Thursday, 17 December 2009

Just When You Think It Can't . . .

Just when you think it can't get any worse than last year . . . it does.

MyMan is, understandably, very disappointed that the injections of local anaesthetic in his spine provided no pain relief. Therefore the idea of the procedure to 'burn off the nerve endings' is a non-starter. He is being put on the waiting list for an injection of local anaesthetic and steroid injections into the sacroiliac joints. To see if that will help.

Physiotherapy exercises are making him feel worse. He is slowly noticing a slight increase of flexibility. But as a result of the exercises the pain is even more intense. He is finding it more difficult to cope with just the very basic of daily living activities. Needless to say his depression is worse.

We both feel intensely disappointed. Christmas will be very quiet. No decorations. No partying. Not even an afternoon tea party. As is usual, when MyMan is depressed and unwell, I am bone weary tired. My own aches, pains and stiff joints have flared up. I'm not going to put myself under pressure. So we'll spend a long quiet weekend together. Reading and watching TV.

I can understand that when we believe that 'this is it' we slowly adjust; get used to the limited lifestyle. But with the idea of a pain free mobile spouse I had allowed my hopes to rise. I started to believe that we could get out and about together. To enjoy visiting some of the local tourist sites; of taking a trip to see family. Dashed hopes are hard to bear.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Absent Minded

MyMan often accuses me of 'making it up' when I tell him that he shouldn't use the kitchen sink when his hands are filthy. Butto only use the kitchen sink to wash his hands if he has 'clean hands' and is about to prepare food. He only gets himself cereal or a hot drink so its not as if he regularly works in the ktichen. But it seems the kitchen sink has a real attraction for him.

I tell him it is not a sink for washing hands after messing about with dirty pots in the garden, refilling bird feeders or other similar filthy tasks. He assures me he doesn't; he uses the cloakroom. I know he often 'forgets' to do so. He denies it. So I follow on behind and clean the taps and the swivel spout he touched with dirty hands. He has a stomach upset often; so I try to maintain the highest degree of cleanliness in the kitchen.

Today I heard him use the toilet. Leave the cloakroom and go into the kitchen to wash his hands. I immediately asked why. He said he hadn't. I told him I heard and know that's what he'd done. He thought for a while and finally agreed. He hadn't realised; didn't know why he came out to the kitchen; thought it was because he was probably thinking of something else.

I know that he is incapable of multi tasking but next time he walks passed the bathroom or cloakroom to use the kitchen sink I intend to go into nagging mode. BIG TIME. I've moved the hand wash out of the way - hopefully it will give him pause to wonder why. And I've erected a big notice "this sink is not a washbasin: it's for Cook's use only".

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Homework on Positive Thinking

I am still trying to get MyMan to read this author's book on "How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body". I'm finding trying to motivate him a bit of an uphill struggle. He says he feels 'too ill' to read it. I'm not 100% myself as I feel a bit tired and run down. But I'm hoping he'll start to read it before his next appointment with the physiotherapist. There doesn't appear to be any lessening of pain after the injections of local aneasthetic down his spine last Friday - 13th November. I know he is disappointed. We both are.

Meanwhile I will show him this video interview to see if it intrigues him enough to want to look at the book . .

Friday, 13 November 2009

Negatively Positive

MyMan attended physio yesterday. He really dislikes having to go to the hospital 2 days running. He has another appointment with the physio in 2 weeks when she will assess his muscle strength and tone. He is being booked in for a Coping with Pain Programme which will start in the New Year. He'll be shown ways in which in can get up from the floor in and out of chairs/bed etc. Also exercises to improve posture and increase flexibility in back muscles.

She told him that he needed to be more positive in his outlook. That his negativity would not help him. I almost said "I told you so" but I refrained. I told him that I had a book and we could look at it and work on change of attitude as an exercise together. He "will give it a try" . . .

I'm trying to train him like a child or a dog. When he is in a reasonable mood and less negative I remain with him longer. As soon as he becomes grumpy, negative or aggressive I quietly withdraw and do my own thing - alone. He prefers to be with me so hopefully he'll make the connection at some point.

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks but I'm hoping I can teach and old codger new behaviours . . .

Monday, 9 November 2009

Positively Negative

He feels so ill MyMan. His symptoms are so wide ranging and varied. A few of them are: fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations, sore throat, swallowing difficulties, extreme tiredness, indigestion, constipation, dire rear, back pain, neck pain, trembling, weak leg muscles, headaches, deafness, loss of balance, blurred vision, voracious hunger or loss of appetite. Moods swings and memory problems have been well talked about in older posts so I wont go over those again.

At the moment he is 'twitchy' and anxious. I know some of it is due to his concern that he will be 'unlucky' in that the injections into his spine will not work. Or worse, that something will go wrong and he'll be worse off than he is now. He is convinced that nothing will go right for him. I try to suggest that his negative attitude will not help him. That there is every chance he'll be pain free after the injections. The doctor told him it could last for months. But it all appears to fall on deaf ears. He goes for the procedure on Friday.

I'm trying to visualise a positive outcome. I'm working as hard as I can. I need to in order to overcome his negativity.

Friday, 23 October 2009

My Favourite Osteopath

My favourite osteopath is Tony Nevin. He was the first person I tried for manipulative therapy back in the early 1990s. I can remember how different I felt after my first treatment: balanced and several inches taller. I also felt incredibly relaxed and spaced out. It was how I imagined I would feel if I had smoked some funny baccy or chewed on a magic mushroom. Wonderful, relaxed, happy with heightened perception.

He used to tell such wonderfully funny stories too. I can remember when he first started to treat animals at the local wildlife centre. He was interviewed by BBC radio while he treated a badger. It became so relaxed it fell asleep. Tony could barely be heard above the badger's snoring.

I would go to him now if I still lived in Gloucestershire.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Zero Balancing

I'm trying to find a treatment that would not be too painful or intrusive. I used to have osteopathy or chiropractic treatment during my 50s but have not had any manipulation for over 10 years now. I always found it extremely painful. Not to mention the fact it took a good 2 or 3 days to recover afterwards.

I was considering Rolfing - I am looking for a 'gentle' treatment. I also like the idea of not having to undress. With the excess weight I've gained over the last 3 years I would feel too embarrassed. I have had reflexology in recent years which can be very relaxing but doesn't address back/neck or posture problems.

I read an article by Jane Alexander on Zero Balancing in the Telegraph on Saturday. It sounds a perfect way to try and restore my equilibrium. I may give it a try. I feel desperate today. Over the years I've had many health problems, falls, whiplash injuries and lately much stress and tension. It would be wonderful if some non invasive relaxing therapy could help. I've contacted a therapist and will let you know how I get on with it . . . or not.


I'm having palpitations. A symptom of stress. I'm stressed as MyMan is once again exhibiting signs of memory problems and an aggressive attitude. I still think it seems very much like a dementia problem. He also seems distressed at times and 'feels there is something wrong'. We may have to go back to see the psychologist for another session.

All being well I'll still be able to go to the training day tomorrow.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Ways to Feel Good

It has really surprised me just how long it has taken me to catch up on my '3 weeks sick leave'.
We are still busy with hospital appointments. MyMan is about to attend physiotherapy. He now has a date set to attend day surgery at the RD&E hospital. He is having injections into his spine to see if it will help with his chronic back and neck pains.

I have 2 'training sessions' set for next week. [a] a training day arranged by Devon Carers' Link on "Ways to Feel Good" and [b] "Depression - How to Help" a one hour talk arranged by my local Mind Carers' Support Team.

They both seemed like a good idea when I signed up to them. However, at the moment one of the "Ways to Feel Good" would be to have a relaxing day at home, with a good book, my feet up and a glass of red wine at my elbow.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Playing Catch Up

I'm still struggling to play catch up with all my chores. Bad timing - meant that the decorator came in to refresh the hallway with some basic painting. It looks clean and fresh now. It hadn't been painted since the day we moved in 1999 and it needed doing then! It was a struggle to clear all the bookcases in readiness and of course it all had to be put back afterwards. Just at a time when I still felt weak and useless.

I still feel very tired. I've been told that I shouldn't underestimate the physical effects of the demands placed on me by caring for MyMan. That his depression is sapping my strength too. Apart from the extreme feeling of bone wearying fatigue I have a positive attitude. I'm just frustrated that I never get all that I want to do done each day. I get the 'must do' chores done and am having to leave the 'would like to do' list undone. But it is the latter that are fun, interesting or sociable .

At the moment I'm trying to get myself organised for a Macmillan Coffee morning. Several weeks ago October 1st seemed to be a good date for a charity coffee morning. Now I'm not so keen. I hope the sun doesn't shine that day. The last thing I want to see is all my cobwebs glowing in high definition sunlit glory.

Update: 13th October - All who came to join me for coffee and cake said they enjoyed the chance to socialise for a good cause. I've just paid a cheque for £90 into the fund.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Too Ill To Care

It has been a very eventful week. Following on from the flood. I ended up in bed with a dose of gastric flu. I only left my bed to visit the bathroom, many times. In three days I didn't eat. I did nothing much beyond sleep or listen to Radio 4 or the World Service, which played continuously in the background.

My Man fed himself on canned soups, baked beans or spaghetti on toast. On the few occasions that I did surface to go to the kitchen for a glass of cooled boiled water. I would see that he had used practically every saucepan we owned. I was relieved that I did not have to worry about the mounting mountain of unwashed pots and pan. He told me that he would do the washing-up. I was not to fuss, or worry about it.

I finally surfaced on Sunday, but felt quite weak and nauseous. My appetite did not pick up until the remnants of the used saucepans had finally being cleared from every kitchen surface. It has taken a long time to return to normal, whatever normal is. After spending so many days lying down or sitting weakly in a chair. my back muscles are protesting. I feel stiff and old.

If I ever wonder what I do with my time every day. the evidence now lies in front of me. As soon I was able I picked up a cloth. I cleaned the kitchen sink; the bathroom basins and the toilets. Dusting, hoovering, tidying, nothing has been done. At the moment I'm just concentrating on maintaining a basic level of hygiene.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Waste Not Want Not . . .

Waste not Want not but it's time for a new beginning. In a new house. Where all the plumbing works properly.

This week I've had the plumber out 3 times. The recently fitted replacement waste disposal system clogged up. It refused to evacuate the workings of its innards into the drain. Instead it had tried perversely to rid itself of its contents by violently vomiting. Me, the kitchen sink, windows and cupboard doors were all covered in a dirty regurgitated mix of shredded vegetables, teabags and slimy water.
I took a risk and plunged a hand into the unit up to my elbow. Fret not: I only did this after I'd turned of the electricity. The blade and impeller were both moving freely. I believed it was a fault with the new unit. My previous waste disposer had worked well for 10 years with only a couple of minor hitches. One of these being when I'd inadvertently thrown a scouring pad into the works. I'd only replaced it as I'd had a new double sink fitted. Believing that at 10 years of age it should retire before it died.

I sent out an appeal to my friendly plumber. He called in on his way home. Dismantled the drain and found it was thoroughly clogged. He checked the waste disposer unit said it was working perfectly well. That the clogged drainpipe was the cause of its malaise. After an hour he left with everything working well and flowing freely again.

The next evening while preparing a salad I turned on the waste unit. Within seconds an ominous salad red and green tide started to head once again in my direction. This time I was faster on the draw. Killing the power before it had another bout of projectile vomiting. The plumber was there within half an hour. Still said he'd every confidence in the unit. He made a minor adjustment to the angle of the drain, removed a 'baffle' in a pipe (whatever that might be) and once again left me. He suggested I run the water well after using the unit. To ensure any residue was cleared from the drainpipe. Which I duly did.

This morning I found the cupboard full of water. Another phone call. He arrived within the hour. He thought that as the pipe work had been taken apart so often over the last few days that it could be a washer problem. He checked all the joints, washers, replaced everything. Tightened every nut, screw, bolt whatever. Swilled and flushed through the system. Neither of us really feeling 100% confident. He was about to leave. Re-assuring me that any more problems and he'd rethink the pipe work from scratch.

It was at this stage the overflow pipe from the tank in the loft started to gush.
The central heating engineer is booked to come and fit a new cold water tank tomorrow. Neither he nor my plumber believe the ancient tank will accept a new ball valve fitment.

It never rains but it pours.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Throwing in the Towel

My Man has thrown in the towel. He consulted a solicitor with a view to taking action against the law firm that dealt with his compensation claim. Four years ago the settlement was 'bungled'. He wasn't well. He was slow witted and daft. We asked if it could be postponed until he felt better but we were persuaded to settle out of court as soon as possible.

For a 'no fault claim' and with legal protection insurance he ended up paying his legal costs!! There was no money for loss of earnings, future loss of earnings or lost pension provision.

I've known a friend end up with a larger payout for a broken ankle at work - and this when it was discovered she had previously undiagnosed osteoporosis. Since when she has used her compensation money to go on trekking holidays on 4 continents. I can see why he feels aggrieved.

Once his mind started to focus again (after the diagnosis and treatment for under active thyroid) he started to explore whether he had case. A local solicitor searched through files. He agreed there were many instances where there was a lack of 'duty of care' and 'professional negligence'. But to go through the legal procedure will cost. It is also costing him emotionally.

I agree with him. It is wrong. It is unfair. But I don't think it is healthy to keep looking back. The length of time it has taken to reach this stage: where we needed to make the decision whether to go for a barrister opinion has taken almost 2 years. At the age of 65 I don't think he has time to waste on 'justice'. We could do with the money. But . . .

Over the years he has fought many instances of injustice for other people. Against insurance companies, banks, pension firms and once a case of unfair dismissal. And invariably won their case for them. That is why I initially supported his decision to look at taking action. But it has been so time consuming. It is likely to be costly . . . He has so little energy I asked that he drop the idea so that we can use his precious energy on some form of enjoyment.

He has, reluctantly, agreed. He wrote to the solicitor and pulled the plug on the project. Hence his increased anger and irritation. Against everyone. But at the moment, I'm in the frontline.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Stubborn As a Mule

He's as stubborn as a mule MyMan. He will not listen: he will not accept advice: everyone (including me) is an "interfering" idiot who has no idea of his suffering.

Today he had to go into town to pick up files and papers from his solicitor. The load was likely to be heavy. I hauled a trolley case out of a cupboard for his use. I tried to park right outside the office but no spaces. He refused to wheel the case to the solicitors. And I could see him bent to one side as he carried it to the office. He was annoyed when the secretary there tried to help him. Then he became even more irate as he found it difficult to get the load into the boot.

I can see reasons why he's such a cross patch but when he moans about not having any energy left I can barely suppress the urge to tell him why that may be.

I reckon I know why women live longer than men. It's God's reward to us for taking care of our men

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Swine Flu symptoms

I have at last managed to buy a digital thermometer. So now I will be able able to tell the difference between having a raging fever and/or a hot flush. My very old mercury thermometer broke a couple of years ago. It doesn't feel the same taking a temperature without having to shake down the mercury before and after. Sigh - for the good old days.

Some practical suggestions for keeping healthy, and hints on how to avoid succumbing to a virus such as Swine Flu can be found here.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Tempting Wife

I was taken to task the other day for buying 'tempting treats'. Like most things in life the more time MyMan and I spend together the more I am amazed that we have been married for 38 years.

When we first married I would buy a bar of chocolate. Have a couple small squares and not think about chocolate for weeks. Then when I again craved some chocoalate I'd return to the sweet dish and . . NOTHING - gone - vanished. After a while I realised that if I wanted chocolate I had to eat it before it was eaten. Weight started to creep on.

Now I am trying to lose weight. My view is that if it crept on then the best way to lose it is for it to creep away again. I still allow for occasional treats. Some weeks it's one treat per week. Desperate times it could be one treat per day. I buy packs of small chocolate treats. MyMan also needs to lose weight. He thinks I shouldn't have small treats. He blames me for his excess weight. If "we didn't have treats in the house" he would be able to resist them.

He claims to have more willpower than I. He has never been tempted to buy sweets. No he wouldn't. He's never tempted to shop either.The rare occasion I asked him to go buy a loaf of bread he also returned with 4 doughnuts and 2 almond macaroons. One doughnut was for me.

I've tried not having any treats in the house. But he expects something 'nice' to eat in the evening. Nice+ chocolatey and sweet and BIG. If none are available his grumpiness levels escalate to the point where I feel tempted to knife him. So I buy him ice cream to eat with fruit as a pudding after his main meal. At his suggestion I bought treats for myself and 'hid' them. I also buy some tasty items to feed my bridge friends when they come to play which are also hidden away.

During a recent night time prowl he found my hiding place. He opened and devoured my milk chocolate snack packs. As there are "only 2 small biscuits" per pack he ate 4 packs. He also went on and ate half a packet of 'expensively posh biscuits'. He didn't tell me. I only found out when I went to retrieve them for a bridge party several days later. My bridge friends had to make do with plain Rich Tea. Yesterday evening he ate my weeks supply of 6 x Toffee Crisps at 'only' 99 cals. He told me off for buying them in small versions: "only 2 bites and they're gone" -"Such an expensive way to shop".

When I try and tell him that these sweet treats are what add to his weight misery he tells me he gets hungry in the night. As he is constantly fighting Co-Codamol induced constipation, I suggest that a dish of high fibre cereal would be much better at warding off hunger. Then he tells me off again. That if the treats weren't in the house he would have to make do with cereal. I'm looking for a new hiding place. I'll try the cleaning cupboard. I don't think he ever looks in there.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

I Require an Energy Boost

I need an energy boost. Besides ferrying MyMan to and from his hospital appts I'm thinking and using my memory bank for the 2 of us. Trying to keep an eye on his drug management (he's taken back control of his medibox again but needs a discrete eye kept on it); motivating him to attend appointments, motivating him to do a few basic tasks, reminding him once more what the Drs have said, reminding him to rest, or to take exercise, to do this or do that, then I have to see to household cleanliness, laundry, shopping, cooking.

Even though I draw up a weekly planner occasionally balls get dropped. He then gets impatient with me as 'we've not done' such and such . . . He can't understand why I feel so very tired sometimes. That to me, maybe 'such and such' wasn't high on my list of priorities.

Why is his memory so inconveniently good - sometimes?

Shocking Acupuncture

This weeks trip to the NHS Acupuncture clinic led to MyMan have needles inserted into his neck muscles and then connected to an electricity supply. The Dr warned him that he is likely to feel 'off' for a few days. He still thinks it is 'mumbo jumbo'. Everything he reads on the subject highlights the fact that 50% patients treated do not feel any benefit. I raise the other side of the coin that therefore 50% must feel some beneficial effects. He isn't impressed by my reasoning.

I can't figure out why all the things he used to love about me: my sense of humour, my independence, my practicality, my capabilities, my logical brain, my dreamy nature, my rose tinted specs, my spontaneous flexibility, my optimism - are all an increasing irritant to him.

I feel as if I could plug him into the mains supply myself very soon. I warn him that if he doesn't calm down he may spontaneously combust.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


I was very low yesterday. I wanted to live near my sister. I was desperate for a pop in visit to chat, share worries, have a good healthy giggle over a cup of tea.

This morning I still felt low and thought how much I missed the chance of spontaneity in my life. I couldn't remember the last time we did anything spontaneous. With nothing planned for the day I had breakfast and went in for a shower. Standing there in a lather and the door opened. "John rang to ask if we could meet them for coffee this morning? I said yes - we're to meet up at the garden centre at 10.30". That surprised me.

I was surprised even more when after a cup of coffee on the garden centre veranda it started to rain. We all moved inside to try and find a table for 6. MyMan asked everyone "Why don't you come back to ours?" - well - and there I had been quietly wishing for spontaneity. I have had a double dose. I just wished I'd made the beds, cleaned the toilets and put fresh towels out before we went out. And with a lounge that had not been cleaned since a week before I pulled my back. Ah well . . .

If we're back in spontaneous mode I'll have to pull my finger out and raise my game housework wise.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Side Effects

I thought that perhaps the acupuncturist had found his irritability button and turned it to high but on reading 'possible side effects' of his new lyrical drug I see that irritability is one. Along with confusion. Just what I need. Thanks a lot Doc . .

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


I've been crawling around the last few days with a stance and gait a bit like Quasimodo. I've been hauling the lounge furniture around chasing the dust and cobwebs away. Once too often obviously.

I got out of bed stiffly last Thursday and pulled my back muscles as I tried to catch a urine speciment in an itsy bitsy pot for the nurse. The joys of being a woman.

My pelvis tilted - ouch and F**k . It took me 3 days to get to the point where I could place both feet flat on the floor while I stood. As one leg was temporarily several inches (it felt like feet) shorter than the other. For 2 days I could only sit in a firm garden chair or in my Lloyd loom chair in the bedroom. I had to lie down to relieve and relax muscles but then had to endure a marathon exercise to sit up again.

We both lived on fruit, bread, cheese and painkillers. I became tired cranky depressed. It was a timely reminder for me that this is what MyMan has to endure daily. I was weeping with frustration and tiredness after only 48 hours. Once my powers of concentration returned I enjoyed the excuse to sit, rest. To spend time by reading, reading, reading and watching the cricket.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

What a pain in the neck

What a pain in the neck it is having to attend hospital appointments. Up early to leave to get to Exeter. Rushing along with the rush hour traffic we make it to Heavitree hospital by 8.50. MyMan is exhausted. Exhausted by depression. Exhausted with the effort of rising early enough to leave the house by 8 a.m. Exhausted by the nervous energy wasted on the journey.

Exhausted as he sat checking on all the other drivers. Exhorting me to 'watch out'; 'that one's changing lanes'; 'mind that car'; 'God, for a minute there I thought he wasn't going to stop'. I breathe a sigh of relief that all these possible threats of danger seem to be driven by males. MyMan calls on 'God' and 'Jesus' a great many times as a passenger. For a man who has no religious beliefs it's rather touching in a way.

I was hoping that a new larger safer car would reassure him. But it appears not. I'm not sure if the anxiety of being in a car adds to the pain he feels or whether the pain he feels adds to his fears. Pain being a perpetual reminder of his accident.

It's several years since he last had a pain management assessment. This time I sat in with him. He needs me to at least listen to what he is told. Besides my acting as his memory he needs motivation. Motivating to follow through with the suggested programme. The action plan is:
  1. A new pain relieving drug that will also help him sleep

  2. A 6 week course of acupuncture

  3. Physiotherapy to correct posture and tone muscles

He dreads the idea of the regular twice weekly journeys to Wonford and Heavitree hospitals. He was looking for an excuse to refuse the suggested treatments. He doesn't want to 'place more pressure' on me by taking him there each time. He doesn't want to ask a friend to taxi him there. nor to use the hospital car service. He's unable to use public transport.

There was also talk of a possible minor surgical procedure. But I'm just thinking of it by taking it one step at a time.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

A National Debate

I hear that there is to be a National Debate on the future of 'Care and Support'. The DHSocial Care want us to " encourage other people to talk about care & support".

Talk is easy enough. It's actions that speak louder than words. And of course any actions planned will need financing. But maybe this is a step in the right direction.

As far as I'm concerned 'Care in the Community' was all very well with its high ideals. But it wasn't sufficiently funded from the beginning. Community Care really means 'leave care to the family' or 'leave the responsibility for care to the neighbours' .

There is even a 'blog' on the need for change 'Care Support Independence' - why don't you pop over, have a look and maybe join in the debate.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Symptoms of Swine Flu

Symptoms of Swine Flu? I wonder what they are. Obviously a sore throat and fever.

I went into the surgery this morning to book an appointment with the nurse for a routine blood test in a couple of weeks. The first thing I was asked was did I have a sore throat - "yes, I often have one during summer". It's caused by a post nasal drip due to hay fever.

Did I have a fever? "How would I know with all these hot flushes I keep getting? "

I managed to make an appointment. If I should end up catching swine flu I now know there is no point in calling in to the surgery to see a doctor. The waiting room and all the local chemists have huge notices telling us to stay at home if we have swine flu. Don't go to the surgery.

I thought all us 60+ year olds were supposed to be immune from it. Perhaps I don't 'look' 60.

Monday, 15 June 2009

It's Been a Very Busy Month

It's been a very busy month. Appointments [mine] Carer Support worker and health MOT; [MyMan's] Consultant psychologist, ENT Consultant, CT scan and the West of England Eye Unit. Trying to source a new Toyota Verso. A friend flying in to stay at a local hotel; to be entertained between breakfast and bed time.

In between times I've been trying to enjoy myself - bridge class, playing bridge, and coffee with friends. Along with all the usual chores of laundry, cleaning, cooking and shopping. The garden's had to look after itself. And it shows. Shame. Can't be helped. Something had to go. It was either MyMan or the garden. My choice may be different another month.

MyMan has had a few sessions with the psychologist. Testing his short term memory problem. The psychologist is "almost 70% certain there is no dementia". He believes that MyMan lacks focus and concentration due to depression and the energy sapping chronic pain. He has referred him to the Pain Management Clinic for a full re-assessment. But he wants me to monitor the situation and return to him if MyMan appears to be getting worse. He said that if dementia is present, there is much that can be done if it's 'caught early' enough.

MyMan also has a cyst on his eyelid which is causing him a problem and will need minor surgery. He's had a CT scan for his chronic sinusitis with a view to possible surgery. And now he has infective conjunctivitis. It's just as well most of my health results not showing up much of a problem; other than a raised BP. I don't have time or energy to be unwell. I'll have to practise the yogic breathing exercises more often and chill out.

Margaret, my carer support worker, suggested that MyMan could use the hospital car service. It would give me a break and the chance to have a couple of hours alone at home. I loved the idea but MyMan said he didn't want to travel over to Exeter with a 'stranger' in a 'strange car' .


I think my body may be telling me I've had all I can take. I've had such a long list of symptoms. IBS, tension headaches, muscles pains and weakness, breathlessness and palpitations. And I'm TATTI. That is I'm Tired All The Time.

I finally went to the doctor. After an alarming 2 hour session of a a racing heart and feeling twitchy I thought I'd better go along for a check up. By the time the appointment came around I felt much better. But rather than cancel I thought I'd go in and just tell him how I had been feeling. I know that I've been stressed and tense. I assumed all of my symptoms to be psychosomatic.

Sitting in the waiting room I could feel myself getting tense and anxious. No amount of deep relaxing breathing could ease the feeling of unease.

By the time he checked my blood pressure it was UP. He ordered a routine ECG, fasting blood tests and another BP check with the nurse. I'm to return to see him a couple of weeks.

A couple of days after the blood test I received a letter telling me to book in for a 'routine blood test' in a months time. What have they found?? My anxiety levels are on the up again! Take a deep breathe; breath and chill out. CALM .... CALM ....

Friday, 22 May 2009

At Last a Decison . . .

Well at long last a decision has been made. I now know which car we are going to buy. Well, not exactly which car as we now have to negotiate the next decision. A 'new' new car, or a demonstrator 'new', or a 2nd hand.

My much loved Jazz which was perfect for whizzing around the local lanes and small villages and towns has not been suitable as our main car. MyMan finds it difficult to get in and out of it. It is a hard jiggly ride for someone with back problems. On the rare occasions that MyMan drives, I too find it hard in the passenger seat and often end up with back ache.

It's taken many many months to choose. Initially we liked the Toyota Corolla Verso but it didn't have an automatic model - only semi-automatic. I wasn't keen. Even if it did sound very macho.

So we progressed to looking at the Ford S Max; the Citroen Grand c4. Honda CRV and numerous others. Many very comfortable cars. The big difficulty was in finding a petrol automatic. For the limited mileage we do each year I didn't want the hassle of a diesel automatic and the concern about 'particulate filters' maintenance when driving so many short journeys. My annual mileage usually less than 5000 miles. I cannot get particularly excited about particulate filters - whatever ... Some salesmen tried to tell me it wouldn't be a problem. But I didn't want to have to pay extra on servicing each year if I'd only done limited mileage. A potential problem I don't need or want.

The Honda CRV very comfortable when MyMan, with his short legs, managed to climb in. But he felt it would be embarrassing to take a step stool every where with us, so that was off the list. We almost purchased a Nissan Qashqai. I love the adverts. I like the idea of young funky urban image. No problems finding a CVT automatic petrol engine. Only problem was it was a bit small. MyMan had to flex his neck (difficult) to get in. I loved driving it. It felt just like the Jazz. But larger and more solid. MyMan felt it was a good compromise but still hankered after the Verso. He'd taken lately to admiring them in car parks and sighing deeply.

Then just as we were going to commit to buying the Qashqai we read this article in the Telegraph. Two weeks later; 2 test drives completed and we are about to seal a deal and buy a new car. New to us that is. I'm not sure there will be any 2nd hand ones on the market yet so we'll see if we can find a demonstrator. It's easy to drive but feels a bit wide to me. Especially round the narrow Devon lanes. I hope to get used to it once I drive one regularly. It's a sedate drive but maybe at age 60 I should now become a sedate (or a sedated) driver. At least I'll be able to eyeball lorry drivers. Toyota have a reputation for reliability. I hope it will be money well spent. It seems a lot to pay out when we no longer have an income.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Carers' Support Each Other

On Wednesday evening I went out. I left home at 7 p.m and like a teenager going out on the razzle for the evening I felt an eager sense of anticipation. In a small hotel betwixt and between Honiton and Exeter I met up with 11 other carers to enjoy a drink and share stories. It felt a bit like an Al-anon meeting. I almost stood up to say "My name's Penelope and I care for a disabled and mentally depressed husband". We ranged through all ages from 30s to mid 60s. But all of us were women. Caring for a partner, husband, son or daughter. Many had far more traumatic situations to cope with than I. Suicide attempts. But they all felt that I had been coping for a long time as many of them had been carers for'only' 2 years.

It was good to share our experiences and to hear that so many of our PIGS [Person I Give love and Support to] carry on in the same way. How self centred and selfish they are. How they say one thing but frequently mean another. How much they dislike our going out to enjoy ourselves. The emotional pressure or emotional blackmail our PIGS use. Our own feelings of grief and loss. How sadness affects us. That Depression is contagious.

For 3 hours we talked. Sometimes seriously. But more often in a lighthearted way. We also were able to laugh. Many laughs.Laugh a lot. Shared laughter is the best thing in life.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Carers' Support Worker

Well - if nothing else meeting with a Carers' Support Worker from MIND on Monday gave me the chance to talk, talk and talk. I assumed I'd have an hour. But the first thing Margaret said was that I had 2 hours to talk about anything, everything or nothing. She explained that there isn't much they can do in a practical or financial way. I hadn't expected a magic wand. Just to have the opportunity to talk to someone who wouldn't be judgemental or feel I was doing MyMan down was a form of relief.

While I was talking things over I was still inclined to be defending or explaining MyMan and his mental problems. It was a form of relief. She didn't think it was unreasonable of me to wish to move closer to family. Agreed with my view that if MyMan rarely ventured out far there was very little to matter to him about where we lived. But even then I still felt inclined to balance the scales. I can see from his point of view that what he knows could be much 'safer' than a leap into the unfamiliar. A case of 'It's better the devil you know when choosing whether to leap between a rock and a hard place . . . . '.

I've agreed to meet up with a small group of carers who are in similar situation. To see if we can provide mutual support. I was told I had a good sense of humour and was likely to enjoy the company of one lady in particular. Her Man developed depression following his retirement and their move to Devon. This was just the scenario I had planned to avoid. Choosing to relocate to our chosen retirement area well in advance of the event. To establish roots before the next major change in our life. But as they say 'the best laid plans of mice, men and women gang awry . . .'

I found I was emotionally exhausted in the afternoon but still entertained a friend to afternoon tea. It was her birthday.

I'm trying to be more selfish. To stop considering 'friends' needs above my own. But like an addict it's one step or one day at a time. I'm trying in more ways than one.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Games we play . .

MyMan encourages me to get out and enjoy myself "as much as possible". Then when I do he says how dead the place seems without me. I try to save a day a week when we can go out together. And I'm always home Saturdays and Sundays holding myself in readiness for a jaunt out somewhere together.

We agreed we would go out on Sunday this weekend. Once again I waited for MyMan to surface from his slumbers. We had a similar conversation as we do prior to every trip out together. "Where shall we go?" he asks me. "I must get a walk in, somehow. . ." he said. I draw breathe to reply and he suddenly suggests "Burrow Farm Garden - I love it there . . . ". Surprised as he rarely suggests anything that he'd like to do I draw breathe again to agree. Before I can open my mouth he tells me "that's no good - it will make your hay fever worse".

I disagree. My hay fever is bad enough here where we are surrounded by at least 8 fields of rape. Especially after spending a few hours toiling in the garden. Although the symptoms of hay fever can feel like a dose of flu there is no way I will allow it to limit what I want to do. I tell him so. Irritable now he tells me he doesn't want me to go somewhere where I'll feel the worse for going. He'll forgo the visit to save me discomfort. But wistfully tells me " I do so love it there". .

I decide I'll go anyway at which point he says he feels it will be too far for him today. He doesn't want to do a long journey. 'Long' means about 12 miles and will take about 20 minutes.

I think I'm beginning to learn the rules of this 'new game'. But he doesn't like how I play.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

It's in the Stars . .

It's in the stars or is it 'just' a co-incidence? Waiting for an appointment yesterday I read my stars for the day. Jonathan Cainer said that I put up with a lot, I take on more than I need to, I help out more than I am obliged to and that "you give but don't always get much back" . . . . He says I don't mind (?!) "You hardly stop to think whether there should be rewards for carrying so many burdens on your back, even when really they represent weights that other should be shouldering. Don't ask why life is suddenly starting to be kinder to you. It's what you deserve".

Well I hadn't noticed life suddenly being kinder to me. I have started to try and focus on the positive aspects of my world. I am trying to appreciate more the good things in life. Shoving all the worries to the back of my mind. Ignoring the negativity emanating from MyMan. Trying to let the aggression and irritability bounce off me without any adverse effects. I imagine myself in a protective bubble. When MyMan is pleasant and 'normal' I come out of my bubble but it's always there in the background . . .

I had a phone call as I was preparing lunch. Up to my wrists in oily pilchards MyMan asked me "who's that?". I told him we wont know till its answered. He took the hint. He doesn't always. It was for me. Margaret from the Mental Health team wants to meet me to find out how I'm coping. She offered me the chance to visit her where we could talk without my feeling " inhibited or disloyal". I almost wept at the words and her understanding. I rarely get the chance to speak privately about my anxiety over MyMan. Other than this blog that is. It is still hard not to feel disloyal but he is not the man I've spent so many years of my life with . . .

In a strange way I am a mixture of hopeful, expectant and nervous about the meeting. Maybe 'this is what I deserve'?

Saturday, 11 April 2009

All's Well

After such a stressful time on Moanday Thursday I expected Good Friday and the Easter weekend to continue in the same vein. But within a few minutes of surfacing from his slumbers yesterday morning MyMan surprised me by his cheerful demeanour. It continued unabated during most of the day. Even when he was experiencing a spasm of muscular and/or spine pain he was philosophically resigned but not letting it t detract from his positive mood.

Friends called in for a cup of tea and a hot cross bun during the afternoon. I held open house from 2.00 to 4.30. they finally left at 6.15 p.m. I think it was the first time for many months they felt welcome and relaxed and around MyMan. He also enjoyed their company. It was the most light hearted few hours we have enjoyed together socially for years. It reminded me of 'the good old days'.
Today we are just having a quiet time at home in the garden. It's bright, warm, sunny and we both feel quite relaxed.
Happy Easter to you all . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Muddle Muddle Toil and Trouble

Muddle muddle toil and trouble in our small world.

MyMan still likes to make the decisions on financial matters. But it is becoming more onerous task for him. I take care of the day to day movements of cash from savings accounts in and out of the current account to meet bills. I keep a list of various accounts on a the spreadsheet. A list that MyMan uses to complete the annual tax assessment forms. But although he has a print out each month he is not retaining the information.

Another worrying example is that he cannot remember opening some of the fixed term savings which are now coming up for the end of term. One particular account he asked me twice did we have a Bond with X Bank. Yes we have. He then told me that we have to access it via a PIN and Password. No trace of which can be found. I've searched high and low. He doesn't remember completing a form to select a 'memorable number' and a 'memorable word'. I asked to look at the paperwork. He has written all the information down bar the security details.

The bond was taken out when I was about to take a break away. He asked me to sign the cheque before I left as he didn't want to miss the good offer. I seem to recall his telling me the word and number he'd decided to use. I assumed he had written them down for safe keeping. Being preoccupied I didn't check. Now I realise that I can't assume anything.

He's very annoyed that we are missing out on securing the next 'good' fixed term deal. But the bank will not allow me to authorise transfer until I can confirm the 'memorable number and password'. Security details will have to be 'reset'. Being the Easter weekend the bank is unable to send out the relevant forms until Tuesday after the bank holiday .

I was able to supply names, date of birth, address and account number along with the typo error they have been using in my name on all statements I am annoyed they couldn't then telephone me back using the number they have on their file to enable me to request the transfer of funds into their 'special limited offer' which closes on 13 April.

MyMan is very irritable and is blaming me for not retaining a note of the number and password. I think it is a form of displacement activity anger.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Friends Reunited

MyMan surprised me this morning. He suddenly said he would like to try and make contact with an old friend, John M. He used ot go to school with him and they were cycling companions. In fact John was with MyMan when he had his first road traffic accident. Age 16 he'd been hit by a motorcylist emerging from a side road. This in the 1960s when cyclists did not wear protective clothing.

Having an unusual surname I said I would Google John M and see what I could find. I found him straight away - first hit on the list - was John M, an estate agent and surveyor in Kent. It mentioned that he had lived in South Africa for a few years. True - that was how he and MyMan had lost touch with each other. The second item on Google search results list told me he had died in August.

I found his Friends Reunited page which made no mention of his death. Not surprising. It's a shame that family members can't post something up as a notice. It said he was divorced with children. And that he was enjoying life and happy. I printed off the newspaper item of his brief biography and about his death at the beginning of August. I feel sad over the death of a man I never met. And sad for MyMan.

More Trips Out

Well we are soon to take more trips over towards the west. MyMan has an appointment to see the ENT specialist to try and find out if anything can be done to help with his sinus problem. Hopefully without re-starting the dreadful nose bleeds. He'll start getting anxious soon about making the trip to the hospital. Not the hospital that worries him but the travelling. He is still very uncomfortable as a driver and as a passenger. Everyone else on the road is seen as a potential threat. An accident waiting to happen. It's beginning to make me more nervous than usual.

He is also awaiting an assessment for his memory problem and I am to be referred for a Carer' s Assessment. I certainly could do with some outside help. Even if it is to chew over whether there is anything I am doing that is holding MyMan back. A few sessions of counselling wouldn't go amiss. Sometimes I don't know which way to turn. It still feels 'disloyal' to talk about MyMan and the difficulty I now have in dealing with him and his 'moods' and aggression.

As I told him - if there is no diagnosis of dementia and he 'is just turning into a grumpy old man' then I can lose my temper too and give as good as I get. But if he's ill then hopefully I'll get some advice on the best way to cope with our feelings and advice on how best to cope.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Organising a Trip Out

A fine warm sunny spring day and MyMan wanted for the two of us to take a trip out 'somewhere'. He also wanted to watch the rugby this afternoon. So a trip out in the morning then. When he voiced this thought I was still in my dressing gown. At 9.30 - with no commitments I was taking a leisurely start to the day. "Fine" I said "Lovely, where shall we go?". He didn't know and wanted me to suggest a place.

"Well, how about Seaton and the easy walk along the prom?" No - he doesn't like Seaton. I then suggested in turn Exmouth, Topsham, Budleigh Salterton or a walk along the Otter valley, Sidmouth, Honiton, Axminster. Not one of them did he feel any interest. I then said that he was to tell me where he wanted to go. He wanted to go somewhere he'd "never been before". I suggested he get the book of maps out and then tell me where we were going. I went and dressed ready to go. He was surprised at how quickly I was ready.

While dressing I had the thought that many friends have enjoyed a coffee at Kings Garden Centre in Exmouth. We'd not been there. "Let's just go and try it". The map had to come out. I had a rough idea where it was. Down Dinan Way then at the end turn right on Hulham Road and then it would be on the right. He said it would be easier to approach it from the A376 but I pointed out that we had to go to Topsham to pick up the road to come back down to Exmouth. I didn't say it but would add miles that he wouldn't want to travel. I assured him that it would be easy to find and not as he thought in a crowded built up area.

By the time he had changed and was ready to go he was having second thoughts. He thought perhaps I was "not really keen on going out". I assured him I was. Then he said he didn't think he was up to going out to a crowded place on the day before Mother's day when it would be full of "people looking for Mother's Day gifts". He didn't want to queue for coffee. He didn't want crowds.

After much discussion we ended up going to a garden centre with which he's very familiar - he must feel that familiar is safe. At least he enjoyed the change of scene for an hour and he managed to endure the 20 minute drive each way.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

A Form of Relief

MyMan went to see the doctor this morning. He has bad sinus problems and doesn't know how to deal with it after his recent nasal haemorrhage. He had a bad day yesterday and couldn't connect his thinking or speech at all well. I thought he would want my assistance. But he insisted on seeing the doctor alone this morning.

I was surprised and kind of relieved to hear that MyMan also told him some of his worry about short term memory and comprehension problems. MyMan even told him that I was also concerned. And that "she's the most sensible, pragmatic and grounded person I know". Is that another kind of compliment?

The doctor is going to refer him for tests.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Tired and Distracted or Confused

We are still having a bad time of it. I am tired and full of aches and pains. MyMan is tired, distracted and confused. He is bothered that he can't remember some conversations we have had in the last 3 hours. I am still not sure whether he has a short term memory problem or is just doing that 'man thing' of not concentrating or listening properly. Talk about 'Men are from Mars . . .'.

I tried to lighten his anxiety by telling him that when he's in pain I can see his concentration waning as I speak .. . . but he feels 'there is something wrong'. I suggested that we talk it over with the doctor but he's not ready for that - yet.

On occasions he can act aggressively. Unlike the man I know and love he is often short tempered and aggressive with others. He seems to have lost the skill of considering others feelings and viewpoints. He has upset 3 window cleaners and 2 sets of neighbours. I'll have to live with grubby windows until I can find another window cleaner willing to come out here 4 times a year .

I was really pleased the other day when he came in from his short daily walk to tell me he had apologised to our new young neighbours. He said they are really nice. Well, that's a relief. The fact that he had been rude and abrupt with them but remembered his 'rudeness' and was able later to apologise makes him a Meldrew type rather than verging on dementia. Doesn't it?

The anger, confusion, aggression and the blankness I sometimes see in his eyes still worry me. Is it Old Timers Disease or not?

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Do It Yourself

MyMan decided to have new bedroom furniture when we swapped bedrooms. We placed an order with a local firm who are very helpful in removing old furniture to their Auction Rooms and also in moving other heavy items around in order to accommodate the new furniture.

We have one doorway which is rather narrow and awkward. MyMan insisted on removing the door from it's hinges before the delivery. I said the men would do this when they delivered. But he insisted it was easily done and would save them time. I was out when the furniture was delivered. And so missed the fact that a second door had also to be lifted from it's hinges. The men replaced this before they left and offered to do the same for the first door. MyMan wouldn't let them he said he "could manage".

We lived with the door off the frame for 3 days before he asked me to help hold it on the hinges while he dropped the pins in place. I found it hard, heavy and cumbersome. We were working in a confined space. I couldn't hold it steady enough for long enough for the pins to drop in. Beside the door had warped slightly and the pins wouldn't drop or, when he tried it, hammer into place. I suggested a spot of lubrication might help. This was refused as 'not necessary'. After stuggling to stop the door falling on his head I demanded a rest. At this point I found which pin fell into which hinge and told him that there was one particular pin for the top and another for the bottom. He got scratchy and said there should be 'no difference'. Maybe not but if he'd like to try it for himself there was one pin that refused to slide easily into the slots unless it was at the top. While I was at it I lubricated the pins with a bit of polish.

Perhaps we could change positions. I suggested he support the door against the frame while I tried to slide the pins into place. Another sensible suggestion shot down. It was at this stage that he told me he'd refused the offer by the delivery men to re-hang the door for us. Well at this point I withdrew my labour and downed tools. I went on strike. He was angry and increasingly irritable. I was beginning to join him. I was getting a stiff neck. My shoulders and hands were cramping.

I retreated to the kitchen and left him to sort out his problem. Eventually he managed by balancing the door on a wedge. He agreed the pins slid in easily enough providing they were the right way round. Murder most foul was very nearly committed. But he lives to tell the tale.

It's Been a Rather Tiresome Time

It's been a rather tiresome time over the last 3 weeks or so. My 60th birthday passed in a blur. I remember the cards, gifts and the tea party. Unfortunately I also remember the stress and anxiety. It has taken us about 2 weeks to regain our equilibrium again. MyMan suffered from socialising fall out syndrome.

Most of my friends at the party have also been unwell. When I do venture out to socialise most of the daily chat is about hospital or doctors appointments. Is this all life is about when one becomes 60? Or is it that as my home life so much revolves around MyMan's state of health I'm more conscious of my need for more light hearted social chat? Previously I've offered unlimited empathic listening but now I just don't don't have it in me. I feel permanently hassled, stressed, anxious and worried. I don't have room to be supportive to others. This isn't like me at all. All my working life has been involved in the health or caring services. But I now feel used up and burnt out. I no longer feel I know myself now. I'm different.

During the 1970/80's I spent 8 years as a Samaritan with the Gloucester Branch. I remember when I went for interview we were asked whether we had a family member who suffered from depression. There was one lady who was 'rejected' as she had a partner with depression and being a Samaritan would place far too heavy a demand on her. I can see their point now.

I think that had I known I was to end my later years being an unpaid carer I would have chosen a different career path. Caring as a career is stressful. I had looked forward to a stress free relaxed retirement. The only difference being that if I make a mistake as a caring spouse I only get nagged. Or, if I'm in a bad mood, we have an argument.

I don't have to keep report writing to 'cover my back' - just in case; sending copies of reports to all agencies involved, checking on Health and Safety at Work issues, solving staffing problems, counselling staff, ensuring staff are adequately trained and capable. I have no worry about falling down on the job and facing disciplinary action. No worry about ending up in court.

Not unless I murder MyMan.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Pensioner Pisces Parties

I have been inudated with flowers, cards, chocolates and a watercolour of 3 fancy goldfish for my 60th birthday. The DWP also sent me a letter to tell me that my pension would be paid into my bank account on the following Monday. The DWP Carers Section sent me a letter to tell me that my Carer's Allowance will cease. But that I will contine to have an 'underlying entitlement' to Carer's Allowance. Thanks.

MyMan made a noble effort to celebrate the day. The effort took a lot out of him. I found it exhausting watching him. But I appreciated his attempt. It's just that I could see what it was doing to himand it upset me.

A friend said I couldn't be allowed to not celebrate the day. She arranged an afternoon tea party for me. Sadly it was a struggle for her too. She was distracted and tense as her husband was unwell. In the event he had a dizzy turn and dropped the tray of champagne filled glasses. Unusually for him he retired to bed. It was the first time she had entertained guests while she was so worried about her man. She said the time passed in a blur and she could remember very little. She partied on autopilot. I know the feeling. That's why I rarely arrange social events at home. Stress on top of stress is just unbearable.

The silver lining is that I now have one local friend who has had a taste of what it is like to be a carer. And why I have ceased entertaining at home.

Friday, 13 February 2009

A Bleeding Free Zone

I'm pleased to report that we have been a bleeding free zone for several weeks now. MyMan has been very quiet. He has been 'lazy'. He has not strained or lifted a muscle. He watched TV, listened to the radio, read the daily papers and books. But he did not bleed. We haven't seen an ambulance outside our house since early January. Slowly life is returning to normal. Well, our version of 'normal'.

The less he did the more relaxed he became. The less he did the less pain he suffered. The less pain he suffered the more mellow his mood became. It's been quite a pleasure to live with him over the last month. The less he did the more I had to do. My muscles are suffering from over work and over effort. I became tired and wrung out. But content as there was no friction between us. I remembered why I love him.

After a bleed free month MyMan started to step up his activities. He started to do his small daily walks again. Pottering on various small jobs around the house. Activity brought on increased pain. As his pain level increased so did his irritability and irrational outbursts. As his irritability increased so did our little bickering arguments over trivial misunderstandings.

If we want to live together in happy harmony I think he needs to become a couch potato, permanently.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The Latest Elephant in the Room

As I said in my last post it feels as if there is another elephant in the room. At the moment we no longer worry about dementia or memory problems. Now our worries are centred around whether or not he is about to start another nose bleed. He is not an easy patient. By no means a patient patient. He is frustrated at being kept quiet. Only reading or watching TV. I remind him that if they had a spare bed available they would have kept him on the ENT ward for 7 days complete bed rest. At least here at home he can sit in the lounge to watch TV or amble to the toilet.

This last mad dash over to A&E was a bit stressful. I wasn't my usual level headed and organised wife/carer. I forgot minor little things when I visited. I forgot to take slippers. I failed to leave him with money. I forgot to leave him a pen and notepad. I did remember a comb and to re- charge his shaver. I did put credit on his patientline and show him how to use the system before I left for home. So I wasn't a complete careless carer.

He wants now to be prepared for another urgent dash to the hospital. So we are talking about this "elephant in the room". He has made a list of what he would want if he's kept in overnight. And items he would like if he is in more than one night. We are going to pack a bag and leave it in readiness in the wardrobe. If I'm not at home when he is spirited away by the paramedics then like a boy scout he will be prepared. I can just pick up the bag and follow along once we know if he is to be kept as an inpatient again.

Friday, 9 January 2009

999 for Emergencies

Once the hospital were able to find a bed for MyMan he was confined to complete bed rest for 24 hours with his nostril plugged. Once the plug was removed he was told to gently walk about for a while. Then the ENT specialist examined his nasal passages. He could not see anything that would explain where all the blood was coming from. So like the local DynoRod expert he employed a camera to negotiate the passage ways to see if he could find the cause of the bleeding. Nothing. So, once again the problem appears to be really high up. High up where they are "reluctant to operate unless we have to".

The only re-assurance we have is that we are not over re-acting by dialling 999 when we can't stop a bleed within 15 minutes. The extent of his bleeding isn't a minor matter. It is a bit more than 'nuisance level'. I find it very worrying and quite stressful. I also find it stressful in keeping my own anxiety from being seen by MyMan. There is another elephant in the room.


The last occasion that My Man was an in-patient,5 years ago, visiting times were 'any reasonable hour.' He would ask me to go over to see him as early as possible. Although semi comatose on a wave of morphine he would lie there, cling to my hand and ask me to stay as long as possible.

Now there has been a change for the better, visiting hours are restricted from 2.30 to 8 p.m. Much more civilised for us visitors. It's all very well for the patient. Lying there on complete bed rest with all meals provided. But for those of us still in the outside world:
  1. with at least a 45 minute journey each way - providing there is no ice on the roads, roadworks or an accident to negotiate.
  2. astronomical car park charges.
  3. along with the need to do basic chores, get a meal for self and field numerous phone calls from friends and relatives.

Having a spouse in hospital is no rest. MyMan may have been an inpatient for only 3 days but I found the whole event exhausting. At the end of each phone call many recommended that I take the opportunity to spoil myself. I was looking forward to a glass of wine, a meal and a DVD of Mama Mia before a hot shower and bed. As it was so many friends would call to check how I was and how MyMan was doing, that I barely had time for any of my planned indulgences.

I did love the solitude. I slept really soundly. Not one of the night time noises from prowling animals [badgers, foxes or the mice in the loft] disturbed my slumbers. Regardless of the noises, I seemed to know it wasn't caused by MyMan in need of help and I slept on carefree.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Bloody Waste of Time

A quiet Christmas, an even quieter New year yet still that bloody nose would suddenly erupt. I practically forced bed rest on him. Anything that might give us a few days clear of the bleeding nuisance. I went out earlier this week for hair appointment. Five minutes after I had left he had a gusher.

He called for an ambulance and was carted off once again to RD&E hospital. When I came home and found an empty house I didn't rush over to Exeter. I played it low key. I put my shopping away, made coffee, checked the post then rang to see what was happening. He was being examined by an ENT specialist. I still didn't rush over to be with him. Eventually he rang to say he was being admitted for an overnight stay. I then rushed over with all I considered essential to a man enjoying B&B courtesy of the NHS. He didn't want half of it. I forgot a bar of soap.

I think if I'd been with him in A&E they might have thought once again "she looks sensible" and sent him home under my tender care. For some reason medics tell me "you seem a sensible woman" - I'm not sure if it's a compliment or not. I can think of better. That's why I didn't rush over. I didn't want to influence their decision.