Thursday, 30 December 2010

Coping Strategies

I've been working this summer and autumn on coping strategies. My annual visit to the Dr for a BP check. I once again complained of my aches, pains and strains elicited the response that apart from my weight continuing to creep up I was healthy. When I said how hard I found it to cope at home with MyMan's moods I was told 'he's frustrated'. Well I know he is - so am I.

But if I'm healthy then what to do about my pains which now are making me so stiff I find it hard to stride out on a long walk.  Less activity is not helping me to control my weight.
I've almost forgotten how to walk naturally. In fact I'm beginning to think I think too much on how to walk. Sometimes I march freely along Sdimouth Esplanade and then think "this is so easy". With that thought 'poof' it's gone and I find my legs, ankles or hips are once again stiff and unco-ordinated.

In August I tried a few sessions of hypnotherapy. It certainly helped me to concentrate on relaxing more easily. It highlighted my need to 'focus' more. Which helped my bridge game. I became aware that whatever task I was doing my mind  was also occupied thinking of several other things. Mentally reviewing my 'to do list', worrying about MyMan or planning how to cope with a particular current problem/difficulty. I think that now I'm no longer able to share some of my minor day to day worries with MyMan I'm inclined to brood more on them rather than talk them out. The psycho/hypnotherapist gave me homework to do after each of my 3 sessions.

The first one was that I had to change my self talk to a more positive attitude. Therefore not to comment on the negative i.e my need to lose weight but that "I am slim, tall and walk easily" along with "I eat smaller portions" . The second session looked at my level of focus. I had to practice doing a daily task. To really concentrate on focusing on each and every detail of the task. I chose to clean my teeth. To focus only on brushing my teeth without thinking or planning for the day ahead.

It has helped me to think and focus on myself sometimes. I stopped dithering over decisions and made up my mind and went for it. Changed to new PC, bought myself a new bed (it's helped my aching hip joints - a result) explored rail travel, and decided to cease listening to MyMans gloomy negative views and enjoy friends' company. Regardless of his impressions of them. I've decided to follow my own instincts. And am making plans to meet up with a fellow blogger.  I try to make sure I always have some event in the near future. To have something to look forward to.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Where It All Began

I was looking back at the beginning of my Careless Carer blog tonight as I have just found another carer who has started to blog. I invited him over to mine to see if he'll get more out of blogging by networking with us Carers.

If you stop by perhaps you'll pop over to meet Just Another Carer

For me this was the beginning when I was trying to sort out how to cope. I think I have made some progress since those days. But it is still 2 steps forward and 1 step back kind of life.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Clapham Junction

I've been up to visit London for my nephew's wedding. Once again I have safely negotiated Clapham Junction. Both ways. There and back. Tired but happy.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Testing whether I can post via email from my mobile phone.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, 1 November 2010

Letting the Train Take the Strain

It may be an age thing but this year the long journey to Surrey was very tiring. It was a sunny hot day in May and being a Friday I had many traffic hold ups. I'd left home 2 hours later than planned.Marooned on the drive the bonnet latch locked while the hood was half opened I had to be rescued by the local mechanic who didn't arrive till 8.45 a.m. I wasn't feeling at my best which didn't help either.

On my return home I decided that for my nephew's November wedding in Richmond, London I would travel by rail. I've not travelled by rail for nearly 30 years. In those long ago days days it was a train trip there and back. No changes needed and no need to negotiate the complexity of Clapham Junction. So I planned a 'trial train trip'.

The first challenge was in finding out the cheapest way to travel by train. Such a complex system. What was the difference between an First Anytime Single ticket (at £90.30 or £95)and the 'Cheapest First Class single' at £90.30? I quickly found that if I had a Senior Railcard I would get a discount. And another discount if I bought tickets well in advance of travel date.

A planned trip to see family in Croydon was arranged for the total cost of £32 return, travelling First Class with SWTrains. Cheaper than a tankful of petrol. I'd try it.

I was bored and stiff by the time I reached Salisbury an hour and a half later. I was regretting not going by car. I reminded myself that it was to be a relaxing trip and cheaper. And I have to admit by the time I arrived I was far less tired. 

MyMan was left alone for only 2 days.  Although he didn't eat any of the meals I'd left for him; existing only on soup/sandwiches (and cakes he'd bought from the bakers) I wasn't away long enough for him to come to harm through a less than perfect diet.

For my next trip I have an audio book loaded on my new iPhone and can be entertained as I watch the scenery flash by. Or I could play Bejewelled, Angry Birds or even Omar Sharif's Bridge.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Apple for Idiots

I've always been a bit sniffy about Apple products. Apple for Idiots I always thought. But I have been won over by the simple charms of the iPhone. It looks gorgeous. Well the 3GS version does. I'm not so keen on the iPhone4. I had a very good friend who was playing with one and allowed me to handle it and play with it a while. I was hooked.

I've bought myself a 3GS 32GB in white through Carphone Warehouse who supplied a walk out working service. I took them up on this offer as I couldn't find any information on which way round the SIM card should be inserted in the small tray. The wanted to sell me the geek guys help to synchronise the phone with my PC. I accepted the telephone number (just in case) but refused to pay the insurance for this service. I needn't have worried it is all very easy and intuitive to set up.

I have several handy apps downloaded - not to mention a couple of addictive games. I've loaded 3  operas, numerous easy listening compilations and an audio book and there is barely a dent in it's capacious memory.  I regularly text friends and am able to read/reply to all my emails via the phone. Not to mention the ability to post to Twitter. It's worth every penny I spent on it.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A Long Eventful Summer

It's been a long eventful summer. Following on from my bowel investigations within 2 weeks I was on a long planned trip to Surrey/Sussex to visit family. I didn't feel too chipper. My innards were still a bit unsettled. I felt sad and scared. I knew by then that the polyps were of the type that could turn cancerous. And so would undergo a colonoscopy again next year. Oh well - at least I now know what to expect.

At the time of my visit my sister was grieving: she'd had an old much loved dog put down and a work colleague, who was a really good friend, had died unexpectedly. One way and another we were both for different reasons tired and in shock.

The events once again raised my anxiety levels; along with feelings of grief and sadness.

Feeling so tired we did less than usual. Eating, drinking, chatting, dozing and walking the dogs. And reading. I rediscovered the joy and solace of losing myself in reading. Fiction. Becoming lost in a tale. Escapism.

 I've always read a great deal. But of late, the last 10 years. I've been reading for research, personal development and information gathering. Knowledge is Power.
Or, rather, should that be Ignorance is Bliss? I'm certainly more relaxed now I can lose myself in a book or 3.

I realised on my return home that I spend far too much time worrying about, for and on behalf of MyMan. That life is passing me by. I resolved once and for all to get some balance back into my life.

That's what I've been working on the last few months.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Girl With the Colon Tattoo

I'm the Girl with the Colon Tattoo . . .

It was rather a shock when I was told I had an abnormal result following my National Bowel Cancer Screening test.

I've always had a fast transit time. No constipation. No changes in bowel habits. And apart from IBS symptoms that always manifest itself during times of high stress I'd no concerns re my working innards. That was why it was a shock.

I'd had a happy Friday morning playing bridge with friends. Much laughter and a light heart was soon brought down to earth when I found an NHS letter awaiting me at home. I had an appointment at the RD&E hospital on the following Thursday to meet and talk with the Bowel Cancer Screening Specialist Nurse to check I was fit enough for a colonoscopy; GULP.

Regardless of my various aches, pains, palpitations, tension and odd periods of high blood pressure - mainly following the arrival of the letter - I was deemed fit. Even when I was sitting there frightened and anxious my BP was recorded as a 'fine' at 140/86. So I was booked in for 'the procedure' on the following Tuesday afternoon.

To starve from Sunday lunch time. Taking a Senna laxative for Sunday tea followed by 2 other laxatives for Bank Holiday Monday breakfast and again at teatime. Only clear fluids allowed from midday Sunday onwards. It wasn't a pleasant weekend. There are better ways to spend a weekend. I lost count of the number of times I sat on the toilet. about every 30 minutes just passing liquid. I'm sure I was empty after the Senna worked at 1 a.m. The double portion of Picolax had an easy time of it.

I was told that I could have sedation for 'the procedure'. If I had sedation I had to be sure not to do anything for a full 24 hours after. Not to sign any papers (what about my Last Will & Testament?). I would need someone to drive me home from the hospital.

That was a big problem. MyMan has not been able to drive much over the last few weeks. His sudden onset of diabetes meant his eyesight has kept him off the road. Now that his sight is returned to normal his back is in such a bad way I wasn't sure he'd be fit enough to get me home. Friends were on holiday. Or car less. I didn't much like the idea of a taxi. MyMan raised his game and promised to get me there and home again.

I opted to undergo the 'procedure' without sedation. I was told I could use gas and air and if it became too uncomfortable I could change my mind and request a sedative. I knew - and was right -that MyMan once he'd got me there and back home again would more or less collapse in a heap. I couldn't afford to be sedated.

I am happy to say that I managed without any intervention at all. I concentrated on relaxation methods. Painful prods, I told myself were just 'sensations' and nothing to worry about. Turning the corners were the most uncomfortable sensation. Not to mention the amount of air inflating me till I had visions of myself floating away like a big airship. Mrs Blimp.

Polyps were found. Eeach in turn, was cut, caught, removed, cauterised and then a clip or a tattoo applied before moving on to the next polyp. 6 in all; 3 small; 3 large. Overall the procedure lasted about an an hour and quarter. All the air pumped into me started to make me feel nauseous. But after a rest in recovery unit I was given a very welcome cup of tea. And offered toast. By this time I felt I wasn't bothered if I never ate again. But they wanted me to eat one biscuit at least. I forced a digestive down.

On the way home I deposited the cup of tea and digestive biscuit in a layby - outside someone's house. Before we drove on I insisted MyMan wash it away with a bottle of Evian water.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Good Friday

It's 4 a.m - .Good Friday morning. As usual when I've been over anxious I'm unable to sleep through the night. I've returned to roaming the house in the early hours. A mug of hot milk and a couple of oat baked biscuits along with a paracetamol usually help me to get another couple of hours before the start of a new day. But the sleep I have is not as deep and restful as a good 'proper 7 hours'. My dreams are edgy and fear filled. I'm often running, in a speeding car or falling down a steep flight of stairs.

I seem to be having a recurring dream where I am trying to make my way 'home'. To our first house in Gloucestershire. I am carrying heavy loads up steep hills. Trying to figure out whether to take the shortest (but steepest) or the less steep (but far longer) route home.

The place where from my late 20's to mid 30's I used to drag shopping home from Stroud. Lugging heavy carrier bags up a long steep hill for nearly 2 miles. Looking back I realise that MyMan didn't think how I managed to get all supplies (for both of us, a cat and a dog and cleaning materials) home unaided. I can't believe how I just accepted this. A lack of reliable bus service along with high fares meant I would walk to and from town to shop 3 times a week. Once a month a friend would take me along to an out of town supermarket.

Now, on reflection, I believe this contributed to the RSI problems I suffer. An injury in my mid back that affects me from my shoulder, through to my pelvis and thigh. Today I can hardly carry a loaf of bread in a bag but have to hug it close to me.

At the time ( mid 1970s) I didn't drive. We only had one car - MyMan's. He needed it for the daily commute to work near Tewksbury. I used to save the weekends as his leisure time and not request assistance with shopping which he always hated. Even then I put his needs above my own.

He is frequently thoughtless and selfish. But I have partly made him the man he is today. Now I am trying to stop and think of myself, my needs; far more than I have ever done so in the past. Neither of us finding it easy to adjust to the people we are now.

I mentioned my recurring dream to MyMan. He agreed; "it was a long hard pull" up the Old Bisley Road out of town. I asked what he meant as he'd never walked it. For him walking was a ramble in the countryside not pounding footpaths or pavements. "Well, I always had to select the lower gears and just hope I didn't meet the bus labouring uphill". Hmm I didn't realise that it was just as tough for him too!!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


MyMan's first medication for Diabetes was Metformin gradually increasing the dosage until he reached 2x twice a day. But his blood glucose levels were not coming down fast enough to please the nurse. So he was started on Insulin. Using a pen device he injects a mixture of medium and long acting insulin each night. Slowly increasing the units injected.

For the last couple of days his reading has been down as low as 7 early morning and under 10 during the day. But the nurse felt that he could take it a bit easier this week and take time to adjust to this level before they decide whether the units should be increased.

In some ways I'd prefer them to remain slightly high. I'm so anxious that he'd have a hypo attack during the night. That I wouldn't know till the next morning. 2 or 3 times a night I creep up to listen to his breathing to reassure myself that he's OK. But what would the breathing of a man lapsing into a hypo state sound like?? I don't want to make him more anxious than he already is. I'll have to find out the answer some way - discretely.

I've read many books on the subject. I have altered his diet - just a a little - to include more carbs - low GI ones. I'm pleased to see that his favourite homemade cake recipe is in the Diabetes UK Recipe book. So I will start baking again on a regular basis then he can have a small weekly treat.

He has only read one simple book on the subject. He does not want to know how to manage this illness. He has run through a variety of emotions; mainly anger - on a daily basis. With ' Time' I assume his attitude will change. He doesn't like me telling him what is best or not to eat. He wants what he has always eaten. But I refuse to indulge his craving for lots of cheddar cheese, milk chocolate, cakes, puddings and chocolate biscuits until he knows how it may affect his glucose and cholestrol levels. At least he has always eaten a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, salad, fish, oats and fibre - it's the extras he needs to know about so that he can make an informed choice.

As it is at the moment I'm the wicked fairy removing all the things that make his "life worth living". (So it's not me then that gives him the incentive to get up in the morning!)

He knows he's being unreasonable in taking it out on me. He feels guilty that I'm on chaufferuing duty again. He has told the DVLA about his medical condition and has been told he can drive. But as his eyesight is variable from day to day I'm on taxi duty until further notice. He made a lovely gesture and bought me a huge bottle of my favourite handcream on the way home from the opticians yesterday.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Bloody Ups and Downs

So my birthday hadn't quite turned out as I'd hoped. Maybe everything would look better in a few days. But it didn't. There wasn't much sign of improvement pain wise for MyMan. In fact he appeared very ill and weak. Then he developed a sore throat, a croaky voice and an insatiable thirst. With the local virus he felt unable to exercise to test out if he had any signs of pain relief.

Then worryingly his vision became even more blurred than usual. Obviously not a virus. We had to move the chair 4' closer to the 42" TV as he was unable to see it properly. I thought he should go to see the optician as soon as possible. His sight was so bad I returned to full time chauffeur duty.

Meanwhile I searched the Internet, Googled "adverse reactions to steroid injections in sacroiliac joints". Nothing that explained his sudden onset of new and/or additional symptoms.

With an appointment to see the optician on Wednesday morning he also arranged to see the Dr again in the afternoon. The optician was surprised at the sudden deterioration in his sight. Thought it was caused by a 'rare complication ' to the steroid injections.

Later that afternoon the doctor diagnosed Diabetes. A blood glucose level of 28. Since then our feet haven't touched the floor.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

A Birthday Treat . .

With no chance of a lie in and then lunch out I decided to console myself with a little retail therapy while MyMan was in hospital having steroid injections in his sacroiliac joints.

I had to take him to the hospital for 8 a.m and be ready to receive a call to go and collect him at 'lunchtime'. Plenty enough time for a spot of 'cheer myself up' shopping. We left the house at 7 a.m with no more than a cup of hot water. He had to starve in case a general anaesthetic was administered. It seemed cruel for me to eat while he was starving So I didn't.

At 8 a.m as soon as I'd deposited him at the hospital I went in search of a cuppa and a bacon sandwich. The only trouble was I didn't know anywhere that opened that early. So I went to a 24 hour Sainsbury's superstore. I had to walk around for half an hour as the cafe didn't open till 8.30. I was beginning to shake; my blood sugar levels were very low. While I was refuelling I planned where in Exeter I'd go and which shops I'd call in, making a list of my intended purchases. On the way out of Sainsbury's I refuelled the car - £40.

It was at that point my mobile rang - there is only one person who has the number of that phone. MyMan. He'd had the injections and was impatient to get home would I pick him up as soon as possible.

So much for retail therapy. All I'd bought was a cup of tea, a bacon sandwich and a tank full of petrol.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Physio Therapy

It has been a gruelling few weeks (months) since MyMan started on his course of physiotherapy. The 'Back to Fitness' course left him far worse than when he started. Each week he'd go over to Exeter hospital - an hour long journey for a one and a half hour session of relatively easy exercises. With the hour drive home again it meant he'd leave here at 8 a.m and reach home by 11.30. I loved having some time to myself. And it was good that he was becoming independent driving himself again. (Having confidence in the safety of our new car helped. Until Toyota started the massive recall that is . . .)

The whole event would wipe him out for the rest of the week. Just as he'd start to recover he was then facing the next session. Pain levels have increased and his muscles seem to be even weaker. Friends have been shocked to see that he has great difficulty climbing stairs. And his concentration, focus and ability to string more than a few sentences together have deserted him. So far by being quiet and reclusive he has hidden how weak and mentally fragile he has become. To socialise once in a while he's been able to don a mask of 'normality' for a couple of hours. The last few weeks he's been unable to do so. Suddenly everyone is realising the shocking truth. He is not the man they used to know.

Tomorrow (my birthday) he is to go to very early to the hospital once again. This time he is to have steroid injections in the sacroiliac joint(s). Neither of us know what to expect. Our hopes were raised over the last procedure. If this doesn't help he feels unable to continue with any more treatments. He believes that 'enough is enough'.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Caring With Confidence

I would like to draw your attention to this new initiative funded by the NHS. It is a free knowledge and skills based learning programme. Some areas have group meetings. It appears to have limited groups in the South West region - Somerset. No wonder parts of Devon & Cornwall are still referred to as 'the withered arm'. (There was not so much money to be spent on the west which had to soldier on as best it could - left to wither away!)

I suggest you explore this link and see if Caring with Confidence would be of any help to you.

I like to meet and share problems in a group when I can but with time being such an issue it isn't always easy. Another problem I find is just how bone wearingly tired being a carer can be. It is so hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it. I often wonder whether it is a low grade form of reactive depression. Does anyone else have any views on this?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Back to Fitness

Besides the physiotherapy sessions MyMan has also been entered in a Back to Fitness programme. Over a 6 week period he along with a class of 5 others is undergoing an hour long exercise and muscle toning programme run at Wonford hospital.

Last week he boasted that he had used dumbbells weighing 66 lbs. I said incredulously - "surely not. Don't you mean 6 lbs?" But he insisted it was 66lbs. "But that's about 4 stone - it can't be that" Again he was definite. He'd seen the weight impressed on the dumbbells with his own eyes - demonstrating this by lowering his spectacles down his nose to see properly - and telling me that 'bloody heavy they are too'.

I told him I still wouldn't and couldn't believe it. 6.6 kilos by a HUGE stretch of the imagination I might manage - but not 66 lbs. Not from a man who is unable to help me carry in a bag of potatoes and 2 litres of milk without moaning how heavy it is.

This week he confessed he'd taken a closer look and it was 6.6 lbs. And, as he'd found them very heavy last week and had strained his chest muscles, he picked up the lighter weight dumbbells.

That's MyMan. Mr Atlas he isn't.

Updated: 22 January 2010

Thank you Robert for your kind comment but I feel MyMan and I are quite well matched.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

New Beginnings

It is a little late in the New Year to think of New Beginnings but
After a long drawn out investigation MyMan has accepted the Financial Ombudsman's Final Decision on his complaint against Equitable Life. It has been another battle against a large instituition. Energy sapping and a time consuming procedure at the best of times.
Now he is even more at a loose end. Still not fit enough to work. With too much time on his hands he concentrates on his low mood. Maybe once the compensation comes through, and he is able to completely cross it off his mental 'jobs to do' list, he may find some energy to get on and enjoy some aspect of retirement. He's now 65 and if he'd still been working I would have been nagging him to retire. He counts himself as sick and out of work. But with the state pension being paid I tell him he is now a retiree/OAP.
He longs still for solitude, peace and complete quiet. I tell him there will be plenty of that when he's in the cemetery.