Monday 26th September – Angela who?

After a somewhat stressful few days I decided to go and visit Mum today as we are off on holiday tomorrow for nearly 2 weeks. My sister rang to tell me she had had another fall and as a result of this someone had requested yet another x ray of her right foot which she was going to have some time today. I therefore rang her home to be informed that she would be leaving for the hospital at 12 o’clock. Robert decided not to come but to spend the day packing which has proven to be rather a technically difficult task. We are flying to Las Vegas to meet up with 8 friends and then pick up the motorbikes and load our luggage into their panniers – thus luggage allowance is pretty restricted!

I went swimming in Daventry on the way and managed to swim my usual mile and then drove on to Mums arriving at around 14 30 and was pleased to find her sitting in her room, having had her  xray and had had lunch. She was on pretty good form mentally and knew that she had been for ‘yet another x ray of her foot’. She asked why I was there as she had thought we were on holiday. I explained that we were off tomorrow and she listened whilst I told her all about it and our recent good luck!  We have tried to have the outside of the conservatory painted this week but unfortunately the painter found so much rotten wood that he couldn’t continue. He managed to cut some out and replace it with new wood but there was one area which was beyond his capabilities! Having no idea what to do we rang the original building firm that has actually been taken over and asked if they could come and look at it and offer some advice. One of the directors took one look at it, realised that the sills had been built sloping the wrong way  (!) and declared that they would come and sort it out for free!!! We were both flabber ghasted and very grateful!  Mum seemed to understand and expressed her surprise at such wonderful customer  service. I also told her that our cat / house sitters we booked in February pulled out on Saturday due to health issues! Miraculously, we have found a wonderful young lady who actually lives in Northampton who is happy to come and stay for the required dates. She met us yesterday and Elgar really seemed to like her and she him.

Mum was on such good form that I asked her if she would like to play a game of scrabble which she agreed to! We haven’t played for ages so I was a bit surprised. She managed to put the first word down which I thought was mispealt. ‘Joan’ she asked ‘ isn’t that the way you spell it?  ‘ Yes , it is.’ she replied. I laughed and had to concede. We played on until we had covered half the board but I noticed that she was getting more and more breathless and seemed to be hyperventilating. She does have a rather rattly, chesty cough again but she now said she was getting dizzy. She then started talking to her imaginary friend ‘ I don’t think I would want to play scrabble.’ she said to her and then she replied ‘ I don’t think I do  either.’ I could see she was getting tired so I asked if she wanted to stop playing, particularly as she was winning and she replied that she did.

I tidied the game away and she drifted back to her own world chatting away to her ‘friend’ for the next hour. Subjects included the hospitality of Australians and how she was going to open a restaurant in Melbourne, to owning a little cottage in Weymouth. She chatted away almost incessantly virtually unaware that I was sitting next to her.

I eventually decided to leave and put my coat on. ‘where are you going? ‘ she asked  ‘back home to Northampton’ I replied. ‘ I think someone from our family lives there.’ she said ‘ Yes, Angela lives there!’  ‘ I am Angela! ‘ I replied and she suddenly burst into raucous laughter for about 5 minutes!

I kissed her goodbye and she wished me a good holiday.

 

 

Wednesday 21st September

We arrived today at around 13 15 intending to take Mum out for the afternoon before driving over to see my sister and her husband for dinner.

Mum was fast asleep in bed and talking in her sleep. Her mouth was dry and her voice quite husky which meant that it was impossible to make out what she was saying. After a few minutes I tapped her gently and she woke up and smiled at me. Her left eye was quite sticky and she was still obviously tired. I pretended to scold her for still being in bed at such a time and she laughed. ‘ I’m very comfortable here.’ I had to agree with her but asked if she would like to go out for some fresh air and some lunch and amazingly she said that she would! I reminded her that she would have to get up out of bed and get dressed.

We sent Robert out of the room and I attempted to get her out of bed noting that her night dress and bed clothes were wet through. I told her that she should really call for help if she needed to get up to go the loo and that it was not good for her to lie in wet clothes.

With some effort I manged to get her to sit up and stand with the help of her frame. She somehow managed to walk into her toilet room where I sat her down on the loo and undressed and washed her. Her mobility is now very poor and she walks with her right foot at nearly 90 degrees to normal! I am not sure why but she says that she can hardly stand on it. I eventually managed to get her dressed and sitting in her wheel chair when one of the carers arrived with her lunch. ‘ I’m going out for lunch’ she informed her proudly. I let her know that Mum’s bed was wet and she told me that she would see to it.

We somehow manged to bundle her into the car and she was pretty quiet on the way to the garden centre. As we arrived she started telling someone that she had fallen out of a tree and had to go to hospital. When I asked her who had fallen out of the tree she replied ‘ my mother.’

We sat outside and Mum decided on the Chilli Con Carne for lunch. She can read the menu easily and declared that she had not had any for ages. We chatted to her over lunch telling her about Robert’s sailing holiday and our forthcoming holiday to Las Vegas where we pick up motor bikes with our friends. She was quite interested and asked a few questions about the trip.

She enjoyed her lunch and ate quite a large proportion of it accompanied by a glass of wine. It then started to rain so we decided to move in side and had coffee and cake. She left most of her cake and fell asleep for a short while before we decided to go back. I told her how sleepy she was and she said ‘and so would you be if you had walked to church and back this morning in Catshill’.

Sadly, after having such a good afternoon with her she became very agitated when we arrived back at her care home and refused to get out of the car saying that she no longer lived there and that they had moved her back to her home in Marlbrook that morning. I could not persuade her otherwise and she declared that she would not get out of the car until we drove her home. After about 5 minutes I realised that I was getting no where and she was beginning to get very cross with me for not believing her so I went into her home and recruited two of her carers for help. She initially refused to get out of the car until Karen told her that she liked coming to her room as there was no TV surveillance and she could sit and eat a pudding with her undisturbed. The other helper told her that she must come back as she loved talking about the golfers and the rugby players with her. Mum started  laughing and said ‘ it looks like I have no choice’and let us help her out of the car and into her wheel chair.

When she got back to her room she started talking to her mother and told her that ‘ she really liked it here and was well looked after!’

One of Mum’s younger carers cornered me on the way out to tell me that she was really worried that Mum seemed to have taken to her bed and that they couldn’t get her up.  ‘ Well, she doesn’t have much to get up for ‘ I replied and told her that last winter she spent much of her time in bed. ‘ What would you want to do if you were her?’ I asked and without hesitation she replied ‘ Jump off a cliff!’ I know what she meant.

 

 

Wednesday 14th September – a Sensible woman.

Well, we are in the middle of a mini heat wave and I must confess to feeling exhausted. I have spent the last two days painting the garden fence whilst Robert is away sailing with his Sailability chums. They are however having rather an unfortunate time. First of all a giant thunderstorm and then one of them fell over on top of another who has ended up in A&E with broken ribs!

Last night I had a few friends round for dinner and we sat out in the garden until nearly midnight. Hence today, with temperatures in the high 20s and feeling very humid I was not really in the mood for driving over to see Mum. Jude had told me she had been more confused and hadn’t recognised her on her last visit.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to take her out by myself so took over some glasses, cans of Pimms and strawberries in a cool box. I had a good journey listening and singing to Rod Stewart on the way to keep myself awake.

Mum was sitting in her chair chatting away to herself when I arrived. She smiled when she saw me and asked where I had been and if Robert was with me. I explained that we had been away on a canal boat holiday last week and that I had bought all our photos on my laptop to show her and told her about Robert’s sailing holiday.

We enjoyed a glass of Pimms and some of the strawberries together and then sat and looked at all of the photos of which there were many! She appeared to be interested as I explained all about the locks and how they worked and showed her the pictures of Elgar in his life jacket and walking on his lead. She asked where Market Harborough was which is where we moored up for my birthday party with friends who came over. One of the photos showed a beautiful field of hay bales next to the canal. ‘who are the two ladies?’ she enquired and laughed when I pointed out that they were bales of hay!

I persuaded her to do her exercises with me and we also completed a crossword fairly easily before she started chatting away to herself again.

I must confess that after about 2 hours I lay on her bed and must have drifted off because I was suddenly aware that a further 45 minutes had passed by. When I woke up, she was still chatting away to herself. ‘You have been chatting away’ I said. She seemed very surprised and asked me who she had been chatting to. ‘Just to yourself’  I replied. ‘well at least it was to somebody sensible’ she said and laughed. There is no answer to that!

Wednesday 31st August

My sister had phoned earlier in the week to inform me that Mum was having a bad week. Her mobility is even worse and she has had a number of falls and been complaining of pain in her right leg. Mentally she has been very confused. Judith had taken her a trifle and she thought it was bacon and eggs and wanted to know the recipe! As a result of all this the doctor had been called in and decided she needed yet another x ray of her foot, which meant that when we arrived that she was still at the hospital. We therefore decided to go and have some lunch before returning to see if she was back. Our favourite pub was closed so we decided to try out The Old Bull in Inkberrow, the heart of Archers country. For any Archers fans out there, we could have sworn that Bert Fry was standing at the bar!

When we returned, Mum was back from her trip and had had her lunch. She had no idea where she had been or recollection of having an x ray of her foot. ‘Why would I want that? there is nothing wrong with my foot!’ I had to agree.

She readily agreed to go out for coffee and cake to the garden centre and after a bit of trouble we managed to get her into the car. She chatted away to herself all the way there and more or less the whole time we were there. Robert managed to tell her about his wonderful day at the cricket at Trent Bridge ( England’s highest one day score!) She asked who they were playing and said that she loved to watch a game of cricket. I told her about our forthcoming canal holiday and she said ‘ yes, and you are taking Elgar with you too! ‘ Goodness knows how she had remembered this!

Poor Elgar has been very unwell over the weekend -very lethargic, sad looking and lacking any sparkle! I had decided to cart him off to the vet on Tuesday but at the mention of the word he made a miraculous recovery!

Mum decided to have a glass of Pimms instead of her usual coffee which she really enjoyed.

On arriving back at her room one of her carers popped in. I asked Mum to tell her where we had been and what she had had to drink but Mum said she couldn’t remember!  I reminded her that she had had a glass of Pimms to which she replied ‘it doesn’t matter that I can’t remember because I am sure I enjoyed drinking it at the time!’

Wednesday August 23rd

After a wet , dull weekend, summer appears to have returned. Typical, as I had planned a beautiful dinner party in our garden on Saturday night which had to be brought into the dining room as it was too cold to hold outside.

Robert went down to Somerset yesterday on his motor bike to meet up with friends for the evening so planned to meet me at Mum’s today to take her out for lunch. After last week’s success I was really looking forward to it.

Unfortunately when I arrived after a gorgeous drive, not only had the lift broken ( Mum is on the second floor)  but one of her carers popped in to tell me that she had had an episode of diarrhoea earlier culminating in an accident! In view of this I decided it would not be a great idea to go out in the car. Mum was dressed, in her chair and on good form. I chatted to Mum about our week and  the Olympics which have been wonderful to watch and she informed me that it had been our best Olympics ever! She asked me where Robert was and I explained that he would be arriving shortly on his motor bike. He came in shortly afterwards and I noticed that she looked at him rather quizzically but I think she eventually figured out who he was. He told her all about his trip and we were then offered lunch with Mum in her room by one of her carers which we decided to accept.

After about an hour Mum drifted off into her own world and started chatting to her friends and to me. She had a little coughing episode after lunch and exclaimed that she was sick to death with this cough which she does seem to have had now for many months.

‘You know I am going out to dinner tonight with the man I am going to marry. He is going to cut my throat with a knife to see what is causing this cough’

I expressed concern and she replied ‘ don’t worry, he is a surgeon!’

‘well that’s alright then’ I replied and we both laughed.

Some of her conversation reflected the fact that she did not like where she lived and wanted to move back to Marlbrook ( our family home when we were small.)

‘ you know I have to move. I can’t live in Worcestershire any more because my name is Freeman ( her maiden name ) and they aren’t allowed to live there anymore.’

‘ People from Bromsgrove can’t go to Worcester any more. If they walk down the street the people of Worcester call them Pigs!’

We stayed with her for another two hours watching TV but she was back in her own little world most of the time chatting away to various folk.

I did how ever find her ‘missing dentures’ in her handbag. She told me she knew they were there all along but didn’t tell me as she did not like them as they didn’t fit properly and she didn’t want to wear them!

A Perfect Day

Following our visit to see Mum last week I received my usual ‘catch up’ phone call from my sister who informed me that Mum had told her that Robert and I had split up and that I had been to visit her with my ‘new man’! Strangely, he looked just like Robert!

After a week of socialising and watching hours and hours of the Olympics I decided we should take Mum out for the afternoon to Hanbury Hall and was delighted to arrive in beautiful sunshine with a clear blue sky. Mum was on the commode on our arrival being ably assisted by one of her carers so we politely waited outside until she had finished. Her carer informed me that she was having real difficulty standing or walking due to problems with her right ankle which flares up from time to time. It is very difficult to know if this is real or imaginary or related to her peripheral neuropathy.

She was keen to go out so I put her make up on and we managed to get her into her wheelchair. She was in very good spirits and although she didn’t appear to recognise Robert initially she laughed when I told her we had been married for 17 years and asked what she had been doing all that time!

The Worcestershire countryside was at it’s very best. Many of the fields had been harvested with the rolls of hay lying in the field waiting to be collected.

Mum chatted happily to ‘herself’ all the way to Hanbury Hall. When we arrived the car park looked a bit busy and she declared that it was far too busy and demanded we take her home again! When I explained that we had come to see the gardens and have lunch she readily agreed to get out of the car and somehow we managed to get her into her wheelchair.

The gravel paths are very bumpy but she was very good-natured about it and laughed when we saw a man nearly fall over. ‘we shouldn’t laugh at someone else’s misfortune’ she giggled. She stopped and looked in wonder at the formal garden and said how beautiful it looked. Later when we saw the same garden again, she stopped and said the same thing as if it had been the first time she had seen it.

Robert pushed her around the grounds and she chatted away quite happily.

We stopped for lunch in the outdoor cafeteria. Robert went inside to fetch some sandwiches, coffee and cakes. ‘Where has everyone gone?’ she asked!

Over lunch we chatted to her about our week, the Olympics and all the countries she had visited with Dad. She asked me where her cousin Auntie Jean was and I explained that she had died 3 years ago. ‘did I know that ?’ she asked. I told her that she did and she said ‘ well I expect I have forgotten the things I didn’t want to remember.’

I had given her a straw sun hat to wear which she loved and she said to me ‘ now don’t go losing that hat – it belongs to my sister.’ I reminded her that she didn’t  have a sister to which she replied she is not my real sister, she is my Love sister. She loves me and I love her. I told her that I had never heard of that before and she laughed ‘ nor have I’ she said.

She mentioned my Dad Howard on one or two occasions and suddenly said ‘where is Howard?’I pointed up to heaven. ‘You mean he is dead?’ she asked. ‘Yes, and he has been for nearly 25 years.’ ‘No wonder I can’t remember’ she replied!

She enjoyed her lunch and we went for a further stroll round the gardens. She chatted away about all sorts of things and as different people. One such conversation went as follows

‘ You know I had a bad fall the other day. Well I had to go and see my GP who said it was the worst bruise he had seen on a man of my age. I had a headache for 2 days. Anyway, Joan how are you?’

‘ Oh, I am very well. I haven’t had any falls for ages!’

We spent a few hours wandering round the gardens and returned to the car around 4 30pm. On the way back she declared that she was very tired and wanted to go to bed. Robert asked her if she had had a good day.  ‘I have had a prefect day ‘ she replied and when I get back and snuggle into bed with my lovely husband, it really will be The Perfect Day.’ She then went on to tell someone that she had a terminal illness and that she would be dead within 6 months. She hoped that a few friends and family would come to her funeral and afterwards that they would all go out and have a Perfect a Day as this had been. You can’t ask for much more than that.

 

Wednesday 10th August

This week has been taken up by the Olympics and the cricket. Robert and I took ourselves to Edgbaston at the last minute to see the fantastic last day of the Test against Pakistan. I love watching young athletes competing at the top of their game and yes, I often cry with them when they win their medals – it must be such an emotional reward for all their hours of hard work.

I did therefore feel a little guilty on arriving at Mums today, armed with chocolate cake and almond slices, intent on watching the Olympic cycling time trials. I did ask her if she wanted to go out for lunch and when she said she didn’t mind I must confess I was pleased that she didn’t mind  watching the Olympics  although Robert was less than happy! ( he is not a fan of the Olympics and would much rather have gone out for lunch!)

She chatted away to her ‘Mother’ for most of the afternoon stopping to do the crossword with us and eat her  cakes. She and her Mum were not getting on very well today and kept on having quite heated arguments!

One of her favourite carers arrived after lunch and persuaded the chiropodist to come in and cut her toenails ( she has not had them cut for 4 months as she has refused to see him) so this was a pretty big achievement!

This week I went to visit an elderly gentleman in our village who lives by himself and gets very lonely. He always invites me in for a sherry and we often do jigsaws together. He is very sharp of mind but his body is now beginning to let him down and he has had a number of falls recently which has taken away some of his confidence. He is still driving at 93 and still does his own garden with the help of a gardener which is beautiful. I was very saddened to hear him confess to me something that Mum had said last week – he told me that he now hoped that when he went to bed at night he hoped that he wouldn’t wake up in the morning. He has had a great life, has travelled the world and has a grown up family who have taken over his farm but he now feels that it is time to go.

I tried to jolly him along and promised myself that I would make more of an effort to visit him more often. It is no fun growing old.