Monday 16th September – arise Mrs Lazarus!

I spent 2 hours with Mum this morning having stayed the night in ‘the Boot Inn’, a local hostelry just up the road from Mum’s Care home. Robert and I had spent much of the day with her yesterday after reports from my sister that on Saturday she was slowly deteriorating and felt that she was slipping peacefully away. We were then somewhat surprised to find her rather chirpy, awake and requesting scrambled eggs for breakfast! Her cough was still quite bad but she was not distressed by it and her breathing was much better! Unfortunately her carers were under strict instructions not to feed her!!  I managed to smuggle in some port and Mr Kiplings chocolate cakes and after some discussions with the on call GP she was allowed soup and ice cream.  She managed to polish off a whole bowl of chocolate ice cream! She slept quite a bit of the time but woke up when I told her about the story in the paper that a golden loo worth £5 million had been stolen from Blenheim palace – when I said jokingly that ‘the police had nothing to go on’ she laughed and laughed, clearing out her lungs as she did so!

This morning I arrived around  9 am and she was still bright and quite chatty – not just to me but to some of her imaginary friends. I told her that I had stayed up the road in the pub overnight. She asked me why and I replied that she had been very poorly and I had been worried about her. When she heard this, she burst into tears!

One of her favourite carers came into see her and gave her a big kiss and told her she loved her. Mum replied that she loved her too. I quipped in ‘ and I hope you love me’ to which she replied ‘of course I do.’

She slept on and off but woke easily whilst I plied her with more chocolate cake and coffee. She asked me a few times if I would take her home and became quite angry when I told her that this was her home but soon settled back to sleep.

The GP has revoked the ‘ do not feed orders’ and she is looking forward to a plate of scrambled eggs!

One of her carers asked me on the way out if I felt that she should still not have antibiotics. It is a very difficult question to answer but she clearly has been able to fight this infection without them. Her quality of life is however still extremely poor. She has not moved from the same position for over a year! She is doubly incontinent, has severe contractures of both her legs and cannot feed herself or use her hands other than to hold a very small glass of whisky. She becomes quite distressed every time she is moved or changed and when she has any insight she wants to go home. What would be your reply?

 

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Friday 13th October – when to treat?

I have been sitting in the chair next to Mum’s bed for the last 5 hours. I received an e mail yesterday from my sister to say that Mum’s condition had deteriorated and that the home had called out the local GP who had prescribed a course of antibiotics for Mum’s chest infection. It had been agreed some time ago that due to her very poor quality of life that we do not want her to have any life prolonging treatments. After a few discussions all were in agreement that antibiotics would not be in her best interest. She has had a severe reaction to penicillin in the past and often reacts badly to any drug treatments.

I rang the Care home this morning and was informed that she was very poorly but had slept most of the night. They informed me that they had asked the GP to see her again to day to discuss end of life care.

When I arrived this morning she was awake but could hardly speak and was very tired. Any attempt to drink brought on convulsions of coughing which made her very distressed. She has now slept for most of my time here only waking when she is interrupted by a coughing fit when she becomes very distressed.  She was very upset when two of her carers came to change her and tried to fight them off asking me to take her home but since then she has mainly been asleep.

I asked her if she wanted anything and she replied ‘ the world at my feet!’

The GP has just arrived and is happy with our plan to let her slip away comfortably now  and is going to write up a care plan and prescribe drugs to ease any discomfort and help her cough.

It is always  very difficult when confronted with the decision of whether or not to treat a potentially life threatening illness and provide the best care for the patient. In Mum’s case, I know that prolonging her suffering by attempting to treat her chest infection is definitely not in her best interests and I know that she has now come to the end of her tether and her endurance of this terrible disease. Hopefully she will depart this world peacefully and hopefully Dad will be waiting for her.

Wednesday 11th September – prorogation or not?!

 

Well, it has all been kicking off in parliament again with Boris trying to prorogue everyone including the queen! Thankfully we have been blissfully unaware of most of it as we had chartered an 8 birth yacht around the Greek Islands. We set off last Sunday with 4 of our friends with some trepidation as the holiday did seem a little ‘too good to be true’; we already had plans in place in case the skipper of the afore mentioned yacht failed to materialise. British Airways had already tried to skupper our plans by cancelling and then uncancelling our return flight. This was apparently due to a rogue e mail! In the end all went well, we were met at the airport on arrival and conveyed to the rather spacious yacht where we met our lovely skipper and owner of the boat, Ken. Ken proved to be a lovely chap who not only skippered the boat but also made our breakfast and lunch every day. He knew all the best mooring spots and water holes! Needless to say we all had a great time and were pretty amazed to discover at the end of the holiday that Ken, who had had a very serious head injury 2 years ago leaving him with a facial palsy was 82!  It just goes to show that age is a state of mind!

Robert was off sailing again today as Sailability were hosting a National championship and he was chief photographer. I drove over to see Mum, stopping on the way to pick up the coffee. She didn’t look very well and seemed very tired. She was chatting away to my sister Jude. She noticed me and asked if I had had a good meal! I explained that we had been away sailing which she appeared to understand and asked me where Robert was. She then asked me where Jude had gone. I said that she was not here but was over in Tasmania. ‘ That’s odd’ she replied ‘ because she was here having a meal with me not long ago!’

She was very tired for most of my visit and had almost lost her voice. She has a terrible cough and found it difficult to eat or drink  anything without coughing or choking. I gave her the coffee and a box of Turkish delight I had bought back for her along with a bottle of whisky. When I asked which she would like she replied ‘ the whisky’ without any hesitation! I poured her a small glass. I am now on day 3 of my alcohol free status and low fat / low carb diet. Those rather nasty bathroom scales had given me a bit of a fright!

I showed her all my photos of the holiday. She seemed to recognise Robert and the boat but was so tired that her eyes kept rolling to the top of her head. She did however notice the healing cut and bruise on the side of my nose which I had acquired one night by walking back onto the boat and straight into the bimini!  She laughed when she learned how old Ken was in the picture of him with his ventriloquist teddy called Bruno. I reminded her that it had been my birthday whilst I was away and that I had had some lovely surprises but I don’t think she understood.

Her lunch arrived but she was not able to eat any of it and the turkey was too tough for her to chew. She was not very hungry and ate a couple of Mr Kipling’s chocolate cakes I had bought for her and managed her chocolate pudding.

She dozed on and off for most of my stay. I did manage to clip her finger nails which had grown quite long. I also noticed that on the table by her bed was a painting set for people with dementia. I had a go – you paint over the paper with water and a picture emerges. It then disappears as the water dries off.  I am not quite sure how this helps !

I sat by her side and sewed my next teeny- tiny bear! I have been set a challenge by my sister who has probably one of the smallest hand made bears in the world!  This one will be a giant in comparison but will be my smallest one so far!

I drove back in brilliant sunshine! Poor Elgar is now back on antibiotics as his previous cat bite has still not healed! Fingers crossed they do the trick this time.

 

Wednesday 28th August – another heatwave!

I am sitting writing this from Mum’s room. She is not too good today and just wants to sleep. She still has a nasty cough and tends to cough when she tries to eat anything. Her lunch arrived – a lovely looking plate of roast beef with all the trimmings but she couldn’t chew any of it and I ended up sending it back to the kitchen with a request for a cheese omelette which she ate most of. She has also enjoyed a small glass of port but showed no interest in the Eton Mess and told me she would throw me out of the window if I tried to make her eat it! She is now fast asleep.

I did try to show her some of the photos from our long bank holiday weekend away but she couldn’t really take any of them in. Whilst the rest of the UK was basking in sunshine with temperatures reaching over 30 degrees we drove up to Yorkshire and sat warming ourselves by a log fire in the ‘highest pub’ in England! We spent a lovely evening in Richmond watching England bowl out Australia in the local pub and then drove up to the south west of Scotland to meet up with friends for a weekend in a rather wonderful Georgian house. We had a lovely time going for long walks, eating, drinking and visiting Dumfries House. We were also treated to the best Test Match innings in recent years! –  we all sat round in deck chairs in the sun and listened to Test Match Special! All seemed completely hopeless as England had run out of batsmen and still needed over 80 runs to save the ashes when Ben Stokes suddenly pulled off a miracle! We all celebrated with champagne!

Robert and I drove back yesterday stopping at Morcombe bay to visit the statue of Eric! It was a glorious day and everyone wanted their photo with him! I showed Mum the photos of us with him but I am not sure she really knew who he was or who Robert was!

Poor Elgar, who has been looked after very well by our lovely housesitter whilst we have been away has unfortunately yet another cat bite and developed an abcess which I managed to disperse this morning. He is however fairly happy in himself.

Unfortunately we missed the Fairy House Trail which was held around our village at the weekend. I am so pleased that they had such wonderful weather and all reports are that it was yet another fabulous event. Maxine, you are an amazing lady .

Mum just woke up momentarily and asked her mother to pack her bags as she was going home and then fell back to sleep.

She has now woken up and has started talking to her Mum. She has asked her for a handkerchief which I have given to her . ‘At least someone has some sense’ she said as a way of thanking me and then chatted away to her mother about the theatre shows in Birmingham.

She is now back to sleep.

I am sitting next to her sewing a teddy bear which someone has asked me to make for them – it is for a lady who has lost her daughter very suddenly and has now also lost her son in law to Lewy Body dementia leaving her with a teenage grandson. It can be such a sad world sometimes.

Mum has now woken up again and had a chat to her mother about how it is no joke being so tired! She has agreed to go and see her GP to see if he can give her anything to keep her awake. Looking out of the window , the promised storm has just started so I have decided to brave the weather. ‘its not much fun driving in the rain’ I said to Mum who told me that it was much worse to be walking!

 

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Wednesday 21st August – Tewkesbury

I drove over to see Mum 2 hours earlier than usual and arrived just as the private ambulance had arrived to pick up one of the residents who had passed away. Goodbye Michael. RIP.

Mum was in bed and when I asked her if she had had her breakfast she told me that she had eaten a very nice bacon and egg pie followed by a waterfall!  Shortly after this her breakfast of scramble egg on toast arrived!  I fed it to her whilst she chatted to her mother who was seated next to her. The conversation was all about Mum going off to London tomorrow to see her cousin ‘ Harry Raybould’ in a play in London. The play was called ‘ the nest egg’. They were going down on the bus and Mum said that her mother was ever so pleased that Harry was in the play as he was now 85. He had apparently always lived in London and they were looking forward to taking him out to lunch.

I left Mum chatting to her mother and took myself off to Tewkesbury for a look round. I suffer from directional dyslexia so this was a potentially stressful visit but I took my trusty new satnav with me and amazingly managed to find my way to the centre of the town. I walked up and down the high street and took photos of all the lovely old buildings and stopped off in the local market for a coffee and bacon roll. I returned at      2 00pm to show Mum  all the photos. She had been washed and changed and told me that her friend Fran Gossage had only just left. She had apparently been with her all morning!

I gave Mum some of the strawberries I had bought from the market and showed her some of the photos I had taken of the afternoon tea I had held yesterday for some of our friends. I had even made some chocolate cakes! Admittedly the first one ended up fat free as I forgot to add the butter!!  I also showed her some photos of Tasmania which one of my friends from Australia has posted on Facebook – amazingly, they are staying in Cygnet for 4 weeks which is where my sister Jude lives! More amazingly, they had met Jude at our house one Christmas when they were over from Australia!

I showed her all the photos of Tewkesbury with its lovely old buildings, quaint  coffee shops and Abbey. ‘You can move those now’ she explained ‘ so you can live in the house you want, where you want!’ I also showed her the road I had tripped over on and gone sprawling – fortunately only my pride was hurt and reminded me how silly it is to walk with a camera in your hand!

Sadly, she has a really rattly cough and I suspect she is now aspirating quite a bit when she eats. She was also very tired and found it difficult to concentrate on the photos without falling asleep.

She suddenly woke up and asked me to cut up a strawberry and put it on the clock on the wall! When I asked her why, she said that it was so that when she cut it up there would be a strawberry in every bite and that Mr Kipling would be very proud of it! She wasn’t really making much sense and kept asking me to put ‘something’ somewhere but couldn’t explain what she wanted.

I showed her a photo of the house we and some friends have hired for the long bank holiday weekend in Scotland.  Sadly we are missing The Fairy Trail weekend around our village which was so lovely 2 years ago, Fingers crossed for wonderful weather and lots of fairies!

 

 

Wednesday 14th August – come home Jude!

Robert drove us both over today in torrential rain – the only good thing about this is that it might save England from another defeat by Australia at Lords!

Mum appeared to know who we were and was with one of her carers who had just started to feed her her lunch. She quickly stood aside when we arrived and I sat down and fed Mum, gave her a small glass of port and told her about our week. It is really difficult to know how much she takes in of these conversations or understands. She did however laugh when we told her of our trip to London to see The Illusionists when poor Andy was pulled up onto the stage and came out with ‘ banana’ for his ‘magic word!’ This had been preceded by poor Marina being given a box to hold for about 10 minutes which actually contained a live scorpion!

She did ask me what had happened to Jude and where she had gone. When I replied that Jude was in Tasmania and that our friends from Australia had flown over to stay in Cygnet today and were going to visit her, she said’ oh, I must have mistaken her for someone else.’

I managed to persuade her to let me cut her nails and she asked me if I could find her squeezy ball to hold as she felt this helped her hand. I found it in a drawer and she held it in her hand for the rest of our visit.

We all sat and watched the TV – my favourite programme called 800 words was on and Mum seemed to be following some of the plot and laughed when two of the main characters were locked in the prison cell to get them to make up after an argument. She also read out aloud a message which appeared on one of the characters computer screens! This was about a 100 year old femur bone having been found.

Later on, just before we were about to leave she asked what was on the TV. I replied that it was an advert for East Enders. She must have heard me incorrectly and started talking about a ‘descending bomb’ to her mother. She then said that her husband had a bomb and was going to blow up the whole of Australia. She then started to have a conversation with my sister Jude on the phone and voiced both her and Jude’s words. The conversation went along the lines of ‘ you should never have married that man – I told you not to and now he has been bombing Australia.’ She then went on to have a fairly lengthy conversation with Jude telling her how much she missed her and remembered the lovely times they had spent together. She told her that if she was unhappy at all, that she should get on to the very next plane and come home and she would look after her. It was fairly sad to listen to and I must confess to shedding a small tear. She ended the ‘phone call’ by telling her she would always be welcome to come back home and could stay as long as she wanted to and that if she needed police protection she would make sure that it was arranged!

As we were leaving she told me that she might not be here as she was thinking of rejoining the police!  I said that it would be great to see her in her uniform to which she replied ‘ don’t be silly, I shall be in the plain clothes unit!.

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Wednesday 7th August -‘you are a funny old thing’

I drove over to see Mum today with one eye on the speedometer and the other looking at all the road signs! As you may be aware, I attended ‘speed school’ yesterday for having been caught doing 35 mph in a 30 mile limit on the way to see Mum a few weeks ago.  It was actually an enjoyable 3 hours and I did actually learn quite a lot! It was my first speeding offence in 40 years of driving so I don’t think I am a bad driver.

Mum was quite alert and stayed awake throughout my visit. I started out by telling her about my speed school experience but I am not sure that she understood what it was all about. I also told her about our spontaneous trip over to Edgbaston to watch England being thrashed by Australia. Mum took a little while to take in what I was telling her but then said ‘ well Australia are the best team in the world, what did you expect?’ We chatted a little about cricket and I reminded her that we had been to Edgbaston when we were small to watch the test match with my grandfather. She had a vague recollection and appeared to remember some of the old players.

My weekend was spent at a local village flower festival, fete and open gardens where I had been given a table in a rather wonderful conservatory in a lady’s garden to sell my teddies. Sadly, not many of the visitors made it into the conservatory but I did manage to sell a few bears and made some money by asking folk to ‘guess the name of the bear.’ It proved to be rather a pleasant experience if not a profitable one! At the end of the weekend I gave the lady who had kindly ‘housed ‘ me a small teddy to say thank you. He is named Arnold after Malcolm Arnold the composer (all the bears are named after classical composers). It turned out that she used to know him well!!

Her lunch arrived – a plate of roast pork and all the trimmings. She did manage to eat a few mouthfuls but found the meat too tough to eat and soon gave up. Later on she argued that she had eaten the whole plate of food!

During her lunch she suddenly started talking to an imaginary person to the left side of her and was telling her how Joan ( she often talks about herself in the third person) had been injured by a horse when she was little and had sustained a fracture of the base of her skull ( this was actually true). She told the person that the horse had hit her so she had had to hit it back.  I asked her about this and she replied ‘ you can’t take liberties with horses!’  I then tried to get her to eat some stuffing on her plate but she misunderstood what I was saying and told me you couldn’t stuff a horse! She then told me how her grandmother had a pig when she was little. ‘ She would spend the whole day talking to that pig’ she said ‘ and then we ate every bit of him!’. She also told someone  that her mother had been taken to hospital with swollen and ankle and wrists. She hadn’t visited as it didn’t sound too serious. However Howard had apparently remonstrated with her and said that Joan had been a very bad visitor to his mother. She argued that she had been a very good friend to his mother and went round and did all her housework. She was so cross with Howard for showing Joan up that she said she could ‘kick him to Birmingham and back!’

After she had been chatting to whoever for a while, I broke in the conversation and said that she was a ‘funny old thing’ and how I would love to know what she was thinking. She became quite animated and told me that I shouldn’t say such things, that I was not a very nice person and if she was my mother she would give me a good spanking! When I told her that she was my mother she told me not to be so stupid. She said ‘ I am not your Mother because I have never lived with your Father or with you.’ I asked her who I was and she replied ‘ You are Angela and you are my daughter.’  ‘ Ahah ‘ I replied ‘ then you must be my Mother!’

She ate her pudding but then started complaining of some chest pain which she put down to indigestion. She also had some bouts of abdominal pain but these subsided.  She said she did not feel very well but was sure that it would all settle and not to worry. She chatted to herself for a while.

We had a little go at doing the daily crossword but didn’t get very far.

I left her to have a little snooze and hoped that she would feel better soon.

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