Life Sparkles ✨

Is it too late…

…to wish you all a very happy 2019!

For the first time ever Christmas appears to have fitted in around our life at home whereas it usually becomes the main focus of December for us. This Christmas though things were very different at home. Christmas seems to have come and gone with little or no recognition at all. We watched Midnight Mass from Knock Shrine live on You Tube. We had some visitors popping in and out and I did manage to get Christmas cards written and sent and gifts organised. Thank goodness for the Internet!

A beautiful surprise on Christmas Day in the evening when some neighbours arrived at the door with home made soup, Christmas dinner, dessert, cheese and biscuits and Christmas crackers. They knew I would struggle to put together a Christmas dinner as the caring role continues as usual whatever day it is, so they decided to share. To me, this was the true meaning of Christmas, love, caring, sharing and kindness.

A few photo’s below of my Christmas time. I wish you all a very happy, healthy and blessed 2019. (I will continue my update from the last blog post as soon as I can).

I just love this photo, my sparkles and my boyfriend’s trainers.

A beautiful surprise gift from a school friend.

I couldn’t put up our usual tree so I bought a small sparkling one for Mom and Dad. It was lovely to sit and watch the colours changing.

Life Sparkles ✨

Has it been that long?

Well yes it appears it has been a month since I managed to get to my blog.  Mid September already, the long hot beautiful Summer is already becoming a memory as we drift into the cooler days and shorter evenings of Autumn.

It has been busy, as usual.  Caring really is a full time, 24/7, no days off, no night off, profession so I take my breaks when I can.  As you know the past five months Dad has experienced illness after illness after illness.  It has been so tough on him, on Mom and on me.  Dad has gone from being able to do quite a few things for himself and his chosen jobs around the house to not being able to do very much at all, so it has fallen to me.

We’ve had a great run again of getting to bed at night, 42 nights in a row broken only the other night when Mom decided to stay up.  So we start counting again.  42 nights is amazing, it has been years and years since we have had any good run of getting to bed and we’ve had two good runs so far this year.  I’m aware that Sundown season is approaching but fingers crossed.

Over the past two weeks Dad has slowly, and I mean slowly, started to show signs of improvement.  He has managed to eat small amounts regularly which in turn has assisted with keeping that dreadful gunk he was coughing up all night and day, at bay. He still has the cough and the gunk but it is vastly reduced.  He is managing to get some sleep at night, another benefit.  He is feeling a bit better in himself, he is chatting more, watching the news again and has even reached for his diary and prayer books.  These are all good signs of Dad feeling a little better in himself.

Mom bless her has been so supportive of him, caring for him, advising him and trying to help him in her own way.  Sometimes she has been very frightened when the cough and gunk has been in full flow.  Somehow we have managed to come through the past five months.  I thank God every night for giving us another blessed day together as a family.

In the meantime, I have lots to share on the music front, some of which you may have seen on my social media which I have stepped up a gear.  I will update the music blog as soon as I can.  I have been reading your blogs as they come through on my email, when you are up at night and you need to stay awake they make excellent reading and I love them, they make me feel connected, thank you.

A few photo’s from the past month or so, with love and sparkles xxx

A random lunch with one of my friends and yes I had that dessert again but we did share.  Love my cup of coffee in the mornings.

Delighted that my Shamrock has started to grow again after the heavy snow and frost had killed it off earlier this year.  My little tubs and baskets didn’t do too badly either this Summer.

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And Snapchap still makes me giggle and does away with the wrinkles…Go Snapchat!!!

Life Sparkles ✨

Strep Throat is the Pits!!

Poor Dad, what a horrible, horrible, horrible infection infection Strep Throat is. Since my last update where he was just starting the antibiotics, we have had over two weeks of what I can only describe as an absolutely horrendous time. After a week of treatment the Strep had started to break up within the throat, which is good. The downside was that in breaking up it leaves lesions on the throat and tonsils which made it impossible for Dad to eat or drink. Everything he tried, including water, hurt. Not only did it hurt but it immediately caused an almighty coughing session, bringing up what I have officially classed as “Strep Gunk”. We’ve had nights of continuous coughing and all I could do was be there to support him. I wanted to stop the cough but I was yet again helpless.

Week two of Strep Dad was feeling so bad one evening he asked me to ring the priest. Fr Michael was here very quickly. Such a lovely, kind man, he calls every month to visit Mom and Dad. He gave both Mom and Dad the anointing of the sick sacrament. There was an incredible feeling of energy surrounding their chairs, you could almost touch it.

Two weeks on and we have at last started a recovery. Dad is starting to eat again, the coughing is decreasing and we have less all night coughing sessions. Dad has lost over a stone in weight and is quite weak. Not surprising after almost three weeks without proper food. The Dr supplied us with protein shakes which have helped enormously. What was starting to happen over the last week was that the lack of eating and drinking was having a knock on effect on Dad’s existing health issues. It really does feel like one step forwards and two backwards at times.

It’s been nine continuous weeks of infections, with the Strep Throat period being worst of all. The past month has felt extremely solitary in ways. More than once I just sat and cried. Exhaustion, anxiety, fear and a feeling of inadequacy just spilled out. Better out than bottled up I suppose.

Mom has been amazing, she is such a sweetie. Very caring, advising Dad, tucking him into bed and checking on him. The nurse within her returned and only one all nighter which kept me fit up and downstairs to keep an eye on them both. I am now hopeful that we have at last turned a positive corner and that slowly recovery will continue.

Needless to say I haven’t left the house very much at all in the past month. From now though I really must try to go out again as I think I could easily fall into the trap of thinking that I can’t go because I’m needed plus Dad has already said he doesn’t want me to go out because he feels safer when I am in. Although he has also admitted this wouldn’t be good for me. The three of us need to get used to the carer being here to give me a break.

I have one concert to blog about, which I attended at the end of April plus I have managed to keep my guitar lessons and singing sessions going, all within the house and I have news on the singing front. I’ll get these written as soon as I can.

A few pictures that more or less cover my last couple of weeks…that new granola from Kellogg’s is delicious.

With love and sparkles x

So very true...

New favourite breakfast.

Life Sparkles ✨

All At Once.

Nothing for ages and then a flurry of activity in a short space of time. I was very lucky in that once again some of my favourite Irish Country Music stars were appearing in Birmingham and I was able to attend. My fabulous boyfriend stayed in with Mom and Dad so that I could get out to see my absolute favourite John McNicholl.

It was the Eve of St Patrick’s Day that the dance was on hence the heart shaped, shamrock tattoo ☘️

My friend and I had a little Snapchat fun before we left for the dance, I just love how it removes wrinkles.

We also celebrated Mom’s birthday that weekend, so many flowers, just beautiful and they are still around the house looking good.

Derek Ryan, absolute class singer, songwriter, entertainer had a sell out concert on the Sunday night and it was just fantastic. A great mix of his old material and the newer material and we were up dancing in the aisles. I hear he will be back in November for a dance so that’s a definite date for my diary.

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The beautiful Tipperary Songbird, Louise Morrissey, who celebrates thirty years in Country Music this year is touring with Derek Ryan. A real treat to see and hear her amazing voice.

No further gigs now until April. I have three planned; Nashville, Daniel O’Donnell and Michael English. I make the plans in the hope I get to carry them out. As you know, if it wasn’t for Country Music I might possibly go crazy!

Snapchat Hippie Mode…

Life Sparkles ✨

Night Time Catch Up.

It’s been a quiet and settled kind of day. I made a small start on putting some Christmas decorations up. Mom and I always put them up together. This year is really the first time that Mom hasn’t really engaged with me in talking about putting them up. She’s more than happy to talk about Christmas, about family visiting, about sending Christmas cards but for all the discussion she doesn’t appear to be wanting to get actively involved. I have to be careful here; if I do too much too soon there is a chance that Mom will think she is in my house, not her own home and start saying she wants to go home. So slowly does it, keeping her involved, asking advice, asking her to check things. Yes I could do it myself much quicker but I can’t leave my fairy of a Mom out. She always included me when I was a little girl onwards to teenage years and even when I had my own house she would wait for me to be home with her and Dad to put the Christmas Tree up. My turn to do the same for Mom.

I bought a new garland which lights up for the stairs but it didn’t fit properly. Dad suggested the window sill and I have to admit, it looks great there with Mom’s old candle ornament.

Mom and I both love Roses, I buy her a bunch each week when I go shopping. We place them in the hallway, never fails to put a smile on our faces as we pass them.

I found a couple of small vases in a cupboard so I placed some Roses in one of them on the kitchen window. A simple small touch yet makes such a difference to the outlook plus Mom and Dad are enjoying looking at them. I told you… I’m turning “Stepford”.

Our local village tree is up and I love it. I take pictures when I get out and about to show Mom and Dad so that they are up to date and can see what is happening in the outside world, as they no longer get out there. For now it doesn’t appear to upset them. I know Dad especially misses going out and about. Mom no longer talks about going out and the times she has been out; as in our emergency dash to A & E a few months ago, she handled it extremely well, much much better than I had thought she would.

Since I started to write this blog post, we are up out of bed and back downstairs drinking tea. I had a feeling after such a settled day and bedtime being a bit unsettled, that we were in for an all nighter. Perhaps I’ll make a start on those Christmas cards after all…

Life Sparkles ✨

Sundowning, Sleep and Me.

Sundowning was something I had never heard of until about two years ago. Out of the blue Mom would get confused, agitated, nervous and not know if it was morning or evening. If we did get to bed there may be “room roaming”, Mom would be on patrol within her room, back and forth to the window wondering why it was dark during the day. Some nights we wouldn’t make it up to bed at all. Other nights we’d get to bed and sleep only to find ourselves back downstairs a few hours later. This is what has happened tonight. Last night Mom and I didn’t get to bed at all.

Since the Doctor said Mom’s topsy turvy nights were due to Sundowning I’ve read quite a lot about it. We don’t fit any of the profiles given (typical) however some of the remedies do work for us. Keeping to routines, staying calm and reassuring, making hot sweet tea and favourite biscuits as sometimes Sundowning can come on due to low blood sugar.

It is always worse when the clocks change. When our clocks recently changed due to the end of British Summer Time I was expecting a couple of weeks sleep disruption. We had four weeks where we went to bed every other night. We then had a run of six nights in a row of uninterrupted sleep which believe me was heaven. For the past two weeks we’ve had one Sundown night each week until this week; last night and tonight. Mom was expecting visitors. I tried to explain it was 2:30 am but Mom thought it was afternoon and of course in the depth of Winter we can have some very dark days where night time starts to descend mid to late afternoon; a typical Sundowning trait of switching night to day.

My night out last Sunday did not help things. Routine was upset, I was out and came home late, 1:15 am. Mom was happily enjoying her time with the Carer and Dad. I got into bed at 3 am and Mom got up at 6 am…last Monday was a very long tired out day.

A slight twist to the Sundown is that some nights Mom just doesn’t want to go to bed even though she is tired. This isn’t Sundowning. I’ve researched this too! It seems that elderly people can get so comfortable, cosy, warm and relaxed in their chair they don’t see the point in moving to bed, so they don’t, they sleep quite comfortably where they are. This is fine for them but hard on their carer who doesn’t get a proper night of sleep. There is no change of mood when this happens, no anxiety or confusion. My fairy of a Mom just wants to stay put where she is.

My main issue with being up at night on a regular basis is not only am I lacking in vital sleep but I need to keep going during the day to take care of Dad when he gets up and to do the cooking etc. I did very little yesterday and I’m thinking today is going to be written off chores wise. That’s how it goes, we just have to go with the flow. Keeping Mom happy, relaxed and safe is our priority.

We have had our 3 am tea and biscuits, Mom has fallen asleep in her chair, Dad is asleep upstairs and I’ll attempt a few hours sleep now. The wind and rain are pelting against the window, it’s comforting, soothing and I hope will help me drift off to sleep.

Pictures via Pinterest

©️ @aurorasparkles 2017

Life Sparkles ✨

Caring – it’s tough!

Sundowning has hit. The darker evenings has meant that once twilight arrives, Sundown affects Mom so that she is unsure of whether it is morning or evening. Sundowning is such a strange condition. Mom will not go to bed, even at 1 am because she thinks it is early evening. At the moment we are running at every other night in bed. I was expecting this; we experience a similar situation in Spring when the clocks change and the lighter evenings take over. We go with the flow, I ensure Dad is in bed as he has to lie down at night due to his heart condition and associated issues. I can cuddle up on the sofa and keep an eye on things with Mom keeping the door open so I can check on Dad.

Yesterday Dad’s right knee became more painful than usual and started to swell. We thought this was arthritis inflammation as a similar thing happened in June on the left knee; it took one day to flare up and almost nine weeks to resolve. Thankfully the stairlift is in now which it wasn’t in June when I had to flex my muscles to help him on the stairs. The doctor prescribed some strong anti-inflammatory gel yesterday and although the joint is still extremely painful and he still can’t put weight on the leg, the swelling has not increased so far. Again I am flexing my muscles to help him in and out of his chair. 

Yesterday morning I had a hospital appointment for an ultrasound, abdominal and internal. I was supposed to come home and rest but I couldn’t do that. I was on high anxiety the hour I was at my appointment even though our lovely carer was covering for me. When I returned to find Dad totally immobile I had to take over the jobs he usually does. I just left a lot of chores and concentrated on the needs of Mom and Dad, you just have to go with the flow. It was difficult as I was in a lot of pain myself, but you have to just keep going, there is just me. 

Trying to cope with both of them at the same time was so hard, negotiating Mom’s changing mood, helping Dad in and out of his chair, bathroom visits for both of them, cooking, medication, helping Dad to bed and then an all nighter with Mom.  

It made me think a lot about self care, about how important it is for me to stay healthy in order to look after them. It also made me think about contingency plans should I fall ill and also about making a will just in case. I need to be as sure as I can be that they will be looked after properly, with love and attention should I not be here. 

Being a full time carer gives you a lot of food for thought, worries and anxieties. It is also very rewarding and I’m loving this time spent with my parents as challenging as it is at times.


Picture via Pinterest 

I’m behind on reading your wonderful blog posts, I promise to catch up soon and as usual I have loads more I want to write about, I never know when to stop!

© @aurorasparkles 2017

Life Sparkles ✨

Thank you – Mother’s and Daughter’s.

Tonight Mam was worrying about coming to bed. She felt someone would come along in the night and tell her to get up and go, she’s in the wrong place. This has happened a couple of times before yet tonight was the first time I fully appreciated how frightening that must make Mam feel. 

Dad and I chatted to her to reduce her fear but she was still unsettled. We did make it up to bed and I cuddled her in. We talked about the wind and rain outside, about my boyfriend coming to spend the day on Saturday and how he makes us laugh with his sense of humour. We talked about Dad taking ages to get into his pyjamas and slowly Mam started to relax. When I said goodnight to her and checked she had everything she needed Mam thanked me for helping her. I said “you don’t need to thank me, I’m only making sure you are ok”. Mam then said she was so sorry that I’m having the weight of her and Dad around my neck, this wasn’t the life she intended for me. I don’t know how I held the tears back. Now whilst I’m writing this they are falling quietly…

I hugged her as tight as I could without hurting her, my lovely fairy of a Mam. I said “Fairy, where else would I be but with you and Dad”. 

Thank you. Two simple words which when said with real feeling and with real meaning can make your heart feel like it could burst with love and pain simultaneously.

Mothers and daughters ❤️


Picture via Pinterest

@aurorasparkles ✨

Life Sparkles ✨

Yesterday.

Yesterday, all my troubles were definitely not far away. We all know things can happen in a breath and when they do you appear to enter some form of altered reality.

Before I start to relay my tale, I’ll let you know up front that things appear, so far, to be ok. I’m writing this blog post for a couple of reasons; one to help me deal with things and two, to give a little insight into life as a carer.

My fairy of a Mom had a sudden collapse yesterday around 1 pm. Dad shouted for me and when I seen her I immediately dialled 999 for paramedics. All colour had drained from her, she couldn’t breathe, she was boiling hot, weak, dizzy, reteching, feeling sick and barely able to talk. Dad was in a state but remaining calm, I was in stress city but for some reason I’m always good in a crisis. I fall apart afterwards. Paramedics arrived within fifteen minutes and all vital signs were fine, which was a relief, but Mom was still very sick. The decision was made she would need to go to hospital. I ran around like a crazy thing grabbing what I thought we’d need. It was afternoon, I knew Dad would be ok for a couple of hours but he was crying as they carried Mom out to the ambulance. I was trying to calm him down, I knew how he felt, but I had to stay strong. 

Mom was very quiet, still very sick and weak. We were booked into A & E and transferred to a bed outside the already occupied bays. I stood by the trolley and cuddled her. She looked so small and frail. The Doctors and nurses were wonderful. We were in a bay fairly quickly, vitals were taken again and were all good. Blood samples were taken as it takes about ninety minutes for the results, so best to not delay. Mom was made a cup of tea, she was more talkative, the colour was returning to her cheeks, she was able to drink her tea and she wasn’t feeling sick. 

We then seen the Senior Doctor and a Junior Doctor; lots of examinations, questions, and assessment. Mom was much improved by this time. The Doctor said he would await the blood tests before making a decision on whether Mom could come home. If we were being kept in, it meant I had to ensure there was a carer at home overnight with Dad. 

We were wheeled out of the bay and Mom was given some tea and toast. Mom was asking lots of questions about what happened and what’s happening next and when could we go home to Dad. I could see myself she was back to normal by now, but it had taken three and a half hours. A senior sister came over to chat to Mom; she needed Mom to get up and walk so they could check her mobility…and that’s when the mood changed. Mom would not get off that bed until she was ready, she was no longer listening to me, she was doing things her way. After a few minutes she got off the bed and started to walk around the area, bearing in mind we were still in the area where the ambulances bring in the patients and it was busy, with all kinds of ailments, medical, mental, alcohol and here was my dot of a Mom strolling around through it all, me trying to hold Mom, bags and jackets and try to get her to sit down. I was scared she would fall and break a hip again. Apart from not wanting that to happen, nor wanting a two week stay in hospital there would be the panic of looking after Dad too!


Picture via Pinterest 

The Doctor arrived to say all bloods were fine, they were satisfied what had happened was a sudden drop in blood pressure. We could go home and I was to keep an eye on things. Hooray I thought, so relieved that all was ok and we could go. Mom however had other ideas. She wouldn’t leave the department, she did not think I was taking her home in a taxi.  Mom wanted Dad. I phoned Dad to talk to her, she wouldn’t speak with him. The taxi arrived, she wouldn’t walk out to it. I had to send the taxi home to get Dad and bring him to the hospital so that he could take her home. In the midst of this our Parish Priest arrived and Mom sat down to chat with him. He then waited for Dad to arrive and walked him in to where we were. So now I had two of them sitting in what was becoming an increasingly busy department as evening rolled in…and no sign of going home. I was stood in the middle of the department, with it all unraveling in front of me in a kind of fog, wondering what the hell I was supposed to do now. It was all down to me to sort this out, do something, but what?!!!

Inspiration arrived. I contacted the lovely male carer who visits each week to see if needed, could he stay overnight with Dad, yes he could. I was thinking I’d have to send Dad home and I’d stay with Mom until she was ready to move. There was still no sign of movement towards home when I returned to them so I called our wonderfully kind neighbour who Mom has girlie evenings with if I’m off to a show; she said she would come down to A & E and hopefully that would entice Mom to come home.

When I got back to them this time, Mom’s mood had changed back and she was ready to come home. So, the three of us took a very slow walk, me trying to hold them both steady, over towards the A & E waiting room. Half way there our neighbour approached, Mom was delighted to see her. We sat at a table and bought tea and I called another taxi. Another very slow walk out into the evening and into the car.  The taxi driver was lovely, he treated Mom like she was his own family, put her in the seat next to him and they chatted all the way home. Such kindness was so appreciated.  Tea and toast all round, our neighbour came in to chat to Mom and all was calm. Four hours after we were told we could come home, we were home!

I didn’t care last night that we didn’t get to bed. Mom was ok, safe, warm and asleep in her chair, I was happy to be on the sofa watching over her. I had settled Dad to bed, he was worn out after the day.  

Today has been a slow, tired out, just hitting me kind of day. Mom did amazingly well considering her ordeal and I think it was actually better that she was in her strong, independent mood as she coped with things better than if she felt afraid or vulnerable. She slept a lot today but she must have been shattered.

It was one thing me going to hospital with Mom and being able to leave Dad alone for a few hours but should it be the other way around, I couldn’t leave Mom unattended and I’d have to be very careful who was here. The emergency back up service will supply me with a nurse but it will be someone we have never met and there is no way around that.  This will not be good but I may not have a choice. 

Tonight, we have made it to bed, Dad has had some angina so I’m on wide awake alert. Today I stood in the kitchen thinking “this is to much for me”, “I can’t cope/deal/take on all this responsibility” and all the time the quote about God not giving us more than we can handle kept coming to mind. Self-care has come to mind too; I’m tired, I’ve forced myself to eat because I know I need to have strength for tomorrow, if I keel over, we have real problems here.

I need to build more contingency plans, I’m not sure how or who with but I need to have things in place. I don’t know how quickly the emergency carers can be here. I don’t know if our companion carers can successfully cover emergencies. I don’t know if there is anything else I can put in place to assist us…I need to find out. My chap couldn’t come to help me yesterday as he is currently alone caring for his Mother whilst his sister is on holiday.

Ever thankful to our fantastic NHS, we are so lucky to have the healthcare system that we do in the UK. 

Here’s to a less tired, calmer, less stressful weekend.


Picture via Pinterest 

Life Sparkles ✨

Catching Up.

After the recent run of sleepless nights it has been a while since I have had an opportunity to update my blog.  The sleeping pattern has calmed back down; I’ll never know what unsettled Mom to the point of her not being able to settle into bed and now we go with the flow at bedtime.  If we get to bed and stay there, brilliant.  If we don’t, then that is just how it is and it is more important that Mom is settled, relaxed and happy where she is.

Well the Slimming World is going ok.  I’ve not had huge weight loss but I have had a couple of days each week “off plan” so to speak, I have lost 4 lbs.  The main change I’ve found is that I feel much better within myself, less sluggish, more energy and I have surprised myself by enjoying cooking from scratch.  Himself was over a couple of weekends ago and we made a Slimming World Thai Green Chicken Curry and it was delicious.  Actually I’ve enjoyed the whole cooking thing so much I’ve ordered myself a Vintage Apron.  I really throw myself into things when I get going!!

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If you’re going to do something…
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…may as well go the whole hog!

I had a lovely lunch with my cousin Clare who I hadn’t seen for well over twenty years; families hey.

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A trip to the city to meet my Cousin for lunch.

Mom so enjoys her Coconut Creams with her cuppa tea.  I went a little overboard with the order though, the Elite Chocolate Mallows are totally delicious.

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The Irish Goodies package arrived 🙂

There is a great farm shop not too far from me and I’d not managed to visit there until recently; I met two lovely ladies who I used to sing in the choir with for a coffee. I’ll be making a return visit to the café and shop when Slimming World  has ran out of steam with me, there were some delicious looking cakes on sale.

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A visit to a local farm shop who serve delicious Cappuccino. The cakes looked amazing but I’m being good.

Mom and Dad watch Mass live everyday from Knock Shrine.  We light virtual candles online, buy beautiful Mass cards and Christmas cards.  We watch the Annual Novena every year, the services are very uplifting, the speakers are completely motivating and come from all different walks of life.  Inspiring.

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Taken from the TV during the Annual Novena at Knock Shrine.

A recent addition to the area is this lovely Coffee shop.  So calming inside, I’m looking forward to escaping there for an hour now and again with a book and a large cappuccino.

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Fabulous little Coffee shop I located a twenty minute walk away from home…did I mention they also sell Prosecco?!!

So, as you can see, although I’ve not been able to blog very much during August, I have managed to get out now and again; walking, coffee and family.  These small breaks have been much needed and much appreciated.  Here’s to a wonderful September and a very happy Autumn for us all.