Family Ties.

My family has been amazing.  My cousins here in the UK have built what I can only call a wall of comfort and love around me.  I feel so protected by them.  They are not in touch with me every day, they don’t need to be, they are there, I only have to reach out.  With WhatsApp we are in contact, we meet up for lunches, we plan meeting up in the future and they make sure I am as ok as I can be at the moment.

We recently had a fairly impromptu visit from our cousins in Tipperary which was wonderful.  We hadn’t seen each other for such a long time it was fabulous to get together.  Fourteen of us got together one evening for a birthday meal and it was just a crazy, everyone talking at once, laughing and enjoyable family evening. We even had two cousins arrive from Ireland that we didn’t know were coming, as a surprise.  My Dad’s brother was so happy that we were all there together.  Again, I felt protected, loved and looked after.  We wondered if our respective parents were looking down from above and loving that we were all together after such a long time.

My cousin Marji and I go back a very long way, to my holidays as a teenager with her in Tipperary and the freedom we both had going to see the Irish Showbands at the dancehall miles away.  My Dad was always there to drive us, bless him. We reconnected as if we had only seen each other last week.

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Such a happy group photo – it was like herding cats getting us all in one place for photo’s, I think this was the most of us that managed to get into a photo at any one time.

My cousin Marji has the most beautiful voice.  Marji runs the Tipperary Gospel Choir. Here is a link to her solo performance on RTE last year. Marji Maxwell

Her brother Michael runs Laois People which now also has a 24 hour country music radio station.  Country music, Irish music and singing must just be in our DNA.

We may not get together very often but our family ties are strong, we have that bond and that’s what matters.

With love and sparkles xx

I didn’t want a Birthday this year.

I was dreading my birthday after losing Dad at the end of January.  It was unbearable to think of a birthday with both of my parents not here as Mom followed Dad so quickly.  I was quite happy to just let the day pass unnoticed.  Family, friends and himself had other thoughts.

A treat at my local hairdressers.  On your birthday they give you a choice of gifts so I chose the wash and blow dry – always cheers me up.  I also had a recommendation voucher which I used for a manicure – what a treat!

One of my lovely friends then treated me to a celebration afternoon tea at a beautiful local hotel. It was a beautiful sunny and warm day so we sat outside, batted away wasps and enjoyed hundreds of calories.

Himself took me for my first night away from home in four years to Lichfield which is a small but beautiful city not too far from where I live.  We used to go there for New Year’s Eve back in the day, go to our favourite Indian restaurant, have a few cocktails, stop over and head for home the next day.  And that’s exactly what we did the night before my birthday and I was fine.  Not a tear.  It felt very strange to turn my phone off when I went to bed, no-one was going to be calling me and I’m finding that hard to deal with.

Huge brunch which meant I didn’t eat until very late Saturday night.  I received lots of flowers, chocolates and my very best friend bought me a rather large and sturdy suitcase with the words “get travelling woman”.  The sobbing started when I opened up my birthday cards, that was very tough indeed.

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I bought this bottle of Champagne last Christmas and I was saving it for a “special occasion”. I’m no longer going to save things, if I have them I’m going to enjoy them and live for today.  As the saying goes, tomorrow is never promised and it takes pure heartbreaking events for us to really understand this. As my Dad would say “life is for living”.  I drank the whole bottle over the course of three days and I don’t regret it one little bit.

With love and sparkles xx

 

Acting Quickly.

Last week was a lesson for me in how quickly illness can escalate in elderly people.  I have been so cautious all during the Winter to prevent Mom, Dad and myself from getting any kind of cold or flu.  We all had our flu jabs.  Mom and Dad have already had their pneumonia jabs.  Visitors did not call if they had any bugs until they were long gone.  With all the pre Winter scare stories of flu epidemics due to hit us and the stress our hospitals and emergency departments were under, I wanted to ensure they stayed well.  As they are elderly, I knew if they caught anything it wouldn’t be easy to get rid of.

It all started on the Thursday evening, Mom became hoarse as the evening drew on. On Friday morning she wasn’t any worse but I decided to ask the Dr to check on her, just in case it would spread to her chest.  Mom is generally very healthy. However, the weekend was coming and our own Dr’s wouldn’t be available.  A Dr from our surgery called in the afternoon and checked on Mom.  He was happy that her chest was clear and noted that she had a slight tough of Laryngitis, take paracetamol and drink plenty of fluids. (Easier said than done with Mom).  By Saturday morning Mom had regained some of her voice but she appeared to have a lot of phlegm in her throat.  She slept, and slept, and slept.  All day long. As she slept, the sound of the phlegm was cracking away in her throat and I felt this just wasn’t right for Laryngitis. I couldn’t rouse her for her dinner and she continually fell asleep mid sentence.  I called the out of hours service, gave them the details and awaited the call back.  I spoke to a Dr on the telephone who agreed this was not Laryngitis related.  He would send a GP out to assess.

11pm Saturday night the GP arrived and as he examined Mom he said he was not happy with her Oxygen levels, they were dangerously low and he would send for an urgent ambulance as she needed to get to hospital. With that he left me a letter and left saying he would call the ambulance enroute to his next call. I was beside myself with worry, stress, panic and yet had to stay calm to deal with the situation.  I had a bag to pack for hospital.  I had care to arrange to stay with Dad whilst Mom and I were gone.  I was frightened.

The paramedics arrived within minutes. They did their own checks and the oxygen levels were fine but they did agree Mom required hospital treatment.  Mom wouldn’t budge.  She wasn’t feeling unwell at all.  It reminded me of when she broke her hip and felt no pain at all.  She didn’t feel unwell now so why was she going to hospital.  Bless the paramedics, they tried for at least an hour but no way would she go.  They gave me the advice of what to look out for and to call 999 if anything changed.  They also said that however I did it, I needed to get her to hospital on Sunday for treatment as this was now suspected pneumonia.  Mom had gone back to sleep.  Our neighbour was here to stay with Dad as our carer was unable to locate childcare so late into the night time.

An hour later Mom’s breathing was very laboured, I called 999, an ambulance arrived, this time three more fantastic paramedics. Again they tried and tried to get her to go with them but no way at all would she entertain it.  I was beside myself with stress, fear, worry and also felt totally helpless.  We discussed mental capacity; as Dad and I were both here they would not take her by force.  The chief paramedic was happy enough with her stats to leave her here with me to make the call on Sunday.  Hospital on Sunday was a must.

8 am Sunday morning I could see a slight blue tinge to Mom’s lips as she slept.  Our carer was here by then and she agreed with me.  Again I called 999 and again absolutely wonderful paramedics arrived.  It took some time, a little trickery, a lot of persuasion and eventually Mom was captured in the chair, wrapped in a blanket and on her way to the ambulance.  Myself and the carer travelled with her.

As we had the letter from the Dr we didn’t have to wait at accident and emergency, we could go straight through to the Assessment Ward.  It was such a long day, a very long day.  Stats taken, bloods taken, lots of sleeping.  The Dr came to see Mom.  Fluids and Antibiotics were administered via IV and within half an hour, there was a very much brighter little fairy sitting up on the bed.  The consultant came to visit Mom with the Dr. They wanted to take an x-ray to check for signs of pneumonia.  They were hopeful we had caught this at chest infection stage.

X-ray taken and we waited, and waited and waited.  We heard a nurse say all the IT systems were down, nothing could be reviewed, patients couldn’t be admitted or discharged.  We were moved to a ward for the night.  Mom was agitated now.  The nurses have to move quickly and get things done, they don’t have time to sit and talk Mom into moving from one bed to another.  Mom’s confusion set in and it took over two hours for her mood to settle.  The Dr visited us around 10pm Sunday night, he was happy that there wasn’t any pneumonia on the x-ray, we had caught it in time.  He felt Mom would heal better at home in her own environment. More antibiotics were administered through the IV and we were given antibiotic syrup to take for five days.

The next hurdle was to get home.  At first Mom wouldn’t move.  Thankfully our lovely carer had returned from sorting out her sons’ school uniforms for Monday and she was able to talk Mom into going home.  Mom would not sit on the chair to be wheeled to the entrance, she insisted on walking.  It was a long walk for her.  Again I was stressed out; how would the walk go, would she be able for it, at least we were in hospital.  My fairy of a Mom made the walk slowly, sat into the carer’s car and chatted all the way home.

When we got back, Mom sat into her favourite chair, drank tea and fell asleep.  She was already feeling so much better than earlier that morning.  Dad was now coming down with something so it was a call to our own GP on Monday morning and Dad was examined Monday afternoon, a chest infection building and antibiotics prescribed.

It has been a hard week in more ways than one.  I’ve had a rush of different feelings and emotions, from frantic worry and stress of possibly losing Mom to relief that it was caught in time to worry about Dad getting a chest infection on top of his other ailments. By the end of the week I was coming down with something. Tiredness, stresses, strains, worries all added to sleeplessness to make me feel unwell…but who cares for the carer?

Mom has recovered very well thank god.  Sleeping all day on the Saturday with no intake of fluids or food had increased her confusion hence her refusal to comply with the paramedics and go to hospital.  I have to say that usually Mom is fabulous with anyone from the health profession, being an ex nurse herself.  Dad has also recovered well although he seems tonight to be heading for another cold of some sort.  That’ll be Doctors again tomorrow.

Once again I find myself thanking and being very thankful for our absolutely amazing National Health Service and the Dr’s, the nurses, trainee’s and our wonderful paramedics. They do the most amazing job, 24/7 and they are worth their weight in gold. Whatever they get paid it just isn’t enough for what they do.

I’m still finding it incredible that slight Laryngitis Friday afternoon had become suspected pneumonia by Saturday night.  You really do need to be aware and hawk eye as a carer.  If I had left it one more day it would have been a very different story.

In these cases, the feeling of helplessness is overwhelming.  It was all happening around me and very little I could actually do but be there.

This is a fairly long blog post from me which is kind of unusual.  I love my blogging, I find it therapeutic and almost like a diary of my life events.  I needed to write this episode down, to process my thoughts and try to deal with them.

Thank you for listening x

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year 2018

I hope that you all enjoyed Christmas time immensely. Yes it is busier than busy, we are stressed out shopping, wrapping gifts, visiting friends and family or having them visit us, school plays, pantomime’s, cooking…the list goes on.

Ours was a quiet Christmas. Family came for the usual “Fizz and Nibbles” on Christmas Day which is a busy, funny, crazy few hours when our usually quiet house comes to life and it is wonderful. Mom and Dad loved having the family around, catching up, singing songs and everyone talking at once. Mom coped very well with it all, took it in her stride. From 4 pm onwards it was back to us three, I cooked dinner and we settled down to watch the Christmas Irish Music shows.

Over the week we’ve had some visitors, my b/f made it over for the New Year and things were slow and steady. Two all nighters which isn’t bad going at all. We didn’t get to open our gifts until New Years Eve, Mom just wasn’t interested at all which both surprised me and made me feel so sad. Mom always so enjoyed opening the gifts in the past. One gift I bought them was two calendars; one from Knock Shrine and one Nathan Carter. Well, Mom took a lot of interest in the Nathan Carter calendar which was very funny, she just wouldn’t put it down. He is one of our favourite singers, it was so sweet to watch her with her calendar.

I’m quite happy to stay in on New Years Eve, I’m not too bothered about staying up until midnight although we did this year as my b/f was with us. I do love January. Winter in all its glory. The evenings start to get a little lighter as each week passes. The promise of the year ahead, opportunities, challenges, plans, dreams…it’s as if we feel we can make anything happen if we just put our mind to it now we are in the New Year…and we can.

I wish you a fabulously happy 2018, full of health, love, peace and sparkles galore.

Picture via Pinterest

I bet you can’t guess what one of my gifts was? Oh yes he was in the bad books!

He did redeem himself somewhat when I opened this…I love Nashville.

My cousin and I being silly on Snapchat. Laughing is such a good feeling.

I was after some flat ballerina pumps and ended up with these. Not practical at all, not sure I can walk in them but I couldn’t resist the sparkle. Oh well, they were extremely reasonably priced and sometimes you just have to let your inner sparkle take charge.

Happy New Year Everyone 🌟

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.

 

 

 

 

A New Chapter.

I keep thinking of Autumn or the month of September these past few days. I’m not sure if that is down to the more Autumnal weather we’ve had in the last week or a state of mind because last Friday was my final day at the day job. Am I seeing myself as somehow suddenly reaching the Autumn of life because I’ve given up the day job, my career, my corporate city chick persona?

Friday was a more emotional day than I expected it to be. For all the upset during my notice period my manager did give me a lovely speech at the presentation. However, as she was talking about the reason I was leaving, it suddenly hit me full force the reason I was leaving my job, my friends and colleagues and my corporate life, in order to care for my parents for the rest of their lives. I felt so sad, sad that this was my role now, end of life care and I cried. I couldn’t speak to my colleagues to thank them as I choked up, some of them also cried, it is a position any of us can find ourselves in. I also felt relief. Relief that the stress and pressure of having to log in everyday, make the journey to the office and back is gone. My day is free to flow with whatever is going on in the home without worrying about deadlines, meetings and reporting.

Last week was also fairly exhausting on the home front. Dad’s knee swelled up due to arthritic joints and he couldn’t put any weight on it at all. Thank God we still had the walking frames from when Mom broke her hip. This though completely put him out of action and meant more running about for me, which I have no problem doing, on the go is good but oh so tiring. Dad being out of action affected Mom. We had two days of partial hunger strike as Dad wasn’t doing their breakfast as usual and on Tuesday night we had a Sundown night; up all night and no sleep until 6:30 am. I get up at 7 am for work; I have no idea how I have worked through these post Sundown work days.  I think I’m so used to them I just go into automatic pilot. However, from now on with no day job to worry about, being up all night is not going to be as troublesome as before…I hope!
So between Dad’s knee, Mom’s hunger strikes and sundowns, lack of sleep,  work and leaving work, it has been a fairly exhausting and emotional week. Although I leave the corporate city chick behind, I say bring on the carer, domestic goddess and songstress and let’s see the challenges, blessings and positives of the new chapter ahead.

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Picture via Pinterest

© @aurorasparkles 2017

Christmas Eve Sparkle

I think Christmas Eve is the most magical day of the year.  All the preparations, the baking, the shopping, the giving of gifts and the hustle and bustle of life in the weeks before Christmas are all geared towards the celebration of Christmas Day and rightly so. But, do you ever stop to breathe, take five minutes and soak up the atmosphere, the magic, the sparkle that is Christmas Eve.

  
Picture via Pinterest.

Christmas Eve to me is the looking forwards. Looking forward to family visits on Christmas Day, phone calls and messages, delighted or perhaps not so delighted looks on faces when opening gifts. The burning of the advent candle down to ’24’. The joy of singing beautiful hymns and carols to celebrate the birth of Jesus, at Midnight Mass. Precious time spent with loved ones sharing memories and maybe tears for Christmasses past. Watching ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Elf’ on tv, both of which make me cry…such a softie!!

I love Christmas Day of course but once it is Christmas Day, that’s it, the looking forwards is over, the celebration is happening and it’s wonderful…yes even the family argument…there’s always one!!! The preparations, the planning, the rushing around, all over for another year. 

So, for me, Christmas Eve is just the most wonderful day of the year and I am already in sparkle overload thinking about singing tonight at Midnight Mass. Songs I’ve sung since childhood about the true meaning of Christmas. Voices joining together to sing in celebration of the birth of Jesus.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a truly sparkling Christmas Eve 🎄✨🌟💫

   Mam and I baked traditional fruit Christmas Cake…hope it tastes good!

  Advent candle from himself.

  Love Christmas Tree Sparkle

  O Holy Night – Merry Christmas