About Me

My photo
melting but not down

Monday, 31 August 2009

the triumph of hope over experience...

...that was the last sentence I posted....

Sunday morning. LD and I took elderly pooch for a walk in the countryside. Walk cut short by my needing to get a decent signal on my mobile, the better to converse with a) Care Link, who were still being bombarded with calls from mum, b) the home care team, to ask them to explain again to mum that the Care Link emergency button was for just that, especially on Bank Holiday weekend and c) mum's neighbour, to do the same. I resolved to go over a little earlier than planned.

Sunday midday. I have just entered the portals of TESCO when Mr Lily phones. Mum has phoned Care Link again, saying she has back pain, should they go round. Yes please. Shopping done and no more phone calls, I start to relax. Laundry is brought in from and hung out on the line, the back garden lawns are de-pooped, a little knitting is done. I have just decided what to cook for a late lunch when CL phone again. They're very concerned. Mum isn't eating or drinking, she's confused and complaining of severe pain. I tell them I'm on my way.

The CL warden is with mum, she has just written me a note spelling out their concerns, she is worried that mum is dehydrated and her kidneys are beginning to suffer. CL phones the on-call doctor. I chase it up after a while, the doctor bypasses a visit and arranges for mum to be admitted to hospital there and then.

We arrive at the Acute Admissions ward at 5pm. The usual interminable waits between x-ray, pain relief and finally, saline drip. Mum is not pleased when told she must stay overnight but she doesn't throw a wobbler. We have some really tender, hand-holding moments and mum says she's glad I stayed with her, she won't forget it. lol. She keeps needing to spend a penny but by the time she's in situ, has already spent it, resulting in having to change her pyjamas and then her nightie. I give the nurse the CL note, to put in mum's file. I finally leave at 23:30, shattered.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

the 'rest' of Saturday

It was wonderful to be back home on Saturday afternoon, to be able to offload to Mr Lily, sort out some laundry for the fully functional washing machine, have a shower and wash my hair. I put on my pyjamas and headed for the settee, tv and knitting, hoping for a relaxing few hours before an early night.

Care Link phoned quite a few times to keep me updated - mum was constantly pressing her call button and saying she needed help, when they went out to her, she said she didn't. The home carer went at tea-time and lovely daughter around 8pm, to check mum had taken her night-time medication. On her return, she reported that mum had hardly eaten anything, had been sick again and wouldn't go to bed. She had told LD "I hate it here".

I was on my way to bed just after ten when the phone went. Care Link was concerned. Mum seemed confused, had called them 20 times today and they would have to phone me if during the night if they needed to go out to her because they didn't have a key. There was a CL worker with her at that moment so I threw a jumper over my pyjamas and LD drove me over. A lovely man was there and said he was worried that if he'd left her, she would have wandered out as she was talking about knocking up her neighbour. I gave him LD's front door key and thanked him for looking after mum.

Mum was back on the "something funny going on" loop, she didn't seem to understand why people had been coming all day and didn't "trust that man" (the CL worker). I tried to explain about the discharge care plan and when to use the CL call button but I don't think it sank in. She was in pain again so I gave her some painkillers and she had a few sips of tea. She was clearly exhausted, her eyes kept closing, but she refused to get ready for bed. She was still in her discharge clothes. "You can go" she said, but not as vehemently as previously. I finally managed to persuade her to go to bed but couldn't get her to change into her nightclothes, she couldn't be bothered. I sat with her for a while until I was satisfied that she was rested and likely to sleep, then LD and I came home.

Unwind time needed, so the early night morphed into the usual after midnight bedtime. No calls during the night - Yay! Up fairly refreshed around 7.30 when elderly dog scratched at the bedroom door to be let out. I've put another wash load in and am now going to have my breakfast. Fingers crossed today will be less chewy.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

desperately seeking snoozin'

Brought mum home from the hospital Friday afternoon. Over the next few hours she complained of pain in her hip and back but the painkillers were slow to act. She was also sick quite a lot. She debated calling out the doctor but was afraid it would mean another trip to the hospital. Around 7.30pm she seemed to be settling but did not want to get into her pyjamas, instead she lay down on the bed in her day clothes. I expected her to nap for an hour or two so put a blanket over her and stayed up, waiting for her to wake. Some time after midnight I gave up and went to bed myself, also semi-dressed.

In the early hours of the morning mum switched on the light in my bedroom and said the pain was so bad she wanted me to call the doctor. After three phone calls, much repeating of symptoms, medical history and current medication, a very kind doctor arrived around 4.30am. He examined mum thoroughly and after a urine test, deduced that she had a water infection that was making her queasy which in turn made her vomit the pain killers before they had a chance to work, hence the pain. He prescribed antibiotics and anti-nausea tablets. We went back to bed around 6am.

I was up by 8.30am for the carer to arrive. Mum was still asleep so the carer stayed while I dashed to the chemist for the prescription. Mum got up around 10, in pain from her hip and nauseous. Medication was taken and tiny amounts of drinks and toast. Mum was subdued. The carer arrived to do lunch, mum wasn't hungry so I said I would see to it but in the meantime took advantage of the carer's being there to get some shopping in.

The afternoon dragged on. Mum seemed to be in a tetchy mood. She started to repeat that there was "something funny going on" because she had been perfectly all right then all of a sudden felt so ill. She asked me if she were dying. I told her about the water infection etc., several times. She would not eat anything I suggested. She seemed to be 'brightening' up - she started to read the newspaper - so I tried to catch forty winks on the settee. After about ten minutes mum was up in her zimmer frame, complaining that she felt a prisoner in her own home. I thought she wanted to go out somewhere, but no. She wanted me to go!

I was half way home when the phone rang. It was the Care Link worker. Mum had called the emergency service and told them that her daughter was turning people against her/keeping her a prisoner. A couple more similar messages received from Care Link over the next few hours. Lovely daughter is going round later to check mum takes her night-time antibiotics.


Thursday, 27 August 2009


I remembered what mum said when I woke up this morning, it just popped into my head. She couldn't believe how easily I'd got her in there (old folks' home, in mum's imagination), "like a lamb to the slaughter".


Met the Social Worker on the Ward at 2pm to arrange mum's care plan with her. (She's going home tomorrow.) Agreed care workers would come in breakfast, lunch and teatime, seven days a week, to check she's eating and taking her meds and sort out any problems. Will have to pay for it but if mum's pockets shrink, I'll settle the bill, it'll be worth it for the peace of mind (and the one night visit less a week I hope to gain from it). Also persuaded mum to consider trying a day care centre once a week, for a change of scene and company. She may well rebel against it all but I hope to keep it all in place. Mum said she didn't have any memory difficulties but was unable to name the months of the year backwards from December, she just got stuck in loop between November and July, missing out October and September. Weird.

Even Later......
I flooded my new kitchen tonight, loosening one or two tiles :-( The washing machine hasn't worked properly since it went back into its new place; I was trying to work out why and in the process accidentally opened the unattached hot water pipe which proceeded to gush like a horizontal geyzer. Much screeching, mopping (and chuntering from Mr Lily) later, I have decided to call a plumber. I think mum jinxed me for not visiting tonight.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Wednesday's child is full of woe

I only stayed with mum for 15 minutes tonight, if that. She was on the attack again and even telling her she was going to be discharged in the next day or two, as soon as a care plan was in place, didn't help. Nothing but going home that minute would do. Anything else was a gross betrayal. The weird thing is I can't for the life of me remember the hurtful expression she came out with that got me out of my chair and heading for the exit. It really bugs me. I feel like chunks of my brain are starting to die off too.

I'm glad mum will be going home soon, for her sake, but I'm dreading what the future holds.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Rebel without a pause

Not too bad tonight, mum still tetchy and very vocal but a lot of her frustration and anger directed at the staff and hospital procedures - "not proper nurses...don't care about old people...treat you like you're senile even when you're not...never come when you need them....never seen a doctor" and so on. Encouraging signs - only 2 maltesers left in the packet ("the nurses must have had them") and the chart showed regular meals, albeit small portions, being eaten.

She was complaining of a lot of pain in her hip today and was adamant she hadn't been given any painkillers, even though the chart indicated she'd had some about an hour before I arrived. She was in yet another change of nightwear (is she right about the nurses ignoring her when she needs the toilet?) - a pair of pyjamas far too big for her, the trousers fell round her ankles as she was getting into bed. I'll take a couple of pairs of her own tomorrow. Still asking me to take her home and not liking being told I'd have to wait until the doctor said it was ok. Still, she did thank me for coming at the end of the visit.

Monday, 24 August 2009


My mother should have been an actress. The nurse later told me that she had been fine all day, wishing she could go home but quite accepting of being in hospital, pleasant to staff, eating her meals, albeit small portions. Which came as quite a surprise given the performance I was treated to tonight. I arrived to mum's attempting to strip off in front of the ward and visitors. Up went the nightie, down went the boobs, ye gods! It took some persuasion to get her covered up again, into her dressing gown and sit in the chair rather than attempt the Great Escape (by zimmer frame rather than motorcycle). I tried to reason with her, I reminded her of the time when I was hospitalised for a fortnight (I was about 7) with a mastoid infection and asked her what she would have done if I had said half way through the treatment that I was ok and wanted to go home. I'm sure she could see the logic but she wouldn't admit it - "you've got an answer for everything, its like talking to a brick wall" she retorted.

The next hour's visit was full of all the usual entreaties, complaints and character assassination of yours truly - some of which was overheard by one of the nurses attending to the patient in the next bed. Foolishly, although with the best of intentions, she told mum not to be nasty to me as I was just trying to help. Of course, that was translated into my having got my claws into the staff now. Mum added a new dimension to the "you've put me in this place to die" accusation - apparently having left me everything (in her will), I couldn't wait - hence the cunning plan! She was adamant she had cried all night and couldn't eat or drink. Amazingly feisty considering such deprivation. I had taken her tonight's Gazette, a couple of new magazines and a packet of Maltesers. She wasn't interested, she was too upset. She wanted to write to her solicitor. I gave her a pen and a note pad. She said there was no point in bothering because I would make sure that he didn't receive it.

The nurse told me mum had a heart x-ray and a brain scan today, as well as more physiotherapy. The doctor is pleased with her progress and may be looking at discharging her by the end of the week. The Fast Team will get involved so hopefully a good care package can be put in place. The nurse was most sympathetic as I left - she couldn't believe the change in mum, she reckoned she had just saved up all her frustration for me. Little tinker. Lovely daughter says one day I'll look back on all this and laugh. She's probably right.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

sigh of relief Sunday

Mum was much cheerier today. Although still wanting to go home and chuntering loudly about being stuck on the 'senile' ward, there was no unpleasantness directed at me or lovely daughter and she smiled a lot. She seemed much better orientated to time and place and was happy to chat about things other than her stay in hospital. Her nurse said she was eating fine and had a good sleep earlier in the afternoon but a urine test had indicated a water infection (which might explain yesterday's paranoia?). The doctor will be informed tomorrow so mum should get some medication to sort that out. Fingers crossed mum will still be in a good mood tomorrow.

The kitchen is finished! (sorry about the fuzzy mobile photos, they look better when clicked on)

Can you spot an old feature, subtly changed?


Lovely daughter and I visit mum, greeted by a tetchy "I hope you've come to take me home." Repeat of yesterday's vitriol and confusion. She tells me I'm hard as nails, that I don't listen to her and am just a parrot for explaining over and over again why she is in hospital and can't go home yet.

New bones of contention - I've brainwashed both my children, she can't believe how cunning I've been to manoeuvre her into this place - she thought I was taking her shopping (in bare feet and a nightie?), she's in pain and they won't give her any pain relief, they dragged her out of bed and made her sit in a chair because they want the beds to look tidy. She can't eat or drink, she's so worried; she'll die in this place. Where do you think you are? I ask. "You know where I am!" Where do you think you are? "An old folks' home!" Again I show her the hospital brochure. She says she must be in a special annexe where old people no-one cares about are left to die. She compares herself unfavourably with other patients who get visitors. (We don't count, apparently.) LD and I give up after 20 minutes and leave.

I speak to one of mum's named nurses. She tells me that apart from mentioning the 'conspiracy' last night, she's doing fine - she's eating and drinking, has been given stronger painkillers and can walk with support! She's hooked up to a 24 hour heart monitor at the moment. The results should be through Monday/Tuesday. I am close to tears when we leave. *LD promises to come with me again on Sunday. I am so grateful - I dread facing mum on my own. Shattered, I go to bed 'for an hour' early evening and don't wake up until midnight.

* Other good things about today:

  • I call into our local Boyes to see whether the wool I ordered for a bedspread I intend knitting in time for LD's 30th birthday (I have 28 months to do it in!) has arrived - I already have 4 x 400 gram skeins but need another 4. Another store has 4 and will send them over. I manage to get into my online Ravelry stash on my mobile and discover that the yarn I already have and the yarn on order are from the same dye lot!
  • We are getting closer to finishing the kitchen. The redecorating is all done and the appliances and furniture back in, we just have to finish sorting through and returning the stuff that came out of it, hopefully binning/recycling a good portion to reduce clutter. I'll post before and after pictures when we're put to rights.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Mum Friday

I drag myself to work, exhausted, and beloved son promises to visit mum on the afternoon before returning to Nottingham. (He also did the evening visit yesterday by which time mum had forgotten I'd ever been with her and was furious with me.) He spends an hour with her and tries to put a good word in for me as she is still fixated on the conspiracy theory. He says he managed to get her to laugh so I'm hoping she'll be in a better mood when I go at 6. Pah.

"Will you take me home? I want to go home NOW. Why can't you take me home? I hate it here! You had this all planned. You could take me home if you wanted to. If you loved me you'd take me home." Over and over I explain why she is in hospital - for tests to find out why she is falling and to get her better so she can go home. A bit disingenuous of me, but not so far from the truth. (She has had blood tests and scans today.) She doesn't believe me and doesn't understand why she is there. "Why do you keep going on about falling? (She doesn't seem to remember yesterday's fall or that I stayed with her all day, apparently I just "dumped" her there.) Did Mr Lily put you up to this? Your dad would be furious if he could see me now. He would look after me, the difference was he loved me. I've no-one to turn to, nobody cares, everyone else has loving families who visit..." I try to reassure her that its the doctor who made the decision about keeping her in but she thinks I orchestrated everything and could discharge her without consultation; the agitation continues for over an hour. She tells me beloved son is the only one who cares/listens to her, "he's the best one". She has taken against lovely daughter because she had praised the old folks' home she used to work in - further proof of the conspiracy theory.

At some point I realise she thinks she's in a care home because her ward only has rather poorly old ladies in it, "left here to die". I show her the 'Welcome to James Cook University Hospital' booklet by her bed. I think she begins to believe me. I try to encourage her to eat more and get her strength up, explaining that weakness could be a factor in her falling. She tells me the food is awful and she's too worried and upset to eat. She says "when you have children, you hope they'll be like you, but you're not." I laugh and say no, I'm quite cheerful.

Finally I get her to drink some Sprite lemonade and she puts on her glasses to read the Gazette I brought her, along with a couple of magazines, clean nightie, socks and slippers, toothbrush etc. The last ten minutes are relatively smooth going, she seems to have cheered up a bit. I promise to visit again on Saturday.

Friday, 21 August 2009


I've been to countless funerals over the last ten years, family and friends - an alarming number in our age group (50s). The best have been the humanitarian ones, they seem to offer a more flexible, personal and joyous celebration of a life lost than those within a faith framework, a generalisation I know, and there have been exceptions, but I love the informality of the former and the opportunity for friends and family to share their memories of the departed, evoking tears and laughter in equal measure. The worst religious service I ever went to had a vicar droning on about 'ooh she loved her bingo, didn't she....she loved her cruises, didn't she....eeh, she liked a good laugh, didn't she", you get the picture, or rather you don't - it made the deceased sound like a cartoon character.

The best - the funeral that tried to make sense of what had happened for the little daughter left behind by including a play about a prince that turned into a star and went to heaven. After the service, a roman candle was lit at the graveside and shot up into the grey, rainy sky, exploding just like a star. Then there was my uncle's funeral for which his son had chosen the Rolling Stones' Not Fade Away as the last piece of music because his dad had loved the band. (He had wanted to play Street Fighting Man 'cos Uncle J was a bit of a lad in his day, but decided against it!). I still chuckle at the memory of a friend's funeral nearly two years ago, at which Mr Lily (fortified by several alcofrolic beverages) told/acted out the story of the night we went to see Carmen, all dressed up, and afterwards he and M ordered fish and chips to the tune of Toreador. I think the vicar was a bit shell-shocked - "Well, follow that!" he said. Poor fellow, lol.

This Wednesday's funeral had been planned down to the last detail by the guest of honour herself. She chose the poems - 'Do not stand at my grave and weep...' and one written by herself 'I am not afraid to die..' that produced much sniffling in the house, and the music - a Kate Bush track, the Can-Can and to finish, 'I can see clearly now'. I'd never really listened closely to the words before but that song was just perfect for such an extraordinary person's life cut short by cancer. One thing she didn't plan but would have hooted with laughter at, was her husband's final gift to her - a bag of weed tucked into her jeans pocket, for the journey.

I used to think I'd like to plan my funeral, but now I'm thinking, funerals are for those left behind. Should my family choose the readings and music to reflect what I meant to them? Or should I impose the laughing Elvis 'Are you lonesome tonight?' on all and sundry? Or pick a real tear-jerker? Or a favourite Andrea Bocelli track that will mystify all the non-Italians in the congregation (I could provide a translation on the order of service, I suppose.) Getting maudlin now. And its after 4 am (nettle devils again). Must go to bed, work tomorrow.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Wednesday --> Thursday

High points - friend's funeral and wake, lovely touching and personal service, large gathering of friends in the sunshine afterwards, great vibes. Beloved son arriving late afternoon.
Low point - visiting mum afterwards, whinge, whinge, whinge.
Sad, eh?
8am mum phones, she's had another fall, can I come. Long story short, doctor's surgery advises I call an ambulance, spend the next 8 hours in hospital with mum, most of which involved her voicing (loudly) her conspiracy theory that I had plotted the whole thing etc etc. The doctor wants to keep her in for a few days to run tests on why she is falling and what kind of care package she needs to be safe. I'm hoping he'll say residential care. She's planning on getting her solicitor onto me if he does.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

..and the rest of Tuesday..

..written up at this late hour because the nettle devils wouldn't let me sleep. Got a cancellation at the dentist's this afternoon so my sharp broken tooth is now smoothly filed down. Back home to wait for lovely daughter to accompany me to mum's, chivvied on by a phone call from mum's neighbour who asks on her behalf whether I'm coming tonight. When we arrive mum says, "oh you're here at last...its awful when you've no-one to turn to" and "I bet you wouldn't have come if (neighbour) hadn't rung". She is still in her nightie and dressing gown from this morning. Mrs Hyde continues in this vein for quite a while before finally mellowing into Dr Jekyll, helped by drip fed fish and chips, cups of tea, biscuits and cake. The bedtime carers arrive and mum seems to like them, she allows them to take a spare door key, so no more having to leave the door unlocked to make sure they can get in.

I'm in a hurry so...

...here's a quick lunchtime run-down of the low-down on Sunday to Tuesday lunchtime..

Sunday - mum doesn't phone at all. Unsettling, that. I tell myself its the anti-depressants kicking in (I know, too early) and don't tempt fate by phoning, hoping I won't regret it.

Monday - return to work after lunch break - mum has had a fall (this afternoon, phew!) and is in A&E. Join her there, no bones broken, very painful bruising. Hospital promises 3 times a day visits from the Rapid Response team, starting Tuesday, and sends us home with a tiny zimmer frame. Manage to persuade mum to leave the sofa and go to bed around 22:30, by which time mum's bruised bump on the head has flattened but the bruise has travelled down to her eye. I stay the night wearing one of mum's nighties - it fits!?! Amazingly no interruptions from mum.

Tuesday - we both get up around 06:30. Mum sporting a spectacular shiner - she can hardly open her right eye because the lid is swollen with black/purple blood from the bruise. The bruising still hasn't come out much on her thigh - she says that and her lower back are the most painful parts. Before leaving for work, I tell her I'll be back at tea-time and that the carers will come to do breakfast and lunch. Came home at lunchtime to take my medication and grab something to eat. Mum phones, confused, hasn't seen anybody/eaten anything all day. Thought I said I was coming lunchtime; carer arrives during this conversation to do lunch and tells me she gave mum her breakfast and made sure she took her tablets early this morning. She sounds lovely. The phone has just rung, apparently mum also had a visit from a council worker this morning to install the emergency call equipment! I can rest easy now, I think. Well, until tonight.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

sunshine and showers

That was the weather and mum today. She slipped in and out of good/grouchy moods umpteen times in the six hours I was with her, mostly due to memory loss but also punctuated by annoyance with me - "I wish you hadn't got the doctor out....I hope there's no-one else coming....I'll just refuse to go (to the memory loss clinic)" etc. First she lost her keys - she'd moved them from where we'd put them on Thursday, eventually they turned up in a cupboard. Then she lost her specs and was convinced someone had taken them - that delayed our trip to Morrisons for about half an hour while we both hunted round the house. Not having found them, the usual shopping marathon was remarkably swift as mum was anxious to get home and ask her neighbour if she'd left them at her house.

Back home I had to phone the bank up again - the hole in the wall had refused to unblock the pin on mum's card - went through the same ridiculous performance of trying to get a deaf, confused, 89 year old to provide security information over the phone before the bank would tell me anything. I'm afraid I was a little short with the poor man over the lack of alternative strategies for customers with special needs. He, on the other hand, was most apologetic and polite. Oh dear. It transpired that a new pin had been sent out to mum, goodness knows where that letter went, hence the problems with the card. They're going to send another new one out next week, so that should sort it out.

Mum's specs turned up at last, in one of the bedrooms - looks at me suspiciously "well, that's peculiar, why didn't I see them there before?" Just as I was thinking it was time to escape, mum remembered our plan for the shower and hair washing. Darn. Washed mum's hair in the sink before the shower - much better system, I didn't get my front soaking wet that way.

Home, exhausted. Went to bed around six. Got up just after 11pm. And here I am.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Not a great day

Shattered, eyes sore, skin sensitive (keep having to tie my hair back because its really itching my face and neck). Mum phoned me at work about 1.30pm, wanting me to go straight round to switch her central heating off - "well you're no good" when I said I couldn't. She also muttered something about "something funny going on", so Mr Hyde may be making an appearance tomorrow. Too tired to meet Mr Lily and friends at the pub, struggled on with current knitting project then decided it wasn't going to work so that's several weeks, a completed back and three quarters of a front down the pan. The entire contents of the kitchen are still piled up in the back room, most of them out of reach. Still, the new kitchen's looking quite good, just the floor to do now I think, should be finished by Tuesday night. Morrisons tomorrow. Urrgh.

Ok, I owe you a chuckle. Here's two from this week at work.......
As I threw my things into the boot of my car after work, I didn't realise until I'd shut the boot that I'd also thrown in my car keys. Had to phone Mr Lily and ask him to bring the spare keys. Spent the next couple of days being reminded by colleagues to open the car doors first.
As I left work one lunchtime, having walked past several people, I was shouted back by an aghast colleague who informed me that I had a length of toilet roll hanging out the back of my trousers. Sigh. Make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh.......

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Happy Thursday

Mum in an excellent mood tonight, no trace of yesterday's conflict. We even had a laugh looking for the house keys that she'd moved again. I took her a Gazette and its nostalgic sister paper 'Remember When' - a brilliant memory jogger for local events in mum's youth. She loves to read, I think its the one pleasure she has. We both welched on the shower again - mum still had her head stuck in the Gazette as it came up to 9pm - and vowed to do it on Saturday morning. Mum even joked that people wouldn't avoid her in Morrisons then!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

perfect timing!

Tuesday night - mum is in a good mood, forgetful but cheery. I am knackered and she doesn't mind that we postpone the shower until Thursday. I tell her I'll see her at lunchtime on Wednesday and get away fairly early.

Wednesday lunchtime - I arrive at mum's but can't find her. I try the neighbour - she's there, mid paranoid rant about my plot to convince her she's barmy/steal her money/hide things from her (the latest being her address book). She has forgotten that her doctor is coming today and is adamant I didn't tell her, adding fuel to her conspiracy theory. Back at mum's bungalow I remind her that on Monday I had written her a note about the doctor's visit, she denied it, I showed her it, she accused me of sleight of hand, ie slipping it under a pile of papers where she knew it hadn't been before. She told me again that she was afraid of me, could do without me, didn't want me there when the doctor came. I was calm and understanding throughout, but ecstatic inside that Mrs Hyde had made an appearance when it really mattered!

The doctor arrived and as I went into the kitchen to do the washing up, I heard mum ask "has she gone?". I could tell she was acquainting the doctor with my villainy, hearing "daughter" in the midst of a furious outburst. The GP also gave her a brief memory test, I'm guessing mum didn't do too well in it. When I was called back in, we both tried to convince mum we were just concerned about her and the doctor prescribed her an anti-depressant as she thought it might help with the anxiety/paranoia. As she left, she said to me "poor you, its going to be horrible!" The district nurse came soon after to take mum's bloods, by which time mum seemed to be calming down.

When I came back from the pharmacist and shops (for tea, bread and teacakes), she announced "I've been having a good think about things while you've been gone. I'm sorry we fell out." I laughed and said that I hadn't fallen out with her. Then she hugged me (thud!) and said "I do love you, you know. Let's start again tomorrow.....well, from now." Yikes! Ok, the cynic in me thought maybe she was just trying some damage limitation in case the doctor told me what she'd said about me but who cares, it was good to end the visit on a happy note. Before I went I helped her put her keys in safe places and wrote out a list of where they were in case she forgot.

Then I went home via the charity shop and Sainsbury's - one top, one necklace, one pair of pink and orange flatties at the former; two boxes of cornettos at the latter.......because I'm worth it!

Monday, 10 August 2009

no turning back

Didn't get much sleep at all last night so weary now and its only noon. I phoned mum's doctor this morning and brought her up to speed. She is coming to see mum at home, Wednesday lunchtime (I'll be there). She will also make a referral to the memory loss clinic after seeing her but doesn't think it will be much help. She agrees that mum is not safe to live on her own any more, a care home looks like the only option. On her advice, I ring the Social Services Access Team and go through the story again. They are sympathetic and will contact me once the case has been allocated, to arrange an appointment with mum.

I have debated not telling mum about all this until the last minute but its only because I'm not looking forward to her response. I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and tell her tonight. Thank goodness lovely daughter is coming with me!


Thanks for the advice Annie, Clippy and Chris ... but after work I had a message on my mobile from mum's neighbour saying that mum needed me to go round because she "wanted to get out of here"; as she seemed to be in quite a good mood and possibly receptive to the truth, I did tell mum everything tonight. At first she seemed impressed that I'd "been busy", later she said she wished I hadn't bothered, lol. I wrote it all down for her so she could take it in and even added a note to say that her GP and Social Services would probably advise her to go into a home to get the support she needed. I thought it best to prepare her. She did chunter at this and said she would phone her solicitor/refuse to go if it came to that but she was nowhere near as stroppy as the other night. No doubt outrage will surface soon but the deed is done and I'm glad I finally took action.

I've promised to go round Tuesday night to help her shower and wash her hair ready for the doctor's visit on Wednesday. Interesting times ahead!

Sunday, 9 August 2009


10:30 mum phones. Am I coming over? She needs help. No, I'll see her after work tomorrow. Variations on a theme, no specific problem articulated. She can't approach me, she will have to ask a neighbour.

13:00 Sunday lunch with friends - partly to escape the phone, partly to support a friend whose wife is dying of cancer. Mr Lily stays home to finish clearing out the kitchen.

16:00 return home. Mr Lily is grumpy - his efforts in the kitchen have aggravated his bad back. Feel guilty about not helping more. Mow the lawns to show willing.

18:30 mum's neighbour has left a message on the answerphone, can I ring her, problems with mum. I phone back, mum has lost her keys and is very anxious and confused. I tell the neighbour I will go over after I've picked lovely daughter up from the train station. Neighbour says she will pass the message on to mum.

20:20 collect LD and we both go to mum's. She hasn't lost her keys but has put them all in her purse. She says she can't get them to work in the locks. I demonstrate that there's nothing wrong with them. She accuses me of playing a trick on her with the keys, to convince her that she's going mad. I tell her she's just confused because her memory is bad. She doesn't believe me. I call on her neighbour to tell her how the keys work (you have to push the handle up before you turn the key to lock it) so that she can remind mum if she forgets again. She confirms my suspicions that mum has been sharing her consipiracy theories with her, ie I'm trying to make people think she's barmy and trying to steal money from her (yesterday's bank card fiasco). Neighbour sympathises with me and is relieved to hear that I intend phoning mum's doctor on Monday.

21:00 mum no longer makes an effort to be cheery granny in front of LD but continues to vent her paranoia. She says I don't have to go round if I don't want to, she'll manage without me. I tell her I'll see her after work on Monday (LD has promised to go with me, bless her). Mum says she needs to be around people. LD and I try to persuade her that a retirement (we really mean 'care') home will meet all her needs. She threatens me with her solicitor. I say its time to leave.

23:00 bed, need to get a good night's sleep as I have to take LD to work early Monday morning, to save her driving her dodgy car.

02:00 and here I am again, thanks to busy brain and snorry Mr Lily. Sigh.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

rollercoaster day

Today started off ok but mum's good mood was eventually replaced by paranoia . The trigger this time was my having to phone her bank after her new visa card wasn't accepted at Morrisons. I had to call mum to the phone a few times to answer security questions so the bank could be sure the card's rightful owner was making the enquiry and had given permission for me to act on their behalf because of her deafness. She must have stewed over it after I left and had already phoned home before I returned. I called her and really had to bellow to explain and reassure. She seemed moderately mollified but a few hours later was asserting that it was all very suspicious having to give personal details to a man over the phone (I'm sure she was implying that I was in on some consipiracy) and she again threatened to involve a solicitor. I am definitely contacting her doctor on Monday, it seems to me that mum's confusion/dementia? has intensified over the last few weeks.

Lovely daughter's car was flashing an engine warning light all day today so I contacted the guy from Jennings who sold me my new car and by teatime she'd signed on the dotted line for a good deal on an almost new replacement, which curiously is the exact same model as my last car (no, it wasn't funded from mum's bank account, lol).

And then there's the kitchen - all the contents of which are making their way into the back room so that its clear for the kitchen fitters on Monday - new units, electrics, floor, tile and paint job, its going to be chaos until a week on Tuesday. How did we collect so much STUFF??!!

Roll on that cruise.

PS I forgot to mention that to top it all, I managed to break off a chunk of tooth while chewing on a licorice root.


I thought a man clearly called out my Sunday name just once at 7.20 this morning. It woke me up. At first I thought it was one of Mr Lily's friends trying to attract our attention. There was no-one there. The shout didn't fit with any dreaming I'd been doing. Weird. I often think things happen for a reason. Maybe I'm meant to be up early today, to be ready for something.

Friday, 7 August 2009

infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me!

Yesterday I promised mum I'd go over today. This morning she phoned to check. I told her I'd be over after breakfast and a shower.

I arrived at mum's at 10:30, about a minute behind her neighbour. Mum seemed to be aggrieved about something, judging by her tone of voice as I walked in. It transpired she had phoned home while I was en route and was convinced Mr Lily had told her I wasn't coming. Stressful half hour while I tried to persuade mum she must have been mistaken, being deaf, and she told her neighbour she was glad she was there because she wanted to talk to someone sensible and that Mr Lily and I were trying to make her think she was barmy, she was afraid of me and threatened me with her solicitor again. (Neighbour was trying to be the supportive voice of reason, she even suggested a retirement home might be a good idea when mum accused me of trying to shove her into one.) Mum said she would have to contact her doctor to sort me out (!) but when I agreed with her, she reverted to accusing me of plotting with her doctor. Her neighbour told her she was lucky to have such a good daughter, mum said she hadn't seen me all week! I tried to convince her that I'd been every day, showing her the key labels I'd sorted out yesterday and reminding her of the fish and chips we'd had on Wednesday but she clearly didn't believe me. I even said to the neighbour, "you've seen my car here, haven't you?!" as I was getting a bit paranoid myself, imagining people believing mum instead of me. Mum complained about being stuck in the house so I suggested she try the rollator again. She didn't seem to remember it. I said I'd go and fetch it, leaving her with her neighbour, a widow not much younger than mum. I was glad she'd seen mum in all her unreasonableness, as having a witness to mum's deteriorating mental health can only be a good thing, in case at some point I need to start the process of getting her into a care home.

Back at maison Lily, him indoors confessed that he had lost his temper on the phone with mum after she'd phoned a few times and complained it was "cruel" that I hadn't yet arrived, despite his reminding her it was a good 20 minutes journey between our two homes. He weakly denied telling her that I wasn't coming but I'm not convinced. I can imagine that in the heat of the moment he may have. I asked him to try to be patient with her for my sake, she's confused enough as it is and I only end up getting all the flack.

Back at mum's, her neighbour was just leaving. She said she thought mum was fixated (presumably on the conspiracy theory) and didn't know what could be done to help. Mum seemed to have calmed down when I went back in. We had a reasonably peaceful few hours, including lunch, before I left with a promise to return tomorrow for shopping at Morrisons. Lovely daughter has said she will come with me, thank goodness. I wonder what mood mum will be in?

I needed some retail therapy after all this so took a big bag of unwanted clothing to the local charity shop and had a root through the rails. Found a gorgeous black and white boned satin top and matching skirt for £5 that will be perfect for the cruise next year, also a pretty summer blue skirt for work for £3.

knOCD up

These are the knitting projects currently waiting in line (for which all the yarn and patterns have already been acquired!)...
  1. cotton summer top for me from recycled yarn (half completed)
  2. lacy summer mohair cardigan for me
  3. warm jumper for beloved son
  4. warm cardigan for me
  5. autumnal mohair jumper for me
  6. old-fashioned bedspread for lovely daughter (to be completed in time for her 30th birthday in December 2011!)

Do I have a problem?!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

psychic, me.

Mum has just phoned. Can I come, she can't get the fire to come on. I stick to my guns and say I'll go tomorrow. I suggest that she doesn't need the fire on/can switch her central heating on if she is cold. She is not pleased, she has no-one to turn to, she might as well go into an old folks' home (yay!). I have promised Mr Lily that I will finish his business books today. Wish me luck.


Mum phoned and phoned. I got through half of what I intended to do on the books. Eventually I went over. Nothing wrong with the fire. Took mum some key tags so now each key and it's spare are colour coded and labelled with the name of which lock they fit. Unfortunately mum in a miserable mood so innovation not appreciated. More character assassination of yours truly but I persevered and tried to get her to think about the benefits of a retirement home again, despite her jaundiced view of same. Mum still wanting me to say come and live with us. Promised to go over tomorrow morning and maybe have a trip out somewhere.


Some hours after I arrived home the phone went again. I checked the answerphone - no indication of significant calamity, just a grumpy "oh dear", so I didn't return the call.

getting to grips with this memory loss lark

I was going round anyway but mum phoned Wednesday morning, agitated because she'd lost her keys again and thought she'd have to have more cut. When I arrived, it didn't take too long to find the 'lost' keys (and her purse that had gone walkabout). Mum has a habit of moving things around then forgetting where she's put them. I'm trying to get her to use the same hiding places but as much as she agrees its a good idea, I don't hold out much hope that she'll remember to do it. I think I'll have to buy some key tags to attach to each key, clearly stating which lock each one fits. Different coloured caps don't work - she forgets what they mean. Despite the kerfuffle, mum was in quite a good mood. Neither of us mentioned the thorny accommodation issue, sleeping dogs and all that. I did some shopping for her to tide her over until Saturday and told her I'd see her again on Friday so I'm expecting a phone call on Thursday, requesting my presence.

I wish the Blogger interest link were working, I'd like to find others dealing with parents with memory loss. There must be some useful strategies for carers out there somewhere.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

..or sadly familiar...

...Monday afternoon. Round to mum's to be there when the plumber comes to fix the toilet handle. From a cheery welcome we hurtled into a huge row precipitated by:
me: there was no burglary!
mum: are you saying I made it up?
me: yes, I think you did!
mum: why would I do such a thing?
me: to make sure I came round to be company for you (startling how I'm speaking my mind these days!)
mum: go to hell!
....anyway, there was much super-powered indignation from mum for quite a while after that, along the lines of I was trying to make out she was "barmy", as a result of which she was afraid of me and if I kept it up she would get her solicitor on to me. She didn't want anything more to do with me, I did nothing for her, she had managed on her own for 10 years. (?!) By this time I had calmed down and was trying to get her to recognise that her memory loss was getting so bad it was no longer safe for her to stay in her bungalow but that she should reconsider the flat near me or a retirement home. More "trying to shove me in a home/will speak to my solicitor" guff. Persevered with pointing out the pros of both options. Fell on deaf ears, ha ha. OK, says I, if you don't want me to get involved I'll ask your doctor to help. Oh dear. "Plotting with my doctor now, don't you dare speak to the doctor...solicitor...show you up".

Somewhere in all this, mum found Mr Lily's £300, hidden inside a spectacle case. I found it extremely amusing when she said that she used to think he was a bad influence on me but now realised it was all me! The plumber arrived and fixed the loo. After he'd gone I asked mum if she still wanted me to take her shopping on Saturday (imagine, four whole days without having to go round!). I'm sure this was when she realised that perhaps she'd been a little hasty with the shunning. We agreed I'd take her shopping on Wednesday.

I was nearly home when Mr Lily rang to say mum had phoned. I'd left my purse behind. I returned to mum's. She said she didn't want us to fall out. I had another go at promoting alternative accommodation or at least making things easier for herself in the bungalow by getting some help in and asked her to think about it.

Tuesday morning. Mum phones. Can I come round, she can't find her keys. Exhale. I went.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

...and now for something completely different...

...the brilliant blocking board that Mr Lily helped me make! He glued cork floor tiles onto a piece of hardboard for a base that would grip pins stuck in it, then I pegged a bath sheet to it to act as a wick and on top of that, a blocking cloth I found on eBay - it has 2-centimetre squares on one side and inch squares on the other.

The pegs are really magnetic clips, probably for use on fridges as note holders, but they have a strong grip and with the magnet right side up, make perfect little pin tidies while blocking the knitted pieces.

I haven't tried it out yet (tum, te-tum tum TUUUUUMMMMM)

Monday, 3 August 2009

tether, end of

I got home from Mum's at 3.30 this morning. I tried a glass of brandy and rooting around on eBay to tire me out but I lasted about five minutes in bed before I was up again, weary but restless. This is my Sunday/Monday story....

Sunday morning, mum rings. She can't get her gas fire to come on and is worried that she'll have no hot water. I try to tell her that she doesn't need the fire on - its a lovely warm sunny day and that it has nothing to do with heating the water, the central heating does that. She is clearly angling for me to go over. I explain I can't, we're going out for lunch with friends, I'll see her on Monday. She says she can't hear me. She rings again, same old, same old. She rings again, she can't get the central heating to work. I tell her to look at the instructions I left her or ask a neighbour to help. She puts the phone down on me. That was the short version.

We go out to celebrate our friends' wedding anniversary. We return home late afternoon before going to the festival. The phone rings several times but no message is left on the answerphone. I do not answer, fearing more emotional blackmail.

We return from the festival at around 11pm. (The Proclaimers and the finale fireworks were awesome!) The phone rings. Its mum. She says she has been burgled. Oh the guilt. I go over with beloved son. She says she went to ask a neighbour to help with the central heating but did not lock the kitchen door behind her. When she came back, her wedding and engagement rings had gone and the keys to the house and garage. I am dubious, she does not seem quite as upset as I would have expected but a search does not find the missing items. I ask her where her purse is and check its usual resting place. It is not there. She says the burglar must have taken it. I phone the bank to cancel the visa card. The bank tells me that the pin has already been blocked, it looks as though someone has tried to use the card with an incorrect pin number, a stoke of luck given that mum has the pin number written on a piece of card in her purse. Yes, I know. Anyway, the bank cancels the card.

I phone the police and the locksmith. Before they arrive I dash home to get my bank card to pay the locksmith and collect BS's delightful new girlfriend. She tells me that BS has told her they will both stay with my mum overnight as the burglary has unsettled her. A huge relief as I thought I was going to have to do it. Mr Lily gives me £300 cash to save using my card. Meanwhile BS is trying to persuade mum that moving to the flat near me is a good idea. Arrive back at mum's to find a policeman already there. Gave him the details and agreed to arrange a proper statement interview later in the week, also a visit from the crime prevention unit. The locksmith arrives and fits new locks to the front, kitchen and lounge doors and fixes a padlock on the garage. The bill comes to £315.10.

I ask mum for the £300 I'd handed to her 20 minutes earlier. While she is looking for it, I give the locksmith £15.10. Mum is searching the house for the cash. We all help. Nowhere to be found. Where do you think you might have put it? we ask. Under the pillow, she replies. We look under the pillow. We do not find the £300. We do find her purse, complete with its original cash contents and bank card and house keys. She says she took her purse with her when she went to the neighbours but doesn't remember putting it under the pillow. I don't think you've been burgled, I tell her, trying to explain why. She is confused. I continue looking for the £300. I move some tissues on her bedside trolley. Underneath are her rings. I take them to her and lead her back to where I found them. She pleads ignorance. I tell her she definitely hasn't been burgled. I am beginning to wonder whether it has all been staged.

The £300 is still missing. I pay the locksmith with my bank card. He gives me my £15.10 back. I am slightly hysterical. For a few moments it seems hilariously funny that mum's non-existent burglary has resulted in an unnecessary 999 call and multiple lock changing. Slightly less amusing is the fact that Mr Lily and I have now paid £615.10 for a total waste of time and effort. Mum is fixating on paying me back Mr Lily's £300 using the money from her purse, about half the amount. It is 3am. I tell her we'll sort it out tomorrow. I don't fancy my chances explaining about the money, I get the feeling that if she finds the £300 cash and returns it, she will think she has cleared the debt. Ah well. Easy come, easy go.

Its 9 minutes past 5. Sigh. I'm beginning to think frog-marching mum to a retirement home is the only sensible option.

Well, I went back to bed, told the long-suffering Mr Lily the sorry tale. Then I was wide awake. So here I am again. Its 10 to 6. Uuurrgh