….. of mice and men oft go awry, and my plans have certainly gone belly up while I have been absent from my blog. I don’t quite know where to start with all that’s been going on, so grab a brew and put your feet up – this make take a while 😉
As you all know, my Nan died at the start of August and there was a lot to organize. My Dad needs help with any kind of paperwork and with making phone calls, so obviously I helped plan her funeral and we’re both still dealing with the solicitor regarding her will and finances. My Dad’s dementia means he gets stressed and tetchy easily, so not only do you have to help him physically you have to constantly reassure him and calm him down, which can be difficult if you too are feeling stressed or, more importantly, exhausted and ill.
About 7 weeks ago both my parents got a virus. It was a tickly cough which my Dad got over in a few days, but of course it went to my Mum’s chest and she developed a stubborn chest infection. She ended up with 3 lots of antibiotics, and thrush, and it eventually settled but she never picked up. In fact, on the day of my Nan’s funeral she was so unwell I had to take her home early from the tea.
That was on Monday 21st August and she continued to deteriorate all week. By Friday she looked dreadful and I begged her to let me call the Doctor but she refused. She sees so many health professionals she gets fed up to the back teeth and I can’t blame her really. By Monday 28th August however she was very ill indeed, but it was a Bank Holiday so I had to wait 5 hours for an out of hours GP to visit. She dipped Mum’s urine and declared she had a rampant UTI and a fever of 103F! So she was prescribed yet more antibiotics.
Two days later on the Wednesday, Mum told me her hands had gone numb and that she had an awful pain in her neck. Mum has both osteoporosis and spondylitis and does get random pain all the time, so although I was concerned I just gave her some codeine and said we’d see what she was like in 24 hours. When I went the next day, though, her feet were numb and when she went to stand up her legs gave way. Now we were all worried.
I rang for a Doctor who came within 2 hours and immediately ordered an Ambulance which took us to A&E. At first they thought she might have slipped a disc in her neck, but an MRI scan showed nothing. She then had a lumbar puncture which, along with her history and symptoms, resulted in a diagnosis of Guillain Barre Syndrome. It’s bizarre. I thought if my Mum’s life were threatened it would obviously be because of her lung or heart disease, yet here she was desperately ill with some rare and random immune problem set off by a piddly little cold! At 11.30pm Dad and I came home, leaving Mum waiting to be transferred to a ward.
The upshot is she is still in hospital and likely to remain so for some considerable time. She has been given 5 days of immunoglobulin infusions, which is made up of a healthy person’s blood and which it’s hoped will replace her own faulty immune cells. But her breathing has been affected and, although it’s great that she’s not on a ventilator, she does now need a nebulizer and is on a course of steroids.
My Mum, as you know, is an alcoholic but in most families alcoholism is a shameful secret and my Mum would be mortified that anyone knew. So I had to find a way of speaking to the A&E doctor to let him know that Mum would be in alcohol withdrawal and they had to treat her for that or she could have a seizure. So she’s been put on Librium without her knowledge. Consequently she’s a bit high and in a brilliant mood, which is no bad thing really because I’m sure without it she would be monumentally depressed at being stuck in hospital. The best part of it for me, and I know this sounds horrendously selfish, is that I now have my Mum back. She is not drunk. She is not slurring. She can remember what I’ve told her. We are having proper conversations and a laugh, like we used to before she became a raging drunk. And it’s nice.
She’s now been in hospital for ten days. The first week my Dad and I went to both visiting times, afternoon and evening, which meant I was driving 120 miles every day. It nearly killed me. I also had Bertie to see to and had to get friends and neighbours to have him, dropping him off, picking him up, remembering to take food, bowls, leads, poop bags etc. Not only that, but it was my first week back at Camera Club and on the Tuesday night I was teaching a 2 hour beginner’s class, and on the Wednesday night I was giving a 20 minute talk on gaining my CPAGB photographic distinction, so I had to turn up as there was no-one else to do my stuff. By Thursday I felt like I’d been run over by a train.
But it gets worse. Coming home from the hospital one night a warning light appeared on the dash of my car and it started to loose power when I accelerated. This despite the car only being 2½ years old and having had its MOT only 10 days before! I couldn’t get it in the garage for 2 days, so I had to borrow my Dad’s car which isn’t automatic and made my legs hurts like a son-of-a-bitch. I did get my car fixed and it cost me £200 I don’t have. FFS.
It was also my birthday week and I had planned an afternoon tea party in my little garden for 30 people on the Sunday. As Mum was in no danger I carried on with the party as the invites had already gone out and the food ordered and paid for, but of course the weather turned and was due to chuck down so I had to find somewhere else to have it which turned out to be my friend’s barn in a village 3 miles away. Which was great, but meant I had to carry everything over there on my own and keep going backwards and forwards all week.
Trying to organize that on top of everything else nearly saw me off. By Saturday I literally couldn’t feel my legs, was so nauseous I could only eat toast and my brain felt like someone had battered it with a hammer. I haven’t had a birthday party since I was 6 years old. I spent my 21st with my abusive ex-husband. My 30th stuck in bed with severe M.E. and not even able to speak. On my 40th I had improved enough to go out to dinner with a couple of friends but I’ve never had a party, and now it was kind’ve ruined and not the calm, chilled, fun event I’d planned. It seems that whenever I do anything that’s just for me it turns out to be so stressful I wish I’d never bothered.
Of course, in the meantime life doesn’t stop. I still had to cook meals, shop for myself and my Dad, do laundry (and the extra laundry created by someone who is in hospital), take the dog out and do all the other things we have to every day to survive. As if all that weren’t enough I also got my period. I think Someone Up There hates me.
My best mate took pity on me and took me out for a gorgeous, relaxing lunch at one of my favourite places by the Lake on Saturday afternoon. I admit I didn’t see my Mum that day – I was too ill and exhausted and just needed some me time. My Dad and niece went in the evening though, so at least she had some visitors.
In the end the party yesterday went off fine, but I was literally on the go from 8am until 9pm. Afterwards I got tidied up then went through to the city to visit Mum at night, taking a little tray of party food and my family presents and cards with me to open with her so that she felt part of my birthday. My Dad had had to choose my presents, which isn’t his forte, but bless him he played a blinder and bought me the most gorgeous silver bracelet which he had engraved with my dog’s name and a little paw print – I love it 🙂
I feel so ill, exhausted and in pain this morning though I don’t know what to do with myself and I still have to go back to the barn to wash up and put all the tables away. I had planned my annual post-birthday 2 week stay-cation as I knew throwing a party would be knackering, but of course Mum is still in hospital so that’s not going to happen. I feel a bit hard done by which I know is selfish, but I look after everyone else all year and just wanted a couple of weeks where I could focus on me for a change. I desperately need to chill and recharge my very flat batteries.
So, I think that’s me up to date. I can’t quite believe I’m 50. I still feel about 35 in my head (although my body disagrees) and I’m not sure how I ended up being half a century old!!