Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Christmas Joy

Well, I'm very pleased to say MyMan has timed a recovery very well this year. His new evening pill is really making a difference. Rather than not socialising at all we attended a drinks party yesterday evening for 2 hours. He enjoyed himself talking to people he hasn't seen for over 4 years.

In half an hour we have friends popping in to share a light lunch of turkey sandwiches and Christmas cake. This day is turning out much better than I would have guessed a few days ago. I am just posting this while I sit in front of my light box (I am so short of sleep I need a boost) and I can hear MyMan laughing aloud at the Radio 4's I haven't A Clue Team's pantomime 'Humph in Wonderland'.

Best wishes to you all

Friday, 21 December 2007

Preparing for Seasonal Joy

My Man has never been one to get over excited about the Christmas season. Apart from the welcome 2 week break from work Christmas has never meant much to him.

I'm the opposite. I have a childish excitement and love the whole idea of Christmas from decorating the house to entertaining visitors with food and organising games. To MyMan over recent years it is just a 'reminder that another year has passed'. I feel he is a degree better than this time last year. And he agrees, but he still craves peace and quiet above all else. I don't have the energy to withstand his 'what's the point of it all' talk so we have no decorations. No plans to entertain visitors. I will attend the carol service at the Parish church on Sunday. And a drinks party I am going to with friends on Christmas eve. Other than that it will be a time for quiet, reading and relaxation. Perhaps next year we'll decide to have some Christmas fun as of olden days. I hope so.

Meanwhile there is a Christmas card for all readers who would like to go and collect from here.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

All's Well that Ends Well ....

It was really good to get away for a few days. Ignoring the fact the weather was foul. I drank wine and giggled with my sister. Had a lazy few days. I looked at a few houses. Just on a drive by basis. None of them looked interesting on paper. They looked even more uninspiring from the outside. We feel hemmed in here, in our rural village, in east Devon. I'm sure we would dislike even more a busy town environment in Surrey. I did tour quite a few locations. It would be lovely to live near family. But can I give up huge country skies, fresh air and green spaces so easily? If I can be sure of visiting family on a regular basis, twice a year or more, then I would love to stay down here in Devon.

My Man just wants peace, quiet and privacy. He no longer cares much where he lives. He rarely goes out far from home. He dislikes our house as he feels it has too many sad associations following the accident. We hadn't lived here long enough prior to the accident to lay downmany happy memories. But he can't imagine the upheaval of moving. He can't be bothered with the thought of finding an alternative.

MyMan managed without me for the week while I was away. He found it stressful before I left. His anxiety levels rose as he worried about my driving 170 miles through wind and rain. His anxiety didn't lessen during the week as he then had to worry about my trip home. He ate the yogurts and the fruit. Otherwise I think he existed only on bread, cheese and soups.

He saw the psychiatrist while I was away. He has been put once again on Mirtazipine as he has not been sleeping. He has been trying to manage without it as it makes him ravenously hungry and he is fighting to lose the 3 extra stone he's gained over the last 5 years. He finally succumbed, took a pill last night and slept as if he'd been poleaxed.

As for myself, the break away did me an enormous amount of good. Although it is hard to work through the tense days prior to leaving home I know I do need to take a break in order to re-charge my batteries. I'm beginning to make adjustments that help me cope. I feel less pulled down when MyMan has a really low patch. I know now there is nothing I can do that helps to pull him out of the pit of black despair. All I can do is to be there when he starts to re-surface. I am beginning to be more selfish and think of my own needs. The short break has left me feeling so appreciative of being once more at home. I also think that MyMan has taken less time to recover from my being absent. Another good sign. Overall a good result all round. I think.

The sad thing is that my needs are now so different from MyMan's. Although we are still travelling through life together, we are now no longer side by side. But are journeying forward in different ways. He's the hibernating tortoise and I am the hare.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Another Break Away

I'm off to the south east to visit family. The fridge is full of yoghurts, easy meals and healthy fruit. MyMan only has to graze and to remember to take his pills properly while I am not around. He craves peace and quiet. It will be interesting to find out if that is really what he wants. We'll know in a weeks time.

Meanwhile I will be looking around the Surrey area and wondering if, after 36 years, it would be good for us to move back closer to family. No more post here until after December 10th.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Loss Adjusters

We have both been down. And irritable with each other. We are trying to adjust to loss. Loss of hope. For us loss adjustment means making decisions on several outstanding issues. Issues such as the old 1995 Rover that sits in the garage 6 days out of 7. Only taken out once a week it often needs the battery charger on before it will fire into life. It takes all the garden rubbish to the dump. Several skip bags at a time. My old car. Old reliable. But I now find heavy to steer.

We only really need one car. It was very hard for MyMan to cope when he let go of his large car 3 years ago. A sign of recognition that he was no longer an executive in need of a car for travelling around the nation. Trouble shooting as he went here and there. I used to have to drive it on a round trip of 30 miles once a week just to keep it going. It was completely impractical for non motorway lifestyle.

Now it is my turn. My cars. My loss of independent independence. My Jazz although wonderful and fun to drive just can't cope with the amount of garden waste that is taken to the dump each week. A large lush garden with many evergreen trees and shrubs growing continuously throughout the year. Too much to shred. Too much to rot down in one of the 4 compost bins. It would mean several trips a week just to the dump. So the Rover and the Jazz are to go to be replaced by a different vehicle. I find the Jazz such fun to drive and dislike the thought of losing it. But if we go down to only one car we need a larger, sturdier vehicle. Something MyMan will feel safer in. More secure should another thoughtless, careless driver slam into us coming round a sharp bend while talking on their mobile phone.

MyMan was told last week that 'this is it'. We had our suspicions it was so. But now we know. It will not get any better. So were are grieving for our lost dreams. The dreams we had when we moved south from Gloucestershire. Of rambling walks throughout the east Devon countryside. Trips from north to south Devon. Short breaks away in Cornwall and Dorset. None of these will be realised. MyMan is practically housebound. His driving is very limited. Therefore we also return to the idea that we need to consider a move away from our semi- rural life. A move to town or city. But where that will be is another question.

Meanwhile I'll be going off to take some test drives: Honda CRV, Toyota Rav4, Nissan X-Trail QuashQui , and Vauxhall Zafira.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

I Could Wring His Neck ....

He feels more 'human' this weekend. He went for chiropractic treatment on Wednesday. She had to wring his neck for him; three times. At a cost of £40. I said in future I would wring his neck for free. I'll let you know if he takes me up on my offer.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

All Drained Out

I feel all drained out. MenopausalOldBag left a comment to the effect that she is "in awe of your patience and compassion". I must admit that both feel a bit low "at the moment". MyMan said a couple of hurtful remarks over the weekend. I just accepted them in the manner which they were thrown. When he's hurting he feels as if everyone and everything is against him. I'm a kind of safe outlet for some of his anger and frustration.

But Monday morning he also had another go. I felt he wasn't being 'fair'. I had neither the patience nor the fortitude to take it. Compassion didn't even raise it's head. I told him that if he didn't like what I do then he can get on and take over the task himself. Shopping is not one of my favourite chores. It does rank a little above hoovering but not much. By the time you've - trailed around the superstore chosen the items, filled the trolley, emptied the trolley, repacked it all, paid for it, driven it all home, carried it indoors and then stored it all away - I am heartily sick of dealing with it. Then every few days I have to go out to collect the 'fresh' stuff from the butcher, the baker, the greengrocer and the dairy. I would much rather sit and read a book. Well, to be honest, I don't mind the fresh food shopping as that is usually done in small shops where you get to meet and socialise with other people.

Supermarket shopping is not such fun. I only go to superstores once a month. There is always something I need that is not in stock. I find the trolley hard to manoeuvre when I'm stiff and aching. A moment of careless tiredness and I'd inadvertently picked up a pack of prunes with the stones in. He nearly lost a tooth. He suggested that I take 'more care' in future.

After a few choice words when I told him he is welcome to shop in future I left to meet a friend for coffee in town. I left home half an hour early as I had promised myself a good walk along the seafront at Sidmouth. But by the time I had parked it was raining heavily. It seemed the last straw - so I sat for 20 minutes alone in the car and wept.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Lowering Standards

My sister in law paid a flying visit to us for the weekend. She was worried about her brother and as she'd not seen him since last Christmas. She booked herself into a B & B in Sidmouth. She arrived Saturday afternoon and left Sunday afternoon.

We had the builders here from Wednesday to Friday and we were even more dusty and grubby than when I last had a visitor to the house. Other than preparing a shepherds pie for Saturday supper I did very little to make the house look clean and welcoming. In fact a couple of hours before she was due to arrive I sat down to have a liesurely cup of coffee and saw a thick pile of dust and 3 dead flies on the window ledge. I wondered about getting the duster out, thought better of it and just moved a photograph frame to hide the fly cemetery. How much lower will my standards fall? I'm definitely on the slippery slope.

Friday, 16 November 2007

The Community Psychiatric Nurse

The male Community Psychiatric Nurse - has been of some help. After MyMan finally decided that maybe this was a resource that we should use he duly made an appointment. I had to make myself available to help him travel to the local area community mental health team.

The CPN cannot understand why he does not receive the full rate of Disability Living Allowance benefit. MyMan knows he gets DLA but couldn't remember the details [full Mobility level but low for personal care]. He was told to call at the local Jobcentre Plus to acquire a DLA application form. To fill in as much as possible and take it with him when he went to see the CPN a week later. As he is unable to concentrate we have done the form together. I've written in all the details.

It has depressed him [well, ok, the two of us] even further to fill in the form. To admit on paper just what you are unable to do for yourself is profoundly depressing. This is just on the physical aspects. We haven't yet touched on the mental health side. Over the last 5 years or more we have skimmed over the worst of his problems on the grounds that we hoped it was short term problem. But how long is short term before it turns into long term - or permanent? He is unable to bring himself to admit that if I wasn't around he would not manage without a great deal of input from someone. He needs help for so many tasks. When I have taken myself for a short break away he barely manages to wash and feed himself. The effort to keep going without me exhausts him. We then take months for him to recover and return to his version of an 'even keel'. This time we are taking more time and paying attention to the detail when completing this form.

The top rate for DLA is not much. But it will help reduce the need to pay out of our hard earned 'retirement savings' for treatments which are not covered by the NHS. He has deep tissue massage every 3 weeks but ideally weekly would be more beneficial and regular treatment from a chiropractor. The over 60's free bus pass is of no use as he needs to go by car - door to door. If I'm unavailable and he doesn't feel well enough to drive himself then it needs to be a taxi.

We are collecting together all the 'evidence' from numerous medical assessments and the form should be in the post by the end of this week. It is an exercise that has taken us several hours over 2 weeks to complete. I wonder whether the civil servant who will read it really understands just how demoralising and depressing this whole exercise has been for 2 previously independent hard working people to request this assistance.

A Week Is A Long Time in ...

They say a week is a long time in politics. Well a week is a long time here at home in east Devon too. In fact I was surprised to find that I'd last posted on this blog 2 weeks ago. so much has happened. Not much of it is good.

It's not been an easy two weeks. Following the visit to the dentist MyMan was told that he needs several teeth out. They are rotten and likely to lead to an abscess in due course. They will affect his 'well being'. I didn't ask him if the dentist managed to say this expression with a straight face. The last thing we want is his 'well being' being affected to adverse effect. Perish the thought. MyMan is suspicious. He can't believe that these teeth which were deemed all right 8 months ago by a NHS dentist are now deemed rotten under a private dentist. I am trying to encourage him that if they should come out they need to come out. I'm under the impression that if there is any life left in them they are worth a gold mine to a private dentist. He could try and work on them for months to preserve them with capping, drilling and filling and a bit of this and that. But once removed they are worthless. Therefore I believe the dentist. They'll have to come out.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Small Changes

My Man usually tries to force himself out once a day for a short walk. Sometimes he feels too weak and tired to be bothered with exercise. To make his walk purposeful he'll walk to the village to buy a daily newspaper - about half a mile with an uphill walk home. He usually refuses to drive into Sidmouth with me where there is a lovely long promenade along which you can walk. There and back for a 11/2 mile level walk. But today he has had to go into town for a dental check up. As it is a beautiful, mild sunny day he is thinking of taking a walk along the seafront before he returns home. I am envious. It is such a lovely day it feels more like spring than autumn. But I am confined indoors. We have a team of hedge trimmers and tree surgeons here today. So I had to remain at home. With 4 burly men wielding petrol driven trimmers and chain saws astride ladders I need to keep out of the way. But on the hour and every hour I produce gallons of strong sweet tea and biscuits. With luck they will have finished by early afternoon and I'll get out for a walk myself.

MyMan is still a very up and down. Sunday he was so down he decided he would contact the CPN after all. He felt so low he wept. I almost weep with him. There is very little I can do to ease his pain or his low moods. Yesterday was better. We went out for a couple of hours to Topsham. Not that far at all really for a man who used to drive 100s of miles a week to various locations for work. But it is over 3 years since he was last in Topsham. He enjoyed seeing the river and the lovely buildings. He suffered pain in the neck and head long before we reached home. But the change of scene did raise his spirits. He's continued with the decision he made on sunday and has asked the CPN to call to give some advice and/or support.

Now he is at the dentist with strict instructions from me to make sure that his head and neck are properly supported during the examination. I still feel some anxiety when he is out alone. I have to remind myself he is not as bad as he was in 2005/6 when sometimes he could barely remember where he was or where he was going. In the days when I thought he was showing signs of early dementia. It may be slow progress but it is progress.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Its A Matter of Pride

The trouble is I was feeling 'hassled' because I didn't have a spare few hours to spring clean the house in readiness for a Kay's visit. Normally when we have visitors I whizz through like a dervish with the feather duster, the polish, vacuum cleaner, oven cleaner and leather for the windows. By the time I've finished the books are in regimented order on shelves, magazines are no longer a slithering pile on coffee tables. All paperwork and mail is filed, or hidden, away. The house gleams, sparkles and smells like an aromatherapist's waiting room. I like to pretend we always live in this clean and tidy palace which somehow manages to be homely and warmly welcoming. A cake baking in the oven is the final touch.

At the moment I think all I can say is it is 'homely and welcoming'. Gleaming it is not. Clean enough is the only expression I can use. I've the ingredients for a cake but think they'll not be put together until after our visitor has gone back to Norwich. I do have flowers. Several bunches have been thrust into various vases and pots. I had the choice - sweep up fallen leaves, pot up winter flowering cyclamen or housework. Today was lovely and sunny so the garden won.

I'm working on the theory that all of us whoosh around cleaning before a visitor. Maybe if I just concentrate on hygienically clean enough; ignore the cobwebs - call them conservation corners - then maybe I'll be starting a new relaxed trend. After all - do we go to see our friends to judge how clean their oven is or to chat with them, relax and laugh with a glass of wine. If I died tomorrow would they all come to my funeral and talk about what a great, intelligent, lively friend and wit I was; or would they all stand around saying 'and did you see the state of her oven?'.

I'm trying to get my priorities right. I'd rather blog than do housework so that's what I'm doing.

At least now I've no cats to walk behind the settee and emerge trailing dusty, fluffy cobwebs from their whiskery faces. So no embarrassment there then. I think I'm becoming less houseproud. I remind myself of the saying that "Dull Women Have Immaculate Houses".

Monday, 8 October 2007

Irritability Can Be Contagious

I'm full of frustration and am irritable. All manner of minor domestic problems are rearing their heads. All of them are coming up together.

I have a friend visiting at the weekend. She's flying down for a flying visit from east Anglia. For the first time I've had to book her in for 2 nights B&B at a local guest house. We no longer have a guest bedroom. The guest bedroom has become my bedroom. My Man is sleepless most of the night. I go to bed, sleep the sleep of the dead for 2-3 hours then wake at 3.00 am. A couple of more hours of restless sleep then up at 5.30. This kind of sleeping pattern is not conducive to sharing a bedroom never mind a bed. We are like the little man and woman in an old
fashioned weather station. If He is in[bed] then I'm out and vice versa. We've turned into a 24 hour household.

I used to be an 8 hours deep sleeper kind of woman. But over the last 4 years that seems to have changed. I don't know if it is due to circumstances or older age. I am very tired so my irritability levels are sky high. I am not nice to know. The fact that I'm irritable is irritating me. I have lost all patience with My Man who is wondering why I'm telling him to ignore his aches, his pains, his blurred vision and his sleepless nights. I now try to avoid asking him how he is. If I ask I only want a brief answer; not a blow by blow account from head to toe of every ache and non functioning body part. I tell him that I don't know the answers to his questions. Whether what he experiencing is down to side effects of the medication. He thinks he has 90% of the listed possible side effects. Of every pill he takes. I suggest he ring the male CPN [Community Psychiatric Nurse] and talk it over with him. He was given his office number and his mobile number to help during this transitional period. He'll 'think about it' - he 'may ring next week'. He was given the numbers to use if he needs support. But My Man says he's "OK - not anxious - not worried enough to bother him". I say "fine, then don't bother me either". I don't know about him but I may ring the CPN myself - I could do with some support at the moment.

Meanwhile I have a friend due at Exeter airport on Friday, a car that is reluctant to pull away in first gear without shuddering, a fridge that I have to kick the door to get it to close properly and a leaking shower that started to leak last October. MyMan refused to call a workman in to repair it as it is such a 'little job', he could do it. But 12 months later I feel enough is enough. I'm now waiting for a plumber to come and re-seal the whole shower tray. I want to be able to shower and clean the shower stall out without worrying about where the leaking water is going to ....

Monday, 1 October 2007

Another Carer's Blog Found

I found this blog recently. As far as I can see no-one has left any comments before - so this lady appears to have a low profile. You may like to visit to read. She started the blog in October 2006 and latest posting was on September 16th. I've added her to the blog links column. The following link will take you to the first entries: http://dementeddaughter.blogspot.com/2006_10_01_archive.html

Friday, 28 September 2007

Now We Can Relax ..

Yesterday I said that 'tomorrow he can be paley interesting and loiter abed'. Talk about the best laid plans of mice and men .....

Our friends arrived - the phone went and suddenly the aerial man informs us that he has booked us in to come and change the TV aerial at 10.30 a.m. Our friends also decided to call in for coffee at the same time before continuing their journey into the depths of Cornwall. All day long we seemed to have various people calling in on various diverse errands - it's been all go. No peace, no quiet.

Yesterday evening went well. A glass of wine perked me up no end. It relaxed me too - I slept well once I got to bed. My Man coped very well - he enjoyed the visit. But this morning he was suffering more pain due to 'sitting around' chatting. It can't be too bad though as he is currently 'sitting around' again but this time watching the rugby. I know that 18 months ago he would not have coped at all well with having a visitor. He had no resources and wouldn't have had the strength to to raise his game - even for a couple of hours. Therefore - he is still making progress. Also as his energy levels slowly improve so the little walks he is taking are become more regular. Which means that his muscle tone is slowly improving. Small but noticeable steps forward.

We have nothing booked for Saturday. I am ignoring all phone calls. We are going to pretend to be 'not at home' and we are going to have a very lazy day. We are both going to loiter around and linger in bed late if we wish. I wouldn't be at all surprised if I don't sleep like a log tonight, wake refreshed and get up with the thought of doing a 101 things....

Thursday, 27 September 2007

On the Way Up?

Well the increase in the Escapism pills are now well into MyMan's bloodstream. The side effects beginning to wear off. Now the Mirtazepine has been dropped MyMan's having difficulty sleeeping once again. I'm hoping that he'll slowly adjust. When he does sleep he sleeps more 'gently'. No deep earth shattering, rumbling, vibrating snoring. Surely that has to be better for him. I'm having some difficulty in adjusting too. When he is asleep; gently asleep, with no deep rumbling snorting breaths I think he's stopped breathing altogether. The only sound that disturbed the peace of the night last night was the trap catching yet another mouse. I almost picked all the traps up when I vacuumed last week. Glad I was too lazy to do so.

I didn't sleep at all after 4 a.m. It's full moon again. It shone in through the curtains as bright as day. I must get some black out linings. After tossing and turning for an hour I gave in and got up to blog and read. I wished MyMan was awake then. I could have vacuumed. I had the energy then.

We have visitors this evening. Some long standing friends are travelling from Essex to Cornwall. They intend to stop off in east Devon overnight. We are supplying supper in my vacuumed free zone. I did shift some dust from here to there but that's all.

We haven't seen them for nearly 3 years. I'm sure I'll have plenty of chat when I get going. But I'm so tired I may find it difficult to get going. They are more MM's friends. Ed was in fact MM's best man when we wed. MyMan was looking forward to seeing him again. But then he arranged a treatment for this morning. Now he is suffering and wants to do nothing more than lie abed popping painkillers. I told him that this time as they are his friends he'll have to be sociable. He should have been more thoughtful when arranging appointments. I'm into tough love at the moment. Tomorrow he can lie around and be 'palely interesting' but not tonight. Tonight, once I've provided the supper, it's my turn. I hope their B&B has a 'closed doors by 12' policy - I know I wont be any use to anyone beyond midnight.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Carers Count

There is to be a National Carers Summit and the AGM of Carers UK held in London, at Canary Wharf on 8th November - details can be found here. This is to be an important meeting as the idea is to draw up a list of 'wants' to be included in the Govt plans - National Carers Strategy.

Now there is also the question of whether carers should be counted in the next census which is due in 2011. The census of 2001 was the first time that a question had been included to find out how many people were acting as a carer - for family member, friend or neighbour. There is some doubt as to whether this question should be included in the next census. Although the information has proved invaluable for the planning of health services, social care and respite care etc. - there is chance that the question will be dropped in 2011. All questions for the next census have to be approved by Parliament.

Carers do not get much recognition of the role they perform. It is important our Government know just how many people are helping out by providing unpaid care in the community. Often in an informal, unrecognised way.

Everyone is asked to write and request that the questions on caring for others is retained in the next Census to:

The Census Director
Office of National Statistics
Segensworth Road,

Copying your letter to:

Karen Dunnell
National Statistician and Registrar General
Office for National Statistics
1 Drummond Gate
London SW1V 2QQ


Ivan Lewis MP
Minister for Carers
Department of Health
Richmond House
79 Whitehall
London SW1A 2NS.

The letter to the Minister is critical as the Department of Health can fund the carer question. You could also send a copy of your letter to your own MP. If you are not sure who your MP is you can find out by inserting your postcode on this website. Just click on the link which follows: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/

More information on this can be found on :




Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Lacks Concentration

I'm once again having to check up on what MyMan is doing. He is not thinking straight. His mind is elsewhere. He checked over the car for me the other day. Windscreen wash, tyre pressures etc. Luckily I only did a short round trip to the local supermarket. When I got back home I found the radiator cap had not been replaced. It was still perched on the top of the engine where he placed it while checking the coolant levels. No harm done. But I need to keep and eye on what he is doing again. He's like a dreamy teenager.

It just goes to show how carefully I drive though. AS demonstrated by the fact hat the cap remained perched in its resting place while I was driving around these twisty, narrow Devon lanes!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Turn Around Again

It's strange just how quickly things can change again. MyMan only started on the slight increase of the Esapism pills yesterday. The side effects have returned again. He has a stomach upset and feels anxious and vulnerable again. I keep reminding him he felt like this when he started the pills and the doctor told him it would return. I keep reminding him of how much better he has been. And that feeling of improvement would return once again after another week or two.

Friday, 14 September 2007


Henry was kind enough to leave his professional opinion the other day [?week] on my entry Black Dog Days in the comments section. He thought MyMan should have been on a regime of Venlafaxine and Mirtazapine.
Well that's what has been tried over the last xx months. MM was started on the Venlafaxine nearly 2 years ago. He always 'felt' it wasn't working. But if it was reduced he would become worse - so it was obviously doing something, but.... Then Mirtazipine was added earlier this year. He had a bad reaction to that so had to be reduced to lower dose. However, it did help somewhat with his insomnia. Now he is on something that he calls his 'Escapism' pills - an SSRI. He feels more alert brain wise and is showing some return to his normal humorous self. But it is slow and we both feel a bit disheartened when he suddenly has a Black Dog Days. But the psychiatrist could see a definite improvement before MM even had chance to speak. We were reassured that improvement isn't a steady upward process ... with no looking back. The 'escapism pills' are to be increased a wee bit and then to see what the reaction is to sleep patterns if the Mirtazapine is discontinued. If he comes off that with no return of the insomnia then the esapism pills can be increased a bit more. A period of juggling and re-adjustment to go through yet. MM has been advised to continue with the counselling sessions. If nothing else they do help back up some of my points about his being too stubborn or bloody minded [keeping pills to a bare minimum] or not being kind enough to himself [continuing to try and do everything as he used to when fitter and younger - a perfectionist]. He listens more to the counsellor than he does to me!
As it is when Black Dog revisits there are some signs that he doesn't stay around for quite so long. But attending medical appointments is guaranteed to bring one on within a few hours. The sooner we can get him sorted and reduce the number of times we have to talk to doctors about his mental and physical health, the healthier it will be for the both of us.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Fingers Crossed

My fingers are crossed. I am hopeful. My Man is feeling more alert and positive than he has for many a long month [years]. Maybe, just maybe, these anti-depressants are having a positive effect? He has been on them now for almost 6 weeks. His sleep patterns are improving. We'll know a little more when we see the psychiatrist. Then its back to the family doctor again for the X-Ray results on spine and to see what the next step is to be - orthopaedic specialist or a rheumatologist. He usually finds all medical appointments incredibly depressing. If he manages to accomplish the next few appointments without a down turn in his mood I may well begin to believe we have reached a turning point. As it is for a few days I've not felt as if I'm walking on egg shells. Like tooth ache you are not aware of how painful it has been until the pain ceases. The feeling of relief is huge. Meanwhile my fingers are crossed.

Saturday, 8 September 2007


I was being very lazy today. I decided we'd eat a ready meal from the freezer. From the main freezer which resides in the garage. The fridge was entirely empty. Some fresh fruit. But no main meal. That's what the stuff in the freezer is for. Days like today. When I wake late and feel lazy. An hour before tea I go down to the freezer to make a choice and collect some frozen vegetables. Maybe a small homemade cake too, for Sunday tea.

As soon as I opened the door and picked up the first packet my mind registered that it felt 'soft'. Then I realised it didn't feel cold either - not one bit. It's an old freezer so I assumed it had 'died' on me. Then I saw the push in button was not IN for ON. It was OUT for OFF. Nothing for it, it all had to be binned. The bin men may get a hernia just trying to lift the bin next week.

I reckon that MyMan when he was trying to help me last weekend inadvertently knocked the button. He'd been down in the garage sorting out little maintenance jobs on my car. Windscreen wash and such. He'd also tidied some things high on top of the freezer. But as he struggles to move the slightest thing I think he must have leaned heavily against it. He has been very forgetful and inattentive for the last 4 weeks. Often, in a world of his own, he doesn't notice if he leaves a trail of minor havoc after him. I've been tired and down so have not been keeping an eye on what he's up to.

After clearing, drying and cleaning out the freezer; getting it all fired up again there was still no meal. I had to drive over to Waitrose for some salad and a Pizza for tea. That will teach me not to be lazy. Not to lie in bed late rather than going out early to the shops. As it is I've now I'll have to get on and re-stock it.

On the negative side - I've just lost all the plums I froze down a couple of weeks ago. And my last batch baked fruit cakes and cherry cakes. On the positive side: I now have room to freeze down some of the apples which are falling off the trees left right and centre. I'll also have room for a good baking session again. That will be good, I find baking really therapeutic.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Gloves Off

for the next round! That's what it feels like sometimes. The Sunday Tea Party went reasonably well. I was an attentive hostess but I felt distracted. MyMan wanted to help share the hosting duties. We agreed he would pass the tea cups around. I remember exactly how different peole like their tea. From black and very, very strong to one that is weak as water with a very small dash of tea and milk. Except MyMan disappeared when I was making the tea. He seemed to not want to stay with our guests unless I was in the room. Then when it came to handing around the tea he forgot our arrangement. Never mind we muddled through. Friends said it was good to see him brighter and happier. So that's good then!

Monday we had a few disagreements and minor niggles. I returned to the subject of wishing to have a dog or to plan for a dog in our lives again at some point in the near future. If only he had held out the promise of 'maybe, at some time, but not yet' I would have agreed. But it was the definite 'no we can't cope' and 'you're not being realistic' that fired me up. He is definitely against the idea. He said we'd need to move to premises more suited for a dog. He doesn't like this house and wants to return to a more rural existence. So I go to the estate agents and come home with several house details. But he has no energy to even consider making a move at all in the near future. We also know that our next move should be more in line with a move towards town, in readiness for our older age, rather than further out into the country. But if I can't have a dog until we have moved to somewhere more suitable; then a house move may be on the cards sooner than MyMan thinks. Either that or we go for his and her homes: "My Wife Next Door".

As it is - while My Man was out at his counselling session I played Westlife's "Allow Me to be Frank" - very loudly. And I danced, pranced, foxtrotted and quick stepped around the whole place for half an hour pretending I was Ginger Rogers. Today I ache in every joint and am pleased that I've not to go around clearing dog/cat fur off the furniture or dragging my aching legs around the woods behind a gambolling dog.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Black Dog Days

We have a small tea party this afternoon. MyMan felt that as we had not entertained for a few months)that we should invite our close friends around. I thought I would keep it short and sweet. Afternoon tea seems suitably 'old fashioned and genteel'. Not too demanding on time if MyMan doesn't feel up to coping with being sociable for several hours. He seemed very quiet and withdrawn again this morning. I've been making savouries, sandwiches and cakes. I asked him at lunchtime 'are you OK?'. No, he's not. He told me he suddenly has the 'Black Dog Visiting' again. Everybody is looking forward to seeing him. I'm not sure how he'll cope. Maybe some gossip and news, old friends, easy conversation will lift his mood a fraction. Or he will act bright, breezy and the 'joker in the pack' but retreat straight back into his dark mood once they've gone: exhausted by his effort. It's at this point before people arrive that I wonder whether the effort is worth it for either of us.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

The Treadmills of My Mind

It's now 4.20 am. there is a bright full moon lighting the garden as bright as day. I am unable to sleep. I've been tossing and turning for a couple of hours. My mind also has tossed everything around. Thinking, considering and trying to work out what is the best course of action: regrets: worries: anxieties. All have been tossed and marinaded into one thick broth.

Following the appointment with the Thyroid specialist 10 days ago, MyMan has been worse. An increase in physical aches and pains. All as a result of attending a hospital appointment.

Also he is still recovering from the 2 week break I took in May. The extra tasks that he had to do to fully care for himself along with a couple of minor DIY jobs took their toll on muscles, ligaments and tendons. Physically he is worse now than he's ever been. It's very hard to not think there is some unidentified physical illness that has yet to be diagnosed. MyMan believes it is all as a result of the accident and the low thyroid. But I am now contemplating M.E and Fibromylgia. I am wondering whether to go and see the doctor and talk it over with him. Would PTSD give him such visible physical symptoms? I'm not sure. But as he's been so weak I haven't yet had the spare time to carry out any research. As it is My Man is now having to wear supports with occasional ice packs on both wrists. He yelps with pain from just trying to get himself a cup of coffee. He also winces when I give him a hug. His chest muscles hurt. The more restricted he is physically the more difficult it becomes to prevent a deeper descent into the depression.

3 Beautiful Things
  1. Coming face to face with a young chick Robin while weeding under a shrub
  2. A bowl of Cornish raspberries with thick yellow Devon cream
  3. A bright moon lit garden full of dark mysterious shadows.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

We went to see a thyroid specialist. Just to check that an increase in thyroxine would not help with the depression. The specialist - a Professor, thought not. He says the under-active thyroid is now sufficiently under control. He believes My Man is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He thinks that all the symptoms: muscle weakness, constant fatigue, the sudden draining of energy, the intolerance of heat, intolerance of cold, forgetfulness and lack of concentration are all due to PSTD. My Man was impressed with his manner and his authority. But disappointed that there is no magic answer which will help him recover and return more to his old self. I do wonder whether he may feel more content with the idea of PSTD rather than 'just depression'. But after the journey to and from the hospital and the hour there, he has been far too tired to discuss it yet. I'm hoping that he will feel some degree of re-assurance that he hasn't some dire thyroid illness [ such as cancer] that is incurable. Strange how one who often feels 'there is no point to life' and so there's 'no point in carrying on' is so keen to make sure there is no lurking killer, somewhere in his body. That's when I realise how irrational is his thinking.

I'm getting wiser. I'm learning how to cope. I am beginning to work out how to avoid the little niggles and petty disagreements that usually start when he becomes over stressed. We accomplished a journey today without argument. I made sure I had the Sat Nav on. It was set to show just my speed. MyMan was then able to see that I rarely went above 45 mph and was always well within the speed limit. If I go slower then impatient drivers end up overtaking on a road that has many accidents. It's strange that speed worries him as his accident was caused while he was stationary. But everything outside of home causes him stress and irritation. It may be a day or two before he's recovered enough to talk over what he was told today.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Difficult Days

Once again we are struggling to cope with change in medication. Slowly to reduce one antidepressant and then to start on the new. Withdrawal symptoms for two weeks. Increased anxiety and insomnia. Then another two weeks disruption while adjusting to the new medication. The main side effects of which appear to be stomach upset. We are told it should settle down within one or two weeks. While its been fine weather it's been easier to cope. The garden can be a great consolation. But it has been windy, chilly, wet and misty again. So the last two days have been mainly spent indoors. By the end of August we should know whether the new pills will be an improvement. My Man is not inclined to try any other medication change. He was inclined to drop all pills and 'cope' but the last three weeks have been so hard I think he's changing his mind about that.

We decided he should have a new nickname - 'Pilot Light' - as he never goes out. It was good to laugh with him again over the idiocy of life.

3Beautiful Things

  1. A surprise delivery of flowers - an unexpected gift from a sister
  2. A juicy sweet nectarine
  3. A long letter from a long standing friend - enjoyed over a leisurely pot of tea.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Focus on 3 BT

I read this blog post today by way of following various links from one blog to another. Serendipity I suppose. But it did make me think. Sometimes we get so weighed down by upsets, worries and 'to do lists' . Our time most days is short. Maybe because we are remembering and thinking for two people instead of just for ourselves. When time is short we feel hassled and overlook the pleasant parts in our day or week. It is easy to forget. We should stop to think about them; the good things. A way of taking stock - and counting our blessings. For carer's it may not be as it would for others who may count on a holiday trip, a meal out or a party. But smaller pleasures. They count too.

Today: 1 - the sunshine, blue sky and occasional single clouds drifting over head. 2 - coffee with friends in town. 3. A huge bag of Victoria plums left on the doorstep by a good neighbour - that are now cooked and frozen down for a taste of summer in winter.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Improving Mental Health

Once again I've started to enjoy all the little things that I used to enjoy. Some of them I had set aside as being too much bother, too noisy, too time consuming or too full of self pity. But I think now that I'm letting myself emerge again I'm beginning to feel a little more content. I read. I listen to music. I sit quietly and think, without feeling guilty that there are chores to be done. I've started a bit more gardening without feeling guilty that the whole garden needs weeding. At least I've done a small patch (ouch those muscles hurt!). I meet friends for coffee regularly and chat about nothing much and share some laughter. I'm glad to say they have stopped asking after MyMan every time for which I'm grateful. I still find it difficult to say 'he's no better' without trying to put a positive gloss on it. I'm still inclined to feel a little 'left out' when I'm not invited along to 'couples' events. So I'll search out a new group to join where I can be just 'me'. Where no one knows MyMan and wont be asking after the latest health bulletin. Something that will stretch me mentally. Maybe a photography club or a creative writing course. I've a few weeks yet to make a decision. I allow myself to feel and release anger. And grief. I've had so many bereavements over the last 5 years and not properly recovered. So many losses. I allow myself to cry, to weep and wail. Better than to keep it bottled up. To carry on coping. I am learning to cope again. And I am in the middle of inventing a new me.

Friday, 20 July 2007

All Change

The consultant psychiatrist today suggested that to increase the thyroxine dosage may give MyMan some more energy. He feels that the depression is made worse by the sheer fatigue factor. However, blood levels need to be checked first. Another factor is the difficulty that chronic muscular/bone pain does have such a debilitating effect on energy and mood. There is nothing that can be done to improve the pain. It is a question of managing it. This is as good as it gets. Chiropractic and deep tissue massage will only stop it from rapidly becoming worse. It wont make it better. He has to learn to live with it. We talked over just how much it has changed his personality and how difficult I'm finding it to adjust. "Like walking on egg shells". The consultant suggested I see our family doctor to talk over the effect it is having on me now. My need for counselling and support. Meanwhile MM will continue to have talk therapy. As a means of letting out the grief and anger over the loss of his working life and his active self. To use a professional as a verbal 'punch bag'. I miss my husband and he misses him too. So he does understand. All we can do do is to keep on trying. Meanwhile I think I've started to regain some of my equiibrium.

Re-Asserting Self

I made a small step towards re-asserting my independence. MyMan told me not to do that - "leave it"- three times. More firm and definite each time. I thought his voice sounded commanding. I nearly did leave it. But then realised that if I left it I would feel uncomfortable. Torn, I wavered but then did it anyway. The sky didn't fall in. A small step but an important one. It was a very small matter. I was just being neighbourly. And practical. A recycling bin left in middle of the shared access road after emptying, to be replaced on the neighbour's pathway. I was walking past it - why not move it? It was wet and windy. I would have been annoyed if later it ended up tumbling around our garden.

I wondered when had I let this irritable, commanding tone of voice become so all important to me. I think it began when I realised how low his self-esteem is nowadays. I tried to bolster it. I reduced how often I would disagree. But all I have done is to allow a minor degree of bullying into our household. So it is time to re-dress the balance. I've started. Small steps. MyMan can't believe that he 'commands' but I've explained that's how I think it sounds. I'm trying to return to the old me. To re-claim my life, to do more of what I like and how I like without feeling guilty.

I also told him that I had started to dream of a 'better' life. Alone in my own place. He was shocked and upset. But not entirely surprised. We've found it painful and emotional. It's been a tiring week. But changes are happening. Maybe I wont have to leave after all.

Thursday, 19 July 2007


I went to meet a counsellor on Monday. I am more used to the role of a listener. I found it hard to start. We had so many silences it was a question of which of us would lose our nerve first. But she was good; she asked questions and slowly got me talking. I felt on top form. I didn't feel the need to unburden sadness. "I'm not depressed". Well who could be in this glorious setting. The sun was shining; it was a hot summers day. The bees were buzzing and the birds flitting around the crops. The view from her counselling room was glorious. Relaxing and Calming. Rolling country fields; from here to there, from left to right, up hill and down dale.

I finished talking and threw a grin her way. "Do you hide behind your smiles?" she asked. I acknowledged the hit. Then later she asked "and who is Penny?" and "what does Penny do to cope?" and "where has Penny gone?" and suddenly I didn't feel quite so capable. As she said stocisim and being an optimist can also be a form of denial; not facing reality. As well as being a strength it can be a weakness. I also say "at the moment" a great deal. It's as if where MyMan and I are, "at the moment", is likely to change. It isn't and I have to adjust to that. She thinks I shouldn't hold back in an effort to protect him. She thinks I should be more truthful. But how do you say "I think I would be happier apart from you"? After 36 years together. Life is so difficult for him - "at the moment" - should I do that?

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Putting Affairs in Order

A few weeks ago I while was in the bank queueing for a cashier, I couldn't help but overhear a very elderly, distressed woman trying to get access to some money from her husband's account. If we ignore the picture of the poor lady trying to sort it out with a cashier in full view of us all rather than being taken to a private room then it was very unsettling for her. I do regret now that I didn't have the courage to intervene, ask if she'd like assistance or even tell the bank they should have been prepared to help her in a more private confidential way.
Her husband had been admitted to hospital. It sounded rather dire. I believe he was undergoing treatment that meant he had been in hospital for weeks and was likely to be an in-patient for even longer. He had sent her to the bank with a letter of authorisation for her to have access to money to pay outstanding bills. At the time I thought "if only they had a joint account - she wouldn't be having this problem". However, I've now found out that if one or other signatories of an account are mentally incapacitated then the account becomes frozen. So to be on the safe side I today downloaded 2 forms for each of us to complete for an Enduring Power of Attorney. The rules on Power of Attorney change on October 1st when the system becomes more complicated and obviously more expensive to complete. But if the earlier version of Enduring POA is signed and witnessed prior to October 1st the document will remain valid. Rules in Scotland are different.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Caring About Loved Ones

I was pondering the title for this blog last night. In some ways I wanted to imply that I was a careless carer and would care less in future. Difficult - especially where love is involved. Why is it that when you have troubles in life - life keeps on happening and dumps even more in your lap.It's almost as if life will test you to breaking point. I see that Rachel now has the worry of her mother's stroke . She will probably worry far more over her mother than she has over any of her recent problems. It will be a really testing time for her. I hope she takes time out to 'be kind to herself' - to relax - to meditate - whatever helps her through. She is a strong lady. She'll need that inner strength. Life really is a bitch sometimes: but the alternative is worse. In the same way that not to have a loved one to care for would be a rather sterile existence.

On A Count of TENS

We managed to get out together this morning. My Man purchased a pair of shoes from the sale rack. We both love a bargain. He needed some slippers but none were available in his size. That means he will have to go shopping again. Good - he needs to be out more often. Otherwise he'll end up with agoraphobia as well. He had manipulation a few days ago - so is able to move a little more easily today. He wore a TENS machine while he was out. It helps to mask the discomfort. We were out for just over an hour. It's a shame it was raining again. But it meant that we could call in for a coffee and watch the world go by. It went by under umbrellas of all shapes and sizes - just like the people carrying them.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Chocolate for the Soul

This may be the start of new beginning. MyMan has found a woman who is a 'good listener'. He has agreed to start a few weeks of talking therapy; psychotherapy. He likes her. He likes her approach. He can be cynical about 'therapists'. He has trained as a counsellor - in a 'directive' business style. He is aware of all the different theoretical approaches. When you have spent all your professional life helping others it can be very difficult to accept help instead. I'll go and see her too. Although I find it difficult to talk of problems. It may help with the difficulty we're now experiencing in communicating. I too could do with some time being totally honest. To let my hair down and the tears to flow. Whatever happens - it is a start. An acknowledgment that we need some help in finding our way through this. MyMan says that half the trouble is he just doesn't listen - it takes up energy. I know he's not listening so have stopped talking. I thought he seemed more energised after his first brief 'free' session. Talking has already helped him to some degree. At least now there is some acceptance. It is a beginning ...

Friday, 6 July 2007

The Blues

I've had a real fit of the blues. I wasn't sure whether to write this posting here or to make light of it and write up my feelings over on "And - who Cares ...." . I've been trying to keep that blog more light hearted. Fun. Friends and laughter. But - yet - this blog I've not really used when I feel really low. I have tried to be truthful about how My Man and I are battling to come to terms with life now as it really is. So tonight I've come on to say - I've had the blues all week.
My Man, as I've said previously, is adjusting to 'being less able' (it sounds less hard than 'disabled'). He was, a few days ago, quite keen on trying a couple of days away - for a change of scene. As he is unable to travel far I started to look for a hotel within 1/2 hour travel time. The most he is able to manage. Not Exeter - we've been there - for hospital appointments. So I started to explore Somerset and Dorset. I collected several brochures from Sidmouth Tourist Information Centre. I started to read and make possible plans. Dreaming of a much needed and welcome break away - together. Where we could go for a gentle stroll, read the papers, look out over rolling fields, a babbling river and gambolling lambs. We could then chat together over dinner, as we used to -enjoying the luxury of meals magically prepared by someone else - a Chef. I could feel the gloom start to lift at the thought. I pondered on Beaminster area - from where we could explore Bridport and see the new harbour at West Bay. Or at a hotel - an old converted farmhouse north west of Yeovil. From where we could visit the air museum at Yeovilton and see Concorde. Which I thought would give him pleasure.
But then My Man started to say he didn't want to go to Bridport as "we can do that on a day trip" . Regardless of the fact that he's not felt well enough to travel 'that far' for over 4 years. He's not keen on the converted farmhouse as it has conference facilities and is probably full of business men - not to mention the helicopters from Westland - the noisy flightpath etc etc. He wants a quiet relaxing break. At a hotel that's not full of old people. He doesn't want a hotel that allows children either. And no conference centres as businessmen (now that he's no longer a clan member) are noisy, rowdy and inconsiderate. I'm not sure that we do really want a quiet relaxing break. Surely we are quiet here at home. Any quieter and we wont be living. Any quieter and we'll have even less to talk about to each other.
I wonder whether his talk of wanting to get away for a short break is just that - talk. I've given up looking now. And of dreaming. He has the brochures - if he is interested he'll look and see if he can find his perfect holiday break away. But it may be that he feels safer at home. Once we used to be able to tell each other of our hopes, dreams and fears. But now I'm left trying to guess and read the meaning behind the words - a hidden language. I also am not quite as truthful as I used to be - the truth would be too hurtful. The nearest we come nowadays to honest talk is when we end up sniping irritably at each other. We don't argue; if I bite back he soon tells me I don't understand how he feels. That is an argument stopper. I am angry and frustrated. Just as he is. He thinks I am unaware of how he feels and I think he doesn't know how I feel. That's why I have a fit of the blues.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Blue Badge Holder

My Man still refuses to compromise. I can't disagree. I too would be fiercely independent. I am. When my back goes into a sudden acute spasm I'll continue to dress myself - so very slowly. Often using a back scratcher to hoist my knickers up. Along with other little tricks I've learnt over the years how to manage. But once I've rested the torn ligaments, the over tense muscles and recovered enough to stand upright once more - then I am back to normality. I don't know how stubbornly independent I would be if everyday was going to be the same relentless grind of coping with pain. He has a Blue Badge which means that on the rare times he does go out he could park in a disabled bay. But as he isn't " in a wheelchair" he doesn't feel justified in using it. It would mean less walking to the shop he needs to visit. It would save a great deal of his energy which rapidly dwindles when he has to walk anywhere. But no.
We have to go to town soon to buy some new shoes and clothes. I'll probably drop him off outside the shop then go and park and rush back to help him. One day I'll be brave. I'll drop him off then go and park in the disabled area - place the permit on view and just hope that he'll be far too relieved not to have a long walk to the car park when his shopping is completed.
Just to think that there are fit young folk who abuse the system by using other peoples badges. Just so they can park up for easy access to a football match. When I remember this I get annoyed that My Man could make his life [and mine] a bit easier by being more realistic and less independent.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Pains in the Neck

My masseuse told me I've tense shoulders and shortened neck muscles. I look down far too much. Too much housework, gardening and talking to friends I expect. I'm tall. I socialise with shorter friends. Then to relax I read, write letters and blog. I'm going to have to try and find some friends to look up to. And some hobbies that force to me to look up. It's taken me a week to recover from the effects of the massage. It's slowly wearing off and I hope to be back to 'normal' in a few days.

It has made me realise how tiring and draining pain is. Especially if you have it every day and all day. It's made me realise how hard it is for My Man to cope day in day out. The doctor and the chiropractor have told him 'this is as good as it gets'. It's not very good at all so he is understandably even more depressed. He moves like a man in his late 70s - which may make it all OK ; in 15 years time.

Meanwhile, we both have to come to terms with the loss of our dream of how our retirement years would be. In travelling, exploring, house sitting and pet sitting. I regret now the number of years we were hard working, prudent with money, frugal and saving towards our retirement. I think it will be easier once he has come to terms with being 'less able'. At the moment he is still trying to do 'normal tasks'. He can't believe how little he is able to manage without becoming exhausted through the effort involved. Also the time it takes him to recover enough to try again. We need to sort out some outside painting jobs, a leaking shower stall, in fact several minor little DIY jobs. We really need to get an odd job man in. but to do so will be too admit that 'it ain't getting any better'.

Monday, 18 June 2007

A Quiet Week is Forecast

It's not been at all good here. My Man is still in a bad way. Reluctanlty, he has returned to taking the beta blockers. The migraines returned. Daily. Therefore the beta blockers must have been doing some thing to help. It will probably take a few weeks for them to get into his system and for the benefits to become apparent. I have a pain in the neck. I have an appointment on Wednesday to sort it out. So I will be taking a couple of days break from PC and keyboard etc. We've had a very quiet weekend and it looks like being an even quieter week.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

A Singles Social Life

Things aren't quite so good at the moment. My Man still feels that he just doesn't want to mix with people. We had a birthday party to attend last weekend. He made a great effort and came with me. It was a small do of only 6 of us in total. A couple of hours in the afternoon. With tea and cakes. He only came with me as he 'didn't want to let you down'. He says he didn't enjoy it much at all. He finds small talk difficult - it's of 'no interest ' for him. I admit it is difficult as we have no small talk in us, lately. We haven't been on any exciting holidays or cruises. We haven't been to the new shopping centre at Plymouth and we don't eat out. We both feel envious that people are 'out there' enjoying life. He doesn't want to keep hearing about other peoples illnesses and treatments. He would much prefer to meet people who are not retired and have a 'meaningful' conversation. But all he can talk about is his ill health/pain and treatments etc! Also he can't be bothered with 'intellectual conversation'. So, therefore, he has no interest in conversation.
We have an invite to a small social get together tomorrow evening. I would like to go. I would much prefer that we go as a couple. But I find it difficult to enjoy myself when I hear the conversation revolving around trips abroad, restaurants, shopping, clubs and other social events. I almost can hear My Man's voice going on as a censor at the back of my mind and it inhibits me. I don't know whether or not I will be going - but if I do I expect it will be as a singleton.

Monday, 11 June 2007

My Life As A Carer

- is the theme for today. Today is the first day of Carers Week. Various areas have events organised and if you are interested in seeing what has been arranged for you area then click on this link to visit the site for more information.
Even if you love the person you care for, the emotional and physical demands of caring can be extremely stressful. The person you care for may be elderly, someone with dementia, a chronic/terminal illness or a serious disability. If you live with the person you care for it may be you feel you have no time to properly relax and chill out. At different times you may feel full of anger, frustration, resentment and guilt. We all react differently to the stresses of caring. If you join a local carers support group it may well help you to find out that your feelings are quite normal and are experienced by many carers. Do explore the links on the sidebar on the right and find out what help is available. We all need a safe way to 'let off steam' at some time.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

More Chocolatey News

I think this is a kind of Dawn French moment as the news about chocolate hit the headlines again today.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Two Steps Forward - One Back

The supper party went well last weekend. The fact that I had chosen an easy simple meal was a great help. We were able to thank our friends for their support while I was away from home. My Man did vacuum and that saved me some time and effort. The fact that he then had to retire to bed for a couple of hours left me able to get on and concentrate in the kitchen. But it once again highlights just how weak he still feels. The sudden draining of energy I can only assume is due to the depression. For an unwell man he is 'very fit' with good blood test results and low blood pressure etc. He has reduced the medication he was prescribed for migraine control, in the hope he would regain some energy . But it just means the migraines are increasing again. The doctor assumes that the level of chronic pain he has is one of the causes of the fatigue and the depression [which is also known to cause fatigue] is mainly due to the chronic pain. So he is in a Catch 22 situation.
I think he is beginning to come to terms with the changes in his physical health. That, when he has worked through it all and finally adjusted, I hope will mean an improvement in his mental well being. Only time will tell. With the brighter sunnier days I try to get him outdoors as much as possible. His mood has lifted to a degree and we are beginning to share some of the funny aspects of life again - sometimes.

Chocoholics Unite

I did find this amusing - can almost taste it on may lips as I read it. It's worth a look at this blog by The Poetess. I used to belong to the Chocolate Tasting Club. Wonderful selection of really super, luxury chocolates. But having them delivered to the door was not a great help in the dieting campaign. I reluctantly retired from the club. I still occasionally order from the Company as I find they are excellent for sending as gifts to friends and family.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Free Cinema for a Carer

I found out today that the person who requires care from another - providing they receive either Disability Living Allowance, or Attendance Allowance or is Registered Blind then they can apply for The Cinema Exhibitors Association (CEA) Carer's Concessionary Card. This is held by the person with a disability . It allows one person who goes with them as a carer to claim a free cinema ticket. Check it out through the following link

Friday, 25 May 2007

Taking Stock

Looking back I realise my break away has done us both a great deal of good. My Man has had his confidence boosted. He knows he has managed to do more tasks around the house and coped quite well without me. We appreciate each other again. We have 'things' to tell each other. I feel as if I have my 'old man' back again. We are looking forward to having friends to supper. All in all life is looking up and I feel more positive.

Nurture free Zone

I read recently that scientist have identified some missing hormone in post menopausal women which means that the ladies aged over 50 yrs are less inclined to nurture, feed and care for their family. They believe this explains why there is an increase of 50+ yr old women choosing to get divorced nowadays. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who is less caring as I get older. What a relief - like being crabby once a month with PMT - I can blame it on hormones or lack of them now.
I invited 4 friends to supper this weekend. Normally I would - in previous years - have been found poring over recipe books and cooking all day long for a Dinner party. Now I call it 'supper' which sounds more casual. I have the meat and which I will fling in with a can of Homepride sauce to casserole. I will cook the veges - but the pud will be the lazy cooks version of Black Forest Trifle. I will just have to assemble the ingredients.
My Man having found out how to use the Dyson has offered to vacuum and dust for me - lovely. I just hope he doesn't loose his energy suddenly at the last minute or I will be rushing round like a blue ar**ed fly trying to do it all. That's why I'm not going in for any itsy bitsy tricksy cooking. I want us both to enjoy the evening. Not as on previous evenings where the 2 hosts are both so exhausted that we end up longing for visitors to go so we can fall into bed. I've even bought posh paper napkins as I now refuse to iron cotton damask ones! Rebellion!

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Children as Carers

There was so much publicity last week given to children who care for disabled and/or mentally ill parents/siblings following an inquest after a young girl committed suicide. I felt shame and ashamed. I've moaned about how difficult it is being a carer. But to hear the same words from young people was upsetting. Young people should be able to look forward to life without feelings of guilt or worry. They should be exploring and adventuring into the wider world. They should be learning for the sake of learning. It was very sad to hear so many of them speaking just as I would. But with an age gap of over 40 years between us. If you want to hear or view the BBC News report follow this link:

All I can say is if you are a young carer in a family; try and share it with as many people as possible. Explain some of the constraints and difficulties you have on your time. Do approach some of the Carers support web sites to see how you can get support when [and if] you need it. Talk to your doctor, teacher, neighbour or friends parents. Don't feel disloyal about sharing. Let your family know you are seeking support outside the family. It will benefit you all.

Some more sites to look at:



If Social Services are involved in assisting your family make sure that your needs and concerns are looked at as well. Every County should have some provision for helping children who are caring for a family member. It is your right to have some help. Unfortunately in this country help is not often offered you do sometimes have to ask for it. Demand help - it is your right.

Just remember, although you feel alone - whatever your age - there are a lot of us around and we all want to help each other.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Welcome Home

I had a lovely welcome back home. Being alone obviously suited My Man. Apart from finding it tiring to cope with all meals for himself. He also did some DIY chores while I was away. I came back to a smarter lounge with all window ledges painted and a new radiator shelf up in the study. It was all clean and tidy and he had even found out how to work the vacuum cleaner. In fact I think it was cleaner than when I left. The break away has done us both some good.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

I'm Off in More Ways Than One

Well. this is it. I'm off tomorrow to see family and friends. Two weeks away. Two weeks to laugh, chat and catch up on other people's lives. To visit the big city and shop till I drop. To visit old childhood haunts, take a trip down memory lane and to do some research on Family History. I'm now really looking forward to the change of scene. I've left lists every where. My Man is inundated with 'How To do lists' and food is falling out of every cupboard. He wont starve. If he wants to eat to cheer himself up he could well explode as there are goodies in every nook and cranny. I didn't clean up before leaving so he's under no pressure to maintain a tidy house. I can spring clean on my return. Local friends and my sister in law are in the back ground as support. So many people offered to phone or visit and chat but so far most have been refused. MM may change his mind after the first week. I just hope he doesn't sound too depressed when I speak to him on the phone. But if he does then I'll remind myself that he's not necessarily any happier when I'm here to share his low mood.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Getting Used to the idea

We are doing better today. We are getting used to the idea of my being away from home for a few days. The fridge, freezer and store cupboards are full to bursting. All laundry done. I am ready to pack now and to leave on Monday morning. My Man came out to meet friends with me today. One friend was 'kind enough' to point out to MM that 'time can be such a drag when you're alone'. Well, thank you very much - that is just what we needed. I wonder whose side she is on? I know many people who find their own company difficult to bear. We each used to enjoy some solitude every week but owing to recent events and the circumstances we've been in mean we've missed that luxury. In 'normal life' as we used to know it, MM would have had projects to complete and papers to study. He has sorted out several tasks he wants to complete over the time I'm away and what he needs now is just a little lift to help him see that there are advantages to my not being at home for a while. This friend my well be best avoided for a while as she's obviously not going to help boost his confidence. He came home wishing he'd not made the effort to socialise after all. I remind him how the last time I left home (2 years ago to attend family funeral) he was much poorer healthwise than he is now. This time it should be much easier.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

It's a Hard Road

MyMan is feeling very low and very very tired. The thought of looking after himself for 2 weeks is beginning to set in. I've been here before. The last time I'd planned a break away about 3 years ago I cancelled my trip. I've only left home on three occasions over the last 5 years- all of them to attend family funerals. I'm finding it very hard to leave. As his anxiety levels rise I can feel mine increasing. I should be looking forward to this trip but at the moment it just feels like hard work and worry. It would be easier to stay at home. But I don't think it would be healthier. At the moment I can't even imagine enjoying myself when I'm away. Maybe we should think of moving back to be nearer to family and long standing friends. Local friends are good but not as close as family. Local friends have a job to remember who and what MM used to be like. We had been here such a short while before his accident and ill health. It feels too disloyal to talk about how difficult I find it coping with the change in him. But older friends would see the change and maybe understand more? I'm not sure anymore. I feel very unkind in persevering in the idea of a trip away. But most of all MM wants me to go as he feels it is very important I have a break. Once again I smile and joke on the surface but underneath I am crying and anxious.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Preparing to Leave

We are both feeling a bit strained. My man is having to concentrate on what he needs to do to eat and cope alone for a couple of weeks. He seems more tired than of late and suddenly I'm worried - 'should I cancel the trip'? My sister-in-law and local friends have offered to assist but my man (MM) wants to be 'left alone'. In fact he says he is looking forward to some solitude. He'll enjoy the peace and quiet and not having me 'wittering on'. I suppose I'm his security blanket and he's probably a bit anxious about my leaving. It will give his confidence a boost to find out that he's now able to look after himself again - as he used to in the past.

It's just that we have new telephones. When I'm home he doesn't take much notice of how they work for messages and storing numbers etc. - but with me away he'll want to keep in touch. He's having to take in how they work and what my mobile phone number is etc. With his concentration levels on the low side it is hard for him. I've been writing notes on how to work the DVD and the Oven. The freezer is full. He wont starve. But I've a feeling he'll exist on toasted snacks. He may not see much fresh veges for a few days!

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Respite Break Away

Now my man has had a bad few weeks. His medication for depression was changed and it was not a change for the better. 8 weeks adjusting to new pills which had adverse effects and then 4 weeks to come off them and get back to where he was prior to the change. Along with the problem that he has with pain management [he has a chronic back/neck problem following a road traffic accident in 2001] it is thought that some of his 'depression' symptoms may be worsened by withdrawal from the effects of codeine. So one way and another he [and I] are in a catch 22 situation. To manage the pain he ends up tired and lethargic; once the pain is under control he reduces the co-codamol but then ends up irritable and with flu like symptoms from codeine withdrawal. As the psychiatrist said - it's 'no wonder he's depressed' with constant pain. One factor that has improved over the last 3 years - he isn't going daft which is what I first thought. No, he was also diagnosed with an under-active thyroid. Now, after much trial and error, the right level of thyroxine has been ascertained and prescribed for 10 months. He is less confused. So I feel able to leave him for a break away to catch up with friends and family in the south east England. Not that I feel entirely confident but we each need a break from the other. I hope that with some peace and quiet to himself he'll manage to muster reserves of energy; enough to feed and take care of himself for a short while.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Being a Selfish Pig

Acting as carer and support for a spouse with a physical and mental illness isn't easy. Love is still part of the relationship but it is not the same. There is a subtle shift - it's a different kind of love. Sometimes though exasperation can set in and that's when you need to be a 'Selfish Pig' and demand time to yourself and some degree of privacy. In trying to adjust to the changes in our circumstances I found a book called 'The Selfish Pig's Guide to Caring'. I found it humorous. It gave me pause for thought. As my man's health took a gradual down turn and depression took hold - I always assumed that everything would improve one day. Then after several years (I would have to stop, think and count backwards to try and work out when was the last time we could count on life as being 'normal') - you start to wonder "maybe this is 'as good as it gets'?"

At that stage it can get very depressing for both of you. That's why I stopped the world. Got off for a while. Read the book. Then tried to think of ways of preserving my own identity. My own sanity. And to have some quality time away from caring duties. It was at this stage that I realised that if I couldn't always go out to socialise when I needed a pick me up, I could Blog. So here I am.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Coping Strategies

Like a widow I am going to have to learn to be more resourceful. But unlike a widow I don't have the luxury of a home to return to - to curl up alone in a safe place and 'lick my wounds'. When I'm out and about I have to put on a 'brave face' otherwise people will avoid me. Friends understand and are quietly supportive if I'm not on top form. When I'm home I have to put on a brave face again.Otherwise my depressive gets even more anxious and upset at the distress he is causing me and how it is upsetting my life. It's a roller coaster ride. Sometimes the negativity is soul destroying. The petty nit picking is demoralising. I've lost my best friend and I'm sad.

I examine the website on how to cope with self esteem problems when living with a depressed person and know that although I often feel that life is a sickening roller coaster ride and feel as if I am trying to balance on a very wobbly fence - it is not surprising that I feel burnt out and stressed.
To quote Anne Sheffield "Interactions with depression sufferers range from difficult to unbearable. When you offer love and affection, they are not returned. When you offer sympathy, you are told you don't understand what is wrong. When you offer support, you receive complaints that it is not enough, or not the right kind. Those who remind us of the depressive's need for sympathy, support, and love are correct, but they leave out the other half of the equation: it is hard to give all those things when you're not receiving them."

Depression Widow

I really must get out more. But trouble is I'm a bit like a widow. But without the dead spouse. I'm not a golfing widow, I'm a depression widow. It's a bit awkward to fit me into the social sphere. I'm not a widow and unattached. I'm married but my husband rarely goes out or socialises. He is only happy at home and he's rarely happy there. Everyone asks after him and I'm now at a loss as to what to answer. He is seen out and about on occasions. After all there are medical appointments he has to attend. Otherwise I think people would think that I'd murdered him; buried his body in the garden and just carry on claiming his disability pension. I don't murder him as I worry I wouldn't get away with it. In which case I still wouldn't be free. In some ways widowhood would be easier. The end product - if I can call it that - would mean that I'd have to get used to it and move on. As it is we are both trapped and unhappy. One way or another Depression has us both in its grip. Like a widow I am going through the gamut of emotions [I did denial first] now I'm working through loss, anger, grief etc.