Tuesday, 1 May 2012


It was a week of contrasts, and summed up by a photograph

or two

A niece died, unexpectedly.  She had cancer, but seemed stable.  She went into hospital to have her medications balanced and died that night.  Her lungs filled with fluid suddenly and her body shut down.  She was in her early 40s.

And the good news?  Well, there has been rain ... a lot of it.  Which usually is bad news, and wasn't the nicest of weather to live through, but at least the irony of a hosepipe ban after the wettest April on record has left me smiling.  And there was a rainbow over my garden.

Mum went for some tests, and is going for more.  Not bad news, so that's good news really.

My new car arrived and looks lovely ... should I post a picture?  Next time perhaps.  The rainbow is beauty enough ...

Meanwhile knitting continues (and sanity remains), perhaps good things are on the horizon ...  so the triteness of living through rain  to sunshine heralded by a rainbow is cringe-worthy, but I'm not too cool to hope.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Treading Water

For a while I thought we were drowning, in a sea of anxiety, problems and unhappiness.

But strange heroes stepped up to the mark to rescue me, whilst I was rescuing MadMum.

There were all the landmarks I decided to aspire for and try to achieve in the past year:-

The 10k run to raise money for Alzheimers
The rock concerts I'd been missing
The fun and the laughter of days out, nights out and holidays

In a whistle stop summary, during the past year I ran (with my DD, her partner, and my DIL) 10k in the Great Manchester Run, raising over £3k for Alzheimers.

I went to Hard Rock Calling with DD and her OH, to see the Kaiser Chiefs and the Killers.  I went to Oxygen with my schooldays chum, for 4 nights and 3 great days of concerts and caught unforgettables such as Coldplay, Beyonce (pre-baby), Brandon Flowers, Black Eyed Peas and Slash as well as great performances from Ke$ha, Noah and the Whale, Tiny Tempah, The Strokes, Foo Fighters (awesome), Beady Eye and so many, many more fantastic acts.

I went to Harvest at Jimmys Farm, and saw the Feeling and Eliza Doolittle.

Went to BBC Good Food show and saw Jamie Oliver bantering with Gino; James Martin with a broken foot and so many foodies and ate awesome yumyums.

Went to Centre Parks with my DS, DIL, fantastic twins, DD and OH, and we cycled, swam, treasure hunted and canoed; we got sore bots and sore feet, we drank wine and we laughed and had enormous fun.

I went to LIsbon, for the first time and walked up nearly all of the ten or was it nine hills ... which nicely offset the pounds that would have been accumulating because of the awesome food.

But the strangest of heroes was Harry Potter with knitting.  On Ravelry there is an HP Knitting and Crochet House Cup; the folk are fun and the challenges are awesome.

When things got difficult with sisters who are angry, or loved ones who are ailing, there was knitting.

I knit some fun things and some wonderful things.  I sorted my stash and I found caring friends.  Knitters are, for the most part, caring fun people who enjoy making things that make other people happy.

I found shawls.  I will end with a random few

And so, after some absence, shawls, music and happiness have made their way back into my life.   

May happiness and laughter sneak back into yours too.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

11 months later

So much work, so much heartache but rewards too.

Mum is happy .. more happy and more secure than she has been for many years. She is warm, cosy, well fed, and no longer distressed. Her memory has stabilised and honestly, she's so much better.

I've had a wonderful year ... I've been to festivals, I've been camping, I've had time with my daughter, my son, and the kids. DH has stabilised, his granddaughter is charming and things are ticking over.

Of course the mean sister is still out there - her latest complaint revolves around the amount of money spent at Christmas ... she is jealous of the fact that other "families" get more. Mum has always gifted the person ... not the family. Who the hell says "this family has 1 child so each gets £60" "this family has 3 children so each gets £20" .. she is a mean hard woman. No happier for having
(a) got a wonderful husband
(b) got enough money
(c) is healthy ...

Her perception is, and always has been, coloured by what others may have that is more than she has.

I do feel for St Peter if she should die before her full 70 years are up .. his afterlife won't be worth living.

Anyway, she will moan and make discord, and it, in turn, will make others unhappy ... but it is almost Christmas, my mother is content ... and so (for now) am I.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Visit from the angry sister

Here in pleasant valley life has been sort of moving in the right direction.

Hubby's meds are strengthening his heart.
Our little granddaughter is flourishing and is now 14 months. Her mum seems more in control of herself.
Mum's decline was increasing at speed. She wandered and had to be brought back. She forgot how to turn a key and got stuck between her porch and the front door, in freezing temperatures, and was only rescued because the neighbour was putting his rubbish out. She set fire to things on the hob, and dismantled her smoke alarms. She became increasingly incontinent. Her heating froze during the bad weather and she didn't realise, so she became hypothermic. She let "charity" collectors in at 7pm at night and gave them the contents of her purse ...

After being declared by the Consultant Psychiatrist for Later Life Mental Health as lacking capacity, I had to place her fast. She would be placed "for her safety" in a dementia or EMI unit the next time there was a crisis.

The issue was, she was being turned down by mixed units -the minute dementia was mentioned they wanted her in a dementia unit. Mum, despite her memory issues, is bright, intelligent, funny and feisty. She just cant remember a few minutes previously and she can't recognise danger.

So I battled hard and got her accepted into an award winning sheltered housing complex. She moved on Monday 31st January and has thrived. She loves it. She loves the company (she was on her own all evening most evenings), she loves having friends (carers) pop in on her to check on her. She loves having her own flat, with her own accommodation, and her own things and she is truly happy.

But, this is my life, so things are never straight forward.

The sister who lives in Australia, who never came to visit for over 5 years, who didn't come when mum was mugged, nor when mum broke her hip, suddenly decided that I had pressured Mum into a "home"

Exning Court ( http://www.housingcare.org/downloads/facilities/generated-brochures/116671-exning-court-exning-england.pdf ) is bright, airy, spacious, caring, loving and independence supporting. The staff are amazing, the grounds are stunning and Mum's flat is beautiful.

But, despite giving all the links, all the information I could, on Weds I got my sister's first email:

Hi all,

I am flying back to the UK to see mum next week. As long as all is well with her, I will only be in England for about a week. I would be obliged if you would all allow me to spend as much time with her as possible and rearrange anything you may have planned for the week of 14 - 20 February with her. Mum tells me she has an appointment with the doctor on Wednesday 16. I understand how difficult it is to rearrange those appointments so perhaps that one is best kept. I have spoken to Jacqueline separately about her weekend of 19/20 February.

Thank you all for your cooperation.

Now, this email wasn't even directly addressed to me. I was copied in. Somewhat hurt I still replied with a bright hopeful email

Hi Karen

I spent about five hours with Mum today and she was very excited that you would be flying over from “ooorstrayleearrr” to see her. She asked if I could get a small bed put in her room, so I suggested that you might want to use the guest suite along the hall (it’s only £5 per night).

She does have a couple of regular events that she wants to continue to do, but certainly you would be able do them with her. On Tuesdays she has her hair done in the hairdressing salon on site, and she would like to do that still if you are ok with it. I have asked the staff there and they would fit in an appointment to work around you if that is agreeable to you. On Fridays she has a day trip out to Newmarket Day Centre; the bus comes to pick her up and drops her back. She has another circle of friends there (including a Joan who comes from London and was born in 1928) She was keen to go to that again, and certainly the Day Centre would welcome you (lol, although it is for over 50’s I’m sure the average age is nearer 70!) if you wanted to go along.

As she said to you, she has a full health screening on the afternoon of Weds 16th, and that would be difficult to rearrange; particularly as I need to get her repeat medications set up. Wednesday mornings typically I go and give the flat a thorough clean, but certainly can either leave that to you or do it when you have gone back.

Obviously I have to book her meals and carers, so for now I shall wait to hear from you as to how you want me to play that. At the moment she has a full cooked lunch Mon-Thurs and a tea “picnic party” in the evenings. Friday she goes to NDC, where she has her lunch and the weekends there are no meal arrangements as typically she will have visits\outings with the family.

Please do let me know how I can help, and whether you want me to book the guest suite (or get a small bed!!) so that you can maximise the time you can spend with her. Obviously it would have been lovely to have spent some time with you, but I truly understand your first priority must be spending time with Mum.

Travel safely

Chris x

Bit too desperate, perhaps, but I still don't understand why she was so angry. But .. this was the response

Hi Chris,

Nice of you to try and organise the details of my visit to mum, but I've got it covered. Thanks.

I'm delighted that mum is still as excited about my trip as she was when we spoke about it on Sunday evening. I suppose that's the nice thing about being forgetful, you get to experience all the good news over again. I should have had her write my sleeping arrangements in her calendar along with the dates of my visit so she won't be upset at me turning down the bed in her room again when I speak to her on Thursday again. She had already suggested both the bed in her room and the suite, and I'd turned down both.

I think for arrangements about what we will do during the week (apart from her medical visit), it will be best if mum and I work out what she wants to do when I arrive. She obviously isn't into a routine yet since she has been there less than two weeks and her previous routine was interrupted when she went into the care home. Let mum and I play it by ear, ok? If you email me the details of the Friday visit to NDC, then if mum tells me she wants to go next week I'll call and make whatever arrangements are needed. If mum wants her hair done then perhaps it can be their first appointment on Tuesday morning?

Since you are operating with mum's Power of Attorney, I know you are concerned about what money of mummy's to spend. However, as I don't really know what we will do until I have seen mum's state of health and mind I suggest that carer arrangements should stay as they are. I'll notify the home if there are any changes. Perhaps you could ask them to be flexible about meal arrangements? I am sure that they can manage to rustle up a meal if she requires it or throw one away if she doesn't.

What time is the medical appointment on Wednesday?

I'm not looking forward to the UK in February. I'm going to be brave in a minute and look at the temperatures.


So, here I am, trying to ensure Mum is going to be ok for the next week, whilst I try to avoid my sister, who is angry at me ... and honestly guys I'm not sure why I feel guilty - I've been here, caring for my Mum, loving my Mum and supporting my Mum, all the while my sister has been enjoying her freedom in Australia. My Power of Attorney was first and foremost one for Health and Welfare. The Finance one came later, and Mum now is much better off since I have helped her out. The money comment is just plain mean and nasty: I've paid for most of Mum's care, hospital visits, food and clothing for the past 2 years.

Just send soothing thoughts to me, because I could cope with some virtual calming, for my Mum's benefit.

Hugs and hope life better with you

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Train wreck

When I was a kid and I went to the pictures (ok, movies or the cinema to those from a different culture or era) you knew something bad was gonna happen when the train was just chugging along smoothly ... before the bridge; before a crash, before a person strapped to the rails!

My life has been that serene train, before the huge issues: I've been chugging along, breezing over the weeds, avoiding leaves on the line, not killing\maiming\injuring the local wildlife - just chug, chug, chugging.

This last 18 months has been the finale, the wreck, the crash, the bridge explosion, the carriage upon carriage upon carriage concertina of destruction!

If I repeat the litany of events, it will seem Hollywood train crash - but here it goes, chug chug:
Madmother's decline; DH's daughter's alcoholism; Madmother's hip breaking accident; DH's daughter's pregnancy; chug chug; Madmother's increasing Alzheimers; DH's DD's attendance at intervention and AA meetings from her third trimester; Mum's slide into day care; DH's granddaughter born - Georgia (who seems AS free); DH's increasing indigestion problems, which weren't, metamorphosizing into Atrial Fibrillation, Mitral Valve prolapse and weak heart muscle issues; Madmother's increasing faecal incontinence (which she pretends doesn't exist); chug chug; brother-in-law's death from a heart attack at 61; his partner's stroke at the funeral; his partner's brother's death just 10 days later from an epileptic seizure; chug chug; DH's DD's partner has been identified as the father of a child by DNA testing, DH's DD and partner pay the CSA maintenance but ignore the paternity and the child, who apparently is "accident prone" and a regular visitor to the local A&E; chug chug; DH's meds give him dreadfully low blood pressure, affecting all manner of things from fatigue, to dizziness to more personal, body functional issues; chug chug; I have been diagnosed with late onset asthma and a stress related blood pressure issue; I have too much on plate after coping with housework, gardening and Madmother to go to knit night; chug chug; my DS is worried about how I will cope with his gorgeous beautiful twin daughters, he's hesitant about me having the girls to stay this summer ... bridge down, carriage after carriage collapse with me into the ravine ...

Dearest darling daughter is there to pour the water between my lips, to whisper words of encouragement, but I fear I am tied to the tracks and the next trainload of problems is just around the bend, chug chug, chug chug, chug chug

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Rictus - fixed grin, or grimace!

If Schadenfreude is your idea of a good time ... step right up .. this blog is for you.

In the past couple of weeks my favourite aunt of all time ever died ... I owed her a phone call; she was my link to my father\her brother who died through his own choice nearly 26 years ago. I feel I've now lost two and I don't have Jacqueline to talk to.

My mother struggles through the fog that is Alzheimers; she has good days, and bad. She sometimes is incontinent and rarely tells the truth.

My 61 year old brother-in-law has suffered a massive coronary on Monday just gone - his prognosis is appalling. His son is travelling and, as yet un-locatable. We hope he will be found before the expected unhappy ending.

Chris, the husband, is on a million medications and appeared to be doing better, but today his blood pressure has fallen too low, so may have to come off the medication meant to repair his heart damage. His dangerously irregular heart rhythm cannot be put right unless his heart walls and prolapsed valve can be strengthened. They will not be strengthened without the medication.

DH's DD has been drinking again.

I have been diagnosed with late onset, stress activated asthma - whoop!

However, my garden looks gorgeous - I love late Spring in the UK; my knitting keeps me sane, and my twins, always, are a delight. My daughter is without equal and I would hold her up as a balance to just about all the worlds ills, so blessings I will count, sunshine and flowers I shall enjoy, and love I am sending out to you ... just pass the happiness on and stow the crap. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger - allegedly :)


Friday, 26 March 2010

Nearing the end of a decade

Well, from close of play tonight I'm just 365 days away from the turn of a decade. Decade turns have always horrified me ... no longer in your teens, no longer in your twenties, then the crap starts ... no longer in your thirties ... how do you cope? (OK I know it goes on some from the count up, but I was depressed enough there!)

I thought I would say what has happened in this past week, in this past month, in this past year, and whilst I'd love to tell you of the rest of this past decade we would then be here some time!

This week, DH was released (on probation, you might say) from hospital. He didn't have severe indigestion, or IBS or excess acid, he had atrial fibrillation (a wickedly erratic heartbeat which caused the mad dash to A&E not long after my last post), caused by heart congestion, a prolapsed mitral valve and pressure on the chamber of the heart that has caused the muscle to weaken and distort. Right now he is on warfarin, to thin the blood, ACE inhibitors to help the muscle consolidate and stop it weakening further, beta blockers and digitalis to try to slow the heart rate, thiamin and strong vitamin b compound tablets to help his liver, and finally a simple ant-acid dose of Gaviscon to soothe any indigestion. When his blood is thin enough (we are attending the Warfarin clinic 3 times a week for blood work testing) he will have an angiogram to analyse the state of his arteries - some plaque is suspected - and perhaps have cardioversion - electric shock treatment to the heart - to reinstate sinus (normal) rhythm to his heart. He may need angioplasty if the arteries are clogged, he may need valve replacement, the next few weeks will tell.

So the past month has seen me as nurse, medicator, chauffeur and confidante. (Won't bother to list the details of all the other roles that get offset to women - you know anyway).

MadMother has been distressed because she knows DH is ill, but I'm shielding her from the details - she will worry with or without full disclosure, less I hope for knowing less. In this past year she has broken her hip and had her alzheimers diagnosed. I have enrolled her at 3 day care sessions, and she has found new friends, to replace those who have died or moved away into more sheltered housing, and new interests. She has forgotten old skills, and has forgotten to be safety conscious. I have been to rescue her from our local hospital so often the nurses recognise me. Still, she is no longer depressed or lonely and her mental deterioration has slowed enormously.

The past year has seen my knitting stash grow like a well cultivated crop, well that's apt then, it is a well cultivated crop. I've learned new cast ons, and I've increased my ability at ultra fine lace knitting, whilst churning out socks like I have to clad the world. For the second year running I made all my friends and family a hand knitted Christmas gift. I've joined sock clubs, a lace club and a blanket club. I've joined a new knitting group and made new friends. I've met up with old friends and gone to Harrogate for knitting meet ups, I've put friends on hold whilst my life spins and I try to control the skidding. I read other people's blogs as a life saver - to take me away from my anxiety, and I'm relying on snail mail post from a friend whom I struggle to answer.

DH's daughter has been diagnosed as an alcoholic and she has successfully been off the booze for 5 months now. Her 3 month old daughter seems ok, putting on weight and thriving; time will tell if she has dodged the foetal alcohol syndrome bullet, but my fingers are crossed and holding.

My own DS's twins are divine, I went on holiday with them in August, and they were a joy. As my problems have increased I have seen them less, but oh my god how I miss them.

On Mother's Day this year, DH was in hospital in the cardiac unit, I was exhausted and tearful at the drain and pain of the previous months, when my gorgeous, wonderful daughter turned up at early o'clock. She had driven for an hour and a quarter to get to my house in time to make me a mother's day morning cup of tea; she had brought breakfast- eggs and croissants; she had brought gorgeous little knitting gifts. But the best gift of all, apart from the whole thought and deed, was home-made chicken soup. She had stayed up til almost midnight the night before making me soup, so that I would have something nourishing and comforting when I got home from the hospital after late evening visiting. I know how lucky I am and it makes me tearful. Really, seriously, distressingly happy but tearful.

This time last year I had a lump in my breast, ultrasound and a biopsy - the lump is benign. This time last year I was packing to jump on a plane and fly around the world to see a dear sister get married to a wonderful man. I spent hours on a plane and days making a house fit for a wedding, and I am pleased I was there for her. This time last year I was thinking life would slow down - HUH!

Life has been stressful and tiring, I have had the love and support of friends, family and the most wonderful daughter. If you have read this far, then thank you for hanging in there with me. I count you as friends, when you send comfort as a post, and support as a tweet.

Happy Birthday to me, for tomorrow. Virtual cake and bubbly to you all.

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