Wednesday 13th November- that’s not a snake – that’s Elgar!!

I am sitting with Mum in her room writing this today.  She was quite bright when I arrived and loved the new ‘queen size’ fur throw I bought for her earlier in the week. It is so soft and warm and she asked me if I would pull it right up to her neck so that she could snuggle into it.  She couldn’t remember my name but did know that I was her daughter.  She has drunk a small glass of port and I have shown her a few photos. She did not seem to be able to make out poor Elgar in his photo asking me if he was a snake!

She chose turkey for lunch which I asked to be minced up. When it arrived she declined to eat anything saying that she was going to go home for lunch. I eventually persuaded her to stay and she ate a few mouthfuls unfortunately coughing and choking on the peas!

She gave up on lunch but did manage a Mr Kipling angel slice and some Cadburys chocolate buttons. ‘ You can’t beat chocolate!’ she exclaimed.

She asked me if she was wearing any shoes. I tried to tell her that she was in bed and had nothing on her feet but she was adamant that she was wearing slippers or shoes and could only be convinced otherwise when I showed her her feet.

I told her about our week. We had been to a ‘race night ‘ to raise money for Sailability on Friday which had been great fun. We  entertained friends on Sunday for lunch and been out with friends for lunch yesterday who we had not seen for ages. It was lovely to catch up although they had both been through the wars with their health and both have more operations and treatment to look forward to!

She has just asked me if I picked up the key to the house when I came over! She can’t remember if she picked it up or not and is worried that she won’t be able to get back in.

One of the senior carers has just popped in. I asked her about Mum’s blister on her abdomen which is still covered with a dressing. She says the district nurse was happy with it. It has now burst but is not obviously infected and beginning to resolve.

Mum has just had a little ‘arguement’ with her mother about how she has been playing up all morning and that she should ‘mind her own business!’ Apparently they had a misunderstanding about how to pronounce a word which meant false teeth!

Mum’s comprehension and attention span is now very limited. I tried to tell her there was a Christmas film on the TV but she couldn’t understand what I was talking about and has now fallen asleep.

I shall leave her now sleeping. She looks very comfortable and warm, snuggled up in her new blanket.

As the bush fires across Australia are continuing to rage  with many houses burned to the ground  and many people across the UK having to abandon their homes due to flooding, we can only count our blessings.

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November 6th – Not another election!

It’s been a strange old week with highs and lows in equal measure. Highs included two lunch outings to my favourite restaurant in Market Harborough with my girl friends, the purchase of a lovely new fur ( teddy like) coat and a trip to the theatre whilst the lows were led by the rather stunning defeat of England by South Africa in the rugby world cup and the near disaster in the making of my latest teddy when I misadvertently  attached his arm and legs the wrong way round!  To top it all we are now heading for yet another General Election and I had to cancel another dinner date with friends at very short notice due to a sudden and unexpected migraine!

Today started well. I woke up early and spent the first 45 minutes doing yoga. The daily discomfort and stiffness in my back has been transformed by doing a weekly session for the last 6 months but I am now suffering from pain and stiffness in my finger joints. I was very impressed by a trip to my GP on Friday who arranged blood tests and x rays both of which were performed within an hour!

I drove over to see Mum on a cold, dull day which was transformed by the beautiful colours of autumn which enhanced most of my journey. Sadly, Mum was not very good today. She was lying in bed, asleep when I arrived wearing only a top and covered by a fur throw. She woke up fairly easily but it was apparent that she had no idea who I was. I asked if she knew me and she said that she didn’t. When I told her I was called Angela she said ‘ that’s a pretty name.’ I told her I was her daughter, a fact she seemed to acknowledge . I poured her out a small glass of port and proceeded to try and tell her about the week. She was saddened to hear about the rugby and laughed when I told her about the new teddy who had required a number of ‘operations’ to repair my mistakes. She was not very chatty and appeared very tired.

Her lunch arrived – yet another roast dinner with unminced up lamb which she couldn’t chew and coughed and choked when she tried to eat it. She did however manage a bowl of Angel delight and a little syrup steam pudding.

I noticed she had a dressing on her lower abdomen. I mentioned it to one of her carers who told me she had a blister. Fortunately the district nurse arrived to have a look at it and change the dressing. She has a 4cm quite tense blister without any surrounding erythema or signs of infection. It doesn’t look like a burn or a pressure area so I am not quite sure what is going on. The nurse elected to leave it intact and will keep an eye on it. I did wonder if it might be a drug reaction but she is not on any new medication and it seems unlikely to have been an insect bite although she was sitting downstairs last week. It does not seem to be causing her any distress so I hope it will gradually resolve on its own.

Mum complained of quite a bit of discomfort in her legs which I tried to relieve by massaging her calves. She grimaced a number of times but was not really able to tell me where the pain was.

I asked her if she was comfortable and she replied ‘yes’ and I asked her if she was happy and she replied ‘yes’. This is always good to hear as I think most of us have no comprehension of how we could feel in her position.

She suddenly started talking to an imaginary man behind her.  ‘I hope you don’t mind that I have my back to you’ she explained ‘ I am not being rude, it is just that I can’t turn over.’ A short discussion followed at the end of which they both bade each other goodbye.

I sat with Mum today for about  3 1/2 hours. I don’t suppose she has any memory of my visit now and interestingly didn’t even know who I was. When I got up to go she asked me where and why I was going. When I replied that I was going home she replied that she was now fed up with being here too and would be on her way home soon. I kissed her goodbye and left her snoozing.

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Wednesday October 30th – A surprise.

Robert and I have decided to make a little more out of our visits to see Mum and this week we decided to treat ourselves to dinner, bed and breakfast at Ettington Hall which is just outside of Stratford and about a 30 minute drive to Mum’s care home.  We stopped off on the way to visit Upton House ( now owned by The National Trust) which is stuffed full of amazing art and did a tour of the house. Robert is hooked on ‘Downton Abbey’ at the moment and we are working our way through the box set. I binged watched the whole set a few years ago but have to admit to having forgotten some of the plot! It does still amaze me however to see and learn about how the so called ‘gentry’ treated those ‘in service.’

We had a lovely stay at Ettington Hall and went for a stroll around the estate this morning before visiting Mum. We arrived just after 11 00am with cakes and hot chocolate, purchased from the village shop.  I strolled through the main sitting room and was suddenly hailed back by Jo one of the carers who pointed out to me that Mum was sitting in the chair next to me!  I was really surprised and so pleased to see her. She was dressed and sitting in a chair next to another Joan who was trying to drink from the Halloween candle on the table next to them! Jo explained that they were mending the motor on Mum’s bed and as they had had to hoist her into the wheelchair to move her they had decided to bring her downstairs. Unfortunately Mum did have quite a bit of bruising on the back of her right forearm. When I asked what had happened they explained that she does become very combatative when they hoist her and lashes out. Her skin is very fragile and she does bruise very easily.

I told Mum I was really pleased to see that she was dressed and out of bed as it must now be nearly a year since she has been downstairs. ‘I don’t know what you are talking about’ she replied ‘ I never stay in bed. Stop talking like an idiot!’  I asked her if she would like us to take her out for a walk in her chair to which she replied ‘ I can’t go for a walk because I haven’t got time – I have many places and things to do today!  She was also insistent that she had walked down from her bedroom and asked me if I was mad for suggesting otherwise!!  I gave her and the lady next to her a small chocolate cake and poured her a cup of hot chocolate.

We sat with her and tried to talk about the week. She appeared to understand some of what we were saying and seemed very pleased that England had beaten New Zealand in the world cup rugby. I tried to remind her to watch the final on Saturday but I don’t suppose she will remember. The house was beautifully decorated for Halloween and she seemed to understand that it was for October 31st. It was apparent that she was not quite sure who we were. I asked her if she knew who I was and she was able to tell me that I was her daughter but could not remember my name and had no idea who Robert was.

She let me file her nails although initially insisted that she could do it herself and let me massage and try to extend her fingers.

Her lunch arrived – a rather tasty butternut squash risotto followed by white chocolate cheese cake. She ate all of it and it was so delicious that I requested the recipes from the chef.

After lunch we all sat and did the daily crossword. She had flashes of genius and answered a few clues I couldn’t but then soon became tired and said she wanted to go to sleep. I asked her is she wanted to go back upstairs but she said she would rather stay downstairs for a little longer.

We left her dozing and drove over to Bromsgrove to visit my friend’s Mum Kath who is in 2 weeks respite care. She was on really good form and knew who we were straight away. We had a long and involved conversation with her and she was in very good spirits, able to discuss politics and talk about her past life. Her short term memory is very bad but her long term memory is pretty good. She gets very lonely living by herself and has started wandering and I really think she will be much happier and well cared for in residential care now.

Robert had purchased a car part via the internet from an address in Mosely near Birmingham so we drove from Bromsgrove. On the way Robert became very irritated by the driver in front who had slowed down and practically stopped. I could see that there was an elderly lady wondering in the road ahead of him. He drove round her as she started to climb onto the slight incline by the side of the road losing one of her slippers as she did so. Robert stopped and I went to try and assist her. She was clearly very confused and couldn’t tell me her name or where she lived. I had just decided to bundle her into our car to take her to the nearest police station when two concerned relatives waved to me and came over to collect her. ‘ she has Alzheimers’ he offerred as a way of explanation. Thank goodness they were reunited.

 

 

 

Wednesday 23rd October – that’s a lovely hat!

I am writing today’s blog listening to the sound track of Saturday Night Fever!  A group of us went to see the musical in Milton Keynes which was fabulous and brought back many happy memories of lost youth! So much so, that I am thinking of having a themed Saturday Night Fever birthday party next year! Watch this space!

Anyway, it has been a very busy week in one way or another. We were invited to lunch with friends on Sunday for a joint 60th celebration as both husbands have turned 60. Our friends were heading off to the Seychelles for a diving holiday this week but it has turned out that turning 60 is not very good for the brain as her husband had booked flights to the Maldives by mistake! Robert decided to change the oil in my car’s engine yesterday but unfortunately drained the gearbox instead!!

Robert drove us both over today – the trees are still holding firmly onto their leaves and the lovely autumnal hues are still trying to make their appearance.

Mum was on good form! I had baked her a chocolate cake which I gave to her in a cake carrier. ‘That’s a good use of a man’s hat’ she exclaimed when she saw it!

Her lunch had arrived so I fed her a few forkfuls and told her about our week. My main news was that a friend had given me a small space in her house for her open Art studio weekend to show case the teddys!  I ended up selling 11 bears! Another friend arrived yesterday and bought two more and I sent another two to a lovely lady in the States with our neighbours who are off to Florida.

She really enjoyed the chocolate cake and tried to offer some to her toy dog! We then told her that we were going to visit my friends Mum who has just gone into a care home for some respite as she has dementia and very short term memory.  She expressed her sadness and then said ‘ at least there is nothing wrong with my memory!’  I asked her if my sister had been to visit and she replied ‘ I can’t remember’. I then asked her if she knew Robert’s name ‘ I can’t remember’ she replied and then laughed.

We were watching the news and she suddenly asked ‘ What is all this nonsense called Brexit?? ‘ there is no answer to that!

After eating the cake and drinking her coffee she briefly fell asleep and then suddenly woke up and started staring upwards and talking to her mother ( my grandmother)  the conversation went like this:  ‘ Mum, I am talking to Angela on the phone and she says she wants to come and stay with you. Would it be Ok and can she sleep in your bed. She has been wondering around by herself all day and feels a bit lonely!  Also, the curtains at the town Hall have fallen down and are torn. What I am supposed to do about them I don’t know.’

She seemed very tired, so after about 2 1/2 hours we said our goodbyes and made our way over to see Kath in her new care home stopping at Webbs on the way to view all the Christmas decorations.

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Thursday October 17th – Back from Washington.

Robert and I arrived back from a wonderful holiday in Washington DC yesterday morning. Robert had asked if he could go to the Air and Space Museum for his 60th birthday present – I had of course agreed, not realising that the Museum was in Washington DC! Suffice to say we had a great week and visited many museums, galleries and memorials.

I drove over to see Mum today. She was awake and quite chirpy when I arrived and after a small glass of whisky we sat down to look at all of my holiday photos. At first she seemed quite engaged but after a while it was apparent that she was taking very little in and when I showed her a photo taken in the Holocaust Museum she had no idea what I was talking about. I tried to explain ( as much as anyone could) but it was if her brain had reached saturation and she went into shut down. Her lunch arrived but she fell asleep and could only manage a few mouthfuls. She then suddenly woke up and asked me if Dad had arrived for lunch as he had told her he would be home. She then went back to sleep.

She slept for most of the rest of my visit, awaking occasionally but not really engaging in any conversation. I asked her if she had any pain or discomfort and she replied that her legs and back were painful. I asked if there was anything I could do and she asked for a glass of whisky. I duly complied – the best medicine! I left her slumbering.

Monday 7th October – Wedding bells!

I popped over for a quick visit to see Mum today as we are off on holiday this evening to celebrate Robert’s 6oth birthday!!  Our lovely resident house sitter will be looking after Elgar whilst we are away.

Mum was fast asleep and wrapped up in her new fur throw and looked very comfortable and cosy when I arrived. She opened her eyes and woke easily when I spoke to her and instantly knew who I was. I told her about our up coming trip and we chatted about some of the things we are going to see. I had brought her a large tin of Heros chocolates we I gave her. ‘I love chocolate’ she said.

She allowed me to trim her nails after a short discussion. I can understand her reticence as I have nipped her finger on more than one occasion! She also managed to sign her name on Robert’s birthday card with some difficulty as she finds it very difficult to hold a pen.

Her lunch arrived – a rather delicious plate of liver and bacon with lovely gravy. Sadly she was adamant that she did not want it and declined all my attempts to feed it to her preferring a Mr Kipling mini battenburg and some of her chocolates.

After lunch she fell asleep for a little while suddenly waking up to tell me and an imaginary person that she was off to the States tomorrow to get married! I asked her who she was getting married to and she said that she had never met him before but did know his name! When I asked what his name is she replied ‘ Albert.’ I suggested that it might be a little foolhardy to marry someone you have never met before. She thought about it for a little while and then said ‘ well, I suppose if you are going to get married it is better to have a surprise than a shock!’

She was very tired so after a little while I wished her goodbye and reminded her that we would be away for a week.  ‘Be good’ I said to which she replied ‘ I can’t be anything else!Sweet dreams Mum and enjoy your Special day.

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Wednesday 2nd October – The Land of Nod.

The day started well as I discovered that I had won £50 on the premium bonds. It was also a bright and sunny morning if not pretty cold with a first thermometer reading of 4 degrees! I love these sunny, cold mornings – the air seems to feel so much fresher.

Robert decided that he wanted to visit Mum today with me. He has been away all weekend staying with his mother which meant that I had a lovely quiet weekend at home with Elgar. I did of course sew some more teds but also had ago at crafting some Christmas tree teddy decorations out of clay. I have made similar decorations from salt and flour dough but these are made out of air drying clay and will take 5 days to dry completely. So far, apart from one or two heads coming adrift they seem to be OK! I will have to wait until Friday before I can paint them and see if the end results are as good or better than the flour dough ones.

Autumn appears to be fairly late this year – many of the trees on our journey are still clinging to their green leaves and only a few had donned their orangey brown autumnal hues.

Mum was fast asleep when we arrived and was fairly difficult to rouse. She smiled fleetingly and attempted to open her eyes. I informed her that she had a visitor and she tried to look round to see who it was. ‘ahh, ‘ she mumbled almost in comprehensibly ‘ it’s Robert.’ Unfortunately those were the only words she uttered during our 3 hour visit preferring to go back into her slumber. I tried to wake her a few times but she was obviously very sleepy and declined any coffee, lunch, chocolate or indeed whisky! I asked her if she just wanted to sleep and she nodded.

Robert sat next to her and read some magazines whilst I sewed another little ted. I looked up and caught Robert having 20 winks.

Jo, one of Mum’s carers came in and had a chat to us and gave Robert a bowl of apple crumble. She told me that she had woken Mum up on Monday for her breakfast and Mum had not been too happy, calling her a tart and accusing her of sleeping with her husband!

Robert and I decided to leave Mum sleeping and left without disturbing her.

Mum’s life does seem pretty hard for us to comprehend and it is difficult to know whether she is suffering or not. She is well cared for and in a warm and safe environment.  Sadly, I have been contrasting this to the terrible plight of some children in Madagascar who were featured on the news this week. These poor children have been imprisoned in terrible conditions, some of them for up to 5 years for stealing vanilla beans. It is very hard to believe that certain countries are still allowed to do such terrible atrocities in the 21st century and that countries in the Western world are so oblivious to the real poverty which blights these children’s existence. I for one will not be buying anything which contains Madagascan vanilla from now on until these children are released.

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