The Mothership’s hidden talent…

 

 

I’ve had a few people ask me why I’ve not blogged lately. Truth is, I’ve been desperately trying to juggle all aspects of my life.

Returning to work full-time has been really good for my own mental well-being. Although, I have found it exhausting, balancing it with Parents etc. Most importantly, it has given me another focus and distraction from the Golden Oldies and their situation. It’s now a question of rebuilding my confidence in my ability, this has definitely taken a nosedive during the last 8 months.

Dad has now been home from hospital for 2 weeks. He has Carers coming in everyday. They are fantastic and the office keeps me in the loop all the time. I cannot praise them enough. We have had a few teething troubles, but that is mainly down to Mum and her difficulty to accept changes.

On the second day, post hospital discharge, Mum told me that she’d had Dad “pruning the shrubs.” I’m totally convinced she enjoys seeing me lose my rag with her! Dad was allowed hospital discharge, after a 5 week stay, on the proviso that care was put in place and that he wouldn’t venture out beyond their patio, due to risk of falls. The Occupational Therapist had made a home visit and ascertained that Dad must stay within the confines of the patio area. Hearing that Mum had encouraged my poor Dad to do some gardening, literally made my blood boil! Must admit, I’ve tried lots of psychology on Mum, most of it to no avail. So I find it easier to just be blunt with her. I told her I was going to ring the OT and get her to come back out to speak to Mum. This was met with a barrage of abuse. Mum’s words “You don’t care about your poor Dad! You’re so mean!” hit me like a ton of bricks. Honestly, I feel I’ve devoted the last 8 months of my life entirely to looking after both my Parents. When a Parent, or Parents, have dementia, you really do have to continue to tell yourself that it’s the confused brain that is talking.

Mum behaves like a spoilt child a lot of the time. If she doesn’t get her own way, she says hurtful things. (Quite surprised she wasn’t at the recent Oscars, for her pretend tears, which quickly change to anger and manipulation). It’s incredibly hard getting to know this new part of her, as it’s so far removed from the person she was. My amazing friend, and confidant, Gini, told me that I wouldn’t have given in to Hats and Lou’s demands when they were children. So why allow my Mum to manipulate me this way? This advice has really helped me. When Mum has me in a corner and I feel compromised, I no longer feel guilty for defending myself and sticking to my guns.

As I’ve probably said in earlier blogs, it’s hard to see your Parents as anything other than your familiar foundations you’ve spent your entire life respecting. Dad needs much more support, they are both vulnerable, however, I’d argue that Dad is more so. The decline in his health has been much more rapid, and far more difficult for me to accept.

I received a text from Mum today, to say she’d cut Dad’s hair… Oh shit! 16 years ago, when Hats was 7 years old, my Mum had decided to cut her fringe, whilst she and Lou were staying at theirs one Saturday night. As they brought our kids back to our house, I couldn’t believe the state of my daughter’s hair!! It transpired that Mum had cut her fringe with nail scissors!!!!!! Why?? I remember being bloody furious that she’d taken it upon herself to hack my daughter’s hair! That haircut was pre Dementia, so the odds weren’t in Dad’s favour!

Hat and Al were not going to miss out, so they accompanied us to see the mullet! Poor Dad looked bloody awful! She had apparently used kitchen scissors and an electric razor…  To be honest, I’m just relieved she hadn’t severed an artery! I then spent the next half an hour cutting Dad’s hair, with Mum continually lambasting me and calling me “fussy!” She really is the gift that keeps on giving!

Mum has always loved men with long, thick hair… When Bill Roache, from Corrie, was accused of rape, Mum famously said “He’s got lovely, thick hair though!” She may have been Grammar school educated, but Mum has always lacked common sense! I think any Offender, with thick hair, would be ecstatic to have Mum on the jury…

 

 

 

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Trousers.

My Hubby has always considered me his third and problem child… I have always hoped that he sees this as a term of endearment? I miss that person so much. I feel so weighed down with everything right now. I want to be that stupid, familiar and eccentric ball of energy, instead of this exhausted mess.

Last Wednesday, a Doctor visited Mum and I at my Parents’ house. She gave us the results of Mum’s CT scan and memory test. The diagnosis of Vascular Dementia was no surprise. However, hearing it from a Professional is a different matter. For the last three years, I’ve learnt to accept that my Mum has changed. Obviously, since my Dad’s stroke last July, I’ve had to battle to get tests and a CT scan for her. Sadly, help is not given without formal diagnosis. As I read the post-diagnosis letter on Saturday, I felt relieved that finally a care package would be provided for Mum. The Doctor had put “I fear Sophie will soon be suffering from Carer burnout.” Truth is, I’ve been feeling this burnout for a few months now.

Today, I was called to a meeting with Dad’s Doctor at the hospital. Again, I was under no illusion that Dad will miraculously improve. The Doctor began by asking me how Dad had been during the last year, prior to his stroke. Apart from Dad giving up private tuition last April, the only difference I had seen in him was exhaustion dealing with Mum. As I was sat there this morning, I knew what was coming next. The Doctor had examined Dad’s most recent CT scan, and confirmed that Dad has Vascular Dementia.

Six days between my Parents’ diagnoses. Must admit, this is a bitter pill to swallow right now. Again, being a realist, I had already told myself that Dad is now in the throes of dementia… But there’s nothing like confirmation to bring it home. The Doctor gave me so much time. This was appreciated, as I had so many questions. He told me that both my Parents’ diagnoses will allow care packages to be put in place.

My Dad has deteriorated so significantly during these last six weeks. When I arrived at the hospital this morning, he was fast asleep in a chair. As I sat on the arm of the chair, and stroked his arm, he woke up. He recognises me, but his conversations are so muddled. Today, he was back to being a Headmaster, he was telling me how the kids took ages to arrive in school this morning. Last week, I must have received over ten calls from the hospital asking me if I could speak to Dad. He was convinced I was a very little Soph, (probably about five years old), and he was anxious that I’d gone missing. The Nurses said that once he had heard my voice on the other end, he relaxed quite quickly, knowing I was safe.

Dementia is a destructive, devastating and damaging disease. It is so impactive on the whole family. I wish I had known that Dad would become so poorly, so quickly. I would have seized the day, when he was well, and told him what an amazing impact he had had on my life. Now, all I can do is be there, hold his hand and try and keep him calm when life is just too muddled. Anyone going through a similar experience with a family member, will know just how heartbreaking and overwhelming this is.

My Mum is a lot stronger than Dad, her deterioration is a gradual process. I should be grateful for this at least. However, she refuses to believe her own diagnosis, let alone her Husband’s. Cowardly, I’m leaving it to the Doctor to explain to her about Dad. Sadly, she’ll listen more if it comes from him.

Again, I’ll try and lighten this heavy blog. Life has been all about the trousers for Dad lately. After my meeting with the Doctor this morning, I went into Dad’s room to find him trying to put his grey joggers over his head. My Mum had been determined to not give in to our demands to buy him some jogging bottoms to make life easier. She was adamant that Dad will only be seen in his familiar cords or jeans! Two weeks ago, a Nurse asked me if we could buy him a couple of pairs… Yippee! Annoyingly, a suggestion from staff carries more clout than our words of advice! Mum has now embraced the joggers, and allowed me to buy him four pairs. She has even bought some other trousers that she saw advertised in the newspaper… So my Dad is now the proud owner of a pair of All-weather biker trousers, suitable for a 6 ft man… Perfect for my little Dad, at 5 ft 5, with no immediate plans to hop on a Harley-Davidson!

Test of strength.

When I was advised to start this blog last summer, I promised myself I would be completely honest about my emotions on this difficult journey with my Parents. I’ve always been a ‘glass is half full’ kind of person, always able to draw positives from situations. However, lately I have felt that this has been chipped away.

On Wednesday, our cousin Bonnie was told, after surgery, that her liver is doing everything to destroy her. The worst news. I felt guilty for being absolutely floored by this, as how the hell must she be feeling? Then Clive and I learnt that a friend from school, Tom, has been told that his cancer is beating his fight. Both Tom and Bonnie have fought their battles with the most inspiring tenacity. Tom, throughout his battle, has been running marathons and raising thousands for Bowel Cancer. Bonnie has shown the same determination in her fight. Never giving in, tirelessly courageous. Both in their forties, and both with young children. This news hits hard.

Although I’m not usually a fan of hers, I stumbled on an interview with Sarah Cox. She said “I’ve hit a sweet spot in my 40’s… My kids are more independent, my parents are in good health and my career’s going great.” It left a real impression on me. It was lovely that she was voicing her gratitude for how life is for her right now. We really should appreciate and cherish the good times, instead of chasing our tails. Life gives no warning when it’s about to be turned on its head.

I was told late last summer that I was grieving for both my parents. I feel this everyday. I miss my old parents so much, they were such loving, generous souls, who  never took life for granted. On Friday, when Mum and I arrived at the hospital, the Staff Nurse asked if she could talk to us before we saw Dad. As we were taken into a quiet room, I felt sick. I knew it wasn’t going to be good news. As she was telling us how poorly he had been over the last 24 hours, I was sat, frozen to the spot. It’s at times like that when I really miss the reassurance or a warm hug from my parents. They have always been so big on hugs and telling me how much they loved me. As I was sat with Mum, she was struggling to understand the information and I was having to explain it to her… Knowing that I would have to repeat the information again later.

Dad had continued to fall, so was now on 24 hour watch, with a Nurse in his room at all times. His mobility and eating had changed dramatically, leading them to believe he’s likely to have suffered a further stroke. Friday’s visit was an emotionally challenging one. Dad didn’t recognise us, couldn’t do anything for himself and was making no sense. He’s due to have a CT scan this week, to ascertain what has happened.

Since Friday, his mobility has improved, but his confusion has not altered. Yesterday, as I was stood directly in front of Dad, the Nurse said “Derek, Sophie’s here.” He couldn’t actually see me until I was holding him. As Hats, Mum and Bugsy were sat in his room with him, I had a meeting with the staff nurse. She explained that he was  displaying more dementia traits now that the mania wasn’t so prevalent. I knew that, in my heart, but clarity can be hard to hear.

My Mum has a Doctor making a home visit to her next Wednesday, with results from her own CT scan. I am fully aware that both my 78 year old parents are unwell, however, I don’t know why I’m so petrified of formal diagnosis. I keep telling myself to wear my big girl pants, but inside I feel like a child desperately trying to cling onto my familiar.

Having Mum at our house everyday is exhausting. But the alternative is too much for me to deal with it… I hate to think of her, at home, alone. It breaks my heart. I miss simple things, like watching a film with my Hubby, eating cookie dough ice-cream. (I know Ben & Jerry have probably noticed a dent in their profit margins as a result!). When you’re looking after a parent with Dementia, it takes its toll on marriage and family life.

Talk about woe is me! Warned you that I had become a miserable bitch! So I’m going to add an anecdote to hopefully lift the mood of this blog…

Last week, at school, I was trying to get my head around El Dino and La Niña… I got an A in GCSE Geography, not that it’s of any help these days! (Thank you Molly Fricker, you were scary, but an amazing Teacher!). I learnt all about Urbanisation and Tertiary Industries, not El Dino events! Never heard of them! So, as I’m trying to get my head around this fluctuation in the Earth’s climate system, in order to impart my wisdom (cough cough) to a couple of year 11 students, I’m trying my best to break it down. As the 44 year old’s cogs begin to move and knowledge is sinking in, I speak before I think. (Something I’m infamous for in my family). So, as Mrs V begins to explain that El Dino is the boy, who makes everything dry and causes drought, La Niña is the girl, who makes everything wet… Cue the two kids stifling laughter, and Mrs V repeating her daughter’s words in her head … “Mum, don’t say anymore, you’ll make it even worse!” Haha! Bring back rural settlements, I say!

 

 

 

 

 

Crisis point… Points!

I already feel like we’ve reached crisis point on several occasions during the last week…

On Monday night, my Mum phoned me in tears. Dad had got out the house. So I drove around looking for him. When I finally found him, he did not recognise me and it was a struggle to get him into the car. He was in a manic state. Completely confused, completely irrational. I had the difficult task of trying to convince him that I was his Daughter. He was a lost man, walking the streets, proving, in no uncertain terms, that he was completely vulnerable and a risk to himself. I then spent time with him and Mum at their house, doing everything to calm the situation. Knowing that the following morning I would need to get help.

After work on Tuesday afternoon, I met the Mental Health Practitioner at my Parents’ home. After an hour’s chat with us, she concluded that Dad was not yet in a state of full blown mania, but hypomania. Bullshit!!!! I don’t have a degree in mental health practises, but what I do have is experience of mental health within the family. Luckily, my Dad has only ever had one episode of mania prior to this.  I might have just been an 11 year old child at the time, but the experience will never be forgotten. This Mental Health Practitioner, in essence, was saying that Dad was not yet poorly enough for admission! … Or the cynical part of me would suggest that she couldn’t afford herself the time to start the ball rolling. My Mum has always been reticent about her life. She has never been a person to ask for help, she’d always be the person to throw herself into others’ difficult times and help them. To hear my Mum say that she couldn’t cope with Dad’s behaviour was totally indicative of the complete exhaustion she has been feeling. Again, my Mum’s own deterioration was really not being considered by our Practitioner.

On Wednesday morning, I’d been at school for half an hour, when I got a hysterical call from Mum. Dad had been in a horrific state, awake most the night, and had got out the house. Hearing Mum crying and knowing I was 20 minutes away from the situation felt unbearable. Once again, my work were really empathetic and I raced home. On the journey back, I rang the Police to start a missing person action plan. I then spent the rest of the journey ranting to the Mental Health Practitioner, telling her I was not prepared to wait for a horrific incident before I was heard. An hour later, my Dad was found and the Police brought him back to the house. The 3 Officers were more use to me than the Mental Health Team had been for the past 2 difficult weeks. They all appreciated my Dad needed hospital admission.

The same Mental Health Practitioner arrived shortly after the Police had left. She could not get any sense out of my Dad and agreed he was manic… But still no hospital admission!! So, my Dad was put on anti-psychotics from that afternoon. Anti-psychotics are extremely risky for a patient who’s suffered a stroke. His 78 years also increased his risks of side effects, including bad spatial awareness and the possibility of falls.  Marvellous! So, as my Dad was still moving at 100 mph, in an elated state, my nerves were completely frazzled.

The anti-psychotic drugs had the paradoxical effect, and simply exacerbated his mania. Sunday morning, at 2am, my Mum phoned us in a horrific state. My Dad was shouting in the background. Bugs and I got straight around there to see my Dad in a very scary state of mania. He was suffering from the worst hallucinations and was convinced that people were in the house. It was terrifying to witness. The house was a mess. Neighbours’ lights were on. I rang the Crisis Team, and an ambulance was an hour away, but making its way to us. At this stage, my poor Dad was talking to people in the room (there were no people, apart from Mum, Bugs and myself). My Dad has always been amazing at speaking French, and he was speaking, in French, to one of the people he saw. He then began to speak German. I didn’t think his German was quite as good, but he proved me otherwise on this occasion. It was the most weird and scary experience to see. He didn’t know who my Mum, my hubby or I were. As he was pacing back and forth across the living room, I was watching thinking what a tremendous strain mania must have on a person’s body and brain. Especially a person, post stroke, who’s body and brain is already damaged. The body and brain, at that point, cannot slow down, everything is working at the most horrific speed. My husband then decided it was too dangerous to wait for the ambulance. So we left Mum to try and sleep, phoned to cancel the ambulance, and drove him into hospital ourselves.

Luckily, we were given a room really quickly, where staff monitored Dad’s blood pressure, took blood etc. My Dad spoke to Clive and I, non-stop, it was exhausting. Eventually, at 8.30am, 2 Mental Health Practitioners arrived at the room. I can’t begin to say how amazing they were. Completely empathetic to the situation, and desperate to get my Dad admitted to a secure unit as soon as was possible. We had to now wait for 2 Psychiatric Doctors and a Social Worker to come and assess him. One of the Practitioners told my hubby and I to go home and try and sleep. Reluctantly, Bugs managed to persuade me to do this. We were assured that Dad would be monitored. No sooner had we got home, we had a phone call from one of Bugsy’s ex-colleagues to say he’d just caught Dad trying to leave the A&E building!! We couldn’t believe how lucky we’d been that Ian just happened to be going into A&E himself. He found out where Dad was meant to be, and escorted him back to his room. Cue Clive and I tearing back to the hospital! The ward were really apologetic that he’d been able to get out and walk towards the exit… I’m not even going to imagine how it could have been without the lovely Ian being in the right place, right time xxxxxx

Finally, at 4.30pm, my Dad was assessed by the team of 3. Again, these people were so proactive and very supportive of Clive and my efforts. My poor Dad was still talking nonsense at great speeds. By this time, he’d been awake for 47 hours. They could not establish capacity, so Dad was sectioned under the Mental Health Act, he’ll now be in a secure unit for the next 28 days. As I sat in the ambulance with him on the way to the hospital in another part of Exeter, I just couldn’t believe what we’d had to go through to get him help.

As I watched my husband helping my Dad into his pyjamas in his new room, I just felt so completely drained. It had been a huge battle to get Dad help, and why? Why does a family need to be at the end of their tether to be heard?

I don’t know how I would have coped without my Bugsy yesterday. 18 hours in hospital with a person suffering from mania is no picnic. I love my Bugsy so much. It was as upsetting for him as it was me. We met when we were 12, so he didn’t see my Dad poorly the previous year.

As we left the hospital, my Dad was walking around asking for “Mary.” It was totally heartbreaking. He looked so lost, so fragile and so vulnerable. I have to admit that I cried the whole way home; Tears I’d kept in the whole, long night/day. Tears of relief that we’d finally got Dad to a place of help. Tears of guilt, that we’d separated him from Mum. Tears of just complete exhaustion.

Our daughter, Hattie, had looked after Mum and taken her for sea air yesterday. We got home at 8.30pm to homemade lasagne, made by Hats. She literally is our angel on Earth xxxxxxx My Mum, in her own fragile state, struggled to make any sense of what had been happening over the last 2 weeks. Poor thing, such an ordeal for her. It was such a relief yesterday that Hats was taking care of her. So grateful for my hubby and children.

Today, my Dad is being assessed by the Dr in the unit. Apart from the fact that he’s still in a manic state, he’s also suffering with total lack of spatial awareness. Yesterday he was stumbling, his left side was weak and his right arm was trembling. It could also be that he’s suffered a second stroke.

Again, I write this blog as a therapy. I’m hoping to look back on this shitty chapter of our life one day and know it made me grow as a person!

 

 

 

Pressure.

I already feel guilty writing this blog today. Yes, this week has been one from hell, but I know that people are going through worse. Our cousin, Bonnie, in Canada, is going through so much right now. The tumour in her liver is pushing on nerves, causing her the most excruciating pain. Pain I cannot begin to imagine. So, whilst I’m sitting here considering my next move. I’m aware that people face even bigger challenges. Cue the guilt. But I know Bonnie is always the first to say that everyone can have problems which test their own personal strength. She’s an inspiration. I feel so lucky to call her family xxxxx

So, as with my previous blogs, I use this cathartic process to voice my emotions, and hopefully help others going through a similar ordeal with their Parents.

Since Christmas, my Dad has begun to write a book. This has quickly become an obsession. Within the last 8 days, his energy levels have risen drastically. Post stroke fatigue is very much a thing of the past now. My Dad has lost 8 days of sleep, and sadly is now in the throes of mania. This is incredibly dangerous for anyone, especially an elderly person, post acute stroke. He has significant paranoia, paranoid that someone is breaking in to steal his manuscript and various other anxieties. In reality, my Dad is ripping the work up himself.

33 years ago, as I’ve said in an earlier blog, my Dad had a nervous breakdown when he was Headmaster of Bradninch school. The previous Head was forced to retire due to his age, and could not let his former school go. As an 11 year old child, much was kept from me. However, this week, my Dad’s been going over all the events of 33 years ago. It makes my blood boil hearing what my Dad went through. The previous Head just couldn’t let go and played hideous games, resulting in Dad having to take early retirement, following a 27 year career in Teaching. During this time of his breakdown, he had a manic episode, resulting in him being given a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. He has not had depression or mania for 33 years… Until now.

I started back at work on Monday. This was a massive deal, after not being at school since the end of the summer term. It was so lovely to see familiar, smiley faces. As I was driving there, I felt like a new kid about to start their first day of school. I work with such lovely people, with big hearts. It was good to be back in my familiar. However, I never imagined the tiredness I’d feel on my return. Probably exacerbated by the fact that I felt so torn. Knowing I needed to try and regain some sense of my own normality, whilst knowing my Parents’ life is anything but normal now. It was so lovely to see the children, I’ve missed many of the characters so much. Leaving my Parents and the fragility of their situation was a huge ask of myself. I can’t praise my Line Manager enough. She has so much empathy for my current situation. I’m so lucky to have such a good support from all the amazing team.

After work on Monday, I visited my Parents and my Dad was argumentative, irrational and erratic. It also transpired that he’d made many calls to people. So I spent the afternoon ringing people, such as Kings school, to apologise for his odd calls. This reached crisis point on Tuesday night. I had to get advice from a GP, who recommended I take Dad to hospital, my Dad refused, so we had to settle for giving him a sedative instead. On Wednesday morning, my boss sent me straight home. I had to get someone from the Mental Health Team to come and assess my Dad. He was really thorough and could see that all was not well. So a plan to alter his meds was put in place. Unfortunately, since then, things have become more erratic with Dad. Yesterday afternoon, I had to get someone from the Mental Health Team to visit again. As I was stood in my Parents’ hallway privately talking to the Practitioner, the tears came. I told him that these last 6 months had taken its toll on me and my own family. The words “Your Dad would have been admitted by now, if it wasn’t for you, Sophie” really got to me. I’m not a Social Worker. I’m not a trained Mental Health Practitioner. I’m just a daughter trying to keep her Parents safe. As he tried to compliment me on all I’ve done, I felt so despondent. The more you do, the more people expect, it just perpetuates the problem. He told me I’d saved a lot of people from tearing their hair out with my Parents’ vulnerable situation. What about me?? They’re the professionals. They’re paid a salary to deal with these situations. In the meantime, my own job had to be put on the back burner, and my Managers have had to be incredibly understanding.

When you’re a Carer, many things are put on the back burner. I feel like the worst friend, I have little time to see people and catch up on their lives. I feel like a crap wife, my Hubby has had to put up with so much during these last 6 months. I’m so consumed by my Parents’ vulnerabilities, that I’m distracted, and not the best Mum to my two amazing children. The last 6 months have had a detrimental effect on all aspects of my life. It’s very easy for people to sit in judgement, and say “let the services take over.” When you experience a situation like this, the reality hits that life just isn’t that simple. I’ve learnt the survival technique of taking one day at a time.

This afternoon, I have my Mum’s CT scan, which will hopefully lead to a formal diagnosis by the end of the week. After the scan, I will have to make a judgement call about my Dad. I know he needs admitting. He walked to town earlier this morning, in odd shoes, and banged on the Police Station door to report a burglary, it’s scary just how vulnerable both my Parents are right now.

If anyone reading this has encountered my Dad this week and heard about burglaries etc. Please know that he’s not a well man and not of sound mind right now.

Due to miscommunication ??? The enabling is down for me to sort. So I’ve got a Care Agency taking my Parents on from next week. But, firstly, I need to get help for my Dad. If any of this resonates with anyone reading it, I’m sending you love and respect. If you’re a Carer, please remember that your wellbeing is really important too xxxxxx

2018, Off you pop.

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I hope you’ve all had a lovely Christmas and have filled your boots with festive food xxxxx

Christmas, Chez Madhouse, has been banter, to say the least. My Dad has been in a hilarious mood! Saying the funniest things. After 5 months of his mood being very low, post stroke, it’s been lovely to see him happy. A couple of days before Christmas, he had yet another fall in their garden. He couldn’t get up for ages. His revelation, on Christmas Day, “I’m ready to sell our house,” was absolute music to my ears! Within five minutes I had packed them all up, ready for the move. (In my head, of course!). The fact that he hadn’t told my Mum of his plans, until then, made it even more hilarious! The Vickery four and Al all leapt into action with suggestions and property searches. Dad kept asking if there will be “running water” at the new property! Bless him. My Dad has always been the joker of the pack. I have missed his humour so much these last few months. His brain is very muddled and confused, however, this return of his humour has been so funny this Christmas.

Al went on the hard sell, giving Dad information on a supported living complex in Honiton. By the end of the sales pitch, Al had my Mum convinced she’d be able to teach the other Residents the piano… Poor people! Dad was really excited for a move. I thought it was in the bag, until they were leaving and Mum said “I think a stairlift could be a possibility in our house!” … It’s going to be a bloody challenge, but as relentless as that woman is, I will always fight fire with fire. We are going to two viewings next Thursday, watch this space!

Mum has been hard work this Christmas. Dementia is extremely selfish. Clive’s Aunty came here on the 27th for dinner. We lost Uncle Fred on 5th January this year.   Christmas has been really hard for Aunty Win, without her husband. As she sat at the table, after dinner, talking to my Parents, Dad asked how Uncle Fred would have coped if she went first … Not really the question you ask someone!! Unfortunately, post stroke, my Dad has lost his filter for appropriate questions! Aunty Win completely understands that Dad has brain damage, however, it did make her cry. My Dad grabbed her hand and held it, apologising profusely for the question. I was sat beside Aunty Win, hugging her. My Mum just continued to do her crossword, totally oblivious to conversations around her. My old Mum would have had a heart full of empathy.

Aunty Win then played a game of Uno with my Parents. I was busy in the kitchen. Hats says Aunty Win was playing both their hands with them, helping them both. I’m glad I didn’t watch the game, my Dad used to play Uno with the children he privately tutored. It’s sad that he’s now unable to understand the game.

DVLA saga continues … On the Saturday before Christmas, my Mum received yet another letter from them. I kid you not, she only seems to receive correspondence from them on Saturdays! I do feel that someone in the Swansea office is providing me with lots of material for a future book! They continue to reply to her letters, which leads me to believe that they are; a) Too polite to ignore her b) Enjoying her letters c) Not busy enough and have too much time on their hands? This last letter contained photocopies of her latest correspondence with them. At least I now have evidence of what she’s writing to them! (I’m attaching a copy of her letter, hoping it makes you laugh). She’s frustrated that she can no longer drive the Qualcast at great speed, so she’s taking to letter writing at 100 mph.

My Parents have always been big letter writers. Dad’s Occupational Therapist has worked really hard with Dad’s letter formation over the last 5 months. He is now writing short letters to EVERYBODY! He’s even written a letter to my boss, thanking them for letting me take care of Dad this year. I would show my boss the letter, as I know they’d find it funny, but Dad thanks “Harriet Heroic” at the end. Haha! My daughter always comes out on top 😉 Today, he’s written a letter to the surgery, thanking them for everything. It also mentions the car park, “lovely computers” and the patient he sat beside yesterday! It’s a muddle of humour and serious, bless him. Dad took a book they had about illnesses to his GP yesterday. He told him he could have it. When I asked Dad what he’d said to his Doctor, he said “I told him it was a good book, which he might find very useful for his job!”… Suffice to say, his GP thanked him for his kindness, but declined his offer of the A-Z of illnesses …

I’m returning to work next week. I’m looking forward to it, but also apprehensive about leaving my Golden Oldies. I tried to reinvent myself with a haircut last week, but 4 inches is all I could manage. I hide in my hair when I’m having a bad day. Regardless of the fact that I wimped out on a new me, I’m determined to start 2019 as a 5ft 2 Ninja, kicking life’s butt.

2018 has been a huge learning curve for me. Life experiences shape us. I have severed all ties with my sister. This, until now, has made me feel really sad. However, approaching a new year, I’m leaving those feelings behind me. My sister has never been there for me or my family, so I shall not waste any more emotions on her. I have amazing, selfless children and hubby. I also have fantastic friends. So lucky. It really does take life’s challenges to realise who your true people are. I have so much love for my army. Xxxxxx Happy New Year to you all. I hope it brings good health and happiness to you all xxxxxxx (And a Happy New Year to the DVLA from Lewis Hamilton and her family!).

 

Apple Crumble and Guinness.

A few of my friends have asked me why I’ve not blogged for a while. Truth is, the situation had got me a tad low, so I’ve been doing some soul-searching.

My daughter’s opinion of me being my Parents’ Carer, “You’ll lose your identity, Mum.” … I truly do not know where that girl of mine gets her insight and wisdom. I cannot believe she came out of my body! For 5 months, I remained defiant and determined to prove her wrong. However, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that she is right… Annoyingly, her insight is always spot on! Lately, I really do feel I’ve lost my identity.

My relationship with my Dad is unaffected by the last 5 months, apart from the fact that I’m more protective of him than ever. During the last 4 weeks, he has been making progress. This has been great to see. The best thing is to see him smiling again. There have been very little smiles since July.

My relationship with my Mum has most definitely changed. I love her so much, but she tests my patience, and I don’t like how this makes me feel. I never want to feel anything but love for my Parents. So to feel frustrated with Mum’s behaviour is hard to accept. When you become Carer to your Parents, it’s inevitable that your relationship with them will change. However, I wanted to believe that it wouldn’t.

On my Dad’s birthday, the Kids, Bugsy and I took my Parents out for a meal. It’s become a running joke that Mum always helps herself to Dad’s food. On this occasion, she took it upon herself to mix his Apple crumble and custard!!! With Dad telling her “I don’t want it mixed up, Mary!” The rest of my family found it hilarious. I wanted to find it funny, but I felt too annoyed! The icing on the cake was when she asked him if he wanted some of her coke. Leaving him no time to reply, she poured some into his bloody Guinness!!! You might be reading this and thinking so what, Soph? But my lack of seeing the funny side, told me I needed to take stock. I’ll always try and see the funny in life, however this has definitely been out of service recently.

I’ve lost so much of myself during these last 5 months. I miss my stupid ways, my charging around at high speeds and my positivity.

Last week, I told Social Services that I will be returning to work in January. Enabling services will help my Parents on my return to school. My Mum is not keen on the idea of having to pay for such services, however, I’ve repeatedly told her I’ve been their unpaid Enabler for the past 5 months! Now, they will have to pay for the help.

I feel apprehensive about the whole thing, but know, in my heart, that I need to get my life back to some sort of normal… As normal as a person like me can pull off! I worry that my Mum won’t take to having outside help. Time will tell. But I know I’ve given them my all for 5 months and I need to get back to work.

We’re still yet to have Mum’s CT scan following her memory assessment last month. I’m sick of chasing up people with phone calls. You really do have to keep on, to get results. It’s infuriating, not to mention exhausting! We know my Mum is not the same person any longer, but the diagnosis will confirm this.

I would like to thank everyone in my life. You’re all incredible and I’m so lucky to know each and everyone of you. In testing times, you certainly discover who your army are. Apart from my amazing Kids, Hubby, Marit and my In-Laws, my family have not been there for me. However, I’ve truly found the true measure of friendship in all of you, and I’m so grateful to you. The stupid Sophster will be back. I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and healthy new year. All my love. (And yes, ‘Love’ will forever be my favourite word… Along with ‘Cat’ and ‘Chocolate!’). Xxxxxxxxxxxx