I was halfway through a cheerful little posting about funerals when I remembered I’d started this blog to make Monday morning happy. I will still post the posting about funerals at some point because I’ve found out some helpful stuff. I wrote half the happy, happy funeral posting before I set off for my mother’s, where I now live at the weekend; reading it back I realise just how gloomy the current situation of my life is making me.
It doesn’t help that I’m off into hospital for a bit of exploratory with a general anaesthetic on Tuesday and I’m scheduled to have the camera down the neck thing in September. The physical effects of caring for someone demented are, I’ve found, impossible to control. I have friends who cared for someone, sometimes for years, then afterwards collapsed in a big heap with major bits dropping off. After my Mother-in-law died my Father-in-law turned up on the doorstep, clutching a diet sheet, saying: ‘I have become diabetic, you have to feed me this exactly, if you don’t I’ll die and it will all be your fault.’ I had just been diagnosed with cancer but when I said so, a few days later, he just turned around and walked off. My Father-in-law was a really nice person, used to all sorts of difficulty because he was a fireman but caring for his wife who died from Alzheimers five years after diagnosis got to him and to me.
So when things have started to go physically wrong with me this time I’ve gratefully accepted any help the hospital can offer and would advise any carer to get themselves checked out for health whenever it looks like things might be starting to go wrong, along the way, if possible, even if it means extra difficulty. The situation to avoid is the one where the caring is over and you have kept going at all costs only to find out you have become ill yourself. The healthcare for the carer has to be as on-going as the care for the original patient.
The weekend was a long one, starting on Friday tea time, which was my mother’s birthday. I had made a cake and got presents and was going to be the third or fourth visitor in the day, though family visits continued over the weekend when my cousin’s son and his nine-year-old son came for lunch on Sunday, on their way to watch a cricket match.
On Saturday morning my mother had set the table in a wonderfully demented way with glass vases full of fruit and a huge plant. I thought I had patiently undone the strangeness but she picked up on my subdued irritation (partly due to pain because the hospital have told me to stop all anti-inflammatories prior to the surgery, though that’s no excuse) and started complaining about me to an invisible third party, even though I hadn’t said a word.
‘Oh she doesn’t like the table does she. She knows how to do it right. We can’t do anything. We gets it all wrong. She knows and we doesn’t.’ Etc and so forth, so very like Gollum on a bad day, it made me wonder if Tolkien had a relative with vascular dementia. If she starts calling me ‘My precious’ I shall pick her up and head for Mount Doom, though come to think of it, she does call the cat that.
There were many demented half hours through the weekend, so I was already quite low, when the house started joining in. I wind the clocks when I go, though I’ve only just started winding the one in the dining room, because I didn’t know it worked. So, after I’d cleared away the detritus of the Sunday lunch table, I wound the clock, and realised, while I was putting away the posh napkins, that it had just struck thirteen. It stopped for a few seconds to cogitate and then went on to strike approximately two hundred (I stopped counting after fifty or so, because if I’d counted all of them I’d have been demented too.) It continued to pause, strike two hundred (probably) pause, strike three hundred (maybe) and so on. I went to the lounge and checked my mother, who, having been up since six, cleaning noisily, was fast asleep. So I went out to water the garden, which is when I found the blocked drain.
Oh joy, what a fun thing to find at four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. A stinking drain, right under the kitchen window, overflowing with fat. I alternately poked with a stick and a bit of quarter round wooden moulding (you get this stuff in builder’s houses just lying in corners outside) and watered the garden. I tried to prise the manhole cover out of its metal seating, without success and then went and phoned the drain unblocking people. There followed a happy half hour during which I tried to ensure that the drain man would arrive on Monday morning at the same time as the agency carer would be there to help with any difficulties such as the payment from a demented person with a plastic credit card. Of course the cost is astronomical but when my husband and son arrived and between them, after a fraught half an hour, managed to prise up the manhole lid three feet away from the blocked drain and we could see what lurked beneath, I knew I had made the right decision.
Bizarrely the affliction that ails the drains, being blocked with fat, is exactly the same trouble which troubles my little Gollum.
If we could only get Dyno-Rod in to deal with the demented, My Precious, all our troubles would be over. Sadly this is impossible, so this poor little Hobbit will just have to get on with the slog for the foreseeable future.
When I phoned my mother to put her to bed, she left the phone dangling while she wandered into the dining room to hear the clock chiming. Happily it had stopped and she even remembered to come back to the phone and finish the conversation. This morning the carer rang to say she was on to the drain cleaners and would stay until they’d been.
So I hope all is well.
This of course is the root of the stress. It’s a worry if I’m not there and it’s a worry if I am.
Spare a thought for Frodo – I wonder when I get to the bit with the giant spider?
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