DVLA – Still, the struggle is real!

The Grecian sun is lifting my spirit…. Plus my Hatpat… As she was sat beside a woman on the plane, the lady asked her where she was headed?… Hats’ reply… “We’re going to Greece!” No shit, Sherlock!!!! I’ve not had a good belly laugh for a while and it felt amazing! (Happy to report that Hats remained on the plane for the entire flight and got off at the first stop of Thessaloniki!!!).

 

Dear DVLA, you’ve got me all wrong,

Dashboard dusting? I was changing the song!

Did you expect me to take the hard shoulder?

Why should I? Please say… Is this ’cause I’m older?

 

Dear DVLA, my fight I shall keep,

I’ll plot, I’ll conspire, all whilst you sleep.

Breaking speed limits on test day. (Well, so you say!),

Just eager to pass cars that got in my way.

 

Dear DVLA, 56 years driving, no hits – It is true!

Erratic driving? Oh have a whisky, or two!

Funeral cortege? I was going with the flow,

Reckless at 20, then on with the show!

 

Dear DVLA, my daughter’s a bully,

I’ve years on Soph – she doesn’t understand fully.

My faithful duster, my sharp horn… BEEP BEEP!

Marvellous dashboard! Hello lovely sheep!!

 

DVLA, you didn’t consider either,

The open road, the Mama, the red Vauxhall Viva!

12 months on and I’m still annoyed…

Turn a blind eye – your chance to avoid?

 

Dear DVLA, I want a retest,

Sit in my Viva, I’ll do the rest.

“40 in a 30”, again, so you say!

I’ll never give up, I’ll be driving one day!

 

 

 

 

 

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Total heartbreak in calling time.

Today took its absolute toll on every part of my being. To say I feel completely, emotionally exhausted would not be an exaggeration. I honestly have never felt exhaustion like this. So why the hell at 11.30pm am I still wide awake? My mind, conscience and heart are all desperately trying to work together, to make sense of the last 36 hours of my life. Why I need to make sense of it all is beyond me. There is no sense in the torture of Dementia.

Yesterday morning, as I took my parents shopping, I really did appreciate just how much they had both deteriorated since I was off with them in the Autumn term, late last year. Dad was so lost. I was thinking how totally daunting a supermarket must be for someone who is struggling to find their familiar. It’s a busy place with many people under one roof. My fragile Dad looked so vulnerable. As he asked me if he could swap his Pepsi for coke, I left Mum by the greeting cards and took him to find the coke. As we were stood staring at the bottles of fizzy drinks, my Dad looked so totally lost in his own world. Gone were the days that my larger than life Dad would be talking to each and everyone. Yesterday, he made no eye contact with anyone; Once again, a painful reminder that Dementia had taken my exuberant Dad and left me with this fragile man of total vulnerability.

I had arranged day care for Dad today at The Court, in Rockbeare. I was due to drop him at 10am and collect him at 5pm. This day care would have been his first, and it was to allow him a break from Mum and vice versa. Yesterday, as we got back to my parents’ home after shopping, my Dad was in a pensive mood. He looked at me and said “What happens if I don’t want to come home from The Court tomorrow, Soph?”… Cue my Mum shouting at him that he would be coming home from “that blasted place!” My Mum then hit my Dad twice across the chin. At that point; I felt the absolute ugliness of Dementia. The total disregard for dignity. The eradication of a life’s work of selfless generosity. This fucking evil disease had turned my Mum into the polar opposite of the person she’d been her entire life…

When people tell me that this isn’t my Mum anymore, I’m fully aware of this. My Mum would be absolutely furious if she saw someone hit someone else. She’d be the first to interject and fight for justice. Yet here she was yesterday, taking a swipe at the man she’d spent 56 years of married life with. People can argue, until they’re blue in the face, that my Mum doesn’t mean it. I know this, I’ve lived with my Mum’s Dementia for 3 years. It’s very easy to sit in judgement and tell someone to not get cross with Dementia, but I would argue that you have to be in the moment to appreciate how difficult that is to control. I did shout at Dementia, Dementia had struck my Dad. My Dad’s words “She does this often,” was my final realisation that I had to call time on this home situation.

One thing I have found bizarre during these past 13 months; When I have needed to make an important decision based on the welfare of my parents, it’s my Dad who will offer me clarity and a nudge in the right direction. This morning, I got my nudge from Dad. As my Bugsy and I arrived at my parents’ to take Dad to The Court for his day care, my Dad looked absolutely shattered. My Mum was full of sentiments and kisses as he got into the car. As we left Mum and headed for the home, Dad told Bugs and I that he could no longer live with Mum. He spoke with clarity, he was articulate and had an unusual awareness regarding what he needed. This has happened on other occasions; whereby I cannot cope with a huge decision and it’s my Dad who has offered me the clarity and vision to move forward. I am not a religious person, I do not believe in a God, but one thing I do believe in is the spirit of others. I truly believe that the spirit of others will give you that much needed momentum, at a time where you feel heavy-hearted and beaten. This was certainly true of Dad today. He was guiding me to the right decision for his welfare and a better quality of life.

As soon as we arrived at The Court, Hollie, one of the Managers, was there to greet us. My Dad quite literally fell into her arms and cried and cried. I went to pieces, luckily my Bugsy was there to hold me. My Dad’s tears were that of relief and safety. As Bugs and I stood there, both of us in tears, we knew Dad would not be going home to Mum.

My Dad then walked into the vast lounge and began to talk to one of the residents as if he was home. He was immediately calm and I was immediately comforted by this.

Hollie assured us that there would be a bed for Dad until Sunday, when they had a new resident arriving. She gave me a hug. The staff at The Court are just phenomenal. It doesn’t just seem a job, they have huge, selfless hearts. I then had to phone Mental Health and Social Services with the state of play.

A day of phone calls then ensued. Due to the safeguarding issue of the previous day, it was now Social Services’ role to find my Dad emergency care. I must have spoken to at least 8 different people from various agencies. Each person seemed to offer me justification that what I was doing was the right thing. I needed to make my Dad safe, but at the cost of breaking my Mum’s heart. When I phoned the care agency who provides care to my parents, I held onto the Manager’s words, “Sophie, this has been such a hard decision for you to make, but it’s the right one. It had to happen.” (These words got me through a day of devastation).

Social Services have pulled everything out of the bag and have managed to get my Dad into a home in the interim, until I can find a home that I’m happy Dad can be in. I cannot begin to describe the gratitude I have for all the services involved. My hubby had to endure so many emotional breakdowns during the course of the day. Poor chap. So grateful he was there to help shoulder the heavy responsibility. So lucky to have my amazing Bugsy walk beside me on this journey. Love him so much.

After packing Dad’s case, whilst Mum was out with an Enabler, we drove to The Court. My Dad was sitting in the bright, airy lounge and he looked the picture of calmness… An entirely different person to the scared, vulnerable man who had stood before us this morning. Unbelievably grateful to the staff at The Court for the serenity in which they provide. Just so grateful.

All day, I had cowardly put off telling Mum that Dad would not be returning home from day care. My daughter had been enabling a little boy for the day, so I wanted to wait for Hats to come home, before approaching Mum with the developments. After Hats had finished work, we went to see Mum.

As I placed myself in the middle of Bugsy and Hats on my parents’ sofa, I just could not make eye contact with my Mum. I felt so totally torn; I’d had to make a decision which made my Dad enjoy a much needed quality of life. However, this would bring heartache and sadness to my Mum. Guilt, my champion emotion, was having an absolute fucking field day. Maintaining my cowardice, I just stared at the photo of my brother, Sacha, on the window sill and let Hattie and Bugs take charge of the conversation with Mum. I didn’t once look at my Mum, I literally could not handle seeing her pain at the hands of my actions. A Carer arrived at the house, so we left her to discuss the situation with Mum. She’s a lovely person and could see that we were exhausted.

When I got home, I sat on the kitchen floor and cried my eyes out. I miss my parents so much. They’ve both always been my go-to’s in difficult times. Grieving for my familiar parents, whilst desperately in need of their love and wisdom are difficult emotions to manage. As I sat on the floor, I phoned my Mum-in-law who indulged my tears and sadness. So lucky to have my parents-in-law, they really are amazing. Although there was a 20 mile distance between us, I literally felt my Mum-in-law was in the room holding me.

Dementia, you have absolutely broken me today. The devastation you leave in your wake is that of utter heartbreak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roller coasters, roller skates and the cyclical process of life’s lessons.

This week can be summed up in one word… Multifarious! I feel I’ve lived every emotion during these past seven days!

Thursday marked a year to the day that my Dad had his horrendous stroke. Complete life changer. What better way to get through this day and the memories of last year, than to be a child at Thorpe Park! When I was offered the chance of a 13 hour day with our year 10’s and three other staff members, I was hardly going to refuse! I’ve not been to Thorpe for at least ten years, so it was long overdue. Perksie and I did not stop talking, laughing… and eating sweets all day. It was so good for the soul. The roller coasters seem to feel even more exhilarating when you get older. Why is that? I suggest it’s because we have more life experience under our belt; We fall into the trap of chasing tomorrow and not indulging the present moment. Therefore, appreciate the thrill-seeking even more. On Thursday, I was certainly living in the moment, being present and living my inner child’s best day! I could talk to Perksie for hours and hours…. And I did! He’s Head of Geography at our school and a total twat… That’s why we get on so well!! Xxx

On Friday, we had to say Goodbye to some incredible staff, who leave for pastures new. I honestly felt I was living the entire twelve months of my life during that two hour assembly. The minute a couple of girls began to sing, my tears began rolling … What an emotional plonker! One of the people who left, Jen, had been an incredible friend to me. She was one of the people who interviewed me two years ago. I instantly loved this woman! She’s my kind of crazy. I was dreading letting myself down and being a complete idiot during her presentation  … I lived up to all my expectations…  and howled like a baby. I’m going to allow myself this. Why hide an emotion you feel consumed by? Jen has now left Axe, but she hasn’t left my life … Unless she runs … Then I will hunt her down!

I feel that during the last seven months, I’ve really found my feet back in my role as TA. In January, I returned, still broken and still uncertain that I’d made the right decision to return to work. By March, I really did begin to realise just how important my job is, whilst on this tricky journey with my Golden Oldies. I had considered giving up work to care for my parents, and trying to finish my degree that I got halfway through eight years ago. With respect to the degree, I’ve got nothing to prove to myself. I enjoyed the essays and studying, but I have no personal need to achieve the end goal any longer. With respect to my parents, my TA job allows me to settle back into the role of their daughter. Late last year, I had lost so much of myself. I truly feel that I’m back to being my stupidly energetic self. It’s amazing to have something familiar back in my life, whilst my parents are anything but familiar now. So grateful for my job and the self-preservation it provides.

We had our end of term drinks on Friday. The people I work with are just such a lovely lot …. And many of them, like me, are bonkers! It’s an amazing team. Again, I’m very fortunate to be part of it. I made sure I partied in true Sophster style, I didn’t disappoint myself haha! (I hope!).

With the six weeks ahead, I am concerned that the Mothership will increase her demands… This was certainly apparent today… “Soph, now you’re off, you’ll be able to do more for us!” Truth be told, I feel I do so much already! However, my Mum is no longer in a position to appreciate what my family and I do.

When Bugs, Hats and I arrived at my parents’ home, we were met by an extremely low, unhappy and unsettled Dad. I cannot begin to describe how this made me feel. It completely floors me to see Dad aware of his deterioration. I would argue with anyone that it is far easier to see a loved one unaware of their lack of cognition. Today, Dad was tearful, sad and very vulnerable. I hate these days. It fills me with a complete sense of helplessness and heartache.

I make an effort to take as many photos as I can. People might question why I do this. Honestly, I don’t care what they think. My parents still look like my parents, just with faraway glances. Just because they both have tangled brains, doesn’t mean I should give up the photos. This returns to the idea of living in the moment, and a picture is a frozen image of that precious moment.

When we visit, we try our best to allow my parents to be independent. My Dad will always offer us a cup of tea. It would be a lot easier for us to make our own drinks. However, it’s good to see Dad carry out a habitual routine, regardless of the fact that it often proves difficult. Today was no exception. As he went to pour the milk, he lost balance and poured it all over the worktop. As I rushed to help him, his first reaction was concern that Mum had seen it. He was so anxious of her reaction. I cannot be at my parents’ day and night, but it worries me sick that tempers run high when it’s just the two of them. Again, this leaves my Dad vulnerable as my Mum’s Dementia is far more volatile than Dad’s. Fifty six years of marriage, a beautifully equal partnership, and I’m now worrying what happens when they’re alone. I fuckin hate Dementia and its total disregard for dignity.

As the five of us sat around their dining table, I began to get Dad to discuss what was happening in his head today. He once again said “Soph, this is not the place for me anymore.” Being very much a fight or flight sort of person, I immediately started to brainstorm respite. If I left my parents in this vulnerable situation, I would dread any dangerous ramifications in doing so. My hubby, on the other hand, is far more able to weigh it all up first before reacting. His job allows him this, but he has always had this ability ever since we were children. He’s annoyingly amazing, but I love the bugger! He suggested we leave it until tomorrow before we look into respite. I’ve had my fingers burnt so often; arranging respite for Dad, then at a moment’s notice, my Mum has managed to manipulate him in to staying. This has then left me with the awkward task of ringing the home to cancel Dad’s stay.

When your Dad, your hero, is sat looking so totally lost in a world he’s not happy in, it’s utterly heartbreaking. I was swallowing back tears, determined to not let him see the extent of my sadness. My Mum was completely oblivious to the whole situation. My beautiful daughter was giving me her usual comforting touch. As I sat at that table, I felt the only person whom I could really show my tears to was my hubby. Throughout this journey, I’m constantly aware of the impact this has on Hats and Lou. I don’t want them to see their Mum a broken mess, I want to be a strong example for them. My twenty-three year old was, as always, offering words of wisdom. Just so proud of her generous and selfless heart.

Today, more than any other day, I found myself repeating my Dad’s words he has instilled in me all my life. When he was apologising for not being happy today, I began to quote all the life lessons he has taught me. “Be kinder to yourself” seemed to be the most apt one today. There I was trying to be the grown-up daughter attempting to share my beloved Dad’s wisdom … With my Dad! Trying to be firm with Mum and not allow her to talk over Dad. Trying to be strong in front of my baby girl. Just generally trying!!! All the wisdom our parents impart over the years is then given back to them in their hour of need. It really is a cyclical process.

I’ve allowed my tears today, its healthy. I feel stronger again tonight. Love my hubby so much. He has been there to weather this storm today.

My Lou returns from Greece tonight…… I’m hoping he takes his Muvva to the skatepark before he returns to work later this week. My roller skates need a good, old burnout!

I will upload this blog to my Faceache page. However, I’m not eliciting a response. Just knowing that people take the time to read my blog amazes me. I have such amazing people in my life. I know who you all are. xxxxxxxxxxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dad xxx

Twenty-eight detentions clocked up in one term,

Too much to say, but eager to learn.

“Soph learns from mistakes,” was said on repeat,

My tolerant Dad, a hard act to beat.

 

School gerbils would stay for a welcome retreat,

Four little ‘females,’ fawn in colour, so sweet.

By the end of the summer, we knew one was male,

Cue 28 babies, and a small, furry ‘tale!’

 

I always wanted to attend Dad’s school,

But he never gave in to this crazy, class fool.

My friends were taught by my ingenious Dad,

I felt envious, but knew I’d make him go mad!

 

My big forehead, my energy, both come from my Dad,

I considered both flaws, in the past, but now glad;

I’m proud of the moles on the right side of my face,

My Dad has them too – exactly same place.

 

Today, as I look at my sweet, scrumptious Dad,

I think of all that he taught me, and to never be sad.

No time for reticence, he stood out from the crowd,

My teacher of life and laughter. So proud. Xxxx

 

 

 

A week of self-reflection… Mirror, Mirror…

Slowly, I am learning, on this journey with my parents, that you really do know when you’ve been given the best advice. People will offer their opinion, or life experiences, but it might not always resonate with you. Everybody’s view is different and that’s okay. I’m learning to listen when I feel my heart kick in, as I know this is the advice that is teaching me coping mechanisms.

Last week, my Aunty Livvy told my parents that she and Uncle Brian were travelling down from Surrey to visit them. Although not family, I’ve always called them Aunty and Uncle. Aunty Livvy had met my Dad at Teacher Training College, many moons ago. They’ve been friends ever since. It suddenly occurred to me that Aunty Livvy did not know the real picture, regarding my parents. She was relying on false information, fed to her from my Mum. I thought it best to ring her to explain the situation. She didn’t seem at all surprised. She had guessed something was amiss when my Mum had phoned her, last July, to tell her Dad had fallen down the stairs. (Yes, he did fall down the stairs, but only as a result of a major stroke on the landing). Aunty Livvy said that she’d guessed Mum was being over positive and playing down a serious situation. I will never forget her words to me last week, “Sophie, we are all in our late seventies and have lived good lives. You must not put your life on hold for this. You, Clive and your children matter too.” My close friends will tell you that guilt is an emotion I feel most intensely. Guilt is an ugly and destructive emotion. I never want to feel guilty for thinking I could have done more for my parents. They’ve had to live through the sadness of losing my brother, Sacha, to cancer. But they’d be the first to say they’ve had a good life. I’m a firm believer that when people are dealt cruel cards in life, they make the most positive and generous people, as they know to appreciate the good times. This is so true of my Mum and Dad.

At risk of repeating myself from earlier blogs, I cannot shake the sadness I feel with my Dad’s situation. I’m trying, but I’m struggling with it. My Dad was always life and soul of the party. Constantly making sure people were smiling. My frail Dad, today, makes me feel sad. I really have accepted Mum’s deterioration, as I’ve had a few years to deal with it.

During these last 11 months, I really have had to grow up. My Dad was Mum’s unofficial Carer until that day, last July, when life took a new turn. Dementia has the potential to cause so much devastation to families. But I’m slowly beginning to realise that my Dad, my hero, would only ever want his daughter to be the mad March hare she has always been. I’m desperately trying to hold on to this. My hubby has put up with me for 33 years, and has always referred to me as his “third, and problem child.” I need to get back to being this stupid person. She’s my familiar. I know that my Dad would be the first person to say that his situation should not change me. When he lived through his Mum having Dementia, I never lost my Dad, his humour, his effervescence.

I know I did the right thing returning to work in January. It has given me back my identity. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed the job, until I was back in my role. Work offers me distraction, and I make sure I keep my day as busy and focussed as possible. However, this week of school holiday has allowed me to see just how much my Dad has deteriorated since January. Having spent so much time with him last year, I was able to see changes. Now I’m back at work, I don’t always see the changes, due to busy life and distractions. It’s fair to say, that this week has really opened my eyes to the extent of his deterioration.

On Thursday, my Mum had a hair appointment for a cut and colour. I knew I had at least two and a half hours with my Dad, on my own. These times are so precious to me. I’ve learnt to love cutting his hair. It’s the one moment that nobody can steal from us. Through the Alzheimer’s society, I’d arranged for the fire service to come and do a safety check on their house. When the man arrived, I was still cutting Dad’s hair. I asked him if he minded if I carry on whilst he checked the house. He asked me if I could cut his hair afterwards. No chance!! Haha! The visit just offered me a little more peace of mind, in terms of their surroundings. (Although, I’ll still worry).

Lynsey is my parents’ new cleaner and she has quickly become a treasured visitor to my parents’ house. I’m so grateful for all she does. She was also there that morning. My Dad is so relaxed in her company, it’s lovely to see. Recently, my Dad really wasn’t himself whilst she was there. He’d been crying to her and saying he didn’t feel well. Without Lynsey being there, my Mum would not have contacted me, as she would have been unconcerned. Dad is very vulnerable under Mum’s fragile watch.  Dad had asked Lynsey to ring the surgery and “ring Soph, as she’d know what to do.” Lynsey phoned my school, and my lovely boss sent me home. She was right, Dad was really not good. I suspected a TIA. After a visit to the Doctor, they said it could have been a TIA or just complete exhaustion. I’m so grateful for people in my parents’ lives. Lynsey is most definitely one of these people xxx

After the man from the fire service and Lynsey had gone, my Dad began to fret about Mum. He was so anxious. He was putting on his coat and trying to leave the house. Eventually, I had to drive him down to the salon, so he could see where Mum was. On the way down, he opened the car door and tried to get out. These moments are scary, as he cannot see danger. I quickly found a car space, and walked him to the salon. Once he saw Mum, his whole persona changed. He slumped in the chair and just watched, silently, as she had her hair dried. It was this moment that I realised that although it’s so important for Dad to have space from Mum to rest, it’s also important to accept that, after 55 years of marriage, they need to be together. (Regardless of Mum’s energy being detrimental to Dad’s health). My daughter’s words that night… “I think this shows us how important it is that we keep them together, despite it being bad for Dandan’s wellbeing” really did ring true to me. Hopes of day care for Dad may be too optimistic, when they’re bound together so tightly.

A good friend, Grace, sent me a quote saying “If you stress too much about something before it happens, you basically put yourself through it twice.” I’m sure others will identify with this. Why put ourselves through it? Why stress over the future, when the present is here to be appreciated?

Again, as always, I make sure I find humour where I can. Now my Mum is 78, she has decided to become a ‘silver surfer!’ … “Soph, can you order me an iPad?!” … Oh dear! Bugs, Hats, Lou, Al and I are all dreading being asked to teach my Mum how to use the Internet! With all the verbal abuse she gives me, it certainly won’t be yours truly!! If I ever receive a friend request from my Mum, I vow to a life of Faceache abstinence!!

My firstborn suggested I upcycle a mirror in my living room. Within half an hour of her suggestion, I’d dragged my hubby to a shop to choose chalk paint. This mirror has become a running joke Chez Madhouse. I’ve painted it, stripped it, painted it another colour, stripped it. Painted it another colour … From this, it is clear that I’m unable to make life changing decisions! I have, however, developed a close relationship with my electric sander! Rosie, my son’s girlfriend, said I’ve got to pay homage to my mirror in this ramble. Haha!… Mirror, mirror, on the wall, oh how perfect you were before. Bugger off Hats! 😉 xxx

One of my parents’ Carers left yesterday. She happened to be their favourite. Such a lovely person. She’s going to be a psychiatric nurse. As she took Mum on their last shopping trip together yesterday, I was hoping my Mum would buy her a leaving gift. When they both arrived home to Dad and I, I spotted the red gerberas that Mum had bought. I’d hoped they were for the Carer. As she left, Mum handed her a bag of tangerines! Oh dear! Pour me that gin!

 

 

 

 

Quandaries, manipulation and fruit squash.

Generally, I remain determined to not let my Parents’ Dementia break me. However, on the occasional day, this determination does not seem prevalent at all, and my mental strength feels defeated. Today is certainly one of those days. This defeatism just isn’t me and I struggle to accept myself when I feel this way. But maybe we’re allowed the odd day where we feel we cannot cope with the situation thrown in our path? It’s one thing to accept circumstances (at least, acceptance to the best of your ability), but remaining positive is not always as easy.

For the last two weeks, I have become increasingly concerned about my Dad. This concern has been exacerbated by the heartfelt conversations that I’ve had with him. During the last fortnight, he has repeatedly said “I’m not sure if home is the best place for me.” As a daughter of a devoted couple, who have been married for 56 years, this is hard to hear. Furthermore, it’s a definite awareness, on Dad’s part, of just how unwell he is. It’s a contradiction of sorts, he is one extremely confused man, however, during these conversations, he has an awareness that his surroundings are no longer suitable for his needs.

All I see in my Dad, is an exhausted man, trying his best to keep his wife happy, by trying to keep up with her. It’s an impossible situation. I understand that Dementia, and all its complexities, means that two cases will never present themselves in the same way. However, my Parents’ illnesses could not be any more dissimilar. My Dad is lethargic, needing regular naps throughout the day. My Mum, on the other hand, needs letting off her lead for regular runs in the park!! Her energy levels put me to shame. Her heightened energy is relentless. I am convinced that she’s powered by Duracell! These different needs just aren’t compatible. Unfortunately, for my Dad, their life fits around Mum’s needs. This is so detrimental to his health, as he’s exhausted and weak. As I said, it’s bloody impossible to meet both their complex needs.

On Sunday, Dad brought up the subject of needing a rest again. Luckily, Hats and Al were there to witness it too. He was saying how he just wanted to go to a place where he wouldn’t need to worry about anything. He finds daily life such an effort now, but still continues to carry out simple tasks to keep the peace. He let slip that if he doesn’t lay the table properly for breakfast, he’ll get “shouted at!” I can’t begin to say how this infuriates me! My Mum has a tangled brain too, yet she shouts at him for forgetting to put the bloody Muesli on the table?!!! The daily pressure for Dad to carry out habitual routines is so wearing for him. I suggested that I ring the home where he had respite last September to see if they could offer daycare for him. Dad was happy with this suggestion. Mum hardly spoke… The calm before the storm! She will not ever verbally attack me in front of Al or Bugsy, for some reason, therefore, as Al was there, she remained quiet!

Yesterday, after work, I managed to contact the home and it was agreed that Dad go this Friday for the day. I felt so relieved, as I know he needs this rest and break from Mum. I was hoping it could gradually be built up to several days a week. This would allow Dad a proper break and reduce the demands from Mum.

Last night, my Mum phoned and was shouting at me. Telling me how Dad won’t be going there on Friday. She had managed to manipulate Dad into thinking it would be a bad idea to go to the home for the day. She was vile, and during a weak moment, I told her that I didn’t like her very much these days. The things she was saying were making me cry. I eventually had to hang up on her, as it was just too painful to listen. This is the most emotionally gruelling part of my Mum’s Dementia. She is so far removed from the person who has been the most amazing, loving, Mum all my life. The old Mum was completely selfless, always putting others before herself. If I ever needed a cry, my Mum would be the person I would run to. Now, she is the reason for my tears. I love my Mum. I hate her Dementia. It makes her cruel and shout at those closest to her. Although her brain is tangled, she is so strong, confident and feisty. Whereas, Dad has no confidence whatsoever. My old Dad was the extrovert and got such a kick out of making people laugh. These days, it breaks my heart to see him broken. The other day he said “I’m so thick.” My son-in-law, Al, said “Derek, you’re the most intelligent person I’ve ever met.” I couldn’t look at Al, his words melted my heart and I had tears in eyes. My Dad had an amazing brain. I was so proud of him. He was a fantastic Dad, Headmaster and role model. I hate that Dementia has stolen his sunshine.

Regardless of this blog being cathartic to my low mood tonight, I’m not leaving it here. Where there’s life, there’s humour….

As Bugs, Hats, Lou, Al, Rosie and I were at my Parents’ last weekend, my Mum was criticising Theresa May… That’s fine, I completely agree with her… However, none of us were ready for her showstopping comment… “She needs to stand down and let a man take over! We need a man back in power!” What an opinion! Especially coming from Mrs Forthright Duracell! I wanted to go home and immediately burn my bras… Not that I have much need for them… I’ll burn Hats’ bras instead!

Bugsy then caught my lovely Dad making himself a drink…. Orange squash, followed by fruit squash, undiluted. Syrup in a glass basically! Cocktail anyone? Hello diabetes!!  🙂 xxxxxxxx

 

 

 

Significant Seafront.

A few people have asked me why I’ve not blogged recently. Only reason is that I’ve been throwing myself into spending quality time with my family, during the Easter holidays. My Superwoman, Bonnie, said she was missing my rambles… So, Bonnie, this one is for you. (I just have to say how you continue to dazzle me with your tenacity xxxxxxxxx).

This morning, Mum and I had an appointment with the Mental Health Team. It was to discuss Mum’s diagnosis. When I arrived at my Parents’, Mum had got Dad ready to come along too. (Last night, I’d told her that I felt it better that Dad stay at home). Once again, Mum ignored this and insisted Dad tag along. One thing I’m really trying to do throughout this journey, is focus on the funny you can find in a situation. Fortunately for me, my Mum provides humour by the bucket load! As we were sat in the waiting area, Mum proceeded to pick up a leaflet for Dad to read. “I should have brought a newspaper for you to read, Derek, but have a look at some leaflets instead.” This particular leaflet was Devon Domestic Violence Support Service!!!!! Haha! When I pointed this out to her, she just shrugged her shoulders and said “Oh well, it’s only something Dad can look at whilst we wait!” In these situations, I can’t help but store it in my memory bank for future moments, when I can’t see the funny in life, and need a pick-me-up.

Shortly after, we were called called into a room and met a lovely lady from The Dementia Society. She was really patient, and was talking through Mum’s diagnosis. Most of the time, my Mum kept interjecting that she’s great at Crosswords! Marvellous! Think she quickly got the full measure of the Mothership! I really warmed to this woman’s approach. She was informative, yet diplomatic. Often, I’ve come across people who talk to the family members, not the person with Dementia. This is not okay! They’re still here, they still need eye contact and respect, regardless of the fact it may not be reciprocated. This woman was amazing and she’s now our ‘Go-to’ for any advice and help.

She provided a great analogy about our memory being like a bookshelf. From birth onwards, our emotional memories are huge books which sit on the bottom of the bookshelf. The smaller books are functional skills. As we get older, the top shelf of functional skills can be ignored. This can then result in more recent habitual routines being forgotten. People can sometimes take themselves back to a time when routines were very different. For example, when they used to put a kettle on a stove… Therefore, when an electric kettle is dangerously placed on a hob, they’ve forgotten more recent habitual routines. This analogy really resonates with me, especially with regard to my Dad. He’ll often find the most simple processes so impossible to master. Routines that he has carried out for many years, without having to think about, will often be met with a childlike approach.

She also went on to explain how it’s likely that 1 in 3 people will develop Dementia in their later life. These are certainly high statistics! Stress and anxiety obviously being huge, contributory factors. Sorry, a tad depressing for the Crazy Catlady blog! I’ll lighten the mood…

A week ago, I went to see Linda, Hat and Lou’s very first Teacher at Primary school. We’ve kept in contact, but I felt awful that I’d not been to see her for a few years. So, I dropped my Golden Oldies to Seaton seafront and I went to see her. We walked from her home to the beach, where we saw my Parents. They were sat on a bench with an elderly lady. Linda and I approached them and Mum began to introduce this woman to us … “This is ….. Umm this is …… This is …..This is……” Mum was clearly waiting for Dad to save her, but he didn’t have the foggiest either!! Luckily, the lady took the cue and said “Joan!” Linda and I were doing our utmost to stifle a giggle. We were grateful to ‘Joan’ for the help! I then asked Dad if he wanted an ice-cream (Yes, like Father, like Daughter!). Mum then asked Joan if she’d like one too!!! I’ve never met Joan in my life, yet I’m buying her a 99??!!

I’ve had a few funny memories on the Seaton seafront. I might have mentioned this occasion in an earlier blog, but I’m not apologising for repeating myself! I used to take Russ out once a week when I was an Enabler. I never saw him as work, just two people going out and being crazy together. Next month, it will be three years since we lost him, and I have to say that he’s prevalent in my thoughts daily. This one particular day, we’d decided to head to Seaton for ice-cream (funny that!). I needed a quick wee, so I left Russ on a bench and went into the public toilets. When I came out, Russ was in deep conversation with this elderly lady. As I approached them, he said “Here she is, this is Soph!” I just took it that Russ knew this woman, so I sat with them and we chatted to her for ages. As we left, I asked Russ who she was…. “Not a clue, Soph!” We laughed the whole way to the Ice-cream kiosk! That chance meeting would have made that lady’s day. She absolutely loved talking to him. Everyone always did.

When Hat and Lou were little, Bugs was working on a hot day in August, so I took the kids to Seaton for the day. Lou must have been about two years old, as I was potty training him at the time. I was taking pics of my two little cherubs, paddling and giggling together in the sea. When all of a sudden, Hats shouts “Lou-Lou has just said poo-poo, Mummy! And it’s coming out!!” Suffice to say, I think everyone on that beach knew that my son had dropped a weapon of mass destruction on the East Devon coastline that day!

These past 9 months, since my Dad’s stroke, have certainly opened my eyes. To have both Parents with Dementia is no picnic, but I really have learnt to appreciate the good times. Yes, we all have sadness in our lives, but I think it’s important to choose to sift through the crap to find the moments that bring a smile to your face. Hats and Al moved into a new place last weekend. They’ve now adopted Al’s family’s beautiful, ginger Tomcats, Dougal and Dylan. When Dad met Dyl, he said “what a lovely doggy!” … My Mum then agreed with him and said “He really is isn’t he!” As we were sat in Hats’ new living-room, Dad looked at me and said “Have your Parents been here yet, Soph?!”….

There most definitely is never a dull moment with my Golden Oldies!!