It’s a good job I care

I shop for my parents’ groceries with Tesco online and have them delivered to their house. Last month, my Mum asked me to get her some kitchen foil “but I want the long one” she told me. So I make sure I buy her the 15 metre roll, not the 5m or the 10m.

Last week, she again asked for kitchen foil “but make sure it’s the long one. I asked for it last time, but I only got the normal one”.
Weird I think to myself because I know I put the long one in her basket. Maybe it was unavailable and they substituted it with the regular one? So I make sure that, this time, I get her the longest one in the entire shop. 30 metres. That’s almost the length of my house – surely to God she won’t need more than that?!

Today, I had to go to Sainsburys for some Gaviscon (for me) and Calpol (for the dog) as they haven’t had any at my local Tesco for a month. “Oh” Mum pipes up “if you’re going to Sainsburys please will you get me some kitchen foil? I only got the normal size again from Tesco last week and I need the extra long.” She looks at me accusingly.
I know for a fact this isn’t true, so I say “Are you sure Mum, because I know I got you the longest one available?”
“Yes I’m sure!” she snaps “It’s definitely not the extra long one. It won’t cover my roasting dish and the one I used to get from Sainsburys covered it no bother”.
And then it dawns on me. She doesn’t want the extra long one, she wants the extra wide one. FFS.

During the same visit, we have a discussion about Covid-19 and the rise in cases in the north of England.
“Aye” my Dad says sagely, “this bloody corra-virus has a lot to answer for”. It makes me chuckle every time 😁.

My Mum got a vouchure for a manicure and pedicure for her birthday in June, so she went to the beauty Salon this week to have her nails done. Quite why someone who has severe heart, lung and kidney disease and is at the highest risk of death from Covid would want to be in a confined space and close proximity to a stranger to have nails that never see the light of day painted defies logic, but I’ve long since stopped trying to reason with her. So I asked how it had gone.
“It was lovely” she tells me. “I asked the girl what she did while the Salon was shut and she told me she had to get another job. But it was miles away in…………..oh bugger, I can’t remember where she said now. “Where was that spot we got that chest of drawers from that time?” she asks my Dad.
“Cockermouth” he replies.
“Noooo” she says, rolling her eyes.
“Well that’s where we got the chest of drawers” he tells her.
“No it’s not!”
“Well we haven’t got drawers from anywhere else!”
“Yes we did! That spot down the long twisty road. Miles away.”
“Whitehaven? Workington?”
“Nooooo!” she shouts, getting frustrated.
“Actually Mum” I interject “I don’t give toss where she was working” because to be fair knowing that isn’t exactly going to change my life.
She huffs at me and sulks.

Eventually we get on to talking about restless legs. My biological Dad had what would now be termed Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and my Mum has always had Restless Leg Syndrome, so it was fairly inevitable that I would inherit RLS. My legs have ‘jumped’ since I was a small child but as I’ve aged it’s gotten much worse and there are now some days they drive me to insanity.
“What you need is some of my Ga-pen-t-i-an” she tells me, “it’s a wonder drug. One tablet and my legs haven’t jumped since”.
“Yes, but you weren’t prescribed Gabapentin for restless legs though Mum” I remind her gently, “you’re on it for the nerve pain following your Guillain Barre and shingles”.
“I don’t get nerve pain” she looks at me like I’m stupid.
“That’s because you’re on Gabapentin”.
“No it’s not!”
“Well, why are you on Gabapentin then?” I ask her as patiently as I can.
“For my restless legs!” she’s getting irritated with me now, so I just nod OK and we leave it at that. The thought of trying to explain that Gabapentin is a highly addictive anti-seizure medication with potentially psychotic side-effects, which has largely been withdrawn from use and would never in a million years be prescribed for restless bloody legs is way more than I can handle.

“Barrow!” Mum shouts out 2 hours later, as I’m tucking into the egg buttie I’ve taken for lunch. “That’s where that girl at the Salon was working during bolt-down” she looks at me triumphantly and I smile sweetly back, while inwardly congratulating myself for not completely losing my shit.

No-one said this caring malarkey was going to be easy, and they weren’t sodding wrong 😉.

4 thoughts on “It’s a good job I care

  1. Elaine Stammers

    Oh dear me yes indeed. It’s extremely hard work and although it sounds humorous when it’s written down, it must be an exhausting and frustrating conversation at the time. I take my hat off to you for all you do for your parents when you have so much to cope with yourself. I recall those long car journeys when you were taking your dad to medical appointments miles away.

    My own mum died in December at the age of 97. My brother used to do the face to face visits once or twice a week, while I could only do phone calls as I was the other end of the country, apart from a once a year visit. My mum seemed quite bright for her age in some respects, but she developed a fixation over 2 things in particular which had to be related to dementia. One was that she believed that the thermostat wheel (it was non digital) moved around of its own accord, and the other thing was that she believed the TV was on almost permanent repeats and that it was a fault in her TV. Unfortunately she would then ring up the Council frequently, or the TV repair man, to report a fault.

    I got reports from my mother that my brother shouted at her on the phone, on multiple occasions and which so distressed her only months before her death that she rang down to the Dr for support. I could never be certain if she exaggerated this but I suspect not. I think the strain of caring for someone whose mind is going, was too much for him.

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    1. Jak Post author

      I can totally relate Elaine. With one parents who’s an alcoholic and one parent with mild dementia, and trying to live every day with my own health problems, I admit there are times I lose my cool. As I’ve documented on my blog, I’ve completely lost it with my parents on 2 occasions in the last 5 years – I think it’s a fairly normal reaction to that level of persistent, unrelenting pressure.

      As I said to my friend the other day, my parents chose to be parents – I didn’t choose to be a Carer.

      I recognized my anger and frustration wasn’t healthy for anyone though and did go to counselling, which I personally found useful. I’m in a different head space with the whole caring role now for which I’m thankful. xoxo

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