need to put the summer weight duvet on but that might not be such a good idea at the moment.
My cheery statement that Spring is in the air in a previous blog seems to have been in part a bit hopeful. Still, despite the weather I am thoroughly enjoying our short spell of freedom.
Such a sweet sounding word for me and for the LSO. Tomorrow we begin our month of liberty, release and the right to do what we want, when we want to do it. It seems to have been a long time arriving and latterly the time has not passed quickly but I know the coming month will.
The AP has not been quite so vociferous about her month in Scotland as she has been in previous years but that is because we have taken no notice of the rather unpleasant little asides that get muttered at intervals. Things like ‘you’ll be glad to have me out of your hair’ or ‘it’s difficult to pack for a whole month’ as if my cousin and his wife don’t have a washing machine and it’s not as if this is the first time she has been there either. We have been treated like servants with a continual string of demands made without much in the way of please and thank you and although I would like to think that it is just a foible of old age I know in my heart that it is very much how she now thinks of us.
Sad but I suppose inevitable. The AP always hated sarcasm and has always said in the past that it is the lowest form of wit but now she resorts to it as a way to get at us, thinking it clever but it only comes over as hurtful. Last week it was the turn of the LSO who had gone to the pharmacy to collect some hearing aid batteries for the AP. He managed to get a month’s supply and when told, the AP did say thank you but followed it up with ‘Oh, and you managed it all on your own then?’ said in a silly little voice. The one that is used when seeing chips on the plate, ‘oh goodie, chippies’. Fortunately the LSO didn’t retaliate.
It’s all so trivial really but when you live with this constant battering it’s hard to see things clearly and I am only too aware that the LSO and I desperately need this break if only to recharge the batteries ready for the month following our much needed breathing space.
The beginning of May will be the celebration of the AP’s 100 years. The LSO and I will become chief cooks, bottle washers, bed makers, chauffeurs and general dogsbodies whilst watching the AP gushing over everyone and playing the grand old dame for the benefit of the audience. We know that the minute everything has settled back to normal the AP we know and tolerate will return, pompous, vain, snobbish and capable of being extremely unpleasant.
Oh well, we will just have to smile sweetly and open another bottle!