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.