Wednesday 10th July – coffee from Rhodesia

I drank a little too much coffee this morning and had to stop at the services on the way to see Mum. She was asleep and still in her nightie when I arrived. She woke easily and smiled. I noted that her eye looked much better and commented about the fact that she was still in her nightdress and she replied that she was ‘having a lazy day today.’  I gave her the cup of coffee which I had bought on the way and informed her that the shop didn’t have any Mr Kipling cakes but I had bought her a packet of giant chocolate buttons instead. She then told me that she liked coffee and grew it in her garden. I looked a little surprised and she then went on to explain that she grew it in her garden in Rhodesia! She told me it was a lovely country to live in and that I should try and go one day.

One of her carers arrived and asked her if she wanted roast pork or risotto. She decided on the pork but I tried to talk her into having the risotto as she rarely eats much of the pork. She became very cross and told me not to be dictatorial! We agreed on the pork and I gave her a small glass of port. ‘ this is not pork, this is port!’ she exclaimed! She calmed down  and ate the chocolate buttons whilst we watched some of Wimbledon on the TV.  She commented on the fact that the players shorts were now far too long ” they can’t run in those, they would be much better off in shorter ones”

Her lunch arrived but unfortunately they had forgotten to mince up the pork. After a short discussion she agreed to try the risotto which was really tasty. She ate almost the whole serving!

After lunch she declared that she was tired and wanted to go to sleep. I left her to doze whilst I watched the Tour de France and sewed yet another teddy!  She woke up when her pudding arrived and ate a whole bowl of custard and cream before falling back to sleep.

I stayed with her for just over 4 hours as I wanted to see the end of the race. She slept most of that time, mumbling occasionally in her sleep.  During my stay an elderly gentleman wondered into Mum’s room looking for the toilet. I was able to escort him back to his own room which he had mislaid! All of the rooms have photos of the residents outside the door which is very helpful when one of them gets lost.

I am finding it harder and harder to recognise my Mum in this poor old lady who lies in bed with her twisted body. She is unable to do anything for herself and is very frail and vulnerable. I take comfort in the fact that she appears very well looked after but do have some concerns when I see other vunerable residents wandering around lost and confused. Is this what many of us have to look forward to??

 

 

 

 

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Friday 5th July- Coughton Court

Mum greeted me today with a big smile and asked me if I had brought my husband with me. I explained that he was sailing today and asked if she knew who I was. ‘ Your his wife’ she replied with a twinkle in her eye but did eventually remember my name.  I apologised for not visiting on Wednesday but she told me that it was OK as she had been very busy. She had apparently adopted a young boy called Julian!

Her left eye was a bit sticky and she allowed me to give it a clean.  I also noted that someone had managed to clip her nails.

I gave her the coffee I had bought and some angel cakes slices. ‘Mr Kipling – you can’t beat him ‘ she replied and she was right!

I showed her some photos of my garden and our trip to the Opera at Nevill Holt last Thursday . She enjoyed the photo of Robert in his posh clothes and looking at the beautiful gardens.

She then asked me who the photo was of on her window sill. I brought it up to her so she could see him more clearly. ‘ ah, it’s Howard.’  He was very young in the photo and very handsome.  ‘ I can hardly remember him now’ she said sadly. He has been dead for nearly 28 years.We started watching wimbledon; something Mum has enjoyed from as early as I can remember. I am not sure how much she took in.

During my visit two other residents wondered into Mum’s room. Neither were able to communicate but both shuffled off when I suggested they may be in the wrong room. Another resident was screaming incessantly – something she does on a regular basis -I mentioned it to a member of staff and asked if she received any visitors as she seemed so distressed. I was told that her husband visits her every day.

I left Mum before her lunch arrived as I had arranged to meet my friend and her Mum at Coughton Court which is a 20 minute drive away from Mum’s care home. I pronounced it incorrectly and Mum corrected me. I promised to return after my visit with some photos to show her.

We had a lovely visit to the gardens at Coughton Court – I have never seen them look so beautiful. Alison’s Mum has quite advanced Alzheimers now with no short term memory at all.  She loved walking around the gardens but sadly had no memory of them within 20 minutes. There was a theatre company setting up a stage – they are performing Pride and Prejudice this evening. Alison ran off to the box office to purchase some tickets for her Mum , sister and her daughter. I am sure they will have a wonderful evening even if poor old Kath won’t be able to remember it.

I returned to see Mum armed with all the photos. She enjoyed seeing the beautiful gardens but admitted that she was feeling very fed up and felt her life was pretty awful being stuck in bed all day. I gave her a hug and asked if there was anything I could do to make her feel any better  ‘ just take me back home.’ she replied.  I wish I could.

We then spent an amusing 15 minutes talking about Mr Kipling and looking him up on google. Sadly he turns out to be a myth as does Mrs Kipling who made a special appearance on one of the adverts!

 

 

Wednesday 3rd July – a senior moment or two!

I returned from a rather lovely cycle ride this morning to find a rather frantic message left by my sister in Tasmania as her poor little cat Syd had once again been savaged by some wild beast and she couldn’t stop the bleeding!  As soon as I had heard the message I rang her back. Fortunately things weren’t quite as bad as she had feared. The wound had stopped bleeding and poor Syd was looking a little better. Yet another trip to the vet I think!  Anyway, towards the end of the call she asked me if I was going to visit Mum. I remonstrated with her and reminded her that I almost always visit Mum on a Wednesday. ‘But it is Wednesday’ she insisted. ‘it may be Wednesday in Tasmania but it is still Tuesday here!’ I replied ‘  …. or is it?’

Strangely, Robert and I have been under the illusion for the last 2 days that it was Monday yesterday and Tuesday today!!  Robert even commented when he took his morning tablet that he must have taken 2 by mistake yesterday!!  We had even commented last night when we went to the cinema that it seemed fairly busy for a Monday!  ( we did go and see a film called ‘Yesterday!’)

So, I have missed visiting my Mum today as I thought it was Tuesday!  I did however have a lovely bike ride and stopped off at a friends house to have coffee and look at their wonderful garden.

I had already made arrangements to drive over to Bromsgrove on Friday to visit my friend and her Mum so I will pop in and see Mum on the way and then visit her again on the way back!

I am still fairly bewildered by our mistake and feel that somewhere we have lost a whole day! I guess it must be so much worse for Mum who never has any idea what day it is.

So I leave my blog tonight wishing everyone good night and hope to wake up tomorrow in time for my Thursday morning piano lesson!

Wednesday 26th June – afternoon tea.

Whilst most of Europe is basking in sunshine and boasting record highs and heat waves we have been drenched with rain and enduring pretty miserable weather. The promised sunny afternoon yesterday did not materialise and my hopes for a lovely afternoon tea in the garden with our neighbours were down graded to afternoon tea in the conservatory. This meant spending the morning cleaning said conservatory and moving in tables and Mum’s old  Royal Doulton dinner service. Suffice to say we had a splendid afternoon with our lovely neighbours and friends imbibing champagne and feasting on sandwiches , scones and cakes. The sandwiches came courtesy of Mr Sainsbury’s on line service and looked as if they had been home made!

Robert insisted on driving me over to see Mum today armed with cakes and coffee. Mum was lying in bed whilst one of her carers was trying to feed her some pretty tough looking fish and chips! I took over but after she had attempted to chew one bit of piece for over 20 minutes I gave up and plied her with Victoria sponge and port instead. She appeared pale and very vague. I told her all about yesterday’s afternoon tea party and the fact that I had made use of her Royal Doulton dinner service. ‘ who gave you permission to use my dinner service? she asked rather crossly. I tried to persuade her that it was good that it was being used but she insisted that she used it ‘all the time’. I showed her some photos and she appeared to recognise the cups and plates.

After lunch I had a look at her nails which clearly needed cutting. She keeps the fingers of her left hand fairly clenched and I am concerned that the nails may start digging into the palm of her hand. She was very reluctant to let me have a go and would not let me cut them. I eventually gave up as she was becoming fairly agitated.

When I asked her who Robert was she had no idea. She then decided that he must be somebody’s son and then somebody’s brother. It then became clear that she had no idea who I was either – just someone who had pinched her dinner service and was trying to cut her nails!  She also had no idea of her own name but could name both her  mother and her father. We kept the guessing game going for a few minutes and finally told her who we all were. Sadly, 5 minutes later she still had no idea.

She was not in a good place today and seemed very vague and distracted and I did wonder if she actually understood what I was saying at times.  I showed her the new teddy I am sewing and asked her what she thought it was. After some thought she asked if it was a biscuit!  I asked her if she could come up with a name for the bear and she replied ‘Bruno’ denoting that she had got some comprehension.

It is impossible to imagine what is going on inside her head on days like these. It must be so confusing to be surrounded by people you don’t know who are telling you that you should know them and even worse when you don’t even know your own name. I know from experience that she may be completely different tomorrow and can only hope that the next time I visit she is in a better place and lets me clip her nails!

On a more positive note, Robert and I spent a whole day making the teddies passports. I am really looking forward to showing them all off at the Hollowell fete in August. Hopefully they will raise more awareness of this devastating disease.

 

 

Wednesday 19th June – who wants to be Prime Minister?

It has rained so much this last week that I have seriously thought about building an ark but have stuck to making teddy bears instead. Following my visit to the Teddy Bear Festival I have started my new challenge of making even smaller bears and have started by using a much smoother material. I am quite pleased with the first two results and have already solved some of the problems! I have also persuaded Robert to make some more passports and labels!

Robert came with me to see Mum today as she had asked if I would bring him last week. He is now back from looking after his Mum but rather perplexed at the fact that his siblings don’t appear to think that she seems depressed even though she has lost interest in all of her usual activities and has very little conversation other than asking to be taken to Switzerland and not for the skiing!  Maybe she is only like it with him!!

Mum initially did not recognise him but when prompted appeared to know who he was. She said that she was fed up and wanted to go home. She was aware that she had not done anything during the week other than lie in bed. I asked her if she had had a bath which I know she loves but she told me that it wasn’t at all like having her own bathroom and bath. I changed to subject and told her about my trip to London to see my friends Alison and Alan. Alison and I had been to Battersea to a seafood festival and the following morning we had been on a guided tour around Highgate Cemetery. I showed her my photos including one from our trip down the Thames showing the houses of Parliament. She seemed interested to see the pictures from the cemetery and particularly liked the grave of Mrs Henry Woods who wrote the novel East Lynne.

Her lunch arrived and she tried to eat a few mouthfuls of the chicken and leek pie but couldn’t really chew the chicken and had a few coughing episodes. I quickly replaced the dinner with two little Victoria sponges from M&S which she loved and she reminded me that she used to make cakes for the church fetes. I poured her a small glass of port but this also seemed to make her cough so we decided to abandon it and she managed some of the coffee we had bought instead.

The TV was showing some of the debate from the prime ministerial candidates from last night. Mum asked what Brexit meant. I tried to explain and told her that it was one of the reasons that we were now looking for a new prime minister. ‘I think I could do a good job’ she announced but then decided that she was probably too unwell to take it on.’ I would keep us in Europe’ she said with about as little conviction as the candidates.

She seemed very tired but I managed to persuade her to do some of the daily crossword. She fell asleep shortly after as did Robert! I sat and watched TV whilst they both slumbered for about an hour before kissing her goodbye and wishing her a good sleep.

Sweet dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday June 12th – a flash of brilliance!

Firstly, I would like to report that Elgar is now very much better and back to his normal chirpy self. On my return from visiting Mum last week I gave him a cuddle and burst the nasty looking abscess overlying his right shoulder. This, when cleaned up revealed two deep tooth marks! No wonder he was feeling so under the weather.

Talking about the weather, I would not be surprised if we are swiftly heading towards the wettest June ever recorded. It seems to have been raining continuously for days on end!  Good for the lawn I keep telling myself!

Robert is staying with his Mum for a few days – her painful hand does not seem to be improving so there is another visit to her specialist pencilled in the diary.

I woke up early and as a consequence found myself painting window sills and radiators at 0 500am!  This was followed by some piano practise and a bit of teddy bear making before heading over to see Mum.

When I arrived she was fast asleep under the covers. I woke her gently and she smiled, wished me good morning and asked how I was. She appeared to be in the present so I sat down with her and told her about my 5 00am start and the rest of my week. I started off by asking how she was. Sadly, she replied that she was fed up as she told me she could no longer walk and had to spend all her time in bed. I was sorry to hear this – it is sometimes much better to hear about her imaginary world and not the reality of her situation.

She was interested to hear about my visit to The Teddy Bear Festival at Woburn Abbey and loved looking at my photos of the teddy bears and the wonderful gardens. I gave her a slice of angel cake which she asked if it was Mr Kipling’s. I had to tell her that unfortunately it was Mr Sainsbury’s and we both agreed that it was not quite as good.

I had driven up to Nottingham on Monday to attend the funeral of my ‘nearly god daughter’s’  grandmother who was 88. She had seemed so much younger when I met her at Fiona’s wedding last Christmas. It was an up lifting funeral with over 100 people in the congregation. I told Mum that she had sent me some money before she died which will be donated to the Lewy Body Society.

Mum’s lunch arrived and I fed her spoonfuls of roast pork and vegetables followed by a very tasty  slice of chocolate cake and cream. ‘The chef here is very good, she makes very good cakes’ I said and was quickly corrected by Mum ‘ she is a he!’

We were able to watch some TV together with Mum taking some interest in bargain hunt and the lunch time news. Boris Johnson was launching his leadership campaign and Mum quite rightly said that she couldn’t understand why anyone wanted the job!

After a while I proposed that we tackle a crossword as she seemed so mentally bright. Amazingly, she engaged in the task and answered a fair number of the clues at times coming up with some wonderful answers. When I commented on how good she was she said ‘ I had a flash of brilliance!’

After about two hours she fell asleep. On waking temporarily she started talking to an imaginary person about the fact that she was going to be out at 5 00am as she was off to Bromsgrove to meet the love of her life. She was not going to wear any clothes as he liked to see her naked!! Oooh eerr!

Just as I was leaving the friendly chiropodist arrived to ‘do her feet’. He laughed and joked with her. I bid her goodbye and left them to it. ‘Make sure you bring Robert with you next week ‘ she said as I left her room.

 

 

 

Thursday 6th June – 75 years since D Day

 

I arrived at Mum’s today just as she was finishing watching the D day celebrations in France. She smiled at me rather curiously and when I asked her if she knew who I was she said that she did but couldn’t remember my name. I tried to talk to her about D day and explain the significance of the celebrations but I think it was just too much for her to take in. All the commemorations have been very moving and it has been fairly emotional listening to some of the surviving veterans telling their stories.

One of Mum’s carers arrived with a cafetière of coffee for us both which was really lovely – the first time this has happened since Mum has been in the home!

I trimmed her nails and accidently nicked the tip of one of her fingers!! She could not understand where the blood had come from! I don’t think I will ever be employed as a manicurist!

Fish pie arrived for lunch and she ate quite well. This was then followed by an enormous profiterole covered in chocolate sauce. This was accompanied by a small glass of her orange brandy which went down very quickly. After lunch she declared that she was very tired and fell asleep.

She woke up after about an hour and was a little distressed as she wanted to go to the loo and was asking me for her shoes. I tried to explain that she cannot walk and that she is wearing a pad so that she doesn’t need the loo but she was not convinced and had a chat to her mother about the situation. She then settled down and went back to sleep.

She then woke up and started talking to someone about driving home. I reminded her that she couldn’t drive anymore and she told me that she had been driving since before I was born. I reminded her that she had taken her driving test at the same time as I had taken mine. She asked if she had passed and I had to confess that she had had to take it quite a number of times! ‘ you’ve just ruined my day!’ she replied!!

I am pleased to report that Elgar is much better and that Robert has returned from his Mums. Elgar slept downstairs last night but appeared upstairs this morning. He is still feeling a bit sorry for himself and only walking short distances but on the whole he is going in the right direction.

On the way home I fumed to myself about the way our parish council had treated my lovely friend Maxine who organised the wonderful fairy trail last year as they feel she should not put it on again due to the number of visitors it attracted to our village. All I can say in the immortal words of Bridget Jone’s friend ‘ f*** ’em Bridge! ‘

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