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melting but not down

Saturday, 31 January 2009

miserable git alert

I think my subconscious must have already decided I'm on the way out/in dire need of major surgery. That's what happens when you surf the web for articles on heart disease. The rest of me has come out in sympathy, back are the sore eyes, itchy skin, eczema, dry cough. I am so tired I just want to fall asleep until 24 March. I'm supposed to be going to a ceilidh tonight. Groan.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

next step

I have an appointment with the cardiologist on 24 March. Time sure is going to drag until then.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.

It started innocently enough. Lovely daughter offered to go round to mum's today as she was off work, to save my having to go tonight. (I'll be going tomorrow.) I told her to tell mum I was tired, which is true.

LD told mum I had a migraine. Doh. So now my poor husband has had to answer the phone twice tonight and spin a story about taking tea and paracetamol up to my sick bed. Yes, twice. That's how much my mum believed my daughter (the cynical version) OR how terrible her memory is getting (hmm, maybe) OR how caring a mum she is (rofl).

Now I jump every time the phone goes. AND I'm going to have to perpetuate the lie tomorrow night. Sigh.

Make that four phone calls. The last one I answered, having made a miraculous recovery. I have to admit mum did sound genuinely concerned for my welfare, although the "you're all I've got left now" comment kind of hinted at why. Ah well. I can relax now.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

stroppy Saturday

Mum was in a furious mood yesterday morning. As soon as I arrived she launched into a tirade against me, precipitated by a letter she'd received from the Sensory Loss team. She'd got it into her head that I had written to them and because their address included the town where my cousin lives, thought we were conspiring to get her into a care home because his mother is in one. No amount of my repeating that the social worker had made the referral, not I, to see if they could help her with her deafness, eg provide an amplified telephone, could convince her that I did not have some heinous plot afoot. She denied any memory of social worker's visit and accused me of "trying to make out (she) was potty". She even said she was starting to be afraid of me! She then went into the old "nobody cares" routine, said I didn't have to go round if I didn't want to - she'd manage on her own somehow. I decided to ride out the storm and sure enough, by the time we got to Morrisons, the sun had come out and the letter was forgotten.

I do think she's getting more confused, forgetful and paranoid. Is this the beginning of Alzheimers?

Friday, 23 January 2009

retail therapy

Saw my doctor again this morning. The gyno thing is nothing to worry about, doesn't need any treatment. The X-ray results weren't back, he's going to phone me when they arrive. He listened again to my heart as, last week, his colleague couldn't hear the murmur. He said it was loud and called the other doctor in to listen for herself - she had to admit she could hear the murmur clearly. Perhaps the fact that she first listened to my heart while I was lying down, made a difference. Anyway, I was relieved because it meant I wasn't imagining the lethargy, the chest pains after exertion, the dead legs after climbing stairs. I have to make an appointment with a cardiologist for more tests. Its starting to feel real and serious now. Which is probably why I treated myself to these today....

Gold pleated silk uppers, gold leather lining. Guess how much......


I LOVE TK Max!!!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

aliens shmaliens

Didn't take them long to return the old girl and vaporise the clone. Still, they seem to have recalibrated the Morrisons component - yesterday was mum's first trip out since before Christmas and not only did we finish in half the time, she bought a fair amount of food and was amenable to suggestion.

I told mum about the doctor's thinking I may have a heart murmur - she advised me to take it easy (code for 'pack in work and concentrate on looking after me'). I had a nap on her settee before going home but still felt shattered and passed on the offer of joining friends for a chinese meal. There's so much tidying up to do at home, I hope I find the energy and motivation to do it today, its beginning to get on my nerves.

I never did get round to the hoovering but I've done a few laundry loads, tidied up a bit, given away our old TV and a set of fire irons to a fellow freecycler, bought/bid for a few essential items (yes, really) on eBay and the dinner's in the oven. I'll have to eat it later because I promised mum I'd watch Dancing on Ice with her again tonight. Running out of steam now.

Friday, 16 January 2009

told you I was ill

I've just returned from the surgery. I may have a heart murmur. (It could be dad's genetic heart defect of a non-working valve.) I have to go back to the surgery at 11:15 for investigation of the gyno thing, 11:40 for an ECG and hospital around 3 for a chest x-ray. I see my doctor again next Friday and I suppose depending on the results of tests, I'll be referred on to a cardiologist. Gosh. It's quite exciting in a possibly-life-threatening-but-going-to-get-looked-after sort of way. I phoned my husband. He was very worried..........about my not being home for the TV installation guys. Grrr.

Oh yes, and my mum has been abducted by aliens and replaced by an unconvincing clone. This imposter was in a happy, sparky mood ALL THE TIME last night. She ate her tea and then HAD SUPPER!!! She didn't even protest when I said I wasn't going round tonight other than to say "they seem like such long days when you don't come" - the only slightly critical comment of the night. I joked "well you'll appreciate me all the more when I do come" to which she replied archly "well, we'll see" and then brightly as I left "thanks for coming!" Weird. If aliens are not to blame, I think she may be getting stuck into the Tia Maria I bought her for Christmas. I could get used to this!

Ah bless, husband has come home early from work to take me for my x-ray, all is forgiven! AND the new TV is all set up (although we could do with a new aerial and cable apparently). I've been ECG'd (trace looked OK) and gyno-swabbed so now its just the heart and lung X-ray to go. A second doctor couldn't hear a murmur but she didn't do such an extensive examination as the first. The worst thing that could happen is that no-one finds anything obviously wrong with me, lol. I want something found so I can be fixed!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

can't complain (but I will anyway)

Mum is on good form at the moment. Fiesty, jokey - she has demanded I cancel the home care service as she doesn't like strangers coming in, rootling through her fridge and "shoving food down (her)", especially the one who didn't wash her hands before making a sandwich. She seems to have more energy and less confusion so I've done as she asked. I think she'll be ok getting her own food and taking her tablets. She even didn't have a problem with my not going round last night (late night working) - the first time I've missed a day since she took ill just before Christmas.

I, on the other hand, am dropping to bits. Tired, eczema's back, itchy, still coughing, some weird gynaecological thing going on. Will discuss all with my doctor tomorrow as well as the sleep clinic results - oxygen levels fine but pulse irregular. I have tomorrow off work to be home when the technician comes to set up our new TV. I would like to think I'll get lots of housework done but I'll probably just sleep. Suppose I'd better get dressed and ready for work now. Sigh.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Sunday, 11 January 2009

dear diary

It seems inappropriate, trivial even, to blog about the irritations of my own little life when others are going through much worse. However, I promised myself I would document these times, so here goes.

This week I've been so tired I've gone home at lunchtime for a couple of cat-naps, handy that I only live ten minutes away from where I work. My eyes are sticky and heavy again and the nettle devils are back. Mum wasn't too bad on Friday. She must be turning over a new leaf - she phoned her neighbour and invited her over for a cup of tea (this is the neighbour she hates with a passion!).

Saturday was even better. Mum was in a good mood and appreciative of the shopping I did for her - she wasn't up to going to Morrisons with me, thank goodness, so I got round in a third of the time. Mum had her emergency call equipment removed - she didn't want to keep it and pay for the service. I just hope she doesn't have a fall/another stroke. Still shattered, I had a snooze after lunch and left just before 5pm, calling at the retail park on the way home to look for a belated Christmas present for long-suffering husband. No luck.

Up at 8 this morning, I've put some washing in the machine and later will try to motivate myself to clean up the house. Have promised mum I'll go round about 6 and watch Dancing on Ice with her - she loves Torvill and Dean.

Thursday, 8 January 2009


No mention of the social worker tonight - has she already forgotten she came? Gave mum a bath and washed her hair. Not too chewy a night. Back again tomorrow.


Mum's social worker rang me at work yesterday. I told her mum's main problems/complaints and explained why it would be impractical for her to live with us. I arranged to meet the SW at mum's that afternoon.

I arrived at 15:30. Mum was in a flopping-on-the-settee-sorry-for-herself mood. She was adamant she didn't remember my going round the night before. She perked up when the SW arrived. The assessment took a long time, lots of questions, some of which mum answered honestly and others she blatantly fibbed about. I put the SW right under my breath on those.

Long story short, the SW is going to refer mum to .....

  • the local housing authority which should mean that in a couple of months she will have a choice of warden-controlled flats to look at - that takes care of mum's long-held desire for a smaller property, easier to look after, on-call help if needed, neighbours she might like.

  • the sensory loss team who may be able to provide her with a telephone adapted for the hard of hearing and perhaps something that will help her to hear the television without deafening the neighbours

  • the occupational therapist to see whether some bath aids can be installed. If they're not suitable, it may be possible to put in a walk-in shower

  • the home care team (the FAST carers finish this Friday) who will come lunchtime and tea-time to check mum's eating (she's still picking at tiny amounts) and taking her tablets for another month or so.

You'd think mum would have been delighted with such a bright light beaming from the end of the tunnel. You'd be wrong. The canny old lady mask slipped and the social worker saw my sulky, awkward mum in all her glory. She didn't want to go to day care for some company - a friend had said it was awful. She wasn't interested in different accommodation, she was alright where she was - her doctor had told her moving was the most stressful thing. She was disappointed more carers were coming - she didn't need them. She could manage the bath, she would soon be back on her feet, there wasn't anything on TV she wanted to watch..........you get the picture.

After the SW had gone, mum railed about how she thought she was never going to go, she had never been so bored, what a cheek asking all those questions, if she came again she wouldn't let her in. I was laughing so hard inside it was difficult to keep a straight face. The next time she moans about the responsibility of looking after the bungalow, etc. etc. I shall just put on a cheery face and remind her that the social worker is going to sort all her problems out. That'll fettle her, nothing to worry about - she won't know what to do with herself! Brazen hussy that I am, I left at 17:45!

And the day got better. I went to the pictures with my best mate last night, the first time in ages. We saw Australia. Good film, very very good film ;-)

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

still here, just.

My dog got me up for the second time in ten minutes at 04:30. As I would only lie in bed with mum filling my head, I may as well be here, with a cup of tea. Nothing has changed. Actually its getting worse.

Monday. Mum rings me at work. Someone has phoned her from the surgery saying the doctor wants to see her. She told them she couldn't get there. They told her they would collect her at 07:45 Tuesday morning. I tell her it sounds unlikely but I will check with the surgery and tell her what happened when I see her after work. The surgery asks round everyone but no-one has called my mum. I phone the FAST team. No-one there has phoned. Mum phones me at work. She thought I was going to phone her back. I try to tell her the results of my enquiries. She can not hear me clearly. Everyone at work within 100 yards can hear me. Monday night. I tell her over and over again the surgery didn't ring. She must have misunderstood what was said. Was she sure it wasn't one of her carers? No. Definitely the surgery. I promise to be at hers for 07:45 on Tuesday to see who turns up. Same old, same old. I go home at 20:30.

Tuesday. I arrive at mum's at 07:30. She is already in her winter coat, complaining about having to go to the doctor's. Time passes. Nothing happens. I phone the surgery a number of times but get the 'closed' message. I tell her I will take her to the doctor's if it turns out that she has an appointment. 08:15 - mum's carers arrive. Mystery solved. One of them had phoned her yesterday to say she would be coming earlier to do her breakfast. Took a while to get the message through to mum. Gave the carer my contact details and instructions to phone me in future with any messages. Went to work, collecting my prescriptions from my doctor's on the way. I wonder whether I should ask for a stronger dose of Prozac? I'm obviously not looking my best - at the morning meeting my lovely boss says she might have to send me home if she thinks I'm taking too much on. I'm glad to be at work with something to distract me. I manage to get through the day in first gear, completing a number of tasks. After work, mum's. This time she remains in misery mode all evening. All the usual lamentations and "there's no love". Of course she's right, there isn't. How can you love someone who all their life has made you feel like a huge disappointment? I'm not totally heartless. I recognise that she is unhappy and afraid on her own and I feel sorry for her, as I would any 89 year old widow in poor health. I just can't be what she wants - a surrogate husband, someone there 24/7 to keep her company and take responsibility for everything. I do my best, I go round day after day, I make sure she takes her tablets and doesn't run out, I encourage her to eat, I rub Vick on her chest to help her breathe, I help her bathe and wash her hair, I do her laundry and make sure she has food in the house, I take her to all her doctor's and hospital appointments, I listen to all her stories as though they were new to me, I sit there quietly accepting of all the veiled insults and complaints she directs at me. 57 years of conditioning as a doormat have worked well. I leave at 20:30 and join my husband and friends in the local pub. We don't stay long.

And now its Wednesday. I don't usually go to mum's on Wednesdays - I'm either doing a late shift at work or off to the pictures with my best friend. I shall have to go tonight or face the wrath of she who must be attended. I told her last night that my colleague will do my late shift tonight so that I can go to mum's. She clearly doesn't believe me, she doesn't understand why anyone should have to work late in an "office job". Which just goes to show how she demeans what I do for a living. She often says "you shouldn't be working now" and pulls a face when I say I'll retire at 65. She thinks I should abandon my career/salary/pension to look after her full-time. I intend phoning the social worker today. I need to tell her how impotent I feel in the face of mum's emotional blackmail. Will she be sympathetic or disapproving? I'm beyond caring.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

deja vue

The usual Pavlovian reaction to my appearance at 11:30 but thankfully the gripes did not last too long. Mum had half a small tin of soup and half a slice of bread for lunch. Also the tablets she should have taken on the morning. The carer arrived. Mum had told her she had already had breakfast when she came earlier. She hadn't. Mum couldn't be bothered to get dressed today, she spent her time resting on the settee, never quite falling asleep. She seemed to be very weak but in a much better mood than recently. With hindsight I think it was just that she didn't have the energy to be antsy. After tea she started on the poor me monologue again. She was considering stopping taking all her tablets (to prevent future strokes) - I advised against it. She asked me what I would do in her place, I said take good care of myself, keep taking the tablets and eating well. What I would have liked to have said was find a nice care home where I'd have plenty of company, no responsibilities and no housework. I explained I had to go home around 17:30 - to get organised for work tomorrow. (Actually, I couldn't take the misery any longer.) I would see her tomorrow night, after work. What time? The usual, about 18:15. What? I'd be at work all day?! Yes, its what I do, work full time. So she'd be alone all day. The carers will come. Sulky face. Didn't come to the window to wave me off. Sigh.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

second verse, same as the first

Well not quite as bad, a slightly watered down version of yesterday. But still over seven hours of purgatory. I am exhausted. How the hell am I going to keep this up? I'm rather looking forward to total breakdown and an end to having to fulfil expectations. Going to bed now.

Friday roller coaster

o8:30 Hello, (carer) your mum only has half a slice of bread left. (Me) There's a full loaf in the freezer. Could you tell her I'll do some shopping and be there around lunchtime?
11:30 Mum rings home. Husband tells her I left a while ago and will be with her soon. He asks how she is, she puts the phone down on him.
11:55 Oh, so you've turned up at last.
Mum is still in her night clothes. She gives me hell for an hour or so. Why does everything happen to her, she wishes the stroke had finished her off, she has no family left (?), nobody cares etc., etc. Eventually I get her dressed and make her some lunch. A small slice of smoked bacon, a pineapple ring and some tomato. She eats most of it. Slowly she perks up. I get her to eat a clementine, drink tea and have a piece of lemon cake, food little and often to encourage her appetite. The afternoon passes minute by minute.
16:00 We are both dozing on the settee when the carer comes to do tea. She makes mum some vegetable soup and toast. She eats half of each. So far we've had a different carer every mealtime. The 'jolly one' has not been back yet. They see I'm there and don't linger. I am wracked by a fierce coughing bout. Mum says I should see a doctor about it. She may be concerned but I suspect she only wants to ensure I'm still fit enough to look after her. She asks me if my husband and daughter look after me. I laugh and say they don't get the chance as I'm always at her's. She doesn't get the irony.
I give mum her 30ml build-up drink. It makes her feel sickly. She wades into the slough of despond again. All she wants is someone to care, to put their arms around her and say its ok. (I don't remember my mother ever putting her arms around me. My dad was the affectionate one.) She says she shouldn't be living alone. What she means is, she wants me to say come and live with me. Totally impractical. I can't see mum climbing the stairs to the loo and she doesn't like my husband at all. He's not what she would have chosen for me (a bank manager perhaps, its all about appearances with mum.) I tell her he's a good man. Its not what she wants to hear. She says she supposes the washing will still be on the airer next week. I put it away.
Mum starts on her terrible father stories, how he used to read and burn her letters and interfere in his children's lives. I remember how mum used to creep into my bedroom when she thought I was asleep and rifle through my handbag. How she persuaded dad to try to break up relationships they didn't approve of - they even went to the police station when I first started seeing my husband, trying to dig up some dirt on him. I say nothing. It would only make mum feel I was picking on her. I am wondering whether this is all a big test to make me a better person. I don't think its working - I may be all sweetness and light on the outside but in my imagination I am swinging a very large baseball bat at my mother's head.
The hours go by, the sickliness fades. She starts to cheer up. I see my chance to leave.
19:45 I say goodnight and promise to return at lunchtime on Saturday. As I start to drive away I see her at the window, indicating she needs me back again. She asks me if I have her front door key so she can let the carer in, instead of using the kitchen door. She finds her key in her purse. I leave again. She is back at the window. I keep driving.
I join my husband and friends in the pub. We are there for less than two hours. All the time I dread going home to find the answerphone blinking and another summons.
Home. Huge sigh of relief. No messages. Watch Rab C Nesbitt. Cruder than I remember but still funny. Bed.

Friday, 2 January 2009

counting my blessings

  1. I have lost 5 pounds!
  2. I go back to work on Monday so will only have to spend a few hours at Bleak House every day.
  3. I had a good night's sleep last night.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

nine and a half weeks hours

"Moan, moan, poor me, poor me"
(showered mum and washed her hair)

"moan, moan etc."
Found a note in the door from the carer - she'd called at 7.30am, mum's bedroom light was on but she wouldn't answer the door. Mum says they do it deliberately (knock and go) to save themselves a job?! She is going to tell them she doesn't want them to come again. She dozes for 2 hours on the settee.

"moan, moan....shouldn't be living alone.....your dad will be weeping over me...." Poor bugger, I bet he's been dancing a jig for the last 9 years. I keep asking him to call her up but he's ignoring me.

Carers come - ooh, transformation - canny old lady doing her best, smiling in the face of adversity, oh yes, see you again ....

Permutations of the above. Eats minute amounts. Coughs, hawks and inspects the tissue EVERY TIME. I too am coughing, so much so that I am losing my voice and can only croak. Does she notice/care? Does she (provide your own expletive).

I turn on the TV to provide some stimulus/distraction. She turns it back off - she doesn't like the zoo programme (ugly animals), she doesn't like Shrek (ugly cartoon characters). I pick up the crossword and sudoku again.

6pm and the cavalry arrives in the form of lovely daughter. Mum reverts to Dr Jekyll. I take my leave just after 6.30 pm with a promise to return around lunchtime tomorrow. Thank goodness for Prozac.

Happy New Year?

Thanks again, everyone, for your support and kind comments. They are a real comfort to me, all the more so because I know you all have your own difficulties to deal with.

I debated about writing this post, seems as though I've done nothing but whinge for days. Still, I feel the need to document what has been happening, it saves burdening my poor family. I'm seriously thinking about seeing a counsellor to help me deal with mum. This is the story so far....

Mum was due to be discharged on Tuesday. I went to work and waited for the call. Hours went by. I phoned at regular intervals, each time being told they had to wait for the latest blood test results to be ok'd by the doctor before she could go. At 4pm she finally got the all clear. I left work, called at mum's to pick up some clothes and went to the hospital. She was furious. In her deaf person's loud voice she told me and the rest of the ward that she had been "heartbroken" all day, she thought I had abandoned her, if she had had her house keys she would have phoned someone to take her home and so on. No amount of my explaining that I'd had to wait for the hospital to give the go ahead, mollified her. I asked the ward sister to confirm this but mum didn't believe her, apparently she'd spent all day telling her that I'd forgotten about her.

Long story short, took mum home. Rode out the accusations and agreed to spend the night. I was quite happy to curl up on the settee but this infuriated mum. I was all the unnatural daughters under the sun for not wanting to sleep in the double bed - the one she and dad used to share that has a plastic cover over the mattress and is soooooooo uncomfortable. In the end she made such a fuss that I gave in. I kept hearing her mooching about during the night and a couple of times she came into the bedroom, I'm sure she was trying to wake me up. Eventually I thought it was light enough outside to be a reasonable hour - I rose and dressed. It was 5.30am.

Shattered, I just wanted to doze on the settee but mum complained constantly about the "deadly silence". I didn't know what to say. The hours rolled by. I made breakfast (half a slice of toast and a 30ml build up drink for mum), gave her her tablets, washed up, made beds and tidied up. Finally, mum curled up for a cat nap and I took the opportunity to do the same. She spent the rest of the day nodding off like this, no wonder she doesn't sleep at night! She seemed to have calmed down. The care team came and installed an alarm thingy - I doubt she'll keep the emergency button on the cord round her neck. Then the Fast Team carer arrived - mum is to have 10 days of free calls - breakfast, lunch and tea. After making mum some lunch (a spoonful of Cumberland Pie and two sprouts) and giving her a second anti-biotic, I went home for a shower and to do some shopping for mum before I went back to see how she'd got on with the tea-time carers. She hadn't - they'd been but she hadn't answered the door - asleep? deliberately awkward? Who knows. Could only get her to take her tablets, eat half a clementine and one chocolate. She was still curled up on the settee, nodding off every few minutes. I explained again that I had to go because we were going to a New Year's Eve party but I would be back again the next day.

Tired, but looking forward to an evening with friends, I was getting ready when the phone rang. Mum. "Never felt so lonely, considering getting a lodger to stay for free, had rung her cousin (who can see her daughter's house from her flat and has a son who does all her little jobs), what had I been doing all day(?!)" and on and on and on. Guilt descended like a millstone dredged from the depths of an Icelandic lake. I tried to enjoy the party but had to keep blinking away the tears. I couldn't wait for midnight to come so that I could go home and yet I dreaded it, in case the phone rang again.

My dog woke me up at 8.30am, so here I am.

It's 09:03. My mother has just rung. "Is that 'Lily'? Well I need help now, not at tea-time". She sounds in a foul mood. Wish me luck.