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!