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.

img_7422

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…

img_7423

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.

img_7427

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.

img_7416

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 ✨

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

 

 

 

 

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 😎