It has been a long time between posts. How have you been? I’ve not been so good since I saw you last.
2014 seemed to be going along nicely, and I was in a good place. Until I wasn’t.
It’s a long drawn-out story, and pretty familiar to lots of people, I imagine. We all go through this sort of thing at this stage in life, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Last May my mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia after having a hip replacement operation, apparently very common for elderly patients. I wish we’d known that before, but hind sight doesn’t help the situation now.
My family were thrown into disarray, suffering from shock, anger, disbelief. Reports said early intervention could minimise the effects, but it seems the British National Health system moves at a glacial pace. We were frantic with frustration. By the time there was even an official diagnosis, months later, it was too late.
After months of nursing Mum at home, Dad needed a break and asked my brother and sisters to look after her while he went on a 10 day fishing holiday in July . . . to Russia. Yes, remote Russia, with contact only by satellite phone, and at a time like this. A bone of contention to add to the simmering pot of frustration.
Since they all work full-time, and both my sisters have young kids, I volunteered to go over to do my bit. The plan was that I would stay with Mum the entire time, and they would take shifts for a few days at a time, so there would always be 2 of us on hand.
It was great to catch up with each of them, and wonderful, if sad, to spend time with Mum. We talked about old times and sang hymns in between Mum forgetting who I was from moment to moment. Unfortunately our fears were realised when Mum had an episode which called for hospitalisation. They suspected a silent heart attack or mini stroke, but never got to the bottom of it. A stressful time was had, and Dad couldn’t be contacted until he was on his way back anyway, and Mum came home even more frail and confused.
Dad couldn’t seem to accept Mum’s further incapacitated state. He was in denial, and wanted to take control as if nothing had happened. I was exhausted, distressed and resentful. We had a huge fight and some dreadful things were said. I tried to leave. He wouldn’t let me. An uneasy truce was formed for Mum’s sake. When the time came for me to come home, sadly I couldn’t get out fast enough. Unfortunately due to massive flight delays in Birmingham and Dubai it took 3 days to get back to Melbourne. In the end I just made it in time for our 20th wedding anniversary.
No time for a breakdown once home, with my mother-in-law descending on us for a 4 week visit, just a fortnight after I got back. I’m very fond of her, but I wasn’t overly pleased, and that’s an understatement. She came with us on our much needed family holiday to Queensland, where upon she promptly twisted her ankle and required several trips to doctors and the hospital. It wasn’t her fault, but I was in no fit state to care for anyone. A less than ideal situation. I sorely needed quiet time with my family to recover. It was a stressful and nit-picking month, which saw me in tears too often.
I was losing weight, mentally and physically exhausted and bitter. I have been going to counselling ever since.
Mum’s dementia has progressed quickly, and she is now waiting for a place in a residential care home. Frustration has been replaced with acceptance. I’ve recently been diagnosed with Grave’s disease, an autoimmune overactive thyroid condition.
OK, that’s out of the way now. Enough of the self pity. The overactive thyroid, whilst having debilitating symptoms of anxiety, weight loss and insomnia, also comes with a side-order of super-energy, so I have been really busy getting all sorts of things done around the house. I finally painted the front door frame I commented on a year ago, finished painting the inside of the window frames, and made several pairs of mittens for koalas recently burnt in the South Australian bush fires. I’m planning a total re-design of our front yard complete with tiled porch and new planting. Skinny and busy – I can’t seem to slow down, but I have decided I’m now mentally able to start posting on The Urban Nest again. I’ll take it slowly – don’t expect too much. I think it’ll do me good now that life is back in focus.
Originally posted 17/02/2015