Point of contact.

I brought my Evie to my parents’ house tonight, in the hope that she’ll do her normal routine of lying beside me in bed. Nope. She gave me a cuddle, then went off to sleep on my Mum’s bed. At first, I felt hurt that she didn’t recognise I needed her company, but then I thought what a lovely dog.  She has always been a highly sensitive dog, she obviously knows my Mum’s need for company is greater right now. Animals are incredibly intuitive. They offer the best therapy and unconditional love.

Sat here going over the events of a long day, I’m very much aware of the fact I’m losing my identity. Currently, I know my future as a Teaching Assistant hangs in the balance. I’m sure my bosses are wondering if I’m going back. I, myself, am wondering if I’m ever going back. I love the job I do. Working with children has always been my identity. However, the idea of attempting to juggle my parents’ situation and doing my job, makes me feel utterly exhausted. Hence my GP signing me off.

Right now, anything other than being my parents’ carer seems too much. I very much feel my new identity is ‘Point of Contact.’ How life can change so dramatically, so quickly. In my school role, I’ve always enjoyed the role of eccentric ‘Mrs V’, I’ve had the title of ‘Mrs V’ in most of my previous school roles. It’s my familiar. I know where I am with it. Right now, I feel like a scared daughter, trying her best to keep her head above the water. This is very much unfamiliar.

My writing is also becoming my identity. When my GP asked me how I help myself in this difficult situation. I told her that I write. She said “Then please don’t stop writing, it’s your therapy.” I very much feel this. I’ve lost my ability, right now, to balance this life with work, however, I have this ability to put my thoughts in written form.

I know I’ve been hiding the extent of my Dad’s stroke from myself. I’ve been holding on to words, such as extensive cognitive damage. Truth is, my Dad has had such a horrific trauma to his executive functions, that it has brought on vascular dementia. I’ve been told this in a very roundabout way, but I’ve not been able to accept. In the hope that my Dad, my hero, can remove the road blocks in his brain. That he can untangle all the muddled sequencing. Who have I been kidding? Wide awake at 12.45am and I know that this would be asking for a miracle.

I know that when I speak to the Occupational Therapist, or our Key Worker, they’ve had multi-agency meetings about my parents’ situation. I wouldn’t be at all surprised, if they’ve even said, ‘it’s only a matter of time, before Sophie accepts her Dad also has dementia now.’ Right now, I know this. My Dad’s road blocked brain is so damaged, that this is now his sad reality. And it is a sad reality. After I’ve dropped my Mum to her Reflexology appointment tomorrow morning, I shall ring my lovely Key Worker, and I’m sure she’ll think ‘the penny has finally dropped.’

I really didn’t see double dose dementia as my parents’ final story. I’m grieving for the loss of my amazing, loving and mentally strong parents. They’re still here, but they’re broken. The impact of Mum’s dementia has been crushing to my Dad over the last 2 years. Their marriage has been built on such a strong foundation of love and respect for each other. To see my Mum deteriorate has been so detrimental to my Dad’s own wellbeing. I think the evidence sadly speaks for itself.

Whilst I’m doing my utmost to be the strong daughter, providing care and support to my parents. I feel I’m expecting so much from my own children right now. As I was leaving my house tonight at 9.30pm with my Mum, Lou was just arriving home, after an overnight stay in London for work. As I met him in the road, I cuddled him so tightly and cried my eyes out. So the first thing he sees, as he returns home from a long 24 hours, is a trainwreck of a Mum. I’m very aware that I’m constantly doing this to Hats. I’m strong for my parents, then as soon as it’s just Hats and I, I go to pieces and she’s left to deal with the aftermath. So, as my parents are leaning on me as their support, I’m doing exactly the same to my own children. Surely, this can’t be right? My children, alongside my husband, are my best friends. I’m wondering right now, if I’m abusing this great friendship by letting them see me so broken.

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4 thoughts on “Point of contact.

  1. I think the short answer to your last question is ‘no’ – and the fact that you are even asking it shows that you are aware of the potential to put too much on young shoulders (and Clive’s!), and, because of that, you won’t overload them. This is probably the time to use that fantastic network of good friends that you so obviously have (the Facebook posts have been so lovely). You can spread the load around us and we will each have a slightly different perspective/life experience to bring to bear in supporting you. That’s what friends are for, as you know, as you are yourself a very good friend who is always concerned for the welfare of those you love.

    Losing both parents to dementias at the same time is very hard – harder, in many ways, than if they were no longer here at all. I only had to cope with one poorly parent at a time – so much easier, though still often harrowing. And in amongst it all is the ‘who am I now?’ question – you have suddenly had to go from being a fully autonomous wife, mother, daughter, employee to being the ‘capable child’ responsible for meeting the almost ‘child-like’ needs of your own parents. Very, very confusing and draining. I guess most daughters are probably faced at some point with the decision whether or not to become the principal carer for a parent(s) needing care. That’s if they’re lucky enough to have the choice. With the cost of residential care, the choice is often not there and that can lead to resentment and the feeling that they’re no longer a person in their own right, just someone’s daughter – as you say, the ‘point of contact’.

    This is why respite is needed for the daughter/carer – so she can be herself with friends and family. A coffee here, a wander round the shops there, lunch at a nice café – all ways to put down the burden and allow friends to take the weight for a little while. The present turmoil in your parents’ situation and within yourself will, of course, be having an effect on Hattie and Lou and Clive but they know you so well and know that you are carrying a heavy load at the moment, so will be able to cope. But listen to them when they tell you you need to rest, be away from the situation, give yourself space. Don’t feel guilty when you do as they suggest – this is survival for you and them. Your parents lives, as you and they know them, has irreversibly changed and you and they will be grieving for this. Who knows how long this new phase will last, but all you can and should do is put one foot in front of the other each day and enlist the help of friends and professional agencies to do what’s needed. You will do this in your inimitable Soph-way – there is only one ‘you’ and the mould was definitely broken after you arrived!! You will still be there when your parents are not and you will still be Sophie, but a slightly changed one. If you have to stop being ‘Mrs V’ for a while, she’ll still be there within you, to appear again later if you want her to, and you will always be an amazing wife and mum and friend.

    This is a very tough patch – you will get through it – so will Clive and Hats and Lou. You will all be changed by it but you will all stay essentially the same. Love and strength to you, you amazing human being! Love you lots xxxxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gini, I’m so sorry. I didn’t want to reply to this, in haste, yesterday. Time was not my friend all day.
      I’m so grateful for all the wisdom you impart, be it professional experience re school or personal experience with your family. I’m just so appreciative of the words of support you give xxx
      I know my support system, I value them all so much. You’re definitely one of them. Thank you from the bottom of heart, Gini.
      Love you lots, you incredible lady xxxxxxxxxxx

      Like

  2. No Soph that’s what families do, support each other in times of difficulty. You need your family right now as your parents need you. Keep hugging, keep talking it good therapy. Love you sweetie 😗

    Liked by 1 person

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