Life Sparkles ✨ · The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Back to the music and other happenings.

I wasn’t at all sure about the return to the music just yet. I wanted to and I didn’t want to, if that makes any kind of sense.  Was my heart truly in it?  Would it feel the same? I’m glad I gave it a chance.  The singing released a lot of built up stress, pressure. It just came out as I sang.  I was careful what I sang though, it’ll be a while before I can sing certain songs.  It did me good to sing.

img_1516

I wasn’t as rusty as I thought I would be upon my return to the guitar lessons. This was a different release to the singing.  My mind had to concentrate so much on what I was doing I relaxed for forty-five minutes and gave my attention to guitar chords.  I’ve made a list of the songs I was getting good at plus the ones I wasn’t very good at, at all.  This is my list of songs to practice until perfect with a view to an acoustic recording session and hang on, dare I even think this…gigging.  I just need to find some time to practice!

img_7862

One from last Summer, it feels so good to be able to play a song on the guitar.

img_1518

The list!!!

It was Mom’s birthday recently.  I think she knew it was a special day and she did enjoy opening lots of beautiful cards.  She received some absolutely gorgeous flowers. We made it through another first without Dad although I have the feeling he was most definitely here.

img_8382

Himself has got into the habit of cooking something for me.  He knows that if he goes to the trouble of cooking something I will eat it. I’m very lucky in how he looks after me when he can get over here and that he is a good cook.

img_1513

Quorn Pasta Bake and it was delicious.

img_8325

Himself.

I started to do a bit of cooking myself too, for Mom.  I was very pleased with myself that I made her a quite acceptable leek and potato soup, go me! I’m going to try her with smoothies next.

 

A little gardening project for myself for the Spring and Summer, you see I am endeavouring to keep myself busy and do some things for me whilst the carers are here to help me with Mom.

img_8346-1

As we have had some fairly nice weather I have started to go for a walk around the block when the carers first arrive as Mom is usually still asleep so I can get about an hour to do something for me.  Usually it is taken up with administration but it does feel good to get out in the fresh air.

 

Spring blossoms out far too early yet still so beautiful.

And finally for this particular blog post, mixed emotions and note to self.

 

Pictures are my own and these last two quotes are via Pinterest.

With love and sparkles xx

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.

img_1215

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

Life Sparkles ✨

How long has it been?!!

Mid August already!! How is this possible?  I have come to the conclusion that the reason I am on the go all the time and still don’t get everything done is because time is just moving too quickly these days…or am I just getting old?

I have a “to do” list a mile long but I have missed writing my blog so I’ve made myself a cup of coffee and decided to do a quick catch up post.  Thankfully I receive emails updates from my favourite blogs so I have kept more or less up to date with your lovely blog posts and of course I have my comments to make…that’s on the “to do” list.

Well since I last wrote poor Dad has been unwell again bless him.  We had that slight improvement and then things went downhill.  Once again the throat played up and we have a vicious circle going on.  Dad has no appetite as he has no taste on the food and his throat is sore. Because he is not eating so well he is weak, frail and has a mixture of reflux and other acid forcing it’s way up in the most awful coughing I have ever heard.

Another attack of Thrush or so we thought but after a week of treatment the white patches were still there.  The Dr tried another medication which has helped clear up the patches, reduce the soreness and in turn Dad has persevered to eat more substantial food which in turn has meant that the acid is reducing, the cough is reducing and he is getting some sleep at night.  I feel for him, this bout of illness, one thing after another, has been going on since just before Easter.  He is wore out.

In my last update I was celebrating a run of 33 days of going to bed, Oh I spoke too soon. July ran at two nights a week no bed and also into the start of August, we are having a good week this week…shhhh.  Mom is such a little darling though, she has been amazing looking after Dad in her way.  All that nursing knowledge is still there. So beautiful to watch them sitting hand in hand watching the TV and singing along with You Tube.   One night when I was tucking her into bed she thanked me for caring.  I said “Mom you don’t have to thank me at all”  and her reply was that it isn’t everyone that would give up their life to look after two old spirits.  I could have just wept there and then.  I don’t feel I have given up my life.  Undoubtedly my life has  completely changed but I have to say that I have an inner happiness and peace now that I didn’t have whilst on the corporate daily slog although I enjoyed that.  Such importance is placed on meetings, deadlines, payment times, performance reviews etc in that world but to me, in the grand scheme of things, those things don’t really matter to life.  I don’t miss the stress and anxiety of the corporate world.

In the midst of all of this, it was my birthday and we actually had a lovely weekend.  My chap was over for the weekend, I was so lucky to receive so many cards and some beautiful gifts.  Himself even bought me flowers which he never does and oh yes, I asked him what he had done!!  I have a few photo’s to share with you below.  There is much happening with the singing at the moment which I will write in another post.  I’m hoping that this is just the busy period, setting everything up and once it’s done, it’s done and I can get back to just singing when I can.

With love and sparkles until the next time xxx

img_7775

A simple thing but I really love the Twitters birthday balloons!

img_1103

My chap and I actually got out for a birthday meal together and this was my dessert and I enjoyed every single mouthful.  Meringue, Strawberries, Chantilly Cream, Pistachio’s, absolutely delicious and it was like a holiday.  The carer sat with  M & D and I had a whole three hours out.

img_7804-1

My beautiful flowers from himself.

img_1110

The snapchat fun photo – is anyone else missing the heatwave?  I loved the hot weather especially for getting the washing dry…we have loads of washing in this house!!

 

 

Life Sparkles ✨

Dear diary…

…as usual it’s been a while since I have managed to update my blog.  So much seems to be happening and for a change, most of it is good, WHOOP!

 

img_7643

Thankfully Dad continues to improve.  The Doctor was correct when he said it would be a slow process but I don’t care how slow it is as long as Dad is improving.  We are still battling away with the cardiac water cough, lack of appetite and regaining strength.  Sleep has much improved, Dad has started to eat proper food again and he looks much more like his usual self.  Mom has just been the most amazing little fairy, the love shines through and her nursing returned to her.  I have been so happily surprised at how she has been looking after Dad, it has been beautiful and emotional to watch.

Another plus point…oh I wish I had a fan fare here…we have managed a whole month of going to bed every single night.  We haven’t done that for almost four years…FOUR YEARS!! I still have bags under my eyes but at least they aren’t Black anymore.

img_7637

We are experiencing the most fantastic Summer weather we have had in years here in the UK.  I love it.  Apart from ensuring that “The Kids” are kept cool I am loving this sunshine.  I’m not getting out in it much but just the fact is there is just wonderful.  Long may it continue.  This was a sunset from my bedroom window a couple of weeks ago.  Such beautiful colours.

img_1009

img_1010

 

img_7589

img_1008

I’m doing my bit in these lovely long, bright, Summer evenings to try and keep the garden as Mom and Dad used to.  You can see how scorched the earth is through the lack of rain.  I’ve bought myself a watering can.  I’ve done quite well with some small tubs of flowers and it’s actually quite therapeutic a little bit of gardening.

Last Friday one of my forever friends came over to see us and I had booked the carer to cover for me for a couple of hours so that we could escape to a local pub, sit outside and eat a late lunch/early dinner and enjoy a glass or two of Prosecco.  After not being out for such a long time  it felt like a holiday.  It is so true that carer’s need a break!!

img_1033

I have news to update you on the music front which I will do as soon as I can.  There’s a lot of work involved now with the setting up, music aggregation, licences etc and finding time is difficult as I’m always on the go.  But find time I will!

A little snapchat filter to close off for today…gosh if only I could get my make up like this!!

img_7696

With love and sparkles until the next update, thank you for checking in with me 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 ✨

And the latest from me is…

…We are still in the midst of illness here at home, it’s been a long six weeks.  Mom thankfully appears to be fully recovered from the chest infections.  Dad though, bless him, since he had the chest infections at the same time as Mom, also then had a viral infection. Swiftly followed by Thrush in the throat, more than likely caused by the heavy doses of antibiotics for the chest infections and now we have Strep Throat, so more antibiotics and a very heavy dosage.  Eight, 250 mg tablets a day for ten days to ensure the bacterial infection is cleared up.  This time I am ready with the probiotic yoghurt in the hope that we can prevent another attack of Thrush after this latest dose of antibiotics.  It is so hard to watch Dad suffering with the Strep Throat.  The Doctor showed me his throat when she examined him on Tuesday and all I can say is it looked gross.  No wonder he has so much pain, unable to swallow which of course is affecting food and drink intake.  I have no idea where Dad contracted this particular infection, either someone who has called to visit has been in contact with someone who has it or Dad’s immune system was very low after the continued infections.  I am praying Mom doesn’t catch this particular infection.

https://www.webmd.boots.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/strep-throat-bacterial-tonsillitis

We have experienced some amazing hot Summer like weather in the past week, our Bank Holiday Monday was apparently the hottest on record.  For me it meant washing everything in sight and getting it dried on the line outside in the fresh air.  I love that. Such simple pleasures.  Also, the flowers in the garden have really bloomed.  Mom and Dad loved spending time in the garden and buying new plants, I’m doing my best to keep everything alive!

 

I did manage to get out for a walk on one of the warm days, it felt so good to be out in Summer clothes, feel the sunshine on my legs and arms.  We have had such a long, cold and wet Winter here.

The daisies growing wild in the grass reminded me of school days and running barefoot in the playing fields.  I’m very lucky to live close to the city and yet also within a five minute stroll to the edge of the countryside, it does a soul good to see the fields, the flowers and trees, even on a wet day.  Now the weather is back to where it should be for Mid May – much cooler, quite windy and chilly today.

I know I have been a little quiet on the music side of things, but I have been managing to grab some time here and there and I will blog about where I am with my dreams very soon.

Snapchat has given me giggles when I have had a chance to try out some fun filters and I find a giggle always does me good.  This is one of me looking a little tired out…and Snapchat has given me a Hippie Flower in my hair and freckles…it did make me smile.

img_7465

I did get out to a couple of the concerts that I have held tickets for since October last year, again, that’s another blog post to come.

So for now, I’m off to do some more chores, this post has taken me all morning to complete.  Full time caring is demanding, it’s stressful, I live almost totally on the edge of anxiety and worry and you do the best you can even when you feel so helpless. When there really is nothing you can do but just be there.

I’m looking forward over the weekend to perhaps an hour or so to have a cuppa and sit back and read your latest blog posts which I love to escape into.

With love and Sparkles x

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

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Dancing Feet and Cowboy Boots.

It’s a while since I managed to post a catch up blog, it’s on my to do list. However, last night I managed to get out to see my favourite Irish music star, John McNicholl and I just had to post a few pictures tonight.

John doesn’t visit Birmingham too often and as I am unable to travel to see him in other parts of the UK or Ireland, I have to wait for him to play my city and hope I can get out to the dance. It takes some strategic planning these days to do so, especially as it entails a late night but things worked in my favour last night and Cinderella did go to the ball. Cinderella also checked her phone every five minutes but that’s how it goes these days. I was so glad I was there. John has a fabulously rich voice and sings not only Irish and Irish Country music but also some Rock and Roll, Sixties and last night we had some Neil Diamond too. John has boundless energy on stage, a real entertainer. He has a great band of musicians with him, the music is wonderful. I was up on that dance floor almost all night, I made the most of the freedom I was enjoying, I felt like me again, if that makes sense? My knees are paying the price today though…

There are a lovely bunch of people I meet at John’s gigs and I’ve made some wonderful friends over the past four years. I was really feeling the love last night from them all. They had missed me posting on Facebook (I had no idea I hadn’t posted there since August), they were concerned about me, was I ok? Was I getting out? I’m still feeling emotional from the genuine concern and caring about me from these friends. I feel so loved by them and that feels so warm and comforting.

John himself is a true gentleman and I am so happy to count him as a friend also. Rumour has it that he is back in Birmingham in January so fingers crossed I’ll be pulling on the cowboy boots and heading for the dance floor again then.

So, a few photos from last night, I was so happy, I made them all have their photo taken with me.

John McNicholl

John McNicholl

John McNicholl

Shane who plays Guitar in John’s band.

Johnny who plays the drums in the band.

My friend April and myself.

I’m wearing the dress I bought for my Graduation which I ended up deferring until next year. However, I’m so happy with how I look for a change, that 22 lbs weight loss makes such a difference. No wonder I was a diva on the dance floor, I had the energy to do so!!

© @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 ✨

Crisp, Cold and Beautiful.

I’m loving these few days of late Autumn, early Winter we’re having. Living in The Midlands of England we are quite sheltered from extremely bad weather. If we get it bad here it must be truly desperate in other areas of the country.  The forecasters are saying heavy rain on the way but for the past few days it has been beautiful. Cold, dry, sunny and perfect for getting a quick walk and some fresh air. I feel so much better for making the effort to go outdoors, feel the sunshine or the wind on my face. After today I think the hat and gloves need to come out!!

This afternoon I took a chance and had a shorter around the block walk. I was taking a chance as it was a little later than usual for me to venture out. It was just starting to get dark, twilight, sundown…which is also what throws Mom into confusion about the time of day or night “Sundowning” is quite apt. We had an all nighter last night and Mom was still not on good terms with me (it happens), hence I took the chance to walk.

It was stunning outside, the twilight sunset and the rising of the moon. The touch of the evening mist on my face and the cold on my hands. A sense of freedom, re-newed energy and a feeling of wellbeing. I was gone for 25 minutes and I felt amazing when I returned. Ready to face the evening and by now, Mom was friends with me again.

Moon Rising.

Twilight Sunset.
Such beautiful colours, nature at her best.
Saturday Afternoon Walking – Posing as usual.
I loved the look of these Trees.

 © @aurorasparkles 2017