Monthly Archives: August 2004

All systems go…

The boys are out, Dad’s gone to bed for a rest, I’ve made all my important phone calls to a) send for Blue Badge application forms, b) organise community transport provision for Dad to get to the Priory on a Thursday, c) sort out my insurance claim on the car, and d) arrange a morning of massage, sauna, jacuzzi and general pampering for me and my visitor on Monday. So now there’s no excuse. Get on with that housework, Smudgie. Do it now.

Knowing my luck, Dad’s district nurse will arrive just as I’m getting going. Sort of puts you off making a start, doesn’t it? And I’ve got to type up all they said at the diabetic clinic this morning and the cancer clinic earlier so that he can remember it all when he goes to see the doctor tomorrow. He joked that if we’re bored over the weekend, Cliona can always go round and visit him for an hour or five while he tells her of all his illnesses!

Taking Tiddles to see his first ever Shakespeare tonight. It’s As You Like It. We’ve read the synopsis together, and I’ve read him a few bits of the script so he gets a bit of an idea what he’s in for… and he’s very keen. Let’s see what he makes of it. And let’s hope the sun continues to shine and the rain pushes off elsewhere tonight.

Right – let’s get this place pristine so Flylady will be proud of me.

rescue

I didn’t strangle them today. I managed not to strangle any of them. Success! Mind you. last night’s aquafit helped a lot. Bearing in mind I’d only had the children’s company for an hour in the morning and twenty minutes in the evening, I was remarkably stressed when I left the house. (They’re in rather a silly irritating and attention-seeking mode at the moment and this, combined with Dad needing a bit of extra attention because he had to have the nurse out again, does not work wonders for my stress levels) I was remarkably unstressed when I returned home. Was this the beneficial effects of exercise coming into play? No, it was the sheer pleasure of imagining the foam dumbells we use (known as boueys) were the children as I pushed them forceably under the water or pushed them away from me in turn.

This morning I only had Smudgelet to deal with for an hour of the morning while Tiddles went to visit M to help plan a church service as part of a Scout badge. Apparently he worked hard and had some good ideas, which was a relief as he was still in seriously silly mood when he left home to cycle round there. Smudgelet decided that he wanted to stay for the Young Archaeologist Club day at Fort Victoria – a bit of a blow as, because he’s under nine, I had to stay there with him instead of dropping Tiddles off and coming home to get some jobs done. IN fact, I was supposed to stay in the room where the activities were taking place, and join them on their fossilling walk on the beach, but the wonderful wonderful leader noticed my enthusiasm to spend more time with my sons, and suggested I go hide in the cafe with her newspaper. Bless her!

I spent ages in the cafe, feeling very virtuous as I didn’t succumb to the temptation to buy a cake, and I ordered salad instead of the very tempting chips and fried egg that people were eating all around me. But as the cafe began to fill, I decided I had better find somewhere else to sit. As I emerged, I bumped into the group heading off on their walk, and was directed to go into the activity room where the adult leaders were all having a go at the activity. You know, we don’t spend enough time just playing and creating, do we? It’s left to the children, and yet I think the adults enjoy it just as much and benefit from it even more. I spent a glorious hour making a pasta collage on a ceramic floor tile. And a rather good cuttlefish it was, though I say so myself. Instantly recognisable – the boys decided it must be a bank vole as they saw a photo on the wall and the label above it said “bank vole” (referring to the photo above that, I hasten to add).

This afternoon I had a heart to heart with Tiddles about the reason I’d felt stressed and about the trouble that Dad is having. He was great. It’s hard not to overburden him with adult concerns, but in other ways it’s easier for him to feel that he’s not being kept in the dark about things. His response, bless him, was to set to and start doing some of the ironing, despite being tired himself. Between us we defeated the ironing pile!

He also rang M for me to say that I wasn’t going to be able to go to aquafit tomorrow as a) I have to take Dad to the hospital for the diabetic clinic and b) I have far too much I need to get done with having been out all day today. She’s a wonderful woman – she rang back and informed me that she was going to take the children with her for the afternoon… and that I should drop them off en route to the hospital and she’d give them lunch as well. That’s the sort of friend parents need – ones who will offer what you need before you even realise you need it.

Dad’s now waiting for the nurse to come again. I wish this would be a bit easier for him. We know when she’ll come, though. Just as we’re about to set out to the hospital. Hmmm… I wonder if I can get him to the hospital and home again without mislaying him this time?

Swings and roundabouts

Dad’s three-monthly cancer-clinic appointment yesterday proved a real swings and roundabouts experience.

We had a near row in the morning about what time we should go. I think one of the hardest things about caring for Dad is that he cannot understand that I have a life of my own to lead as well as being part of his. He wanted to go really early so’s to be first in at the canteen for lunch, and then wander round the hospital grounds for an hour and a quarter until his appointment. I wanted to finish cleaning the kitchen and go in time to have a leisurely lunch and go straight into the waiting room (where we would then possibly have at least half an hour to wait anyway). I know he was really worried about the appointment and that made him all the more irritable and irrational, so it took all my powers of persuasion to keep him calm.

The traffic on the way there was terrible. I hate the tourist season. Almost an hour to do a fifteen minute journey! We arrived a little tight for time. I suggested I drop him off at the door and he head to the canteen to make his choice while I park the car and race to join him, but he stubbornly insists on coming with me “for the walk”. Then, as I go to the meter to buy a parking ticket, he disappears off into the building – I can only assume he’s heading for the toilets. I go and buy lunch… no Dad. I search the corridor to the canteen… no Dad. I go down and search the cafe… no Dad. I go back to the canteen… still no Dad. In the end I make a start on my lunch, laughing with the others on the table that when he did appear it’d doubtless be my fault I’d lost him. Sure enough, his greeting words when he appeared were “Where were you?” followed by “My dinner’s cold” and “I don’t know why you got coffee – we won’t have time to drink it!”

The traffic jam, though, proved to be a mixed blessing. When we arrived at the waiting room, the nurses were spitting nails. No, not literally! But the doctor Dad was to see had phoned to say he’d be late as he was caught in traffic. Apparently this is a weekly occurance! We were actually quite patient about waiting for him, but the nurses were so indignant that they went to see the consultant and he said he’d see Dad instead. Brilliant! This is the man who operated on him twice and whom we’ve never got to see in person. He was superb and such a lovely man, really easy to talk to and aware of the importance of speaking slowly and clearly so that Dad could take in what he was saying.

The downside of what he was saying was that Dad’s possibly going to need another op. Also he asked Dad what the prognosis had been when the cancer was first discovered and Dad said he’d been told “two, five, ten years” five years ago. The doctor then smiled and said “Well, you’ve had a good run so far, then… a good three score years and ten. Let’s see what we can do to improve your quality of life”.. which would seem to imply (as we thought anyway) that we’re looking at a limited time ahead of us. The cancer, however, is under control and does not appear to be spreading as the pains Dad’s getting in back and hips seems more due to arthritis.

The doctor was shocked that nothing had been done sooner to control the side effects of the treatment Dad has and immediately put him on some tablets that should stop the hot sweats he’s been suffering for five years. He also persuaded him of all the pluses of trying a catheter and was able to reassure him about that. A selfish “hooray” from me, too, because it will make life far easier for me as well as for Dad and will also give him more freedom and confidence. Please God, let it work.

As it turned out, he needed it a little sooner than anticipated… he didn’t feel too good when we got home and was concerned that he might be taken ill in the night. I phoned NHS Direct and was most impressed – within an hour a nurse was here fitting the catheter and settling Dad for the night. And a side bonus – instead of me going to collect Tiddles from Scouts, the Scout leader brought him home as Dad was unable to babysit Smudgelet.

I so appreciate how much better I’m coping emotionally with the stress of caring for him and the boys. It has helped so much going part time, and with Tiddles growing up suddenly and controlling his temper tantrums so well. I still need so much strength and patience, though, and I really appreciate the prayer support I get. I find it hard being torn between the two, children and father, and that Dad can’t understand I need time with them and time alone as well as time with him. I find it hard helping Dad not to worry about the tiny things in life which mount up to such big things for him because telling him they’re insignificant worries simply makes him angry (understandably). I find it hard that Dad takes it as a rejection when I don’t eat with him because I’m dieting, or
when I want to get on with schoolwork or housework instead of sitting and chatting with him, or when I have a visitor and he so clearly resents it. But then, it’s so wonderful to be able to express my love for him by caring for him and getting to know him better. It’s great to see something that’s worried him be replaced by confidence because he’s shared it with me. I just need to be firm, retain some degree of detachment (as my counsellor said, remember the difference between sharing a load and shouldering a burden), and remember that I have control over whether I let myself get stressed.

Gosh, I’ve blogged a lot today. It’s good to get it off my chest a bit, and also to have a record I can look back on which helps me chronicle how things develop.
I think all carers should be provided with a brick wall on the NHS… I mean, we need it to bang our heads against. 😀

When I get a round tuit.

What me? Using wiblogging as an excuse for not getting on with the housework? Never!

I’m shattered, actually. I ended up doing prayers in the CoF last night, far later than I should have done, as there was nobody else to lead them and then, because I was so tired, I pootled around for ages instead of going to bed. What an idiot! And I had to be up at the crack of dawn this morning again to take the children sailing.

Actually, I had plenty of time to take them, but had to go round to check on Dad first. I’ll blog that separately.

The boys had a brilliant time yesterday, despite the weather. Their respite carer has two children from Bellarusse to stay for the summer each year as part of a scheme to bring the children over for two months of good medical and dental treatment, good unpolluted air, good fresh unpolluted food and thus add years to their life-expectancy. It’s a brilliant scheme. Activities and experiences are laid on for all 24 children who come over to the island, and the carer’s children can get involved too, so my two are spending their two days’ respite riding on motorboats, kayaking, rafting, playing water volley and learning to fish for crabs. Smudgelet wasn’t too sure yesterday morning as he’s going through a clingy patch and rather wanted to stay with mummy… but he got my usual charming sympathy “Well, I don’t want you staying with me, so you’re going.. and you can sit on the river bank and watch if you prefer”! This morning I told him he could stay at home with me instead of going… and you should have seen his face. If looks could kill… 😉

Sunday was brilliant too. I packed the two of them off to church with Grandad and stayed home alone. No, I wasn’t skiving… not really. I mean, I had a picnic to pack. And a longing for a bit of “me” time. The picnic was for the afternoon’s treat…. a trip to Appuldurcombe House to see an open air performance of Treasure Island. It was utterly brilliant! We all thoroughly enjoyed it. Smudgelet was a bit concerned at all the sword fighting, and at Long John Silver being somewhat short of a leg – and at one point needed a reassuring cuddle when someone was killed with what was obviously a real sword. At the end of the play the actors came and chatted amongst the audience – a brilliant idea – and the boys were able to ask Long John about his leg. Smudgelet came back full of excitement because he’d let him see how his leg was tucked up underneath his coat. Tiddles came back full of excitement because Long John had told him the story of how he’d had the leg shot off in a battle. The two of them then had a heated argument because both believed what they’d been told. Good job there weren’t any swords lying around or there’d have been bloodshed.

Now I’m off to do some housework. I have a visitor coming at the weekend and they rather need to be able to find a bed to sleep in.. and some clean sheets and towels too, I suppose.

Mmmmm… garlic!

I have tasted so many different types of garlic that this evening it is probably a good job that I live alone. Well, alone apart from the Smudgelets who have tasted even more than I have. Mmm. I drew the line at garlic icecream, though, tempted though I was to have just a taste. Well, I am on a diet after all… and when they had Minghella’s Rum-soaked raising icecream on the next stall it was simply no contest. (Yes, I know I’m teetotal but rum and raisin icecream is one exception).

The festival was, as always, fantastic. It’s one of the highlights of the year and an afternoon there simply wasn’t long enough. Actually, it probably was long enough, seeing as I couldn’t resist spending yet more of my hard-earned dosh. But it was on essentials. I mean, we can’t live without garlic honey; apricot, ginger and garlic chutney; horseradish and ginger mustard; two types of garlic bread; a musical card game; two aprons of differennt sizes for when the Smudgelets are cooking with garlic; a new coat for Dad; a couple of Christmas presents; two bag bags; and some bit-free bath bombs. I didn’t buy any fudge.

The arena shows were so good, we hardly moved away to look at the stalls. Motorbike stunts which made me look away and close my eyes; two rather amusing clowns; the RSPCA rescue dogs agility course; and most exciting of all, the Royal Engineers freefall parachute team. One even managed to land in the arena – one amongst the spectators, and two somewhere off amongst the stalls! Dead exciting, especially as they exited the plane so high above us that we could barely see the plane and all we could see of the four skydivers was the trail of smoke from a flare attached to their legs. Ooooooooooooooooh!

Dad enjoyed his afternoon out too, although the walk from the car park was a bit of an ordeal. To his delight there was a stall of information for the elderly about pension credit and community transport and the like, so we were able to get up to date with what’s on offer. Even more to his delight, there was a widow of similar age running one of the stalls and the two of them were chatting and flirting away for ages.

Anyone for garlic bread?
I’m now shattered. Tiddles decided to massage my back before he went to bed, bless him. Well, I was grateful to start with. But then he and his brother decided they could have far far more fun seeing if they could write their names on my back and watching the letters appear in bright red wheals. Bless ’em indeed.

“Grandad…

… may I very kindly use your toilet as Tiddles is busy blocking ours?”

I love my Smudgelet – he says the sweetest things!

We had a fantastic evening last night at the finishing celebration of the holiday club. Oh to be a child again! Isn’t it funny how, as adults, we build in inhibitions which seem to stop us enjoying childish things, and yet we can get so much pleasure out of those childish things if we simply let go and enter into the spirit of them. Or is that just me? Having overcome my embarrassment at the suggestion that I should make a hat and parade it in order to win a mini-Milky-Way-bar (which then melted in my pocket in good “child again” manner), I had a great time decorating the thing with shooting stars and winning a snonge token for joining in. I got another snonge token for doing the actions to the song, too, and making everyone else join in singing “we’re on a mission, mission, mission, mission, mission.. to find a miracle miracle miracle miracle maker”. I decided discretion was the better part of valour, though, and declined to do the “circling arms in the air like a windmill” action on the grounds that it was rather a hot and sticky evening and I hadn’t had chance to shower before going out.

Tiddles has a stye on the eye and looks as though he’s been in a fight. I didn’t touch him, honest! I did have fun dosing him with Andrews Salts, though, to stop him “blocking the toilet”…. and as a side effect giving him bout of the burps sufficient to send him flying into outer space!

Talking of which, we went to the Planetarium on Wednesday – brilliant! We learned rather a lot, all three of us.. including the tip that youshould always take your raincoat in with you in case it pours with torrential rain as you come out! We also visited the Shipwreck museum (brilliant, unless you’re accompanied by a disinterested seven-year-old) while Tiddles went to his Young Archaeologists meeting. I cannot sing their praises enough. For nine pounds a year he gets a magazine every quarter, a full day’s activities every month, and activities every Wednesday through August. Amazing value, and such excellent activities that I ended up volunteering to be a stand-in adult helper if ever they need anyone. This time he was doing glass-painting and ..er… fish printing. Yes, I now have to do the final touches to the..er.. lovely t-shirt he has made by painting a fresh fish and printing with it onto the t-shirt front. MMmmmm…

Today is the Garlic Festival. Shall we go?

Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow

OK, so now the injection’s wearing off and I am beginning to be able to feel the side of my mouth again! Ooooooooh!!! Mind you, that was one expensive Fruit Pastille – one chew and I end up needing to pay out £100 to have the filling replaced and half the tooth repaired. The dentist was lovely, mind, and the nurse didn’t scream one bit when I broke all the bones in her hand squeezing it while he did the injections.

I am starting to think my attempts to economise are doomed. Doooooooomed. I have never, repeat never, spent so much money in one month, not even at Christmas.

Earlier this week I realised I needed new windscreen wiper blades. Off I went to Halfords to buy some. The boys enquired how I intended to fix them and I explained I had three options. I could ask Grandad to do it, I could do it myself (well, I’ve done them before, and I’ve trained in Car Maintenance, and they’re supposed to be easy enough) or I could use the tried and tested and extremely effective method of smiling sweetly at the salesman and asking him to do it. I’d decided to opt for the third… until I saw there was a standard charge of £2.60 for fitting! Blow that for a game of soldiers, I’d do it myself. Of course, the fittings were different than the old ones. Would they go on? They would not! Fiddle… manoeuvre…twist…fiddle and…. TWANG CRUNCH.. the wiper bracket flies out of my hand and thwacks against the windscreen, sending a lovely crack straight up the front. New windscreen – £60 excess on my insurance.

To get my windscreen repaired on the insurance I needed to produce my certificate of insurance. Could I find it? Anywhere? At all? No – everything but. Replacement document? £15.

While talking to the insurance, I decided that I was just going to have to bite the bullet and have the damage to my boot door done while I was at it. I mean, I can’t go around with a gate-post-shaped dent for ever. £125 excess, and 2 years no-claims bonus down the drain!

Meanwhile, back at the camp, my sister wants me to print out some invitations for her (whatever event they are for is a heavily guarded secret… and surely I can’t be THAT old!) because she hasn’t a colour printer. She emails them to me and, guess what, they’re in a version of Publisher that won’t open on my version. A quick trip to Staples and I discover that a) there’s no way round this without upgrading Publisher and b) my version of Publisher is too old to take an upgrade, I will have to buy a new disc and reinstall completely. AGGHHH. Still, seeing as I was going to have to do this eventually as all my paperwork done at school is on a different version too, I decide to bite the bullet. Hmm.. easier said than done. I might have known that the more recent version of Publisher would not run on Windows ME. Yes, you’ve guessed it, another hundred pounds or so to install XP. Still, the invitations look good. I wonder what event they’re for 😉

Add to this the fact that my long-awaited Massage training course starts in a week and a bit’s time… and they’ll want a payment too. Does anyone fancy buying two small, well trained children? Good at cooking and washing up and currently learning to iron? (I’m not stupid)

Oh, and talking of which, any idea how to get the message through to my father that I am paying for the cleaner to do an hour at his house and two at mine, not two and a half at his house and twenty minutes and a cup of coffee at mine?????

Good job I’m such a patient person 🙂

(And just to note, I have stopped the anti-depressents now that I reckon I’ve made enough changes in life not to succumb to stress. It will be interesting to see just how irritable I become over the next few weeks!)

I don’t believe it

Would you credit it? I am sitting here quietly eating my breakfast and catching up on people’s wiblogs and my sons are in the shower discussing the alterations they’ll make to the bungalow when I’m dead!