Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Frankincense and Myrrh

Frankincense and Myrrh - seasonal aromas and offerings . It was interesting that Chickpea recently referred to them in her comment on an earlier post. Interesting as I had the both frankincense and myrrh incense sticks here in readiness for burning on New Year's Day.

Thanks to all of you that take the time to pause here and read. And for those that leave comments, thoughts and suggestions. I appreciate them all.

Wishing you and those you care for, all best wishes for the new year.

Monday, 29 December 2008

What a Bleeding Nuisance

Yes - another nosebleed. A rather ominous large free flowing bleed from both nostrils. Difficult to stop. MyMan became anxious. His blood pressure started to rise. As it rose the blood flowed evermore freely.

This morning my car was due to go in for plastic surgery in the body shop. To repair damage caused by my meeting with White Van Man. At the last minute I had to cancel the arrangement. As I write I'm not sure if we will have to go over to A&E Dept Exeter or not.

All the relaxed feelings that I talked about in yesterday's post have dissipated. Talk about a roller coaster ride. Ah well, That's Life I suppose.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Out With The Old

Out with the Old and in with the New. Year that is. Christmas is over. We survived. We are still here. Still married. And neither of us murdered the other.

I did the right thing this year. I didn't put up decorations. I didn't party or arrange to hold a party. I didn't do anything seasonal at all. Other than buy a turkey for us to have a traditional lunch with all the trimmings. That was my only concession to the Christmas festivities. That was only because it suited me as a cook and general provider of food. Once the turkey was cooked I get a week off food preparation. No need to think "what shall we eat tonight". Don't even ask. It's going to be cold turkey for days with either bubble and squeak or salad with mashed potatoes.
MyMan was far more relaxed as there was no pressure on him to socialise. With no pressure he made more of an effort to be sociable with me. We ate when hungry. Slept when tired. Read or watched TV. We didn't go out unless we went together. That removed any anxiety he experiences when I go out and he remains at home: Alone with his own thoughts.
  1. MyMan surprised me with a Christmas gift. The first for over 7 years. He'd managed to secretly buy a large mirrored jewellry box that now sits on my dressing table. I have a wedding ring, a watch and 6 pairs of earrings in it. They look lost in the vast empty space. I'll have to get myself some more jewels now that I have a box for them.

  2. He sat and relaxed enough to watch the long tailed tits feeding in the garden. He thought they were beautiful. It's good to see him appreciate the good things in life. Taking time to sit and stare.

  3. Besides watching a few [well quite a few, several in fact] football matches he also finished reading a book. He wants to read more and is going to collect some large print books from the library to make it easier.

As I said in an earlier post - he is beginning to accept, adjust and adapt. Perhaps the new year will bring further improvements. He isn't the only one who need's to adjust. I also can see that it makes life easier for him if I also make adjustments. In the new year we'll have to work on a happy balance.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Christmas Cheer

Although I am disappointed that we haven't made much progress over this year I do have much for which to be grateful. And on reflection I feel some improvement in my general attitude compared to when I started to blog.

I am pleased that MyMan and I exchanged bedrooms. He is happier in the smaller quieter room. I have still to release my PC desk from 'captivity' in his bedroom. But hope that we'll be able to do so early in the new year. Friends have offered to lend some muscle. I love my pink room and having much greater wardrobe space and storage.

We managed to sell my lovely old [circa 1995] Rover 216 a few months ago. We are still in the process of deciding which car to buy next. After much time and effort we are down to 2 possible contenders. Citroen C4 Grand Picasso or the Nissan Cashcow (Qashqai). We both love the Honda CRV but MyMan finds it a bit too high for easy access even though I offered to buy a step stool. The Nissan drives beautifully and feels more solid than my Jazz. Even more so after my recent dust up with a white van man in Sidford. The Citroen feels spacious and comfortable but I've yet try it on a test drive.

Having attended several funerals this year I realise that although I feel sad I'm no longer gripped by feelings of intense grief. I have recovered from bereavement; of the loss of close family members such as my father, a much loved uncle and our 2 cats. Although I still occasionally feel a very deep sadness and frustration that life and 'retirement' is not going as I would wish I am coping better. I am 'down' for a shorter period. I no longer try to bottle up my feelings. I whinge, rant and gripe here on my blog. I also feel free to have a weep to let it out. Sometimes in front of MyMan. He knows his depression, angry irritability, forgetfulness and withdrawal from social situations affects me. I no longer feel I have to hide my feelings. To bottle it all up until I'm alone in a car somewhere. I still do try to keep a smiling stiff upper lip but it sometimes trembles over the loose flabby bottom lip.

Money worries are less pressing. Well, they are so long as no other British bank, building society or any other financial institution holding my pension or savings go bust.

Bridge lessons have opened up a whole new avenue for me. There are so many single people playing [widows, divorced people and married but with partners who can't stand card games] that I fit in well. Even a married couple are taking lessons but will not play with each other. The game is fun, stimulating, challenging, sociable, intellectually demanding, intriguing and absorbs a great many of my overactive brain cells. When I've played bridge my mind feels more settled and I sleep better. I don't lie awake worrying about problems so often as I used to. I love learning new skills. The more challenging the better.

I am beginning to find I am able to concentrate on reading again. I can lose myself for a short while in a good book. I do try to choose happier, heart warming and uplifting tales. I see no reason to read dreary depressing stories. I want escapism.

One main change in MyMan is he feels less resistant to using the Blue Badge for parking. It has been very useful for hospital appointments and visits to the solicitor in Exeter city centre. It has reduced the pressure on my trying to find somewhere suitable to drop him off, rushing off to find a parking space then rush back to pick him up again. He is also considering using a walking stick. Finally he is using more pain medication and intends to request a re-referral to the pain management centre. He is no longer fighting to ignore that he is unable to carry on as 'normal'. I think he continued to hope he'd improve. Now that realises he is slowly getting worse he is going to take any help that is on offer. I think finally he is accepting that 'this is it'.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Getting Up His Nose

We went to Wonford Hospital Exeter again on Tuesday. This time it was as an outpatient to the ENT department to see what could be done about his frequent nose bleeds. He was told that steroid allergy sprays are not suitable for him and to refuse any further prescriptions. They cauterised blood vessels while he was there. He may need a further treatment in 6 weeks. I'm hoping that he remains bleeding free until the next appointment.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Christmas Time - Tis the Season to be Jolly

It's reached that time of year again. When we are inclined to reflect on the last year. What we hoped to achieve. The changes we'd hoped to make. The changes we did or didn't make. The lost opportunities. And the chance to look forward to new opportunities; new beginnings, new dreams, hopes, aspirations.

I remember writing last year that Christmas was going to be a very low key affair with no socialising. But as it is the time of year when I'm affected by winter sadness I've always been inclined to make Christmas an 'event'. To raise my spirits before dreary January sets in. Decorate a sparkling clean house. Shop, bake, cook and entertain. Party time. So far I've shopped. The house is far from sparkling. The decorations are down from the loft but remain in the box.

It's MyMan's birthday on Christmas day. Traditionally I've always made the first half of the day Birthday time with gifts and cards. Then after the traditional lunch we've enjoyed afternoon tea and cake with the opening of Christmas presents. Sometimes just the two of us. Others with family or friends. Sometimes away from home. MyMan has always said he thinks 'Christmas is not worth the effort'. In the days when he used to go out and about he would buy me gifts. He would get several small presents. Some were daft, scented, funny or thoughtful. I'm like a child at Christmas. I loved opening them. And appreciated every one. He used to make an effort to enjoy the season because I did. I still try to make an event of his birthday. But we haven't exchanged Christmas gifts for years. I miss that.

Over the last few years he's continued with the view that Christmas is not worth the effort. But now he makes no effort at all. I am tired; physically and mentally. I'm still trying to make some effort but I question whether it is really worth the energy I am expending on it. It brings him no cheer. And I can't be cheerful when there is no one to share in joy or laughter. And yet if I don't make the effort then his depression has defeated the two of us.

He made a real effort last year and we did have a couple of small social events. One at home and one with local friends. But each event caused additional stress and tension. His anxiety at socialising builds so much I no longer derive pleasure from the events. It just highlights how much we have changed. I never know till we actually come to walk out the door whether or not he will come with me. I feel even more of a carer when we are out together. So it's not a relaxing way to spend an evening. I need energy to cope. There is no way I would socialise without him over the festive season. So it does look like being a very quiet 4 day weekend.

At the end of last year he said how he would 'go mad' if he didn't have a break away from home. I was hopeful that I would be able to book us into our favourite Devon hotel for a Christmas break this year. We used to enjoy the holiday season there. But it is not to be. Home is where he feels able to cope. He's not happy but he is happier at home. Preferably quietly at home. Maybe, hopefully, next Christmas we'll feel seasonally cheerful . . .

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Assisted Suicide

I was listening to the local radio phone in yesterday on the why's and wherefore's of legalising assisted suicide. I was in a cross crabby mood. 'Cobby' my grandmother would have called my mood. I've never heard the expression since she died in 1970. I assume it was an old Victorian Suffolk expression?

Anyway, I found myself thinking that it's a slippery slope to legalise assisted suicide. It would be too tempting sometimes. The mood I was in - if MyMan said he didn't think it was worth 'carrying on' or 'that life is pointless' again I might just have agreed with him and handed him the bullets.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Goodnight Sweetheart - Sweet Dreams

It's now almost 2 months since MyMan and I swapped bedrooms. When his new adjustable bed arrived. A softer bed with more give in the mattress. I'm pleased to say I was right. He finds it much more comfortable. It eases his back pain when he needs to rest in the afternoon. He is sleeping a bit better.

He has had many night mares and peculiar dreams. All connected with loss of control, accidents and sorting out other peoples problems in the work place. I'm not overly worried. I assume this is his mind sorting out worries that it's not been able to do over many sleepless years. Recently he had a more pleasant dream. This time when he dreamt he was lost someone came to help him and he 'felt less alone'.

What does worry me is that the softer mattress has highlighted just how weak his muscles have become. He can barely reach over to the bedside cabinet to turn the light or radio on/off. I'm hoping that better quality sleep will improve his general health enough so that we can look at building up his physical strength.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Losing My Place

I thought that I was updating you all on this blog but not until I posted it did I realise I've inadvertently lost my place. So please just nip next door for a minute to catch up . . . on moving tales . . .

Hurt Feelings - Part 2

After a few weeks along with a few nights of a good deep sleep I now feel less venomous towards Kay and our time together. Normally I've been aware of her selfishness and impatience but have been able to absorb it with an inward smile. I know I've been far less tolerant than of old. So have been trying to re-assess the weekend with a more logical less tired brain. I refrained from posting a strongly worded letter. Contact between us has been less than usual. I've not responded so quickly to her texts or phone messages. But when she phoned me recently we had an innocuous chat for 20 minutes. I still find it hard to feel as friendly towards her. Obviously the hurt feelings I felt at the time have left a deep wound.

Occasionally I've caught myself thinking 'Kay would like that' when I've been browsing around the stores. But my cash has stayed firmly in my pocket with the thought that I could use it to treat myself to something instead. I am learning to be more selfish.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Bloody Hell

MyMan thought he'd dropped something on the floor. But as he looked he saw it was blood. A sudden nosebleed. After half and hour of sitting quietly trying to stem the flow he told me he was swallowing blood. I had some nasal plugs for emergencies such as this but we had gone through 4 of them in less than 30 minutes. I had no more left. The blood continued to drip off the end of the plug. I dialled 999. It seems such a small thing for which to dial 999 but I was just doing as previously instructed by the ENT department.

It was over 5 years ago that MyMan first had a sudden nosebleed. A few months after his RTA. It was a freezing cold day in early January when he told me early one morning that his nose was bleeding. I told him to go, sit quietly and pinch his nostrils for 15 mins. It stopped. He went to move - it started again. After a few hours of stop start bleeding he started to worry. I tried to calm him by telling him "if you lose a pint then we'll start to worry". It was Saturday so we went to the casualty department in Sidmouth hospital. By the time he saw a medic it had stopped. His blood pressure was sky high: "that's the cause" they said. "No it isn't" , I told them his BP is usually OK. It's the fear induced by the constant nosebleeds that is causing the high pertension. We were sent home twice from casualty with the advice it would stop eventually. 24 hours later it was still bleeding at intermittent intervals.

Then late in the evening when he was still unable to move a muscle without the bleeding starting afresh I bundled him in the car and drove over to Exeter A&E. Again, they treated us as if we were panicking. 'Very High blood pressure. See your doctor on Monday morning'. We insisted that he be seen by a doctor/surgeon. We received veiled threats of 'if they pack your nostrils - you wont like it'. Of course not, but what's the alternative?! In the end the ENT Registrar saw him - performed some dreadfully invasive procedure that made me feel a queasy voyeur. And said he should be admitted for 48 hours complete bed rest. Relieved to feel he was no longer my responsibility I returned home.

The next morning on arrival in the ward I was told he was heavily drugged with morphine as they had to pack both nostrils as the bleeding wouldn't cease. With both nostrils packed the blood had to go somewhere so he swallowed blood and his eyes oozed bloody tears. In the end he was in hospital for a week. He needed surgery for a burst blood vessel high up behind the nasal passage. A very rare occurence apparently. It could well have been weakened by whiplash effect of the RTA.

The week following his discharge our postman told him that he was in the same ward and the same bed - he knew this as his name was on the white board over the bed. Our postie had gone in for routine corrective surgery. We now tell anyone and everyone that MyMan and Steven have shared a bed.

On discharge we were sent home with the advice that in the event of any future bleeds that wont stop within half an hour to call an ambulance. So this time when it wouldn't I did.

Thankfully, last week after 3 hours in A&E they managed to stem the flow. The casualty doctor believes this bleed is not a burst blood vessel but possibly the result of side effects of using a steroid allergy spray prescribed for a sinus infection. This morning MyMan saw a locum who has prescribed antibiotics for a sinus infection he has had since May. The locum also explained that the infection could well have caused the bleeding and has advised that he requests an antibiotic cream to be prescribed for regular long term use on his next visit to the family doctor.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Hurt Feelings

Well, as my swollen face returns to normal and the itching lessens I feel a little more kindly towards Kaylee. Maybe kindly is still a bit too strong a word. But I do feel a little less poisonous in attitude. The letter remains unprinted and unposted. I wouldn't want to deliberately hurt her feelings. She either suspects that she has upset me or is completely oblivious of how I felt. Either way it was good to express my feelings in a letter. One day I will print it off , tear it to shreds and bin it along with memory of the hurt I felt. I expect I will reply to her texts eventually. Maybe write a short bland letter in a few weeks time. I will just slowly withdraw and become busier and busier with my life here.

I'm counting my blessings; the number of good friends I have in east Devon. It has also reminded me that my best friend is MyMan. He has stirred himself to try and talk it through with me. Urged me to caution and thought before action. Reminded me of how difficult I can be too, at times. But he's sad for me in that the stress I've been under recently made it difficult for me to cope with the situation.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Death of a Friendship 2

The previous post of Death of a Friendship was written in the early hours during another sleep disturbed night at home. Unfortunately insomnia gives one too much time to dwell on worries, concerns and hurt feelings. I have been mentally composing a letter to my 'friend' to explain why I no longer wish to keep in contact. I've just written it this morning. I'm not sure whether it will get as far as the post box as I'm still thinking of her feelings. She has sent me a text a couple of times since we parted. But I've not replied.

I'd been looking forward to meeting up with Kay again for a reunion of old colleagues. She had joked about no one turning up and our sitting there together feeling like 'Billy No Mates ...' I thought it a joke. If no one turned up then they either [a] had no interest in seeing either of us again or [b] had more pressing things to do during the weekend. If I was alone for the reunion I would have taken along a good book and settled down in a corner to wait to see who arrived.

I'd arranged our accommodation. I'd gone for the cheap option; B&B via the English Tourist Board as Kay had said she wanted to keep costs down. She wasn't at all keen to "spend £75 on a single room at a hotel as she had so many treats" planned for 2008. I could see on the website that one room looked much larger than the other but I didn't request that room ahead of our arrival - it didn't seem 'fair' to just bag it. On our being shown the rooms she immediately chose the larger of the 2. I did ask her if she had a preference. She turned towards me as if to ask which I preferred and then changed tack swiftly declaring to the owner "I'll take this one". I had expected to have some polite chat about our preferences and if necessary to make the decision with a toss of a coin. I was taken aback; very disappointed and speechless. After the journey up the M5 I was feeling tired, wrung out and travel weary. I get giddy and dizzy after a drive. My brain/mouth co-ordination slows down and I couldn't articulate what I was thinking.

After an evening spent in a local pub over a disappointingly tasteless bar snack we strolled back to the B&B. I had to dose up on painkillers as my back and knees were particularly stiff and painful. I then found out the room was cold, damp and mouldy around the window frames. Kay was lolling on her bed watching TV. She prefers to loll rather than sit in chairs. She wasn't using either of the 2 comfortable chairs in her room. I had one small slipper chair wedged against the bed and the wall. No chance to sit and read in comfort or to fill in my daily diary. I then experienced 2 hours sleep but was awake from 1.15 in a cold damp bedroom with barely room to swing a little mouse. As the night wore on I started to feel resentful.

With only 2 hours sleep it meant the next day passed in a sleep deprived haze. I felt nauseous, increasingly stiff and struggled to keep up with conversation and exploring the area. Kay seemed impervious to how I was feeling. Eventually at 3 p.m we stopped in a hotel for afternoon tea. Kay blithely telling me I had to stay awake till late or I'd have trouble sleeping again.

The hotel was blissfully warm. It was cosy. It was clean. It was welcoming. It had rooms available. I'd talked to reception on a trip to the ladies powder room. There were single rooms from £75/ Or, for myself, a large superior spacious double bedroom at £115 a night. I was all for returning to the B&B Guest House - checking out and moving in to the hotel. But Kay was almost in tears ... she was annoyed that I'd think of moving on ... she was concerned about upsetting the feelings of the B&B owner ... when I explained that at this rate I wouldn't have the energy to get to the reunion she then started to worry about going to the event alone. She told me that I should have booked us into a hotel if I was incapable of accepting smaller more cramped accommodation. She suggested that I stay at the B&B another night when exhaustion should help me sleep better (a fair point, but ..) if I had another bad night I could go to the reunion and then drive home afterwards. Although she agreed with me she would find the journey after the event hard to do she would do the same as she "couldn't remain at that grotty B&B" without me.

It was therefore clear to me she could or would not remain in "that grotty B&B" without me. She would rather upset me than offend the owner of the B&B. I'd expected to do the dirty deed myself of extricating ourselves and if necessary pay a cancellation fee after I'd expressed my disappointment on the state of the room. It was also clear she felt incapable of meeting up with old colleagues without me.

She did kindly tell me that in her opinion, I'd placed "too much importance on this weekend away" as I not had any other holidays. And she thought I should on my return home book into The Woolacombe Bay Hotel for a relaxing break before Christmas. It was at that stage I broke down and shed tears over the tea tray. I realised then it was the Death of our Friendship. I cried for what I thought I'd had and had found out that I hadn't had at all. A good friend.

She has listened but she has not heard. Over the last 6 years I've talked over the difficulties we faced at home. Of how hard I find it to take time out for myself. To get away. She has obviously not understood one word I've said. I have tried to keep up my end with the fun and laughter. But I have so little energy I cannot squander it. This weekend with her felt as if my remaining energy was being sucked from me.

It seemed so very important to her that we did not decamp to the warmth of the hotel. I gave up the idea. I was by that time so distressed the hotel couldn't have cured what ailed me. Regardless of how warm and comforting it was. A drug induced sleep helped me to feel a little better and to get through the next day. But the 3rd night was once again sleepless. That along with an allergic reaction to something in that room saw me driving home as speedily as possible with a rapidly swelling face and an itchy rash.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Death of a Friendship

We meet people at different times in our lives. If they are friends for a long time they see the best and the worst in us. We make allowances when a friend upsets us. We give it time to assume less importance and the friendship continues. But sometimes the upset and hurt feelings are so big that one wonders whether the friendship will survive. Whether it is worth the effort.

A good friend remains thoughtful and considerate through thick and thin. Self centred friends are more 'fair weather' companions. I'm just sorting out one from the other.

What has shocked me is that the friend who now works in the caring industry is more 'me, me, me' than any of the others. I'm beginning to see her as a 'fairweather friend'. I think she may see me me as a 'travelling companion' for holidays and short breaks away. Someone who will cheer her when she finds life stressful. We enjoy a laugh and have a similar sense of humour. But it now appears to me she is completely unaware of my feelings and the stress I am under. That MyMan comes first in my life. Or that I have responsibilities. She expects me to 'do what you want to do'.

I am thinking of all she has said over our weekend away. Our 3 day weekend break away has been enlightening. And I think that she is right; in one way. I will think of myself first. I will do what I want to do. So I will not be seeing her again for a long, long while ... if ever again.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

In the pink ...

I have now been home 3+ weeks. It took me a good 7 days to re adjust. I set about being active and busy. Bridge classes re-started. I was wrong in that MyMan's new bed did not arrive while I was away. It was only delivered this last week.I was therefore able to continue with 'Plan A' - that we swap rooms. MyMan slowly became used to the idea of smaller bedroom with 'that awful pine furniture'

Over the last week we've managed to move everything between the 2 rooms. Each room's had a thorough spring clean. Well, an autumn clean really. I found many biscuit wrappers and chocolate crumbs in MyMans bedroom. No wonder he hasn't lost weight; regardless of my reducing meal portions. There were also signs of a visitation from a mouse. MyMan promised he would no longer say I am being 'over fussy' when I want to pull the bed away from the wall to vacuum under it.

I have now taken up residence in the 'pink room'. I feel rather like Barbara Cartland. The large king size bed looks far better for having space around it. I have been able to dig out all my favourite bed linens and am spoilt for choice as to how to dress my bed. It now looks warm, comfortable and inviting. It might look warm it is in fact the coldest room in the house but I'm happy enough with a pink furry hot bottle to take to bed at night. Now that we have room to turn the mattress it is in truth far more comfortable than it's been for many long months. So I'll be able to economise by not shopping for a new bed a while longer. Twice when I have woken early I have taken a cup of tea back to bed. Unlike recent years when if I've not been asleep I've left the room as speedily as possible.

MyMan now agrees the smaller room has plenty of space for him. He is finding the bed a great comfort and it helps with his quality of sleep. He still doesn't like the furniture so I am looking around for something more to his taste. I think it is the idea of change that upsets him so much. Along with the thought of the upheaval and work.

With the financial world going through so much turmoil the talk of a house move is on the slow back burner for now .. . .

Meanwhile I feel happier now that I have a pleasant retreat as a sanctuary when I feel the need. And next week I have another short break; a weekend away with an old [long standing] friend and colleague in Gloucestershire.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Singing the Blues

Well, I am 'safe home' once again. We are finding it hard, MyMan and I, to adjust to each others ways once again.

While away visiting family I've been talking and laughing a great deal. I've been listening to music and dancing around. I've been mixing with crowds in Croydon. I've drunk wine. Sat up late into the early hours, talking and listening, listening and talking. Conversation. So many interesting things to do, places to see, people to talk with. MyMan said the 'utter peace ' while I was away was lovely. Not to have the washing machine running. No noise from the vacuum cleaner. No radio unless he chose to listen to it. He talked to only one person in the 10 days I was away. It is so quiet here I can hear the field mice breathing in the loft.

Whenever I rang to check how he was coping he told me how "so very tired" he was having to do all the meals and the day to day chores of bed making, washing up. He found it "exhausting having to do everything" for himself. He was looking forward to my return home.

I am finding it soul destroyingly hard to re-adjust to the quietness. To the depressing outlook on 'life'. I returned home with a windchime. MyMan is not at all happy at the "racket it will make". It is supposed to hang in the north west corner to bring good Feng Shui to our home. To bring us 'Peace and Harmony'. Against his better judgement it is now hanging in the porch. I await the peace and harmony to descend on our household. May it be soon.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Abandon Ship

I'm getting ready to abandon ship. I'm jumping overboard. I'm going up to see my sister. I'll also visit a nephew who has recently been told that at the end of his traineeship with one of the top law firm's in London that he has a job. I'm not surprised. I'm proud of him and biased I know. A second younger nephew is safely back from his travels experiencing 'extreme sports' down under in Malaysia and Australasia. I'll be packing a couple of bottles for us to celebrate.

I've also acquired a cinecam and have found out how to operate it. And then how to get the movie on to my laptop. I've also bought a Dongle for web connection while I'm on my travels. I'm taking so many chargers, leads and connections I need a separate suitcase to cope with them all. I'm all set to film and research the area in which I'd like to live. I'm going to try a sales pitch when I return home.

I'm all set to laugh drink and be merry. After a week with my little sister I move on to the south coast to meet up with a nice niece for Sunday lunch and to visit an Aunt on Monday.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Awfully Quiet

I know, as Roserio commented - it has been Awfully Quiet. I've found it rather difficult to find the time and energy to post regularly. I've managed to put something up once a week or so over on my more lighthearted blog . To let regular visitors know I am still alive and 'active' of sorts.

I am trying not to reflect too often on how difficult I find being with MyMan nowadays. How I've been finding it hard to cope. I'm full of aches and pains. Muscular and joint pains which I am sure are caused by tension. I am conscious of wearing my shoulders up near my ears. My fists are clenched tight like a boxer's when I wake in the night. My buttocks are so clenched it is as if they are trying to catch up with my shoulders. I walk as often and as far as I can. But it just makes my aches worse.

I'm still struggling to try and decide which is the best option for us. The best option on deciding where we should move to. I worry that if MyMan does have a form of dementia coming on then the sooner we move and are able to establish a new routine then the better it will be. The more settled he becomes in a routine here, the less likely we will be able to relocate to a completely different area.

The good news is that we have finally sold the old Rover. I was sad to see the old faithful workhorse leave. Sad to see it go but thankful we no longer have to remember to charge the battery then take it out for a short drive once a week to keep it's innards ticking over. This has left room in the garage for us to sort, clear and declutter old gardening tools which we no longer use and a myriad of other once useful items. I must get on and arrange a Garage Sale.

We are still awaiting delivery of MyMan's new adjustable bed. It should arrive in the next 2 or 3 weeks. I am about to go up to visit family and I'm convinced it will be delivered while I am not at home. I have left a written reminder that when the huge heavy 6' bed leaves MyMan must hoover and dust before the new bed is put in place.

I will be going to stay with my sister. To see my nephews and a nice niece. And to take cine film and photos of the area where I would like us to move to next...... I still wish to live closer to family. To put down roots for our old age in the area where we were born. So I am going up to Surrey to do my Cecil B DeMille act. To come home and 'sell' the area to MyMan. I know that I too will miss living in the west country but as MyMan becomes more and more demanding of my time I see less and less of the countryside. My world is shrinking down to the house, garden and the local shops. We could very well live in any town it would make no difference. But there I have family. People I love. Who love me.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Emotional breakdown . . .

I've had an emotional breakdown. A few days ago we started to discuss all our options on moving house. MyMan's chiropractor has again told him to walk only on level ground. Not to climb hills.

I am still keen to return to Surrey/Sussex area to be closer to family. MyMan cannot imagine being back in the over crowded south east. Where there are stabbings, droughts and traffic jams on an hourly basis. He knows. He reads the newspapers. He watches the TV and sees Sky News 24. He tells me that I wont feel safe there. It doesn't matter that I tell him I have felt no fear when I go on a visit.

He asked why I am so keen on living there. When I said I would like to see family once a week for a few hours at a time rather than once a year for a week he told me it was an emotional reaction. Yes it is. I then became even more emotional and spent 6 days crying at the drop of a hat.

When I wasn't crying we tried to talk about my emotional feelings in a rational way. I explained just how wearying it is having to schedule in arrangements so that I can visit family. How much of a strain it feels choosing the 'right time' to leave him for a week. How tired I am to begin with. How tiring the journey can be. How tiring it is to get around to visit with each member of the family so that none feel slighted or left out. How so many deaths of the older members still haunt me as I'd not had chance to see them when they were ill. How I'd missed out on attending their funerals.

How after a few days of being away, with time to laugh giggle and relax with my sister and friends that after a few days I have then to start thinking of the journey home and returning to 'normal life'. How much harder I find it to cope on my return. That the few days away has just emphasized how much I am missing in my day to day life. That if he died tomorrow I would sell up and relocate.

He suggested that I look at going up there more often. Several times a year as I used to when we lived in Gloucestershire. When I was 10 years younger than now. It wont solve the problem that I'll soon be another 10 years older and will find the journey even harder than now.

I fail to see how it matters to him where he lives. That apart from going out to take a small amount of exercise he never wants to go out. He doesn't want visitors. He doesn't want to socialise. He's reclusive and non communicative. I attempted a rational explanation of how lonely and alone I often felt. I even wonder whether once living near our old home town again he wouldn't want to get out and about.To look at his old haunts. To watch a game at his favourite football club.

And also there is my fear that he may get worse. And then I wouldn't be able to leave him for a week. Never mind several times a year.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Losing it ....

I fear for MyMan's mind. I fear he is losing it. He wanted his lightweight dressing gown on a hot morning a few days ago. I told him it was on the back of his bedroom door. He said it wasn't there. I told him to look again as I knew it was. When he returned and said it wasn't there I went up to point it out to him. It was on the 'wrong hook'. And he didn't recognise the gown as his own...

Another alarming incident of forgetfulness. My heart sinks further.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Parallel Worlds

It is very strange but 2 days later MyMan started talking as if it is settled that he is going to change rooms when his new bed arrives. He said 'it does make sense' for the single bed to go in the smaller room. He was more like my OldMan. The Man I love and married 37 years ago.. reasonable and open to discussion and negotiation. We didn't always agree but we could talk through our differences and come to some agreement. Nowadays it's like living with Jekyll and Hyde. I just never know which one I am going to find each morning or which one I am talking to at any time.

We used to be so close he would always say he could read me like a book. He believed in ESP as I would start talking about something that was just in his thoughts.

Maybe as I typed up my last post he subliminally absorbed my thoughts while taking his afterno0n rest. Perhaps he decided the change of rooms was the cheaper option. Or it is that my OldMan is still lurking there behind this crabby, cantankerous old devil I find myself married to now.

We might make it to our 38th wedding anniversary after all ..

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The Last Straw

I'm inclined towards feeling upset this afternoon. It feels like the last straw. As the counsellor asked me last year "Who is Penny? and where is Penny in all this? and "what about Penny?.."

Despite having the whole house - apart from my bedroom- made comfortable and convenient in accordance with the difficulties MyMan experiences I've just found out that when he acquires a new single adjustable bed he is not keen to move into the smaller of the 2 bedrooms. He likes space around him. So if he continues in the main bedroom he'll have a single bed in a space between 2 bedside cabinets that were fitted for a large 6' double bed. Even when it may need the electrics changed to take the electrically operated adjustable bed.

Two years ago we had the main bedroom fitted out. I spent ages working on the plans and designing the maximum storage I could squeeze into the space. I chose the wallpaper, carpet, curtains and the new bedding all so that it co-ordinated. I love colour and style. It's important to me.

At the same time the builders were in MyMan chose the decor for what is now the second bedroom. The room has been my bedroom for 2 years. He likes 'colour' and didn't want the pinks or rusts I favour. So he chose straw wallpaper with a yellowish brown carpet. I've found it so difficult to choose suitable curtains I've given up. Along with pine furniture it is a room to go to bed in, with the lights out, and go to sleep as quickly as possible. It is dreary.

When the builders left MyMan and all our friends admired my selection. He said the colours were 'restful and soothing'. I know. I took pride in it. I loved it. MyMan then took up residence in the main bedroom, alone. I was envious. I would clean and tidy the room dress the bed, admire it and leave. My bedroom by contrast I would dust and hoover but gained no pleasure. The wallpaper is dull, the carpet not a colour I like and the bedding is a mismatch of old favourites acquired over numerous years which can barely lift the gloom of what is to me a male decorated room.

He said he would keep his 'lovely bedroom' vacuumed and dusted. He does so after a fashion. But only after I've nagged about the dustballs scurrying along the headboard shelf and cabinet surfaces. As soon as he sees me head there with a duster he comes in "I was just about to do that" he says. His bed chosen for his needs, to lever himself up and out, has no give at all. Rock hard and far to uncomfortable, I had to abandon it several years ago. After 4 years of separate bedrooms we are no longer sure we can share a room at night. I still love the bedroom I designed but it gives me no pleasure now. The shelves I envisaged as holding a few tasteful glass, ceramics and a posy of flowers are crammed full of overflowing stuff from his study (which is in what I consider the best room in the house) and from his 'work area' which is in the main reception hall. We share the lounge which is full of chairs chosen to suit his back. Rather than for their cosy aesthetic appearance.

Now that we are about to make a decision on his adjustable bed I suggested that this could be a good time for us to swap bedrooms. The single bed would fit very easily into the second bedroom. He said that he didn't want me to 'suffer another upheaval'. I said I didn't mind. Then he told me he liked space around him. I asked what space around him did he need at night? To which his stock answer came that he liked "space as I'm trapped here". I pointed out the second bedroom will have space a plenty when the single bed is in space taken up by a 5' double bed. But when he said that he didn't want the second bedroom "with all that old furniture" I knew exactly where I stand.

Now that I know where I stand I am going to have the second bedroom, my bedroom, redecorated and with fitted furniture. It will cost. He said and we had agreed that it was pointless spending any more money on this place when we have every intention of moving soon. But how soon is soon? In our discussion just now he talked of us being here another 5 years. I am not going to wait 5 years for a bedroom that will give me some pleasure to walk into.

Yet another project to sort when I already feel stressed and tired. But I am not going to let the grass grow under my feet. 'Where is Penny's space?' So far the arrangement in this house feel very one sided. I'm beginning to feel like a carer and a housekeeper. I intend to redress the balance. It's either divorce and 2 separate homes or its time to claim my space here ... I'm not just upset I am angry and hurt.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Crabby Old Girl

I was so looking forward to having coffee with our friends today at the Garden Centre. I'd not seen them for a week or more as they have all been on holiday. I was looking forward to a good chat with them. MyMan said he would come too... fine by me. Well it was fine with me until I realised he didn't feel at all well this morning. Even when he's having a 'better day' he says he hates the coffee shop culture and the small talk. Not feeling 'at all well' makes him more irritable and even less tolerant than normal. He insisted on coming along.

But due to the pain and not feeling 'at all well' we had to leave early. I became irritated. I felt he had spoilt my social event. Once we reached home he was restless and even more irritable. As for me I'm now feeling really crabby; it's catching. He can't settle to anything. Not the Sunday papers, the golf on TV or the cricket on the radio. Every time I immerse myself in a book or blogging he wants to tell me that he's bored ....I list the long list of little jobs he's promised to do 'one day 'but he doesn't 'feel at all well' .......

I'm beginning to think I might make him a double egg and chip butty for tea....that would probably cheer him up. Perhaps I can kill him with kindness ... death by cholesterol ....

Friday, 4 July 2008

Faulty Towers

My Man is a perfectionist. He is a fault finder. The windows haven't been cleaned since we lost our window cleaner 9 months ago. MyMan wasn't impressed with the cost for a less than perfect result when our window cleaner went on to a non-ladder mode of washing them with ionised water. MyMan was going to do them himself. Every month he was going to do them soon. I became tired of peering through the salt laden smears. To admire the garden or watch the birds feed in the morning was an ever increasing blur.

My Man was invited out for afternoon tea with a fellow stamp collector. I rarely have time alone and often like a short space of solitude to sit quietly and reflect. But this was an unexpected bonus. I used the time to quickly wash the windows. Well the ones for the main living rooms. The ones I can reach without a step ladder. I was very pleased with the result. Bright and cheery. The result has certainly raised my spirits.

MyMan pointed out the smears. I'm not bothered - the smears can only be seen when the sun shines. When the sun shines I am out doors, gardening. Early morning and late afternoon the windows look gleaming. But the smears continued to annoy him. Today I took a chamois leather to the windows to try and remove the smears. I think it is better. But I was told I had probably made the leather dirty now. TOUGH.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Plants Glorious Plants

A few weeks ago I wrote how MyMan wanted to have some patio roses in pots that he would' take care of'. He chose 3 which he potted up. He does look after them. But I have to remind him when they need watering, deadheading and turning so that they don't grow leaning towards the sun. Considering we have a largish garden I have increased the number of pots and container plants this year. I now have 4 hostas, 2 tea tree bushes, 5 large cactii, 3 small pots of impatiens along with numerous containers of pelargoniums. Last year's containers of pelargoniums continue to flourish so they have earned their place on the patio for a third year. In all I have over 25 containers to monitor. I must be mad.

The hardy geraniums [cranesbills] are really earning their keep this year. I've divided and increased them to fill in numerous gaps between shrubs or as ground cover in the borders. I do not know what their names as most of them have been pinched [cuttings pulled] from friends or neighbours gardens.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

More Moving Tales

Co - codamol as pain relief no longer appears to help MyMan. The last time he saw the pain management consultant he was offered Morphine which he declined. As he has spent the last few weeks in constant pain he has been saving Co-codamol for a rare treat. It was obviously a disappointment for him when it no longer had the much desired effect.

I mooted the suggestion that he consider asking the family Doctor for a new referral to Wonford Hospital Pain Management Clinic for a re-assessment. Especially now he has X-Rays to show what is happening to his spine and the evidence of an untreated whiplash injury. He said he was reluctant to do so, that he didn't think he could stand the journey to the hospital. But when I tartly replied that maybe we should think of buying a new house opposite the hospital, he said maybe that 'wouldn't be such a bad idea'. He 'can see it does makes sense'.

It's the first time he has considered a possible move to a city or town. To be closer to the facilities he needs more and more often, along with the transport links, it seems sensible to me. I know that we would miss the country life style but it causes so many day to day problems. I'm not sure we shouldn't bite the bullet and make another large re-adjustment. While we are still young enough to adapt.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

A Time for Decisions

We have decided to take some time to try and make a few decisions. In no particular order we need to make decisions on:
[1] a new car
[2] whether we move or not [? adapt our present house]
[3] where we should live in our older age
[4] choose an automatic bed

First we are attempting to find a suitable car. We are now officially a one car household. But we need to change that one car, the reliable fun Honda Jazz, for something with a bit more luxury and a more comfortable ride.

As a passenger in the Jazz MyMan yelps when I hit a pot hole or a loose bit of tarmac. East Devon roads are full of pot holes and gravelly tarmac. Not to mention the deep gullies and drains which allow copious amounts of rainfall to clear quickly. I have to admit the Jazz ride is very firm. And it is now almost 5 years old. Probably not as springy as it was as a spring chicken.

It's the first time for 30 years that we have had to find a car we both like. It's very time consuming exploring all the options. Some cars as soon as we sit in the seats we look at each other and are out and it's crossed off the list. Some need a little longer before the inevitable back ache [mine] starts to manifest itself and then another one bites the dust.

It has surprised me how many cars you need to be able to flex your neck as you climb aboard. Being one of the S*d's Laws they are invariably the cars that are more comfortable to sit in. Being in constant pain MyMan is looking for a feeling of safety and security. He's hoping that a better ride quality will, at best, not inflict more pain during a journey. This is the best he can hope for. He is just about able to flex his neck to get in/out of cars but we assume this will change in the near future. Therefore we need a car that he can sit in without having to lower his head. There have been a few. Big expensive cars. Some not environmentally friendly. Thirsty fuel guzzlers.

As usual I am trying to be economical. For the first time in all our married life every time I mention the costs involved I'm told 'forget the money, do you like it or not?'. Well, if I'm to forget the money then there are cars we've not even mentioned yet. How about Volvo, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes ... then I'm told 'don't be daft woman, don't get carried away ... ' Oh, for a while there I thought MyMan had undegone a complete personality change . . . . .

The best we have found, so far, that doesn't harm the environment, that will do ' x miles to the gallon rather than x gallons to the mile' is the Honda CRV. The only trouble is it is a bit too tall and he finds it hard to get in without standing slightly on tippy toe. I may take along a step stool to see if that would help.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Adjusting Matters

The Chiropractor told MyMan that she thinks he should look at buying an orthopaedic bed. I thought she meant firm. His bed is already hard as a board. It gives me back ache when I just lie on it for 10 minutes to chat to him before I go off to my little nest. He said she did say it 'could be that it is too firm'. He wanted a firm bed as he finds it very difficult to sit up or turn over in bed. He needs something to firm to lever on.

Ms Chiropractor told him he should look at an adjustable bed that will sit him up, raise his legs when needed and do everything but turn him out of bed. An adjustable bed. We had a peek in the Bed Centre in Honiton yesterday. It looks as if we'd need a mortgage to buy one. He was too stiff to try out adjustable beds - an ideal time to 'try before you buy', I would have thought. I didn't press it. Westpoint has a Disability Exhibition on at the beginning of June - I think that could be a good place to start looking.

I suggested an automatic adjustable bed last year but he refused - 'it's not necessary'. This is yet another example of his dismissing my suggestions. But as soon as one of his professional carers suggest it may be a good idea then he is keen to get on and do it.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Thorny Issues

I've generally become used to a lower standard of living over the last 7 years. Financially, socially and domestically. Financially we had to curtail our spending once we realised that aMyMan's 'temporary period' of sick leave was stretching ahead with no end in sight. When self employed 'Sick Leave' isn't taken lightly. It can lead to an impression of unreliability. A self employed consultant is only as good as his reputation for delivering as per contract. MyMan took short term sick leave hoping that his health problems would improve with a period of rest. Once we realised it wouldn't we had to revise our plans and start living off hard earned capital. The Savings hoarded for our retirement. A small level of income from Incapacity Benefit along with the Mobility component of Disability Living Allowance [DLA] helped to pay for the essential extras such as his regular massage and chiropractic treatments.

Money was enough to pay for domestic essentials, the necessities of life. Clothes were serviceable rather than fashionable. Unable to take a holiday or meals out due to his disability meant we didn't miss not having the money to enjoy such luxuries. All manner of other economies were practiced for 7 years. Unable to work myself due to caring for MyMan any spare cash I had paid for voluntary NI contributions towards my state pension.

I knew from my previous professional experience in Social Services that MyMan should ask for a re-assessment of his DLA benefit. But he was reluctant. As he is not in a wheelchair he doesn't consider himself disabled. Disabled people in wheelchairs are able to do far more than he does and have a better quality of life. But there was no persuading him even when I told him it would help my finances if I was recognised by DWP as his carer. In the end with my savings whittling away I applied to my employer for a pension forecast and asked if it would be possible to be considered for early retirment on compassionate grounds. I was lucky, this was agreed about a year ago. I am so grateful as the regular small income removed some financial pressure.

Then last year MyMan's Community Psychiatric Nurse [CPN] asked him why didn't he receive the higher rate of DLA on Personal Care along with the Mobility component. At last MyMan agreed to apply for a re-assessment. The CPN and I completed the form on his behalf. A mammoth task in itself. Several weeks later the DWP advised us that on consideration an increase of benefit was turned down.

MyMan doesn't have the energy for day to day living. Anything else is far too much effort. He would have accepted the decision. But I felt that to have done so was to give in too easily. I wrote to ask for the reasons for their decision. I thought we should appeal against the decision. It was another chore I didn't need. Another stressor to contend with. MyMan said he had no intention of going to appeal - it would be something he just couldn't cope with. He was too tired and couldn't go through 'yet another medical examination'. He is fed up with hospitals and tests etc. I thought we should go through the appeal process , if he had to undergo another medical we could request that it be conducted at home to save him travelling. In the event we didn't need to; a letter arrived a few weeks later. After gathering evidence from his doctors, his chiropractor and CPN, he has been granted the maximum level of DLA.

I then applied for Carer's Allowance which went through very quickly. This extra amount of cash has relieved yet more of the worry about our finances. But by this time next year I won't be receiving it as I'll be entitled to claim my State pension. I'm not sure whether one is still paid a Carer's Allowance if decide to opt for a deferred payment of the State Pension. I'll have to seek advice.

I understand how MyMan feels about being labelled 'disabled' [although I prefer to think of it as 'less able'] I also have a problem thinking of myself as a 'Carer'. But that is what I am now - more than just a wife. The caring aspect is very demanding and emotionally draining, taking up much of my time. I no longer have time or energy to spend on the things I used to do. Domestically Standards have slipped. Little jobs that need doing around the house get left. It depresses me as my values are now lower. Caring is energy sapping beyond belief. When I have some time to myself I have to weigh up which is my highest need at that time. Sometimes it is to generally to clear de clutter out of the way, often to potter in the garden, many times to go out and seek some social interaction, light releif, and lately to study what I am learning at my weekly Bridge lessons.

A morning out of my week to take bridge lessons reduced the amount of time available for chores, something else had to give way. This year it has been the gardening. I am relying on the weekly 2 hours paid gardening help to just keep the garden ticking over. Plans for changes or new plantings have been postponed for another year.

When friends visit I know they probably wonder what I do with my time. I am still protective of MyMan's feelings so I don't explain. He needs so much in the way of prompting ' take pills, eat, shower, shave' etc. I don't think they realise that all he does each week is to clear the recycling and rubbish out ready for collection. Over the year he takes care of financial decisions on savings, investments and filling out tax returns. He struggles to manage these jobs but if he stops then what else will he have to boost his self esteem. I have to help by form filling or writing letters on his behalf. As his energy or pain levels are so variable I have to be ready to help at the drop of a hat when he wants to write a letter. When he does feel energetic he wants to get on with a task straight away as he never knows when he'll have another brief burst of energy.

Getting out of the house for exercise is confined to his 15 minute walk to buy a daily paper 4 days out of 7. The short walk home up the steep hill drains him. I save one day a week when I try take him out in the car. We can manage 2 hours out on a good day. So I look for a 15 minute journey - an hour there, a coffee break and a 15 minute trip home again. He usually needs to take a good rest on the bed to recover from such an outing. It doesn't always work to plan. I sometimes have to juggle plans. When he's not well enough to go we postpone to another day. If he doesn't get out in the car at least once a week then I worry that he'll become a homely version of institutionalised and agoraphobic.

Today we went to Homebase at Honiton to buy some plastic patio plant pots. We have 3 roses which need planting into patio pots. MyMan loves roses and said he wanted more. 'I'll take care of them' he said. Just as he said over the last 2 roses which he loves but hasn't weeded or pruned in the 5 years we've had them. But he is so rarely enthusiastic that I couldn't bear to demand a promise that he would take care of them. I'm hoping that he'll pot them on while I vacuum through tomorrow or when I'm at Bridge lesson next week.

What I haven't yet decided is - if he is too tired or feels too ill to deal with them do I get on and plant them on [I hate handling rose bushes - ouch!] or do I let them die and wither through neglect. I'm not sure which of these outomes will distress him the most.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Not Quite to Plan ...

April and May aren't running to the plans I had made. I see that a few posts ago I was promising myself the idea of a quiet relaxing break away at the Woolacombe Bay Hotel. The weeks are galloping by. I'm reminded of John Mortimore's being told by playwright Christopher Fry that the older you get 'breakfast seems to happen every 5 minutes'.

MyMan has been poorly, irritable with life, events and me. I haven't been able to devote much attention to his emotional health needs. I have felt a bit stretched. Over the last few weeks a member of MyMan's family, in Surrey, and also local friends have had health problems. In fact at the moment I don't think I know anyone who is healthy and problem free.

Along with their inevitable hospital appointments/visits for tests, examinations, biopsies, prognsois and plans for treatments and minor surgery; all have entail long phone calls of [what I hope are] empathic support. Or hours taken up assisting with car trips from base to hospital and hospital to base; help with shopping expeditions while they are unable to drive while recovering from surgery. I haven't been doing this alone. Friends have set up an informal rota to assist where and when needed. But along with bridge lessons and the need to try and practice what I learn each week I have been rather stretched and thus unable to post a blog regularly.

The housework has taken on an even lower priority. Dust so thick I would need to shovel it out if anyone came to visit.

Which is why I can't for the life of me understand why I invited friends to join us for lunch today! It seemed a good idea on Friday when I put out the invite. This then involved yet another trip to Waitrose on my way home. I planned a traditional roast as I thought the forecast for Sunday was 'chilly and wet'. How wrong can the Met Office be? Or did I not listen properly. Maybe it was last weekend's forecast I had in mind! As I said, time flies by. Whatever, I've laboured over a roast on the hottest day of the summer, so far.

I still felt very stiff yesterday. I couldn't do all I wanted to as I was moving more slowly than usual. My time was spent outdoors sorting out pot plants, new plant acquisitions and containers. I didn't shovel dust anywhere. I had to scoot around a bit this morning. Everywhere received a lick and a promise. With the French doors and windows flung wide open to catch the cooling breezes, there is every possibility my friends thought the dust had just blown in over the last few hours.

Now being a glutton for punishment I have invited another couple over for supper on Friday. This time I will clean and tidy properly on Thursday. I will remove the bags of compost and empty plant containers from the patio chairs and table so that we are able to drink our aperitif outdoors. I will prepare a simple onepot dish and have salad. In which case it will probably be chilly and wet. I will inform the Met Office so they can put out an accurate forecast.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Crash Bang Wallop

Crash bang wallop, what a foolish arse there I was, .... carrying two bags full of groceries stepping over another bag on the step, catching my toes in the handle it was all I could do to remain upright.

After bridge lesson on Wednesday I'd called in to Waitrose on my way home. It's a bit of a hike to get all the groceries up to the house. Usually MyMan plays his part by opening the front door for me. This day he didn't so I set the 4 heavy bags down on the front step and fished in my pocket for the house key. As the door opened I picked up the 2 bags to my left and then stepped over the bags in front of me. The leading foot had just connected with the ground when I realised my right foot was in the clasp of a clinging plastic handle. Still clutching my full bags of groceries I felt like an unbalanced Statue of Justice teetering and staggering down the entrance hall trying to shake my trapped foot free. I saved myself from hitting the deck. But all my back muscles from shoulder to bottom, thighs to calves, all had a generously vigorous workout. I'm still suffering the effects 3 days later.

We've had a busy 3 weeks. It's meant increased stress. Along with the effects of hay fever, it means I am even more accident prone than usual. If you are in East Devon and see a silver Jazz heading in your direction - I'd steer clear - just to be on the safe side.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Still Married, for Better or Worse ...

We are still married, it has been a close call a few times over the last few weeks. But now I am taking more 'time out' for myself. It helps. The house gets dustier and more grimy - I can't do everything. There are only 24 hours in a day, something had to get placed on the back burner and cleaning has never been my favourite chore. But my mental well being needed a fillip. Or a Philip might be even better!

  1. I am now in the middle of my 3rd week studying and trying to get to grips with playing Bridge. I always enjoy new experiences, new challenges and learning.
  2. I've been to Exeter City twice to browse the shops. I'm a little out of practice and need to build up my shopping stamina - 2 hours was more than enough. I'll take a more leisurely view next time. Have a coffee, visit the Cathedral. My trip to Exeter on Tuesday coincided with torrential rain and flooded streets. I had to paddle. Was drenched to the skin and returned home faster than I anticipated and empty handed - apart from a new umbrella.
  3. A friend is due to visit in July and my plans for a weekend away in Gloucestershire in the autumn, meeting up with old friends and neighbours are progressing well.

Sunday, 13 April 2008


I couldn't help smiling when I noticed a Google ad for 'Carer's Allowance' from co. uk on my side bar.

HUH - they make you jump through demeaning hoops; all ways front and back, top n tail, and do their damnedest not to pay it.... They hope that you'll give up the whole idea by wearing you down along with the threat that if you challenge their decision, the pittance you have been granted [so far] may be withdrawn.

Friday, 11 April 2008

3 Good Things

  1. I start Bridge lessons next week. A very kind friend has offered to set up a game as she will find it 'very easy to lower' her standard to help me gain experience. The thought is very kind but the comment made me laugh - I told her that I'd soon be beating the pants off her - especially if we play for money. Do you do that in Bridge? It sounds so genteel and proper! I may be too loud and not serious enough. But will be fun to find out.
  2. The new furniture is much smaller and more compact than our old traditional style. But is is so comfortable. To sit and read or watch TV will be a really luxurious time. Bliss.
  3. Woolacombe Bay Hotel is offering Dinner Bed & Breakfast breaks for £52 per person per night - I'm planning to run away from home for a couple of nights - to spend time being alone. Some walks along the coast. Nothing to think about but just to relax and dream for 3 days.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Waving Not Drowning

I am waving not drowning even though sometimes I have felt as if I'm drowning. MyMan has been in the depths of depression, again. No matter how hard everything gets I try to remain positive and active. He has been unbearably rude, angry, peevish, irritable, short tempered and there is nothing that will please him. Today he tells me he feels anxious but is not aware of a cause for the anxiety. He is taking a great deal of my time. One of the reasons I have found it difficult to keep up with regular blog posts.

Initially when I started blogging it was agreed between us that I could have a couple of hours a few times a week in which to be 'creative' and have fun. However, there is an element of jealousy within him that I'm able to lose myself in something like blogging or writing letters to friends. He may be silent and uncommunicative most of the day but within a few minutes of his realising that I am immersed in something he wants to chat. To talk over his feeling, his nightmares, or to find out "when dinner will be?" ( the usual time - 6.30) and then to ask "what can I eat now" as he's hungry and unable to wait. He gets uppity if I tell him that I am trying to concentrate when he returns to offer me a cup of coffee. I yearn for some privacy and time to be me. It may be that I'll have to forgo some sleep and take to being creative again in the early hours of the morning.

This morning he has gone to the surgery for a fasting blood test. For once I wasn't free to offer to take him. I would have found it difficult. I'm waiting for an online grocery order to arrive and some new furniture. He had the chance to change the appointment but refused. But this morning he is tired and anxious about going out to town alone.

Monday, 31 March 2008

3 Funny BT's

  1. A very large rook attempting to attack a very small fat ball in the tree with 10 other rooks all on the ground waiting and hoping that some fat crumbs will fall their way.
  2. A fat squirrel trying to chase all other squirrels away from the peanuts - so busy chasing them it fails to notice that there is always one squirrel left behind to feast at leisure
  3. Birds feeding mates with choice titbits , fluttering and flirting and showing off around the feeders.

Spring is in the air.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

An Apology

I had a handsome apology yesterday morning. MyMan said that I was quite right in what I had suggested the day before. My suggestion on what I believed needed doing and the manner in which I thought it should be done would have saved us time and stress on Tuesday morning when 2 men came to collect our surplus household goods.

Our trouble is that I am a natural born organiser. Previously when MyMan worked away from home I was used to organising/arranging/overseeing all practical tasks. A sort of Domestic Project Manager. I find it difficult not to continue in the role. MyMan still has very low energy levels. I therefore try and conserve his physical/mental energy to cope with the tasks that I find physically impossible to complete. I do a great deal of thinking and planning. When I try to talk it through with him - 'the plan of action' - he doesn't want to be bothered with the details or the nitty gritty. He's too tired to bother. But when we come to getting on with the job he dislikes being directed on what to do. He feels too weak to cope and this along with his current low self esteem makes him even angrier.

It's not helped by the fact that the small domestic jobs he said he would sort out didn't go to plan. Getting out the recycling and rubbish after the Good Friday and Easter Monday bank holiday. He hadn't read the information sheet from EDDC correctly. He confused the recycling with the rubbish collection days. We therefore missed both. I thought it was more than my life was worth to check up on this and left him to his own devices. If I'd questioned the fact that recycling was postponed by a day it would have undermined his feelings but now that he has found out he made the mistake he feels even more incompetent. There is no way I can see of getting this right .....

At least we've had a laugh together today. I told him that this morning as I dressed I put on my watch and wedding ring. It reminded me it was the same action which made me pause and think rather than storming out and leaving him on Monday afternoon. About how ridiculous it was. In the midst of getting ready to walk out and leave I am carefully putting on my wedding ring .... Now if I wore my ring permanently I may have been long gone by now..

Monday, 24 March 2008

What a pain

MyMan did have another extraction last week. It was a difficult one. this tooth had a 'hooked' root. Since then he has suffered even more neuralgia, a swollen face and extreme migraines caused by the increased tension in his neck muscles. To say that he has been even more withdrawn and impatient would be an understatement. I've spent a week tip toeing around him. Making him as comfortable as possible. Helping him by producing easy chew foods, quietly reading in the lounge while he watches cricket, not complaining when he's impatient or aggressive.

But today we had a chore to complete. A deadline to meet for Tuesday morning when MyMan had arrange for someone to collect a pile of furniture for sale (we are de-cluttering in readiness to downsize). I tried to be as accommodating and helpful as possible. I could see that he was still in pain. But when I couldn't understand something, I asked the wrong thing in the wrong way at the wrong time and before I knew it I was accused of being difficult. Then we were in the middle of a full scale argument. A Mega Row. I have never felt so angry in all my life. I don't do anger. I surprised myself and him.

I said I was off out to get away. I was sorely tempted to pack my bags and leave. But in the act of collecting my out door things, my bag and credit card I realised that to storm out I'd find it hard, later when Ihad calmed down, to return. I very much wanted to leave and never return. But knew that at some point I would worry enough about him to return home. I didn't go anywhere. I sat and tried to figure out how best to cope with the fact that this isn't just a case of 'at the moment' but that 'this is it' . He hasn't got any better over 7 years. I need to re-adjust and accept that this is it.

I'm still keen on the idea of his/her's apartments. Where I can do all the domestic routine chores to ensure he is clean, tidy and well catered for. But so that I am able to have my own separate space too. Where I can invite friends in to chat, laugh, drink tea - or better still wine. Gossip and exchange views. Where I can relax and connect with people without the awareness that he's not happy, not feeling sociable, that he is irritated by the talk of people's holidays, envious of their enjoyment of the simple things in life. Where he is just about coping until they leave. I find it inhibits my usual laid back relaxing way of entertaining. It's far too stressful to contemplate throwing any tea or dinner party.

I have always been more socialable than he. I grew up with large family gatherings. He didn't. Our family would gather round the table after tea for card games. Simple fun noisy games if children were included, otherwise cribbage, solo, whist tournaments. We used to be each other's best friend. He didn't feel the need to include others. But he used to recognise that I was different. We used to 'give and take' in turn. Now it feels as if I'm always giving and he's always taking.

Needless to say - being a woman I eventually cried. This time I shed tears in luxury on the settee, not in the car park in the driving rain. More words, recriminations. How frustrated and angry he feels and how 'useless'. We managed to get beyond the anger and my tears. Tried to sort out how we could cope. There is no definite answer. I was so sorely tempted to accept and run with the idea that we separate when he wondered if it would 'be for the best'. He knows the effect it has on me but he doesn't feel able to change - enough.

Physically now I feel awful. Sore eyes , stuffed head, thick nose, stiff shoulders and neck. He appears revitalised and hasn't moaned once this evening about how low spirited he feels or the amount of pain hehas. Perhaps I should lose my temper more often.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

It's Not All Bad News Week

It's not been all bad news this week. It started out rather gloomy. Our gardener , trusty Ted is retiring at the end of March. We have a fairly large garden. Working on it's a bit like the painting the Forth Bridge once you've been around weeded here and there, pruned, manicured and tidied then it's time to start once more at the beginning. It's on rising ground so is quite heavy work for someone with weak ankles. Ted helps out for 2 hours a week through rain and shine. He supplies the muscle. I point and request that an old conifer be removed and before I know it I have a lovely well dug, composted, clear plot of earth where I can plant up my latest acquisition, currently more hellebores.

We have known since the beginning of the year that Ted was retiring. However hard I tried I could not find anyone else willing to help out on a regular basis. Friends recently moved into an apartment and dismissed their regular gardener. I approached him but found he plans on retiring soon and is not taking on any new customers. Then last week I saw a young man working in a front garden. I asked if he would be interested. He came looked and agreed to fit us in. An ex nursery man he is young enough not to be thinking of retiring for a good few years yet. Now I know I still have muscle available I can get on with making plans for the changes I want to undertake this year.

So my 3 good things this week are:

  1. I have a gardener to assist on the heavy work- until further notice. The camellias are in bloom and survived this week's ferocious winds
  2. I won £100 on the Premium Bond - new plant money
  3. Blue tits are nesting in a box that was put up 8 years ago and has never been used. It is sited so that we have a very good view from the house. It has already cheered MyMan to watch them fly to and fro with nesting material.

Mad March Hares and Woes

Mad March Hares - I know the feeling. I've been full of woes. Probably a wee dose of post viral depression. I've found it quite difficult to shake off the final vestiges of the cough. I still feel quite lacking in energy. What I need is a pick me up. A little retail therapy wouldn't go amiss. I went shopping in Exeter last April and promised myself a monthly trip to the city. I've not been back since. It would be nice to go there again, hopefully before April. Then at least I could say I go to the city twice a year.

MyMan is recovered from having his last 2 teeth drawn. But it really has taken a toll on his neck and back. He has neuralgia caused I assume from his over stressed neck muscles. But he thinks the neuralgia is caused by another tooth that will need to be pulled. He has made another appointment with the dentist for next week. I'm a little concerned that he will still have the pain after the next tooth is taken out. I hope the dentist will check it out carefully before making a decision.

MyMan still continues to be 'away with the fairies' at odd times. He has muddled his prescription requests. Asking for more of the pills he only got a week ago and forgetting to get pills he needs for this week - he had obviously ticked the wrong box when the prescription went in to the surgery. I have to go into town to collect it and end up running in and out of the chemist twice a week. My patience is still at a low ebb - almost non-existent. I told him he can continue to be independent on sorting his medication but I intend to take on a supervisory role. I have other more interesting things I'd like to do rather than trips in and out of the chemist twice a week.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Final Dental Hurdle

I'm still coughing like a regular smoking trooper. MyMan claims he's had the same virus but minus the cold and he escaped the cough as well. In which case he has been lucky for once. Although I still feel washed out like a limp dishcloth I've tried to get back into the normal routine i.e. cooking, shopping, cleaning, nurturing. No, that last one would be a lie. I still feel a bit detached and couldn't CareLess. Tomorrow MyMan visits the dentist to have the last of 2 diseased teeth extracted. I just hope the dentist is right when he says that he should notice the difference in his general health.

I've started to worry about his lack of memory/concentration again. [MyMan's, not the dentist's] Can it only be due to weariness and depression? I still can't help but worry sometimes that he appears as if he is on the verge of Old Timer's Disease. He has had severe back spasms recently. I couldn't help but notice that he would keep bending to raise the lid of the kitchen bin rather than using the foot pedal. I asked if his leg/foot was hurting. No - it turned out the he had 'forgotten' about the pedal. Sometimes we also have great difficulty communicating on some simple issue. It's as if he can't understand what I am saying or has forgotten how to reply. When he is like this he gets increasingly irritated and fractious.

I'll have to go to see the doctor soon. I need an annual check. I've not had one for 3 years. I'll voice some of my worries when I see him.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Carer's Get Ill Too

Carer's get ill too. It's been difficult this last week. Once I felt the virus take hold I did a quick shop to get most of the necessary stores in to cope with not going out for daily supplies. MyMan, I suggested would have to take his own prescription in to the surgery - it would be one less chore for me to worry about. He managed this but it took him 4 days to muster the strength to do so. It should now be at the chemist waiting for me to collect it tomorrow.

He kept on asking 'how he could help' but would then forget what I suggested would be helpful. Any chore from emptying the dishwasher to making a pot of tea or taking the rubbish out would elict the reponse of "I'll do it in my own good time - when I've the energy".

The worse I felt the more tired I became the less I cared. Orange juice, grapefruit juice, soup, fruit and gallons of water was all I wanted. I gave up on the idea of a hot pot of tea. I almost gave up on the idea of emptying the dishwasher. Dirty glasses, mugs, dishes all piled up on the kitchen surface above the dishwasher which now stored clean crockery. Eventually when there were no clean crocks left in the cupboard I emptied the dishwasher and started to refill it with the pile of used dishes.
"I told you to leave that - I said I'd do it! " he said.
"Yes I know - but when?", is what I wanted to know.

My not being well causes him increased anxiety. He would feel happier if I went to see the doctor. But I see no point when it is 'just a virus'. I reassure him that if there is any sign of an infection I'll go to the doctor. He is still sceptical, doesn't trust me - he sees me as a stoic. I am, but I'm not daft. I'm 'sensible' as the doctor often tells me. MyMan gets irritable when I ignore his advice. Me? - I just want to be left alone - to feel unwell- sleep when I can and ride it out. But I can't, I still have to act as care giver and provider of emotional support. My being unwell has taken its toll. However much I have tried to reassure him, this week has exhausted him.

I'm Still Rolling Along ...

I'm still rolling along ... I ended up with a hacking wheezing rattly cough. A cough and dry throat which stopped me from sleeping for most of the week. I felt exhausted. Every breathe I took made me sound as if I had an '80- a- day' habit. After a few days it eventually started to clear - now I have a streaming cold. That I can live with. It's the coughing that has been so very wearying. My chest and diaphragm muscles have had an incredible work out.

A few weeks ago I made MyMan change his massage appointment. He'd made a date to have his regular deep tissue massage on my birthday. He usually needs at least 24 hours to recover and I didn't want to spend another birthday alone with no one around to help me celebrate. All my close local friends are currently touring the wilds of south Africa, on a Caribbean cruise, or exploring the depths of south America. I was hoping that at least MyMan and I would be able to go out for a short while to the local pub for lunch.

In the event I slept on and off for the majority of the day. Only opening my cards and presents mid afternoon. I've had some lovely cards - for me as aunt, niece, cousin, sister, friend, someone special and Wife - all telling me how special I am. I also had a few texts/email messages from other folk who have been laid up with various viruses or chest infections and unable to shop or post cards along with text wishes from those travelling abroad. It was good to be remembered by so many people.

I had started to think of an informal party to celebrate my 60th next year. But if this chest infection had hit when I'd planned a 'Bit of a Do' - I would be extremely peeved. Perhaps I'd better just leave it to an ad hoc arrangement nearer the date. Meanwhile I still have a 'birthday lunch' to look forward to - maybe in a few weeks...

Monday, 18 February 2008

Three Wheels on my Wagon

Well - the diet has definitely been off for the last couple of days. I was feeling spaced out on Saturday. Then yesterday I just felt so cold all day. In the afternoon I ended up wrapped up in my dressing gown clutching a hot water bottle and eating anything and everything in sight while I sat and watched 'Gone With the Wind' on TCM. I have never seen it before. Amazing seeing as I am nearly 60 and the film is 10 years older than I.

Today I have the start of a cold. I feel crabby and clutzy. If there is anything to bang into, trip or fall over, I have. I have bruised ankles and ache from head to foot. I had toast for breakfast, ham/tomato sandwich and big CAKE for lunch and am trying to desist from eating biscuits with an afternoon cuppa. I am trying to get back on the straight and narrow.

MyMan is barely talking to me. As I feel crabby I have a very short temper. He only has to sound slightly peevishly queroulous and I am biting back sharpish. Yesterday he couldn't understand why I was watching 'trashy' TV - today he wishes I still was. There isn't room in this house for more than one invalid. I've been out to stock up on orange juice, fruit and food for the week (in case I get worse). Tomorrow MyMan may have to take his own prescription into town.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

An A Weigh Day

I'm really glad to say that I'm now 7lb [maybe 10lb] lighter than at Christmas. The doubt about the 3lb difference is down to not weighing myself until several days after the start of my change of eating habits. I found an old blouse at the back of the wardrobe which I'd not worn for 3 years. I had nearly thrown it out as far too tight. It fits again - a little snugly but presentable.

Monday will be my next 'official' weigh day. I weigh myself each morning as soon as I'm out of bed. But the Monday weigh-in is the only one which is recorded in my diary. A bit like the FTSE 100 the numbers on the scales are inclined to 'flirt' on and off with the next magic number appearing fleetingly over a few days before it becomes the regular measurement. Then I start to aim for the next 'magic' number. Perhaps like the share prices I should have the days high and low recorded.

We've had a few of our now 'usual' problems. MyMan's mood has taken a down turn again after the brief respite over the Christmas and new year holidays. He is in much pain - it is stopping him from doing what he wants to do - and making him very unsociable again. He refuses to take pain medication as he wants to 'save it' for when he really needs it. I wonder whether he means next Christmas. He has withdrawn into himself. He is short tempered and crabby to live with.

This has just highlighted how much I allow his mood to affect me. And the fact that I turn to food for comfort. I'm finding it very hard not to cheer myself up with a cake or some chocolates. I have opened a bottle of red wine; a 'medicinal' treat which should last a week. I must find other pleasures that do not involve food. I wonder whether my mother is to blame. Her and the medics. I'm beginning to think that as a child I must have been given a food based treat everytime I fell over and hurt myself. Just as the doctor gave me a sweet after every innoculation.

I'm planning a break away with an old friend and ex work colleague. A trip in the autumn back to Gloucestershire. A chance to meet with old friends/colleagues. But I do not want to be seen as 30lbs heavier than 10 years ago. I hold this thought in my mind to try and maintain my determination. I will treat myself to a massage when I have lost another 7lbs.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Comfort Foods

Yes - the diet has been going really well. My large clothes have started to have spare spaces again. They are not as voluminous as previously but are definitely looser. As I hadn't taken much notice of the weight creeping on I have no idea what I weighed when I started to diet. I lost a few pounds before I started to weigh myself daily. Sometimes hourly! I know I shouldn't but when I'm struggling it does help concetrate my mind. Since I have been keeping a tally I know I have lost 7lbs. So maybe it is more like 10+lbs overall.

I've managed to reduce bread, cakes, biscuits to almost zero consumption. I really miss my toast and marmalade.I rewarded myself with a toast for breakfasta few days ago. But it left me hungry and looking for food for the rest of the day. Not a treat that I'll repeat in a hurry. I've increased the fruit and vegetable content. I keep an eye on reduced fat content. No wine.

Now to cope with the deprivation I have bought a small stash of treats: low calorie choc biscuits (Kitkats/Penguins). I'm the kind of dieter that likes to have something nice and unnecessary. I think about it and check that I really, really do want to eat it today. Imagine my irritation when, after thinking about a treat for 5 days and deciding that yes this was the day I'd have something, finding they had all been eaten. Eaten by MyMan.
MyMan who claims he desperately needs to lose weight . Yet who is still on full rations of all the usual foods. Who still eats toast, cakes, biscuits, cereals and puddings. He knows the choc bars are not for him. He claims he doesn't really like them. He wants me to stop buying them. Well, I don't intend to. I'll buy a mouse trap and put that in the pot where I keep my treats. That'll teach him. Meanwhile, I have 4 packs of Iced Gems (approx 100 cals). They should be safe as he still has a sore mouth and gums after his visits to the dentist.