Life Sparkles ✨

Autumn falls away to Winter

I was out walking again. I was south of the city, close to where I was born and brought up. It still feels like home in the south although I have lived north of the city for a very long time.

Autumn was just ending and Winter was taking hold. It was a very chilly and beautiful afternoon and it felt so good to be wrapped up and in the fresh air. The colours around me were stunning so of course, out came the phone and I took a few pictures.

Love the Sun through the trees.
Autumn leaves 🍁
Stunning Autumnal colours.
Late afternoon in the burbs.
Winter approaches.

I’m sure onlookers think I’m crazy looking up to the sky with the phone in the air. Perhaps they think I’m taking a selfie! I just cannot resist these kind of scenes.

With love and sparkles xxx

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 ✨

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 ✨

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 ✨

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.

img_6231

Picture via Pinterest

© @aurorasparkles 2017

Life Sparkles ✨

Positives and Opportunities.

look-for-the-positive

“Our Gallbladder is a 4 inch pear-shaped organ positioned under your liver in the upper right section of the abdomen. The Gallbladder stores bile, a combination of fluids, fat and cholesterol.  The bile helps break down fat from the food in our intestine”. (www.healthline.com).

It appears that I have chronic (long-term) inflammation of the gallbladder. This has recently come to a head in the last two months after I experienced two bouts of pain like never before.  I couldn’t sit, stand, lie down – I just had to keep walking and no relief from the pain for hours.  After ultrasounds, blood tests and Dr’s appointments it was decided that to save further attacks and to prevent further damage to surrounding organs, I am to have the gallbladder removed.  Oh joy!

As a carer, this news put me into stress city.  I would be out of action for some weeks post operation. The consultant said I would have to stay in hospital overnight – further stress, how can I leave my parents alone overnight?!!!  I can’t just bring strangers in to the home?

And therein is the dilemma of millions of carers the world over. Who cares for the carer? There is no way I can put off the operation, apart from the constant pain and other symptoms which I have daily, (pain in the left side which radiates through the to back to up to the shoulder, heartburn, hot flushes and sometimes a chronic attack of pain and swollen tummy). things could take a nasty turn if left unattended. Which would untimely means further pressure on my caring responsibilities.

Therefore I have just had to plan around this.  I have worked like a demon for the last three or so weeks, getting the house clean, shopping in advance, getting up to date and prepared for a handover in the day job.  I can use my post operation time off to study, I have another assignment due on 16th March.  I won’t be able to sing for a little while until my muscles regain their strength but I can check out backing tracks and lyrics.   The way I see it is that I have been given a period of enforced rest, thinking time, sorting out time, regain health and fitness time – really, a time to start again, a new page, a new phase of life.

I am thankful to God that he sent me a wonderful boyfriend who has rearranged his caring responsibilities in order to come over to stay with my parents the night I am in hospital. This removes the bulk of my stress and  I will not be trying to walk home with my drip attached during the evening or overnight  to ensure they are ok.  Anxiety can make you irrational!

I will be away from the day job for at least two, possibly three weeks depending on my healing and I intend to use this time wisely. There are so many things I want to investigate for my studies, health and social care, carers, mental health first aid.  Then there is my passion for singing and researching music, recordings and video’s.  I’ve ordered the box set of “Nashville” as I will be off to see the show in June.  This will also be a great opportunity to get my healthy eating, diet and fitness back into harness.  A chance to start over.  I can also blog a little more, I really enjoy blogging, very therapeutic and I love to read other blogs.  People lead such interesting lives, have wonderful talents and some have difficult lives and their words give you an understanding of other aspects of our world.

My thought to leave you with today is to check out any symptoms, pains and aches you may be experiencing, your body has a way of letting you know something isn’t right, don’t leave them unattended. Look for the positives in your situation, grab your opportunities and make the most of each moment.

look-for-the-positive-vibes

Images from Pinterest.

 

Life Sparkles ✨

Winter Frost.

I’ve not been out for a walk for ages, I think probably the end of November was the last time I actually went out for a walk, just for having a walk. It has been a beautiful day here in Central England. Freezing cold, frost remained on the ground all day. Clear blue skies and sunshine, just perfection.

I have been studying today, but I needed some fresh air, I felt kind of slouchy, lazy, sluggish. It was late afternoon, the sun was starting to go down, that low frost mist was appearing and I grabbed my coat, hat, scarf and gloves…and the iPod and off out I went.

It was gorgeous out there, the cold air hit my face and it was refreshing. Within five minutes I felt a million times better. Ideas and positive thoughts started to flood my brain. There were people out running, cycling, families out for a walk and lone walkers like me although perhaps they weren’t singing out loud complete with actions…

My legs ache now. It wasn’t a long walk, I was out about 45 minutes but it shows me just how out of condition I am. I can’t believe I ran 5k in June in 40 minutes, I really want to get that level of fitness back and beat it!

Here are a couple of pictures I took on my walk this afternoon.

Sometimes you just need to escape for a little you time.

Life Sparkles ✨

Pick yourself up and keep going!

As you know, I started running this year. You also know how surprised everyone was that I did this. Me? Running? Totally unheard of. I loved it and hated it at the same time. Because I was following the “Couch to 5k” podcast I was regimented, eager for the walk/run day to arrive. Hating that it rained too heavy for me to venture out. Loving that feeling of achievement, freedom and rosy red cheeks because it was icy cold outside but I had gone out there and tried.

  
I complete each week of the programme twice to ensure I have the stamina to progress to the next week of walking/running. At Easter I felt so good about my progress, I signed up to take part in the Cancer Research UK “Race for Life”, the 5k race. I was about to start week 5 of “Couch to 5k” which would start me training to run for twenty minutes and then…then I fell over in the city whilst walking to work. Crash. Straight down on my knees. I almost passed out with the pain. Three lovely gentlemen came to my aid and helped me up and made sure I was ok. 

As I struggled to the office, I was shook up, embarrassed, sore and feeling sorry for myself. I thought I was going to cry so I rang himself who once he knew I was ok, made me laugh. Then it hit me, I couldn’t continue on my walk/run until these knees healed.

That was a month ago, I have finally made it out for one walk/run where my knees held up to the session without adverse reactions. I plan to go again today. My fitness level has dropped, to be expected I suppose but I am determined to complete the programme and complete the race. 

I noticed that whilst I was regularly on my walk/run, I lost the craving for sweet things, I was feeling better in myself in many ways, health wise, less anxiety, able to cope better and I ate healthier. However, the past month I feel I have eaten my body weight in chocolate and biscuits!!

  
Currently there are 64 days to my race, 41 days to my module exam and 8 days to submit an assignment. Alongside work, home and parent care. Life is never boring and as the song says “The heat is on”.

Thank you for reading my blog 😀

Pictures via Pinterest.

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 💖

Life Sparkles ✨

Self Care – Keep Your Own Sparkle.

Oh how I have advised people in the past about taking care of themselves, not overworking, eating properly, getting more sleep, you know the kind of thing.  As always, we are not so good at taking our own advice.

I’m tired, there, I  admit it, the last two months have more or less worn me out.  I empathise with carers so much more now that I have an understanding of their plight, looking after a loved one.  I at least have the knowledge that Mom is recovering slowly from the broken hip and each day gains a little more power in her leg, gains independence and also confidence in her walking.  I am still working from home but this week sees me begin a slow, phased return to the office, one afternoon only.  But it has been very tiring, caring for my parents, cooking, cleaning, shopping, working the day job from home, catching up with studies and attempting to follow my love of singing.

I’ve not done badly, I have returned to Zumba class on Wednesday evening which I love.  The music is so wonderful you just escape into that Latin Beat, the moves can be difficult but it really doesn’t feel like a work out and although I ache afterwards, it is a good ache.  I’ve escaped for an hour for some me time and yes, that is important.  At first I felt selfish at leaving the house to attend the class but my lovely Mom, bless her, said I needed to do something for myself and get out of the house.

Last week I returned to my vocal coaching and oh how good that felt.  The drive there, the hour going through my breathing exercises, the vocal scales and then singing a couple of the songs I had been working on, it was like a release of the soul.  Thankfully, although I had not been to my vocal coach since mid August, it seems I have not lost my pitch and my breathing hasn’t gone to pot, phew!!  This week I have been learning “You raise me up”, surprisingly not many lyrics to this song but a lot of variation in notes.

These two small steps have helped me to feel like me again.  I can see how easily it can be to get lost within yourself, when you are indoors 24/7 and suddenly plunged into a different life course.  How apt that my current studies are about our perceived life course and our plans and how things we do, or perhaps things that happen to others can alter our lives.

Tomorrow afternoon I face the wide world of the city centre when I venture to the office for the first time since mid – September…I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you for reading my blog 🙂

And Breathe...take care of you!
And Breathe…take care of you!