Life Sparkles ✨

Down in the Dumps.

Writing those words I wondered if readers of my blog from anywhere other than the UK or Ireland would know the expression “Down in the Dumps”.  My description of it is a feeling of being down, a certain grade of depression, not a bad mood as such, just feeling anything but positive.

I had a night like this on Sunday night.  As you know from my last post, my Mam had been unwell with a chest infection and when we had returned from hospital, my Dad was also unwell.  After a week of heavy antibiotics, they were both recovering well over the Easter weekend.  I on the other hand was starting to come down with something, probably I had picked something up from them.  Of course I am strong enough to fight it off in time.  It was tough going, feeling so rough myself and looking after things here at home and looking after my parents.  There is just me, it had to be done.

The Tuesday after Easter Dad started to become unwell again, the chest infection had returned so a different, heavier dose of antibiotics was started.  Two days later Mom also came back down with a chest infection and another dose of liquid antibiotics commenced.

So a week later, both were once again over the infections, the antibiotics had left a few side effects but nothing we couldn’t handle.  On the Friday my boyfriend came over for the weekend, we hadn’t seen each other this time for five weeks and cover was in place so that we could go out for a late lunch nearby.  We were gone less than two hours and in that time Dad had suffered a weird kind of turn.  Tummy cramps, heat, sweating, freezing cold and weakness.  It’s no wonder I am stressed when I go out yet I know I need to go in order to have some “me” time.  He looked awful.  When I think about it, he looked worse than when I seen him have the cardiac arrest in 2009 and that was bad. Thankfully our Doctor’s surgery was open and the on call Doctor came to visit. All checks were good, we had to put it down to after affects of the antibiotics. He rested for the rest of the afternoon and was back to his usual self later that night.

The following Tuesday a sore throat appeared…by Thursday Dad sounded once again completely congested.  He spoke to the Doctor on the telephone Thursday night and a Doctor called to see him on Friday.  Again, all check ok, this was put down to a viral infection so no antibiotics this time and slowly this has started to improve over the last week.

Sunday evening I was feeling so tired out, the stress of the last four to five weeks was catching up with me.  I ached.  For a couple of days it felt like I was trying to shrug off a heavy load from my back.  By Sunday it felt like I was carrying a rucksack full of stones, I had chest ache, arm ache, neck ache…and I was tired.  We got to bed around midnight and the last time I looked at the clock was 00:50 am.  1:25 am Mam decided to get up. She wanted to come downstairs for tea, she had no intention of going back to bed.  So that was that, I was up again and downstairs in the lounge with Mam. Tea was made and drank and around 4.30 am Mam fell asleep in her favourite chair.

I couldn’t chat, I couldn’t do anything much, I felt so down, so tired out, so desperate, so alone, my sparkle wasn’t even a twinkle, it was like a dying ember in a fire.  I’d had it. I wasn’t even in the mood for the Twitters…never a good sign.  I prayed and prayed. It works for me.

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I had thoughts of blogging my thoughts but I decided that my mood was just too Black and that just isn’t me at all.  I did however catch up on reading some of your wonderful blog posts, so diverse, so interesting and so calming to read.  It was just the right thing to do.  I fell asleep around 6:30 am and although I woke around 9 am, my mood had lifted. My favourite and most apt bible verse in my head…

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I decided to pull my sparkle up from my ankles and get myself moving.  I got myself ready and I started the Couch to 5K programme again.  I’m starting from the beginning and building myself up, it has been 18 months since I last ran.  I felt so much better for going outside, walking, running, listening to music, it did me the world of good and it must have loosened up my body as the pains and aches were all but gone.

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On the Friday afternoon, my close friend Sharon had called to visit.  Usually we would go out for food but as Dad was unwell I cancelled the carer and we stayed home.  We had such glorious weather last week, sunshine and heat, we sat in the garden for an hour, drank Prosecco and ordered Pizza.  Such simple things yet it felt like a holiday for me.

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Not really good for the healthy eating but I haven’t been too good at that recently and sometimes I think a little of what you fancy does you good.

Thank you for reading yet another war and peace of a blog post!

Pictures are either mine or via Pinterest.

With Sparkles until the next time…

 

Life Sparkles ✨

The Last Time.

I sit in the kitchen, cold and alone. Slowly the thoughts in my mind unfold.

When was the last time you laughed out loud?  When was the last time you didn’t feel down?  When was the last time your home felt peace? When was the last time you felt complete? When was the last time you walked hand in hand, by the edge of the ocean, barefoot on the sand? When was the last time you felt carefree? Not a worry, no nerves, no anxiety. When was the last time you felt like you? Where is your life, the one that you knew. Where are your dreams, your hopes and your plans? Battered by storms taken out of your hands. 

Embrace every moment, live and be free, for you never know when the last time will be.

Life Sparkles ✨

Caring, Anxiety and Me.

Prolonged anxiety is something new to me.  In the past, like most people, I have suffered anxiousness at various times; pre exam nerves, driving test nerves, medical emergencies within the family nerves and let us not forget first date nerves!!  We all encounter bouts of stress and anxiety at times of our lives.

However, now that I am caring for both of my parents, anxiety is something I live with daily. Dad has physical health issues; heart, chronic debilitating arthritis and oedema are the main attackers.  Mom is so healthy it is untrue thank God but Mom’s issues are cognitive degeneration and sundowning.  Both fall under the umbrella of dementia but do not receive a diagnosis of dementia because they are very different and don’t fit the usual symptoms.

Today, post World Mental Health Day, it is my own mental health that I am aware of. I know the real me is in there somewhere, frantically struggling to stay afloat and keep my sparkle alive but it is so easy to just get swamped, to fall into the blackness of the stress, anxiety, dare I say depression that comes with continuous care for loved ones whilst also trying to keep your own life afloat.

I now see the important of finding time for me, to do things that I like to do, to be me, to feel alive no matter what the anxiety is doing to me.  Himself, worries for me, my friends worry for me.  Yet I feel that I am acting in my usual scatty, day dreaming, mad ideas kind of way – of course they see “me”, the changes in my personality because I am worrying, because I don’t know when there will be a sudden mood swing to deal with, because I don’t know when Mom will decide she is not going to bed and I am awake all night with  her. Everything can change in a second here at home and I am learning to adapt to the changes. To deal with doing tasks at perhaps what wouldn’t be considered the usual time for housework, for cooking, for logging into the day job – overnight, for studying whenever there is time.  I take pleasure in half an hour of me time in a coffee shop. An evening out with himself, who has his own caring responsibilities, is very rare but when we get them, they are treasured.  Both of us now feel our time together is precious and no longer take it for granted.  We can easily go three to four weeks without seeing each other but we understand our commitments to home.

Understanding is very important, understanding of the people we care for, understanding of adapting our lives, understanding friends who accept that you may need to cancel plans at short notice.

My anxiety manifests as tightness in the chest, dizziness, slowness of speech and movement in extreme moments of stress.  I find a walk in the fresh air helps whatever the weather.  I have taken up running again, in all weathers and although I hate it when I start off, the sense of achievement for even ten minutes of running is amazing, I feel good, I am alone, I can make sense of my world.

As you know, I love my singing and I escape the real world when I start to sing. However my anxiety has affected my ability to remember lyrics and I quite often go wrong when I am singing a song…but I persevere, it is almost as if I am having a quiet war with my anxiety. I will overcome the memory issue and sing out the whole song without prompting.  I have ambitions for my singing and I find these ambitions help to keep me strong, to have something to focus on outside of caring, a dream, a wish, a promise to myself.

Life changes, each day is a blessing and each day brings it’s own struggles, it’s own happiness and it’s own sparkle and whatever happens, we must try and keep our sparkle alive, even if it is more of a twinkle some days.

Thank you for reading my blog and sharing my thoughts.

look-for-the-positive-vibes

 

Life Sparkles ✨

Caring. Who Cares?  

Who cares? Was the first chapter in one of my study modules a few years ago. The actual point of the chapter is not so much about the person requiring care but about the caregiver. Who cares for the caregiver?

Over the past seven months I have become more and more of a caregiver to my Mom after her fall and breaking of her hip. The hip has healed just fine, Mom walks more and more without the walking frame but Mom has changed. Before the hip fall, for about four years, we experienced very black days, Mom’s mood was nothing short of scary. However since the hip fall, those moods have given way to something else. 

It appears that Mom had very little Iron in her body and has been taking Iron supplements which have really improved a number of things; mood, stability, concentration and confusion, normal Mom has returned!! That’s all great but now we experience ‘Sundown Dementia’ which it appears affects people who do not have, or have not been diagnosed with dementia as well as people who do have dementia. Mom does not have dementia, this is not me saying so, the healthcare teams have confirmed this. Sundown Dementia affects people’s body clocks, especially in the Winter time when days are dark most of the time. My father and I have spent many a night awake and with Mom as she tries to break out of the house to go home. She accuses us of keeping her prisoner. I get called all names you can think of and then some. It switches on and off like a light switch and we experience an all nighter about once every three weeks. I am not liked at all by my Mom some days and that hurts a lot, but the next day, the next hour, all is well, till next time. We can get smaller sundown moments during the day but we have found that if sufficient water is drank, it is almost a miracle cure!! Getting Mom to drink water is another story…

I’m lucky that my boss is so understanding and I’ve been allowed to work from home and phase a return to the office. This has worked well at home but still causes me anxiety as I await a phone call that something is wrong with either Mom or Dad. I’ve suddenly become responsible for almost everything from healthcare to shopping, cooking to entertainer, cleaner to, well, carer. It’s hard. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem doing this for my parents. Sometimes though I wonder where have I gone? How has every minute of the day become consumed with items on my ‘to do’ lists.

Lack of sleep, stress and anxiousness lead me to the doctor myself. I cannot be ill. Who cares for them if I’m not here. After some tests the doctor was satisfied that my symptoms were all stress related. I had to find some ways to relieve some pressure and get some me time.

If you’ve read my blogs before you know I do Zumba once a week, I’ve taken up running following the ‘Couch to 5k’ plan (that’s a whole other blog post), I love to sing and am visiting my vocal coach each week and if I get the opportunity to see my b/f now and again it’s a bonus. These things have truly helped me to escape, in mind, body and spirit, even for half an hour. I never thought that a fifteen minute soak in the bath would ever become a rare treat for me. That a day out walking with himself was so special because I can’t go missing for a whole day anymore. I feel sad, anxious, depressed and tearful and yet I also feel happy, joyful and I’ve not lost my sparkle. After all, you just have to paint on that smile and get on with it. My parents gave up time and effort to bring me up, it’s payback time.

  
Picture via Pinterest

Thank you for reading my blog 😎

Life Sparkles ✨

Tailspin!

Looking back on the last week that’s how life has felt, like I’ve been in a tailspin. I’ve felt tired, I’ve experienced feeling envious of other people’s lives, I’ve asked myself “why not me”? I’ve felt anxious to the point of feeling my heart beat pounding in my chest and telling myself to “get a grip”. I got up Wednesday morning unable to put weight on my right knee walking downstairs, today the pain has moved to the right hip!!! What is going on? This is not me? 

A little time of silence and quiet thought made me think back over the past months and how a lot of what was my normal routine has changed completely. I am now responsible for my parents healthcare, wellbeing and that’s scary. I am now in charge of the home, I go to work, I’m trying to keep up with my studies and to follow my passion for singing along with finding time to see my lovely boyfriend and be in contact with my friends. Thank goodness for social media 😎

I’m not alone in this, I understand that people all over the world find themselves in the same situation as I am in. But it has taken my tailspin of last week to appreciate how lucky I am to be given the role of looking after my parents and all the other components of my life. Yes, it isn’t without stress but it is also an education, more life experience and a story of love in many guises.

I’ve realised too that by feeling unwell I need to pull myself together and start eating healthier more often. The breakfast smoothie is a winner but not if I spend the evening picking at chocolate and shortbread biscuits. I need to walk more. I need to lose that stone. I need to have more energy and feel better if I am to carry out my numerous roles properly.

I have three concerts/dances coming up in March and April, my favourite Irish country music stars will be visiting my city. I want to have the energy to sing and dance and immerse myself in the night out.

That’s an awful lot of wants and needs but you know what, it starts now.  I truly believe there is nothing we can’t do if we set our minds to it. Mind over matter. Self belief. Self Confidence. Ignite the sparkle in your heart and soul and go for it ✨

  
Picture via Pinterest 

I’m about to head off for a walk…thank you for reading my blog 💖