Saturday, 21 March 2009

Organising a Trip Out

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

A Form of Relief

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

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

The doctor is going to refer him for tests.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Tired and Distracted or Confused

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Do It Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

It's Been a Rather Tiresome Time

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

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

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

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

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

Not unless I murder MyMan.