Wednesday 24th May – what a difference an hour makes!

Summer has finally arrived and long may it continue! We have spent the last two days in the garden enjoying our new garden furniture. We were therefore fairly hopeful when we woke up this morning that we might manage to take Mum out today. Robert loaded the still unused hoist into the car and we set off in good spirits. Sadly our spirits were dashed as we entered her room to find her fast asleep in her chair with her neck contorted over to the left. I had rung the home earlier to ask them to tell Mum we were on our way and apparently she had told one of her carers that we were going to take her out in her wheelchair.

It took me about 10 minutes to get any response. She managed to open her eyes briefly and appeared to recognise me and informed me that she had been feeling very unwell. She then fell back to sleep. I tried talking to her and gave her some cakes we had bought and showed her the letter that Jude had sent me to give to her but she said she was too tired. She remained slumped over to the left and I was not sure that she hadn’t had a stroke but I have seen her like this before so felt it was unlikely. I asked her if I could manicure her nails which she agreed to but then fell back to sleep. I cut her nails and removed and reapplied the polish whilst she slumbered in her chair, occasionally opening an eye to aknowledge that she was aware of what I was doing. One of her carers arrived to ask if she was going out for lunch or wanted some bringing in but she waved him away saying that she just wanted to sleep.

After about 40 minutes I asked her if she wanted us to stay or leave her to sleep. She nodded that she just wanted to sleep so we decided to leave but told her we would come back later when she might be more awake.

Robert drove us over to our favorite garden centre and I must admit to being fairly tearful during the journey. We both agreed that Mum seems to be going down hill fast and that we seem to be unable to help her anymore. We walked round the garden and admired and photoed many of the plants to take back to show Mum. We ate a light lunch and then took a cup of coffee and some walnut cake back for Mum, stopping to buy some sweet williams on the way.

When we returned she was much brighter and chattier!  She was drinking a small glass of whiskey! She loved the coffee and the cake and admired the sweet williams. She talked about her garden back at Braces lane where we lived as children. She was able to remember all the vegetables and fruit she used to grow. I thought that Dad had done most of the gardening but she laughed when I said this and told me that he only did the digging and that she had grown all the vegetables. She also talked about Grandad’s garden and reminded me how he used to sit in his verandah and plant out all his seedlings. Her memory was really good . She then talked about her little cat Tito that she had as a child and how he had been named after General Tito. It was almost like talking to my ‘normal’ Mum!  I laughed with her as I showed her all the photos of the garden we had been to and she replied that she goes there often in her dreams.

We chatted to her about the week and was surprised that she knew a little about the devastating bomb attack in Manchester. She expressed her shock that someone had targeted children and young people. I also told her that I had been to see David Bowie on Monday night – she looked at me quizzically and said ‘ I thought he was dead.’ I informed her that he was but that this tribute band was so good that it could have been him!

During our visit she did not talk to herself or say anything odd apart from telling us that Hilary’s little dog had been killed. I do not think that this is true as she has told us this a number of times in the past.

We left her watching the TV and made her promise to come out with us next week … watch this space!

 

 

 

Wednesday 17th May

On Sunday we  returned from a lovely week sailing around the beautiful islands of Croatia with a group of volunteers and friends from Sailability. We were a very mixed bunch of all ages and backgrounds but soon fell into the life on board a sailing boat and the changing climate of the Adriatic. The weather was somewhat challenging with sun , wind and rain in equal measures. We were however pleasantly surprised to return to old Blighty to a warm and sunny afternoon. Not for long.  It has now been raining torentially for over 24 hours!

We arrived to find Mum asleep in her chair. Our postcard was lying on the table next to her as was another one from my sister Jude in Tasmania. I woke her up gently and she smiled in recognition. I commented that our postcard had arrived before us but she looked at me quizzically and said that she hadn’t had any postcards. When I showed them to her she said that someone had put them there without her knowledge  – maybe they hadn’t wanted to wake her from her slumber.

She was very quiet and looked very pale and tired. We chatted away to her about our holiday and gave her a glass of the orange liquor I had brought back for her which she liked. We then showed her all of our holiday snaps which Robert had put onto my laptop. She looked at them all but I am not sure how much she took in as she asked a few times ‘ where is this?’.

Her lunch arrived and she ate a few mouthfuls of her lasagne but wolfed down the steamed pud which followed. After lunch we showed her some more photos and then proceeded to do the daily crossword. She started off well and came up with the word lee for a meadow but slowly drifted back to sleep waking occasionally to help with a tricky clue.

After about 2 hours I could see she was very tired and asked if she wanted to be left alone to sleep to which she agreed. I kissed her goodbye and she drifted back to sleep.

During our stay she was very quiet and tired. She did not mutter to herself or to anyone else and did not say anything out of context, in fact, she said hardly anything at all. It is difficult to know how she is feeling or what she is thinking or how much she comprehends but she does now seem to be drifting further and further away from us. I just hope and pray that wherever she goes to that it is a happy place.

 

 

Wednesday 3rd May

Mum ParisA rather dull, dismal, dreary day with temperatures trying to clutch on to double figures.

Mum was lying on her bed, fully dressed and sound asleep with her mouth wide open when we arrived. Her breathing was so shallow that I did wonder for a moment if she was still alive!  Her legs appeared very twisted and at first I thought she might have a dislocated hip! I woke her up gently and she smiled at me and told me she still had a cold. I tried to rearrange her legs but she told me not to fuss. I told her that we had brought some new glasses and wanted to show her Paris but that she would need to be sitting in her chair to use them properly. She seemed to understand and fortunately two of her carers arrived and persuaded her to sit in the chair for them. I think she had refused all offers before! They managed to lift her into the chair as she refused the hoist.

She informed us that she had been to Paris once before but didn’t like it as there was too much traffic! Robert managed to fix the virtual reality glasses and box onto her head and away she went. She was able to tell us that she was standing at the bottom of the Eiffel tower and that she could see the river. She also noticed some dog pooh on the pavement!  She really appeared to be enjoying the experience but when Robert tipped the chair up I noticed that her nose had been squashed over to one side! We quickly took them off to find that the soft tip of her nose was now diverted over to the right! I manged to straighten it out but was amazed that she had not complained as it must have been uncomfortable. She joked with one of her carers who came in to bring her lunch that we had been beating her up!

I gave her a small glass of sherry and she ate a few mouthfuls of her lunch but didn’t want any more. She then demolished two of the Mr Kipling Angel cake slices I had bought her followed by a bowl of strawberries and cream. We all then sat down and did the crossword together which seemed much more difficult than normal and not helped by the fact that Robert fell asleep for 1/2 an hour. Mum was on good form and did answer some of the clues.

We chatted to her about our week and told her about the lovely evening in the church where the local art group had put on an exhibition. I also told her about my piano practise which is progressing very slowly even though I am managing to practise every day for 1-2  hours. ‘Isn’t it maddening ‘ she said’ to hear people play so well when it seems so hard.’ She had had piano lessons as a child but told her mother she had to stop in case she got bombed on the way home!

After lunch and the crossword we put her back into the virtual reality glasses and Robert span the chair round whilst she visited The Blue Mosque in Istanbul which she loved. This time I made sure that her nose was not squashed!

Interestingly today she did not to talk to herself or others and mentally appeared the best she has been for a very long time. Maybe the glasses did have an effect!

Wednesday 26th April

A strange day weather wise. It was 7 degrees when we set off but fairly sunny.  By the time we had reached Mum’s care home we had driven through very light rain, sleet and snow flurries.  We were greeted by one of Mum’s carers who informed us that Mum had been to a hospital appointment yesterday to see if her ankle could be splinted but apparently it had been decided that the contractures in her foot were now too bad to do anything. It is very annoying as we have been trying to get something done about her foot for months.

Mum was sitting in her chair. Her ankle and foot are now inverted when she sits in her chair but I was able to persuade her to evert her foot but not for long. I tried to explain to her how important it was that she tried to do some exercises and evert her foot and ankle as much as possible but it was clear that she had no intention of doing so. I explained to her that this was the reason that she could no longer stand or walk but she became very cross telling me that she could walk and that people were lying if they said that she couldn’t! She has now developed a fixed contracture of her knee on the same side so I suspect that it is now too late to do anything to help her mobility which is a great shame because it does make it much more difficult for her carers to look after her. Sadly, her GP is still insistent that the problem lies with her achilles tendons and insists that she has regular anti inflammatory gel rubbed into both of them!  I think the only solution would be reconstruction of her ankle ligaments but clearly that is not an option. Anyway, as long as she thinks she can stand and walk I suppose that is something!

My sister Jude ( who is in Tasmania) sent us a letter to read to Mum. Mum preferred to read it herself and did spend some time studying the content. She read the last paragraph out aloud but I am not sure how much she took in. However when we offered to dictate a letter back to Jude she agreed and Robert managed to type a few lines which he will e mail to Jude.

We then spent some time showing her our photos from a trip we made to Birmingham at the weekend. Mum was interested to see how much it has all changed. During our trip we popped into the BBC studios and were treated to a free trial of some virtual reality glasses! I watched a small film about refugees leaving in a small boat – it was absolutely amazing – I really thought I was on the boat with them! I also had a virtual tour of the Archers studio! We both felt that this would be a great way to take Mum out without leaving her room! I am sure that it would be possible to download some gardens etc that she could be taken round. Robert has already ordered a pair so watch this space………  I am not sure how she will get on with them but I think it may be worth a try.

Mum’s lunch arrived and after helping her with it we decided to leave her and go to the local pub for lunch. Sadly we discovered over another excellent meal that the couple who run it are splitting up and moving on! We will be very sorry to see them go.

We returned to find Mum asleep in her chair but she quickly woke up and ate the creme brulee which the landlady of the pub had sent for her and drank a small glass of port. I manicured her nails for her whilst Robert showed her some more photos of Hidcote gardens. She really enjoys looking at photos of our trips.

As we were leaving, I kissed her and said ‘please don’t be cross with me for getting you do try and do your exercises’ to which she replied ‘ how can a lady who cannot walk get cross with anyone!’ Bless her.

Wednesday April 19th

We woke up to such a glorious morning – a bright blue sky scattered with small cotton wool clouds, that we decided to leave earlier than planned and flex our National Trust cards by visiting the beautiful Hidcote gardens in Gloucestershire. The journey took us about 1 hour and we were not disappointed. The gardens were full of spring blooms with hints of beautiful flowering shrubs and plants to follow.

Hidcote Manor and Gardens are about 35 minutes from Mum’s care home in Worcestershire . We arrived to find her asleep in her chair in her room. I was determined that we would take her out to see the wonderful Worcestershire country side but sadly after initially agreeing she then declared that she felt unwell and would rather not go out.  I felt really disappointed that we were unable to take her out of her self imposed prison particularly on such a spectacular day. We had however bought a DVD from Hidcote which showed some of the beautiful gardens and told the history of their construction.

Mum did initially say that she wanted to go out so, realising that she was not wearing any socks I pulled out a clean pair which were a rather lovely stripey pink. As I pulled them onto her feet she laughed and asked if I was trying to ‘make her look like a twerp!’

Her lunch arrived and she reluctantly ate 2 mouthfuls. I noticed that she is now having difficulty chewing and swallowing and it took her a long time to swallow each mouthful which induced a bout of coughing. She did manage a bowl of strawberries and cream but it was noticeable that she took much longer to eat each mouthful than usual.

She mentioned the fact that she had spent a lot of time at family funerals this week and reminded me that Uncle Charle had died. I told her that he had died over 40 years ago but she told me not to call her a liar and that they had buried him yesterday.

She fell asleep shortly after lunch but then woke up when we put on the DVD about Hidcote and told us that she had been there several times to see Shakespeare plays in the garden.

She dozed on and off whilst we played the DVD, talking to herself in her sleep. She woke up and complained of severe pain in her left leg. I asked her if she wanted to go the the toilet and she replied that she did. We rang for her carers who came fairly quickly and popped her on the commode.  Following this all her pain was better.

We stayed for nearly 3 hours after which time she seemed so exhausted that we decided to leave. I kissed her goodbye and made her promise to come out with us next week.

 

 

Happy Easter! Saturday 15th April

easter bonnet

We visited Mum today as we were in London during the week visiting our friends and attending a wonderful concert at the Hackney Empire celebrating the life and songs of Ella Fitzgerald. We also spent some of the time doing jigsaws with my friends elderly Mum who has Alzheimers dementia and practically no short term memory. She is otherwise quite fit for her age and can hold a lengthy discussion with you on almost any topic but does not now retain any information and repeatedly asks the same question which can be very frustrating!

Mum was on good form when we arrived and was interested in our news. She appeared to know who Ella Fitzgerald was and that she was no longer with us. I put on some make up and dressed her up in her Easter bonnet for a photo shoot before giving her a glass of sherry. She was sure that she had already had an early lunch which arrived shorty after!  After lunch I gave her hands a manicure and reapplied her nail varnish during which time she had an argument with a ‘man’ about the state of her wash bag. The argument concluded when he agreed to buy her a new one! She also asked us where her little dog had gone. I tried to tell her that she didn’t have one but she told me not to be so stupid and that she has had one for years.

I had bought her a battenburg cake which was my grandfather’s favourite. She ate a slice and remembered that it had been her father’s favourite cake. After lunch she fell asleep for about an hour whilst we sat and watched the snooker ( I am a closet snooker fan and usually hide away during this time of the year watching the whole of the world championship!)

She woke up and declared that she needed the loo. I used the call button and two members of staff arrived quickly to hoist her on to her commode. We were ushered out of the room during procedings but heard them all laughing (!).

She had a brief conversation with us about her cousin’s son Malcolm and how he used to play games until 0500 in the morning and how they were all exhausted and then fell asleep again.

We stayed with her for nearly 3 hours and then decided to go and leave her snoozing. Happy Easter Mum xxxxx. Continue reading

Saturday 8th April

Robert has driven up to see his mother as she had a hospital appointment and appeared to be a bit confused as to why. She thought she was going in to have a pacemaker fitted but in fact it was just to see the cardiologist about some dizzy spells who felt they were most probably due to her medication. She is 90 this year and is still driving and lives independently. I am not sure that she should still be driving but she is a difficult woman to argue with!

It was a glorious morning and as I was feeling much better I decided to drive over to see Mum.  The drive over was absolutely  stunning – the English countryside was at it’s very best – all the fields are now either a beautiful green or yellow as the rapeseed is now in flower. The sky was blue and cloudless and the blossom on the trees was the prettiest I have ever seen. I felt a pang of jealousy as I saw people floating by on their canal boats – what a terrific day for messing about on the water!

Mum was sitting in her room with the TV on, completely unaware of the beautiful day outside. In fact when I asked her what month it was she asked me if it was December. I could not persuade her to come downstairs or go out for a drive. She was not very chatty so I told her about our week. We had been to our neighbour’s 60th birthday party – a very elegant affair with a wonderful pianist who played their grand piano and sang popular songs. I told Mum about my attempts to play the piano – I am trying to teach myself and finding it near impossible.  She had lessons as a child and we both agreed it was very difficult. I discussed the Grand National with her which was on the TV but I am not sure how much she took in.

One of her carers arrived with her lunch and fortunately she had been with Mum when she attended her hospital appointment. Mum had very little memory of the trip. She had apparently been to see an orthopaedic specialist who was more interested in her hips than her ankle! He had taken x rays of her hips and declared that they were not the problem!!  He then asked on of his colleagues to look at Mum’s ankle and they discussed giving her  a splint but decided against it as it would be too heavy and opted for physiotherapy!  She is now back on the waiting list for physio! ( I thought she was already on it.)  Interestingly, considering that Mum absolutely refuses to put any weight on her ankle now, she was able to stand and walk two steps for the specialist!  When I asked her about this later she told me that she can stand and walk if she wants too!  I am not convinced that she can but she does tend to play down her disabilities.

Later on she suddenly started talking to her imaginary friend. She herself appeared to be a man who was talking to someone about Joan and her mother Hilda. They had apparently gone shopping in Liverpool – they did this as a regular event and had become very fond of Liverpool!  When I managed to interrupt, I asked Mum if she had ever been to Liverpool ‘ I think I have been once’ she replied ‘ but it was many years ago.’