To say time flies is an understatement. As I get older it is speeding up and the more I pack into my day the faster it goes. Just to throw in a useful bit of information; the expression comes from book 3 of Virgil’s Georgics, (a ‘georgic’ for those interested, is a book dealing with agriculture or rural topics) where it appears as ‘fugit inreparabile tempus’ which translated as: ‘it escapes, irretrievable time’.
How immensely true that is, we cannot have back what has gone!
It’s a while since I posted and that is partly due to the disastrous meeting with the AP at the Care Home. It was a gloriously sunny day so we were able to meet outside which we felt was a bonus but we were wrong. She had just eaten her lunch and started moaning from the moment the care assistant wheeled her out. The meal was not good, although she couldn’t remember what it was, the sun was too bright although she was in the shade and there was no proper greeting or interest in anything other than herself and what the AP felt she needed. I was referred to as ‘she’ throughout the 30 minutes and the LSO was greeted with enthusiasm and told it was lovely to see him. The conversation moved swiftly on to how she needed money and why was I handling her affairs anyway when she could do them herself. The LSO gently told her that she was incapable of handling her own affairs and had been for many years. It was all very uncomfortable because she continued to be rude and unpleasant and I felt the old angst rising as a knot inside and knew we needed to depart before something was said that could never be taken back.
So it is a return to the weekly phone call when the AP is positive, almost friendly and reasonably pleasant to talk to, in fact it would appear she herself prefers things this way which is fine by me and far less upsetting.
But back to the speed at which time is passing. I have almost completed my first sunset painting and have decided to do some much smaller images of skies as a project but have sidetracked myself with the complexities of sourdough. Some years ago I attempted to make this wondrous bread but failed miserably producing a large number of doorstops; not for me I decided and went back to normal bread making with yeast. The LSO started making it and had much more success, producing beautiful, well risen and airy boules with the required holes but that all stopped when the AP who was living with us then complained that the bread was too chewy and tough.
Recently I bought Vanessa Kimbell’s ‘Ten Minute Sourdough’ and started from scratch making my own starter and what a joy it has been; success at last. There is something hugely satisfying and zen-like about bread making in general which calms and nurtures the soul.
On the subject of success, my weight loss has continued with a few blips along the way but is much slower than I had hoped. Could that have something to do with the sourdough bread? Indeed I had thought I would have achieved my goal at least by Christmas but I am having to accept that it will be a much longer journey than originally anticipated. I am not letting this get me down but I do need to plan better. I have a tendency to wing it with food; looking in the freezer and fridge in the morning, asking the LSO what he fancies and making snap decisions using what is available. Not perhaps the best way to do things, so now I need to think ahead to get to my first target which will be three stone off and I am a tantalising 5 pounds away from that, then a mere 14 pounds to go afterwards.
After a spell of really warm weather, then some torrential rain, we are back to the great greyness and it is cold. Cold enough to tweak the central heating on which comes as a bit of a shock three-quarters of the way through June.
It doesn’t help with dieting either; I was enjoying the barbecued meals with lots of salads and vegetable kebabs which are spot on for a low carb diet. Now I find my mind lingerering, be it briefly, on more wintry casseroles and soups but no, I will not succumb to these thoughts and tonight it is a warm salad which I suppose is a bit of a compromise. I have now lost 30lbs, another 6 lbs off will put me about halfway to my target which I am hoping to reach before my 76th birthday.
My cousin and his wife came down from Scotland for a few days last week and although I was a bit concerned about how I would manage, especially as with so many of our friends and relatives we have developed a culture of ‘wining and dining’ but it was fine and I even lost some weight. The G&T’s were definitely off the menu replaced with fizzy water with a slice of lime and lemon.
But the recent visits of relatives and our children with their families has all been a challenge, be it a lovely one, to not slip into old habits and so far, so good.
I really do feel that I am finally throwing away the shackles that have seriously blighted not only my life but the life of the LSO. It is two years since the AP went into the care home and it has taken all that time to get my ducks in a row. I still speak to her every week and sort her affairs out but in truth lockdown has done us a favour because at the moment we don’t have to see her, well only infrequently, which is giving me the time I need to mentally and physically heal.
For ten days I have suffered from being a mucus making machine with a hacking cough courtesy of a cold virus. It was a great source of concern to me as the day of our son’s wedding was approaching at speed. I really didn’t want to be the one leaving the ceremony sounding like a seal under water or causing the guests to back off in horror at the awful sound. Fortunately I did manage to suppress the cough with the help of a variety of lozenges and a certain amount of alcohol. It turned out to be a really special day, a gloriously fun time with both our son and the bride looking stunning, they make a gorgeous couple and their obvious happiness throughout the day was a glow that affected us all. We all thoroughly enjoyed the event even having the AP with us wasn’t too bad with both families helping to guide her through the day which was a relief for the LSO and myself. Our lovely daughter and son-in-law spent time chatting to the AP who did find the noise difficult to cope with. It was the first time we had met our new daughter-in-law’s family but the small numbers and the windmill venue all helped in making us comfortable together and there was much laughter and talk both there and during the rest of the day.
On the diet front I was delighted to find on the morning of the wedding that I had finally cleared the first two stone marker but as the candid wedding photographs show, I am only half way through the total weight loss, so a while to go yet. But it didn’t spoil my day as mostly I felt slimmer and I was thrilled to actually fit into my favourite velvet trousers for the occasion with the Jaeger jacket actually fastening! Roll on May when I should be facing a summer of being a lot lighter and therefore a great deal more comfortable in my skin in every sense of the word.
We had hired a chauffeured car for the day which took all the pressure from the LSO who could enjoy a drink without worrying. The alternative would have been hotel bookings, taxis and kennelling for the two terriers all making the day a very costly one. It did mean we perhaps left a little earlier to head home because the AP kept nodding off but in truth I would only have had too much to drink if we had stayed longer! The drive back was uneventful and extremely pleasant thanks to Pedro the driver whose friendly and amiable personality all helped add to the pleasure of the day.
I haven’t written a blog for some time mainly because life has either been good or at least acceptable but not anymore. The AP is back and with her comes continual stress.
It is astonishing how one little old lady can cast such a long shadow over our lives. Having had almost six gloriously stress-free weeks the AP has been back less than two weeks and I have rapidly rising blood pressure and a sense of utter frustration that we took on this ungrateful, selfish, arrogant and now, ultimately stupid old woman.
It is absolutely horrendous how quickly she has destroyed the equilibrium that existed in our home and in our lives. We try so hard to help, to aid, to put simply, look after this person but it is a thankless task and we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Nothing we do seems to help or be truly appreciated and I am now back to being on edge and stressed. She seems to resent the fact that we deserve a life and is jealous if we go off on our own. Despite medication my blood pressure is hovering around hypertension stage two and I am fighting to remain calm and have some self control but she seems to delight in making our lives and mine in particular, an utter misery. Who is this woman? Certainly not my mother or the person I thought of as my mother
I really cannot allow this to happen and I must find some ways to counteract her nasty, selfish ways. But how?
Up until now I really have been doing well. Since starting the diet I have lost 26lbs and have gone from being Type 2 Diabetic to non-Diabetic. As the practice nurse put it, I am normal and I must keep on with what I am doing, it’s working! I was utterly thrilled to get the news and now need to get the BP down to a healthy level. Whilst the AP was away it had stabilised around 130/70 but since the return of the shadow, the bat hanging in the rafters, it has risen at an alarming and dangerous rate. The AP has no knowledge of any of this and even if she did I doubt it would dent the ego. She is incapable of accepting any responsibility for her actions and always blames others when things go wrong
It really would be ironic that if anything happened to me the first thing the LSO would do is sell up and put the AP into a Care Home. That is obviously something that hasn’t occurred to the AP.
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.
Once again some time has elapsed since my last blog but I have not been idle. Since starting ‘Banting’ I have lost eight and a half pounds and that is quite an achievement because the first week is eating normally and I am now one third of the way through the six week period of restoration discovering a whole new way of thinking about food in general.
My blood pressure is slowly reducing and I have yet to check my blood glucose but I feel that must be improving too. One of the biggest plus points is the fact I feel so much better and much more like my normal self; I no longer am oppressed or depressed by the AP and indeed will take no nonsense from her. That doesn’t mean I am cruel or uncaring, just determined not to be bullied in any way.
The last four years have knocked holes in the LSO and myself but now the AP cannot push us around anymore, we have finally got the measure of her and in truth of ourselves too. But it took a rather terrifying situation to make us both realise how serious it had all become and how at the end of all this we need to be fit and well in order to enjoy what time is left to us. We cannot dwell on what has passed but we are now improving what is in the present and hopefully the future too.
Another result of this new found way of life is that my pleasure in cooking has also returned. I had begun to wonder as I sank further and further into illness, depression and despondency if this was going to be how our lives were going to play out, bored, boring and disinterested in just about everything.
Thank goodness for our hugely supportive medical practice and the intelligent and ultimately workable advice and support from our children, in particular our daughter whose in-depth dietary knowledge has been a godsend.
I can in all honesty say this time that there truly is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Well, perhaps the title is a little misleading. I am attempting to move forward be it in small steps but I do believe that is better than not moving at all or even slipping backwards.
Looking philosophically at everything I am always interested in how there is a balance in everything. It equates I suppose to the fact there are always opposites at work in our lives. Good and evil, Yin and Yan, hot and cold, happiness and sadness, up and down, in and out and many more. I can remember years ago saying to our children that the world has to have these opposites, otherwise we can never experience the good things in life without the bad. But it does seem to be at times extreme and sadly we had the news today that our son and his partner have lost the much wanted baby they were expecting at the end of August. We are all upset at the news and my heart physically hurts for them and it is difficult to see any reason for all this. There are few words that express all our feelings, all we can do at times like this is keep the love alive and believe in the future.
I need to adopt the same attitude to the AP as she is being more and more irritating as April approaches. I do feel this is probably a sub-conscious reaction to the fact that she is going away for a whole month and will not be able to try to manipulate or dominate us for that time. I have been particularly careful to only do things that I want to do and I am avoiding issues that are contentious as well as ignoring the bullying tactics the AP employs to attempt to try to rule the household. I guess this could be contributing to her attitude at the moment.
The arrival of little Lucie in our lives has been a great experience, she is a remarkably bright puppy and is a delight to have around and even the benign Barney is beginning to settle to the fact that she is here to stay. Puppies are hard work but her presence has taken the focus off the AP and this has really helped the LSO and myself to cope and put strategies in place to keep the AP firmly in her place. She is having to take a back seat which is where she should have been in the beginning and although manoeuvring around the AP’s needs and the puppies needs can be difficult and at times demanding, it is definitely possible.
On another positive note I can report a weight loss of six and three-quarter pounds in two weeks whilst following the 5:2 diet. There is no noticeable change in shape, well I can’t see it but the weight has definitely reduced and I am delighted. I don’t find the regime difficult and in some ways actually enjoy the fast days knowing that I can eat well but reasonably for the other five days. Long may the reduction continue.
I must tackle the wool box, it is time to start knitting again.
I woke up this morning feeling extremely under par. Nothing I could put my finger on, just a general feeling of not being right.
I can probably nail it all down to a really restless night, worry about my brother, guilt that I am unable to ease in any way the unbearable burden his children are having to shoulder, guilt that I really wish I wasn’t looking after the AP. Concern about my own health as well as my seeming inability to lose any weight (I did lose half a pound last week) and just to top it all off, worry that the whole situation is getting the LSO down. He really doesn’t need that as he is still recovering from being so very ill earlier this year.
Nearly forgot, the problem that actually brought all these feelings to the surface, for two days now we have had no heating and no hot water due to a boiler malfunction. This will be put right by this evening but we had a flush of the central heating system booked in for today and that cannot be done now as hot water is needed. That is now booked in for next Tuesday but I felt a great rush of frustration that was totally silly but is all part of the huge emotional trap that being a carer entails. The situation does not improve with time; most days I can ignore the feelings and by compartmentalising keep my sanity but I guess when the resistance drops it’s a bit like a breach in a sea wall and the waves of emotion rush in to drown me.
Is there any help out there? We have a lady whose professional title is a Care Navigator, coming to see the AP and presumably us too on Monday afternoon with, I hope, some suggestions to help break this immense feeling of being trapped and unable to sort our own lives out. Hopefully she will encourage the AP to get out and about but without us, perhaps even suggest respite care but I’m not holding my breath. The AP won’t think any of it is necessary.
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.
This wonderful foggy picture illustrates perfectly how hard it is to literally lose ones way.
Another week passes by and this time it has been relatively peaceful. Only a few snipes from the Ageing Person (from now on to be referred to as AP) to break the calm. The worst was the incident of the mislaid sunglasses. We all do this so no drama you would think but no, in this case serious accusations are made that the long suffering husband has deliberately moved them. He actually found them for her where she had left them on the table next to where she sits. Apparently she had looked there and couldn’t see them! That could be a result of poor sight owing to ARMD but AP was absolutely insistent that he had hidden them from her. Although trivial such unreasonable statements cause harm and add to the feeling of being continually besieged and trapped.
We need to challenge our own reactions to these situations which are really of no consequence but they can and do grow out of proportion. We are in danger of disliking this person who lives in our space.
Fortunately we have a busy time ahead and in the midst of this an old colleague of AP’s is coming to stay for a few days which should stem the sniping for a little while at least and also allow us to find a mental space to repair and order our thoughts and feelings.
I must also look at how I can become motivated about losing some weight. It’s so easy to know what to do but an entirely different kettle of fish to do it!