My mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2010. This is a blog about coming to terms with her absent mind.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Up and Down

Yesterday was another rollercoaster and today isn't looking much better.

Pootling about in the attic looking for a suitcase yesterday morning I found a barbeque. After I'd brought it downstairs Ma decided that as it was such a glorious day she'd like to invite Mavis and Vic round for a bbq so I whizzed off to the butchers and greengrocers for supplies. Good job I got there early, they were queueing out of the door at the butchers! Back home I prepped ribs, kebabs, salads etc. while Ma sat on the swingy seat with a coffee. I could see her through the kitchen window and called or waved occasionally making sure she was ok.

I was just making the sauce for the ribs when Ma came back inside and had a complete wobbly saying that she'd been stuck out there for two hours 'not allowed to come inside' and no one had been to sit with her. No amount of reasoning with her made a jot of difference, eventually ending in her lying on her bed and sobbing for about half an hour. Then she got up, came into the kitchen and apologised.

However, after this emotional storm she was incredibly confused. She kept saying she needed to go and say goodbye to 'my friends up the road' (the very same friends who were due to arrive in an hour for a bbq) because she was going somewhere but she didn't know where, and then fretting about packing a bag. When Mavis and Vic arrived she was pleasantly surprised to see them.

We had a lovely evening, Mavis and Vic are wonderful people and Vic tells truly excellent stories.

This morning we've had nothing but tears from the start. We are going out for lunch in half an hour and the way things are right now it's not going to be much fun. Hopefully Auntie Peggy can jolly her out of this. At least I've managed to persuade her to wear some trousers instead of a jumper as a skirt.


We had a lovely lunch with Auntie Peg, despite getting there via the scenic route (oops! Liverpool Docks anyone?) I had the carvery - why is it that even with the best intentions to keep your meal to sensible portions you end up with an explosion on a plate?? Ma had scampi and chips. Didn't manage all the scampi. Same can't be said for the chips. Or the sticky toffee pudding.

Once again we had problems with Ma and the car. For the fourth or fifth time in a row she's tried to get in the driver's seat or the rear passenger seat where H is already sitting, rather than the front passenger seat where she always sits. Then cannot open the door to get out unless she's trying to open the window when we're on the move, naturally. It's the same with several other things such as her breakfast tray. She cannot carry out the tray, only the table with the tray on or takes the dishes from the tray and leaves it behind. And getting dressed is becoming quite a problem. The inside-out, back-to-front or inappropriate choices for the occasion issue isn't new but wearing a top as a skirt or forgetting to dress half of you is.


Did you know there are two pills by my bed?

Yes those are your night time tablets.

Oh am I to take them then?

Yes please.

Oh that's new.

Friday, 29 July 2011

The Trafford Centre - 7th Circle of Hell

Ok I admit that this particular circle of hell was my own doing. But it's actually Mandi's fault for saying she had to go and then Ma overheard me say to H that I'd never been so of course, we had to go.

Cue another motorway journey with running comentary on every road sign and there we were. Thank God Mandi had mentioned that the architecture is from the Grecian/Gnome/Disney school, so I was partly prepared. Ma thought it was beautiful, I thought it was horrific and H thought it was boring.

We were all hungry so food was first. Ma did her usual 'I don't mind what I have but I don't want much' and for once I took her at her word and we went to a noodle place to please H. So one pad thai, one green curry and one 'well the only thing I'll eat on there is the coconut prawns'. I'd forgotten my glasses so had to do a mercy dash to Boots for some readers because in order to focus on the food I'm eating without wearing them I have to sit roughly 6 inches further away than my arms are long... Lovely food. Ma did in fact eat all her deep fried coconut prawns, had a very confused conversation with a sweet young couple at the next table and was very taken with a new drink called Coca Cola.

After lunch we did half a turn around the top floor (via a swift punt around the Radley shop) before Ma had had enough and we came home again. Apart from another running commentary and opening the passenger door while we were on the motorway when trying to open her window (note to self, use central locking button and try to control my scream reflex) we had an event-free return home.


Sartorial moment of the day:

Walking into the kitchen for her breakfast wearing a black and white tunic of mine (I am at least 4 sizes bigger) with a sleeveless green vest over the top, flourescent pink stilettos but no lower body garments of any description.

Every octogenerian's dream.


Ma is still very very teary, this afternoon the fact that it was pleasantly sunny set her off. I am at a loss as to how I can help her at times like this. Is it better to let her get upset and spend the best part of an hour in distress or try and chivvy her out of it? I think the dementia hinders in this situation. Her increasingly arbitrary (not quite the right word I think) recollection about dad's death is harder for her to deal with than if she'd had a normal seven months of grieving. It's so hard for her though. She mixes up the details of Dad's death with other deaths ie her father/mother/neighbours/friends and has some entrenched false memories about when dad died. This means that she gets horribly distressed about things which never actually happened. And it's a delicate matter to try and put the record straight in the hope that this time it will stick.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Didn't we have a lovely time the day we went to...


We went to meet my cousin's new granddaughter, the utterly delicious Piper Grace, and spent a fabulous afternoon with her big sister, Orla (17 months). We had bubbles and water play and books to read. Orla is just captivating so of course Ma was very happy. She did get a bit confused at one point between the new baby and one of Orla's baby dolls but thoroughly enjoyed her day out.

I watched in amazement as Ma ate bbq'd spare ribs, chicken and sausages, salad and delicious home made wedges. Then strawberries and cream. If I'd tried to feed her that she would've had a hissy fit. Then there was the schoolboy error of wiping her face on the tablecloth mistaking it for her napkin, but we've all done that one. Er. Just me then?

Talking to Dave and Glen is really helpful because Dave's mum (Ma's sister Anne) has Alzheimer's and they have already been where I am now. So they totally understand the frustrations and difficulties of the day to day. This is very comforting. Not only do they understand and validate what I am doing but can give me some idea of how it will be in the future.


I mentioned to someone on Twitter this evening that it is the little annoyances which send you into meltdown.

My current annoyance is Ma's need to hold a tissue at all times. She doesn't blow her nose properly, simply dabs at it and sniffs. The tissue ends up like a handful of string, which she proceeds to bundle up and then... dab sniff dab sniff dab. Drives me to the brink of insanity.

Discussing this with Glen, she thought that maybe they (Ma, Aunt, other sufferers) simply forget how to blow their nose. A good point and another position on the learning curve. Must try harder!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Things I say at least ten times a day (this week)

No she's not going home yet, she's here until the end of August

He is a she (dog) - I really need to let this one go...

No thanks I don't drink coffee

It's just a cloud

They're fine (the boys)

Your shoes are on the wrong feet

Please don't feed the dog from your plate

Don't chuck teabags in the washing up bowl (grrr)

It only takes a minute

Getting dressed this morning was relatively straightforward, just getting her top on the right way round and rightside-out proved a little tricky. I left Ma brushing her hair and went to do her porridge and coffee. Approximately two minutes and 30 seconds. It's amazing how far body lotion goes in that time. She managed to get it in her hair, down her neck and back and all over the front of her top. No amount of urging would persuade her to change her top despite the huge greasy splodges. I understand that this is her way of showing her independence but it's incredibly frustrating. Thankfully (despite the glorious day) she's feeling cold and has put on a fleece.


/rant on

I had a phone call from Ma's new social worker, Barry, this morning. He's calling round this afternoon to introduce himself to Ma and to finalise the paperwork for her referral to the day centre.


She went for a look ages ago and I was given the impression that following the success of the visit the referral was done and we were simply waiting for a vacancy. Not so.

So naturally when I told Ma she has a new social worker and he's sorting her day centre place she has had a complete meltdown and is saying she doesn't want to go.

*watches the yearned for time off disappear into the distance*

/rant off


Waiting for Barry to arrive.

Ma is mutinously stalking around the garden saying she doesn't want to speak to him and she is definitely not going to the day centre and she will tell him to stick it up his... She made a break for freedom a couple of times by sloping off up the side of the house but I headed her off at the pass.

When Barry arrived she was sitting in a deck chair on the back patio. Within minutes they were chatting away like old friends - Barry very cleverly picked up on the Liverpudlian accent (fair coat, furry cakes) and he was in.

However, halfway through his visit she suddenly got up and said she was off next door and left!

Still, she's agreed to go to the day centre and as there is still a wait for a place on the minibus I've said I'm happy to take her there. I'll do anything. Anything. I truly believe that once she gets there she will love it. She's still very sociable and loves to talk to people.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Tough Day

Another difficult difficult lemon difficult day, another two hour sob in the garden and we've only got to 2:30!

I have been accused (amongst other things) of leaving her on her own all the time, not telling her things, not taking her anywhere etc. Simon is in trouble because he hasn't been to see her. Apparently she can't wait until Peter ('my lovely boy') is home so that she can go and be with him. Right this second he's bloody welcome to her.


It's time to reassess the morning meds routine. Up to now I've taken her a cup of tea with three tablets on the saucer and a soluble aspirin in a tiny glass of water. She takes the three tablets with water from the glass by her bedside.

This morning she brought both glasses into the kitchen and told me the drink tasted awful. The bedside glass clearly had the remains of a dissolved tablet in the bottom. No idea if it was one tablet or all of them. So from now on I will have to make sure she takes them properly.


More later. I need to get over being upset at the unfairness of the earlier conversation and also make a beef stroganoff.


My cooking skills are wasted on an 81 year old woman and a 15 year old girl! It's flipping delicious. Eh well, never mind.

Ma is rambling a lot tonight. She's clearly suffering the fall out from all the distress of today. Despite thinking the sun shines out of Simon's trousers she keeps pointing out male journalists on Beeb news as 'potential boyfriends'. I feel 15 again and am responding in kind - surly lip, tutting and murderous thoughts.

I really hope we hear news of a placement at the day centre soon, this will make such a difference for both of us. Ma gets to meet new people (although the thought of her reluctantly playing Bingo wearing all those diamonds is too Hyacinth for words) and I get a few hours off - I'll probably just catch up on House and slob in my PJs...

Monday, 25 July 2011

It happens so fast

Here's Ma and Pa exactly 12 months ago at her 80th birthday party:

Here she is this evening:

Monday again

I've decided that we need to see the GP again, Ma is still regularly in tears and distress. It is awfully draining for her and really hard to witness. I'm not sure what he can do, if anything, she's already on anti-depressants but I think it would be a good thing to get some advice.


Things which have amused me this morning:

The phone rang and Ma tried answering it by picking up the answering machine and shouting into it.

An almost Pavlovian response to the sound of the Dyson - wherever I am up go her feet and hang there until I've vacuumed underneath.

'I've got a bit of a pain across my tummy...

*lifts top* (no bra of course)

Umm maybe it's the swimming costume you are wearing. Back to front. Clearly channelling Giant Haystacks and Borat.

We can build it

So the swingy seat got built yesterday. It was pretty straightforward to do but, oh my hands now!

Hugely successful though, Ma loves it. Was mildly amused when she thought we would put it away in the garage overnight. Luckily I also bought a posh cover for it so that stopped any fretting.

She had a very up and down day yesterday, quite a lot of weeping but also some laughs.  She gets incredibly frustrated by her diminishing vocabulary and lost words and increasingly by the way she forgets what she's talking about halfway through a sentence.

Only asked me roughly a dozen times when Peter is back from Spain. It feels like an awfully long time until the end of August. I think we'll dig out a calendar and cross the days off, maybe that will help? Any other tips gratefully received.


Boasting proud Mama showing off moment now. Apologies if you've already seen these on my Facebook page.

For those who don't know, my daughter is a very talented artist, she's been drawing from the first moment she could hold a pencil. She is now 15 and uses a graphics pad these days. The following two pictures are something called 'crossover' pictures (apparently - who knew?!) where she's taken characters from the Nintendo game Zelda and drawn them in the style of My Little Pony. Nope I don't know why either, other than because she can and because it makes her laugh... The first is the character Link and his horse Epona, from Ocarina of Time. Here's a picture of them:

And here is H's My Little Pony version:

the second is Lord Ghirahim from the new game not released yet. Here's a picture of him:

And here's H's version. I think this is just brilliant - very clever and very funny.

And another proud Mama moment - G's audition for The Sound of Music was successful, although it is unlikely that they will take him up on his offer to play the Mother Abbess. So instead of being serenaded with Maria every morning it will now be Climb Every Mountain. I can live with that :)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Saturday musings

Yesterday was a better day, she's still very confused but was slightly less agitated. Harriet arrives at 3pm so we're taking the tram to the station. Not sure how much Ma will enjoy it though, her boredom threshold is very low and it is a two hour round trip with connections etc. but I can't leave her on her own for so long. Notwithstanding the usual problems she now won't go to the loo without 'asking permission' and if I'm not here she waits until I am.

Ooh the swingy hammock seat has just been delivered so putting that up will keep me busy tomorrow!


Things I must not get annoyed about this week:

Asking when Peter will be back. He left last Saturday and isn't due back until the end of August.

Dumping food covered plates/used teabags/tissues in the washing up water.

Listening to a one-sided continual circular conversation with the dog. Even the dog looks fed up.


H arrived safe and sound despite her forgetting her ticket - long story - and yes, I'm afraid I did cry a bit on the platform when she arrived.

We had to park a little way away from the station in Bury and walk through the market. Ma didn't recognise any of it despite shopping there for the best part of 40 years - these are the most difficult moments to deal with, there's a shameful little part of you that doesn't believe it.

Ma was bored with the journey within 5 minutes of getting on the tram which wasn't a huge surprise. When we got to the station I sat her down and organised a hot chocolate (the drink of choice atm). We only had to wait 10 minutes for H's train so it worked out really well. Home via Comet for a wireless dongle and printer for H's pc then home where I've thrown together a cottage pie at my daughter's request.

As I was doing this Ma had a sudden meltdown with tears and false memories accusing me of all sorts of things then insisted on going round to the neighbours and dragging their daughter back (who is at least 19) in an attempt to force a friendship. H was horribly embarrassed and we all stood in the hall scuffing our feet for a while. Ma also returned with a huge gin and tonic...

Exhausting day in so many ways.

Thursday, 21 July 2011


... it's been awful today.

She's just asked me to show her where the bathroom is because she's never used it before.

Earlier she asked me if I had a father, didn't know how to eat a boiled egg or open an envelope.

The last 40 minutes have been spent zipping and unzipping compartments in the empty handbag looking for something.

Behaviours I haven't seen before.

I get it wrong again.

I don't know how I'm going to get home.

Where from?

The airport.

Are you going away? (jollying her along)

Home. I need something to show me how to get home.

You are home Mum.

Yes I suppose so. But I need to go home.

(rummaging through empty handbag)

There's nothing in here to show me how to get home. I'll take this with me.

What do you need that for?

Well you never know. People are always putting labels on their things at the airport.


Yesterday Ma got very distressed because she feels that she never goes anywhere. We talked about her weekend away etc. but she still felt that she didn't go out enough. So today I suggested we had a trip to the garden centre because I needed to buy dog food and bird food.

We got there in good spirits and had a sit in one of those swing-seat hammock things that I really would like and Ma also likes. After picking up a bag of dog food we wandered via the cook shop bit (what?? I didn't buy anything ok? Just looking...) and then Ma spotted the cafe and asked if we were going to have something to eat. So she sat down and I organised some chips ('no just some chips') and a coffee for her. After three chips and two sips of coffee she got very ansty and said she didn't want to be there so we left. In the car I got an earful about how she hadn't wanted to go out in the first place.


At approximately 5pm every evening she has started talking about going to visit the neighbours and despite my best attempts to keep this to a few times a week, she will not be dissuaded. It struck me this evening that the reason for this is that I no longer keep alcohol (well wine or sherry) in the house. She told me last night that the lack of wine was 'disgusting'.I suspect she's off round the neighbours hoping for the odd snifter.


Ma your top is on inside out.

Oh it doesn't matter.

Well it does actually. You've got aerofoils again like the other day when Jane was here. You need to take it off and turn it right side out.

*whips off top*

Whoa. Maybe a bra would be a good idea too.

(I never learn!)


Food things:

Utterly lovely broccoli soup made from the Aga stock, broccoli, a small onion and about 2 oz of blue cheese. Gorgeous.

Picky plate day - so slumpy brie, Palma ham, olives, gherkins, capers, pate, pepperoni crisps, hard boiled eggs and anchovies.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Gah! I spoke too soon...

We've just had a Mexican standoff.

Ma is off to a Ladies' Club meeting this evening. Mavis rang at 3:00 to check that Ma was planning on going and said that she would be picked up at 6:45

By 3:15 Ma was dressed and waiting by the front door. I tempted her back into the living room at 4:00 with the promise of some programme set in Africa which she likes but every time a car goes by she's up checking if her lift has arrived. No amount of reiteration that her lift is arriving at 6:45 makes one jot of difference.

Any attempt to get her to change her choice of clothing has been met with a brick wall. She's wearing one of those old fashioned winter vests, a black and white lurex and sequin bespangled edge-to-edge jacket and a sage green 'Mother of the bride' style jacket over the top along with maroon velour track suit bottoms. I think she's planning on putting her purple corduroy coat on as well.

It distresses me that she will be open to ridicule (there was talk when she went in her slippers last time) but I can't force her to change if she doesn't want to.

Or talk her out of going.


Just given her some tea.

'That was lovely. I'll give you some money for it later.'


Watching a blackbird collecting the mealworms I chuck in the garden for them. He's got about nine worms stacked in his mouth and can't pick over the leaves with his beak any longer so he's kicking the leaf litter over. Looks very funny indeed :)


No fall-out yesterday! I take this to mean that Ma thoroughly enjoyed her weekend away and wasn't stressed about it at all. Bryan and Lily took her at various points to see both daughters, grand daughter and great-grandchildren which Ma would have loved. So yesterday she was in an ok mood for most of the day and ate reasonably well. I did have to jolly her along for a while and persuade her out of going to bed at half 6, but that's about all.

This morning she was all for wearing shorts and a backless top on the greyest coolest day we've had and would not be persuaded otherwise. After wandering in the garden with the dog for a few minutes she then appeared in a velour tracksuit, fleece and woolly socks! Sue arrived for my Carer's Assessment meeting so I sorted Ma's breakfast and we went to sit in a different room to Ma because she was watching tv and we needed a bit of quiet to fill in the forms. This didn't go down very well unfortunately. After Sue had left I found Ma in the living room wearing her coat and shivering. I asked her why she hadn't put the heater on (something she can still manage to do) and was told, in that particular tone of voice that it didn't matter. Although I knew, I asked what was wrong and she stated that she didn't think it was right and that she should be around when I was discussing her. When I said that actually we were talking about me and my needs not her I could tell that she didn't believe me. The only thing I can do at times like these is to be quietly assertive and repeat what I've said, without heat, until she accepts what I'm saying. It can take a while...

She's just had a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich and a hot chocolate and is quite happy again, dozing in front of the news.

Update later...


Food things for those who are interested...

I'm back on low carb with a vengence. I just cannot continue to expand like I have been doing and the only thing I can stick to for any length of time is low carb. But without all the farting around which has crept in, making it very-not-low-carb-at-all and therefore makes-you-fat-very-quickly-and-efficiently. So with that in mind... for brunch I did a really gorgeous frittata with chorizo, courgette, feta, mint and basil. Then I poached a large chook in the afternoon. Ma had it with new potatoes and a few veggies. I had it with courgettes, leeks and celery in a cream and stilton sauce.

Courgettes are likely to feature highly for the next few days because I came back from Cornwall with a carrier bag full of them courtesy of JT! I also stripped the chicken carcass and shoved it in the stock pot with the usual suspects and then left it in the bottom of the Aga overnight. Easiest way I know to make proper stock :) So some sort of soup is on the agenda. I rather fancy cauliflower. Maybe. Or...watercress and celery. Or spinach and stilton. Or all of them!

Breakfast was a couple of sausages, a few very thin slices of tomato dressed with a little salt and a few drips of cider vinegar and a slice of lovely slumped Brie.

Lunch will be chicken, coleslaw, gherkins, green salad and cheese.

Just about to cook a piece of ham for later. Not sure what I'll do with it yet.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Monday Monday

Set off from Cheltenham this morning (via Devon from Cornwall yesterday) and collected Ma from Bryan and Lily who have given her a fabulous weekend and looked after her so well. I can't tell you how grateful I am to them for making it possible for me to run away to Cornwall and have a weekend celebrating four significant birthdays - it turns out it was 1 x 30, 1 x 40 and 2 x 50. Fantastic weekend. A bit tired now....

You will hear me moan about my joints because of the weekend and all the driving for several days to come - just ignore me, all self-inflicted.

It's Ma's birthday today. 81 years young and it has been ok, I expected a lot of tears but that hasn't happened. She did shock me slightly by asking for a kebab for tea though! It appears that Peter bought a chicken kebab (not the scary elephant's leg stuff, the chunks of meat on a skewer thing) for her last Thursday and she liked it so much she asked for another one... too funny. Seriously.

Had my lovely ex SIL here for a few hours this afternoon and she is great with Ma. When Ma walked out of the bedroom wearing a jacket on inside out which had the biggest shoulder pads you've ever seen, Jane took Ma to look in the mirror and asked her if she was planning on taking off... am still giggling about that.

Ma is now in bed but we just shared a phone call from Glen to say that we have a new baby in the family - Piper Grace, sister to Orla Hope. Beautiful names for beautiful girls.

Tomorrow might be a fallout day, we'll see. But it is usual for Ma to be on a downer after so much excitement. I have a meeting with the Dementia Cafe people about their cook book and I've made nanaimo bars to try and convince them that I'm legit.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Just to say

I'm having a lovely weekend off in Cornwall. Mum is staying with friends, I will be collecting her first thing tomorrow and then back to normal.

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend x

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Moussaka (for Dee!)

This worked really well and was delicious. It's not hugely different to my usual recipe, but the method has changed slightly. Recently I've found that supermarket lamb mince is increasingly fattier than it used to be (I wonder if it has anything to do with costs?) and can make moussaka unpleasantly greasy so I tried doing it this way. I used mascarpone and double cream because that was what was in the fridge but greek yoghurt, fomage frais, cottage cheese... any combination of these would do. For carb-phobics, there's only a tiny amount of potato in each serving, but by all means leave it out of the dish if you prefer.

500g lamb mince
1 aubergine
1 large baking potato, peeled and finely sliced
1 courgette, diced
1 onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp crushed dried chilli
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 good squirts of tomato puree
200 ml red wine
1 lamb stock cube
200g mascarpone
2 eggs
double cream
Finely grated parmesan (optional)

Start by frying the mince in a large non-stick pan over a medium heat. You want to render as much fat out of the meat as possible. Once the mince is starting to brown place a sieve over a bowl, tip in the mince and allow to drain. I also wadded up several pieces of kitchen paper and pushed out as much as possible. Wipe out the pan, place it back on the heat and return the meat. Add the diced onion and courgette and continue frying for another couple of minutes. Then add the herbs and spices, tomato puree, wine and stock cube. Bring up to the boil then simmer gently until the liquid has all but evaporated. Spoon into a deep ovenproof casserole.

Prick the aubergine all over then place on a microwaveable plate with a tablespoon of water and cover with cling film. Microwave on high until cooked through and soft when poked with a finger (careful it will be very very hot!). Remove from the microwave and allow to cool slightly then dice roughly.

Cover the meat with overlapping slices of potato then spread the cooked aubergine over the top.

Beat the eggs into the mascarpone then add enough cream to give the consistency of pouring custard. Pour the topping over the aubergine and sprinkle with parmesan (if using). Bake in a moderate oven (gas mark 4 / 180c) for approximately 50 minutes until puffed up and golden brown on top and the potato is cooked. Check after 20 minutes and if the top is browning too quickly cover the dish with some aluminium foil to prevent burning.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Ruby Tuesday

Well today was fun.

It started ok - usual early start and me telephoning H and G and getting no reply from either so phoned Will to wake them up. Ma overheard the conversation I had with Will about Harriet ('yes I know she's a pain' 'she always ignores me' 'it will be better when she's away for the summer' etc.) and assumed the conversation was about her.

Cue Skipton-like behaviour culminating in a two hour sit in the garden, shivering, but refusing to interact or speak to me. I managed to persuade her inside eventually and made her a cup of tea. Within fifteen minutes she was happily chatting about the dog and her (dog's) impending haircut.

Dropped her off with Mave and Vic at 14:00 and ran away. Literally. Went to have my eyelashes enhanced and very lovely they look too. However to be fair, they had me at 'you will have to lie on a bed and do nothing for two hours'. Fantastic.

It was a lovely afternoon - fab swishy lashes and a relaxing almost meditation - you can't talk or open your eyes when having eyelash enhancement.

The Showaddywaddy 'Under The Moon of Love' earworm was a bit of a bugger though.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Oh boy!

Today started with a bang. Well a 05:30 wake up call asking me to turn the shower on. Told her to go back to bed but gave in at half 6 after listening to her banging about in a sulk.

She is wearing a diamante belt as a necklace and one of those scrubby bath gloves as a sock. Her vocabulary is very poor and she's in a terrible mood.

Lunch was interesting - she insisted on making her own today. So she boiled new potatoes and mushrooms together in the same pan then broke an egg into some boiling water and stirred it vigorously until cooked. I stayed out of the way but made sure she didn't leave the gas on etc. Oh I lie, I did get involved at one point when I stopped her putting a whole egg in the microwave. I can honestly say that that was not the most appetising plate of food I've ever seen but as she appeared to be making a point, she ate the lot.

I had cheese and tomatoes.


I think I've reached my tolerance limit and a weekend off can't come soon enough. It will involve a lot of driving but I'm heading to Devon on Thursday morning to be with H on her birthday then down to Cornwall on Friday for a big fat party on Saturday - 1 x 30th, 2 x 40th and 1 x 50th (or is it 1 x 40th and 2 x 50th?...) anyway very much looking forward to it. Back on Sunday. Then H is hopping on the train the following Saturday for 6 weeks of fun with her mum. Can't bloody wait.


This evening I'd planned to cook coq au riesling but Ma didn't fancy chicken so I did smoked haddock and mornay sauce which she almost ate.

She's worn 5 different jackets this afternoon, asked me several times when Peter is arriving and we had a very confused conversation where she used the words 'thing' and 'place' a lot. As in 'We went to the place and watched the things and you were there but we didn't let you go and then we went to the other place and did the thing (lots of gesticulation during this whole conversation) and then we left. And that's all about it.'

No clue. But I do try to fathom what she's trying to say - it's very hit and miss though especially as she has so many false memories now.


Early bed for Ma which doesn't bode well for a lie in tomorrow. When I say lie in, anything beyond 6am is good. I'm off to have my eyelashes extended tomorrow and the bloody wonderful Mavis and Vic have offered to have her for afternoon tea. Thank the Lord. Imagine me trying to relax on the chair and Ma free to wander at will through the salon. Breaking into a sweat just thinking about it.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


It has been a relatively quiet weekend, albeit with the usual repetitions and the odd bizarre moment now and then...

Watching Anjum Anand on Saturday Kitchen Ma declares she likes Indian food. This comes as a shocking revelation to me because she's never liked anything remotely spicy and has always been fairly entrenched in the belief that Indian food is quite possibly the work of the Devil, but keen to extend our menu choices I suggest a takeaway curry for tea. I give her a tiny portion each of chicken makhan (mildest thing on the menu) rice and saag paneer and bugger me if she doesn't eat most of it and enjoy it. Can't tell you how much this pleases me.

I reckon we've only discussed her trip to Knutsford next Friday roughly 27 times. And prone as I am to casual exaggeration, this is not hyperbole. The suitcase has been 'packed' (and then unpacked) many many times over.

Watching Something for the Weekend this morning she declared that Louise was married to Tim Lovejoy purely because she was sitting next to him and that Kevin Rowland is married to Denise Van Outen. If you don't watch the show or get the references then I'm sorry - but I found it highly amusing.

Then.... this afternoon we were watching an episode of Jonathan Creek. Usual plot - apparent impossible suicide in a locked room. Towards the end of the programme Ma suddenly began to get extremely upset and started sobbing.
Whatever's the matter?
He didn't commit suicide, I'm sure he didn't.
(me being dense thought we were talking about the tv)
No he didn't - they've just explained how it happened
But he didn't I'm sure he didn't
Your father.

There was more, but that's the essence of it. I reassured her that no, he hadn't committed suicide, he was in the hospice and that's where he died from prostate cancer. She has false memories about how he died, how she was told when he did and about what eventually killed him so it's always difficult for her poor love. I think only fluffy tv from here on in though. (kill me now)

Just watched Pride and Prejudice - the Matthew Macfadyen/Kiera Knightly version. I love love love that film it is very very high on my top 10 list. Ma enjoyed it but hadn't a chuffing clue what was going on, laughed at inappropriate moments etc. However she did get that Lady Catherine is an absolute bitch and that Mr Collins is an arse (love Tom Hollander, especially when they visit Lady Catherine and he does that obsequious half knee-bend thing, just makes me hoot with laughter every time). My favourite moment is after Mr Darcy has handed Elizabeth into the carriage and you see his hand flex. The finest depiction of repressed desire ever.

Other things... wearing two pairs of slippers at the same time... rinsing a plate badly and leaving it in the drainer so all the leftover mince slides off... hiding her pants... 'washing' her hair using conditioner and then not rinsing it out... everything on inside out... she wanted to go for lunch at the garden centre today but when we got there she no longer has any idea where the cafe is... lots and lots of lipstick atm, it sits well beyond her lip line and if I'm really honest, doesn't look great but do I tell her that? Nope. It would cause distress, so best to leave it be. Oh and the three-tea-bag cup of tea, made in a mug. My heart rate is nearly back to normal again but I'm not sure my teeth will ever recover.

Friday, 8 July 2011

That Friday Feeling

Ma was clearly awake early this morning because when I took in her tea and tablets she was sitting up in bed with full make up on. Wearing just a vest and no drawers mind you, but plenty of lippy.

She declared she was making her own breakfast but realised that making her usual porridge (my offer of help was refused) was beyond her so she decided on toasted fruit loaf. The bread went into the toaster, she switched off the plug at the wall and then waited. After a while I suggested she switch the plug on, which she did. After another short while I pushed the toast down for her. When it popped up she buttered an untoasted piece and took that and the toasted bread into the living room to watch Lorraine. I quietly took the butter in too and left it by her plate.

I needed to nip into town to do a few bits and pieces so Mavis, bless her, asked Ma up for coffee while I was out. I finally dragged Ma away at about half two and soon after we got back here she fell asleep in front of the tv and slept until 5.

Am now about to feed her home made cottage pie and fully expect her to reject it.

More later... maybe :)

Non-alcoholic drinks

I've found the non-alcoholic drink I was thinking of (Beverage No.7) and thought I'd share.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


A couple of quiet days.

Yesterday I went out and got some gel pens and we started on her memory book. I think we need to keep to three or four questions each time because she kept going back to them all the way until bedtime and quite frankly, we have enough circular conversations as it is.

I made a fantastic moussaka, probably the best I've ever made and which predictably, Ma didn't like. So she had a frozen ready meal thing which she pronounced 'delicious' :rolls eyes: I'll be doing that version of moussaka again even though Ma has just checked that I'm not giving her 'that thing' for tea again tonight!

Today she started looking for clothes to wear for her weekend away next Friday. So a slightly bizarre fashion parade ensued. My favourite was the black and white shirt and shorts ensemble paired with a pink and green flowery jacket and purple stilettos.

Other than discovering that she's been 'moisurising' her face with shower cream for the last few days resulting in chronically dry, flaky skin, asking me at least 12 times when she is going to Bryan's and when Simon is coming (he isn't) it has been a quiet, calm sort of a day.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Shaking those maracas at the Dementia Cafe

Today we had our first visit to the dementia cafe. This takes place in a room next to the library once a month and is attended by dementia/alzheimer sufferers, their carers and various mental health workers. Predictably Ma wasn't keen to go but it didn't stop her agitating to get there so of course we were 30 minutes early and had to wait in the car until it opened.

Once inside we were welcomed very warmly and offered tea or coffee. Ma, a lifelong milk no sugar person, suddenly asked for sugar in her coffee! The lady offering saw my face and just stirred the coffee without putting anything in it, which worked a treat. Several people arrived and one couple knew Ma from old church/operatics days so she was delighted to have someone she knew to talk to.

After about an hour a chap arrived with lots of boxes and equipment to set up some organised musical entertainment which included tambourines, maracas, pom poms and singing. Ma wasn't hugely impressed (hollow laugh) but joined in waving her pom poms and shaking her maracas. After every song she'd say that she didn't want to do any more but as soon as the next song started she was grooving away more than anyone in the room! I was quietly impressed with the whole thing - a mixture of sing along stuff, moving to music and a 'quiz' which everyone seemed to enjoy. And Ma had more sneaky exercise than she's had in a very long while.

The cafe needs volunteers and I offered my time but was told, very kindly, that if I'm caring full time there isn't really any way I can. Which is true but I'd still like to help. However I can help in one way, they are in the process of putting together a recipe book.... I've just emailed five simple recipes (as requested) to Rachel and will happily send more if needed. It's the least I can do.

All in all a good afternoon. I allowed Ma to garner the impression that we went there for my benefit only and she was chatting on the way home about 'Anne's poor husband' who also has vascular dementia. She still believes that she will improve and I don't see any point in forcing her to see otherwise.

Obi Wan Spinone

Here's my lovely boy. Sadly he doesn't live here because he's too big and too boisterous, Ma is unsteady enough on her feet as it is! I just love his cheesy grin :D

Monday, 4 July 2011

Monday madness

The fallout from yesterday's stress is quite obvious - a lot of the conversation today has made very little sense or been confused.

To the dog: Hello sir. Have we got any tables for you?

Me: Golly I'm hot.
Ma: Take your top off.
Me: I don't think so! I've only got a bra on under here.
Ma: Well you can wear my bra, it's in the bedroom.

What would you like for your tea?
I'd like some of those round things. The ones you roll around bread and butter. No not bread and butter. The round things.... I'll have the thing when you put bread together.
A sandwich?
No. Yes.

On the way to bed just now
Ma: I want to put her leg on the thing.
Me: ...... (following her out of the room)
Put through the Planet Audrey Translator (TM) this means: I would like to close the patio doors.

Promising day....

Yesterday we were up early and I thought that as the sun was shining so beautifully we should take a trip to Skipton. This isn't as bonkers as it first appears, Skipton is an ancient Yorkshire town with lots of history, a castle and a fascinating jigsaw of canals. Plus it meant that the Cornishman ended up in Yorkshire. I know, but hey... I didn't mention passports at all.

We got there in good time and after a scull around the 'Farmers' Market' we were relieved of a tenner for 8 dried chillis and two small jars of pickle. Feeling utterly shafted by the whole Farmers' Market ethic yet again we decided to hop on the 30 minute canal trip. This was a really sweet and not terribly informative tank up and down a side canal to the Leeds/Liverpool.

As we left the boat Ma asked for a cup of tea and we were happy to walk straight into the cafe on the canal basin. Tea and coffee were ordered and then Ma suddenly decided she wanted a toasted teacake. Tea and coffee were quaffed and Ma ate one half of her teacake using up both 'pats' of butter. I offered to go and get her more butter but she refused. And then stuffed the remaining half of the teacake up her sleeve.

I know she can't help it and I know it isn't about being rational but it was a really daft thing to do.  I had a handbag nearby ffs!

We left the cafe and walked towards the square where a sheep fair was about to start. Ma had taken umbrage when I told her not to put the teacake up her sleeve and was adamant that she was going to sit in the car. Obviously there wasn't a hope in hell that we would let her do that so we went back to the car. No lunch-style loafing at a waterside pub, just a long and rather horrible return with Ma crying a lot and slumping against walls and shop windows.

The tears continued all the way home.

As I was cooking a belated (and unexpected) brunch for two before Simon had to leave Ma went and sat in the garden and within five minutes she was laughing and chatting with the neighbours and had invited herself round for a gin and tonic.

Some days it's not a rollercoaster ride. It's Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

And.... relax....

Hear that?? That would be a choir of angels singing. I have found a full pack of Tramadol in a forgotten bag in my wardrobe. So two Tramadol, two paracetamol and two diazepam have set me up for the day and I am already moving around more easily.

Ma managed to give herself a stiff neck after falling asleep in front of the tennis yesterday so I've just rubbed ralgex into her neck and given her two paracetamol and breakfast in bed.

Glorious morning here. The first lot of bedding is out on the line, the sofa cushions have been turned and hoovered, the kitchen floor is drying and I've just had a surprise phone call to say that the Cornishman is on his way.

What to cook this evening?? Hmm....

Back later - have a lovely day :)

Friday, 1 July 2011

Friday again

Friday seems to have come round very quickly this week. I can't believe it's the 1st of July already... only 25 weeks till Christmas (sorry!).

I've not had a great couple of days if I'm honest with you, back spasms and sciatica make for a very uncomfortable time. Still I'm hopeful things will start to improve soon.

Weds was an odd day probably not helped by me feeling so rubbish. Ma seemed to be quite agitated from the moment she got up and couldn't really settle. She visited the neighbours, walked around the garden, stood in the gateway, wanted to go out for lunch (to THAT pub - finally worked out which one she meant) where she ordered a bizarre selection of food which she didn't eat then a very speedy trip to the garden centre because we needed to rush back for Wimbledon. A lot of huffing about how long the matches were going on for resulting in another scull around the neighbours. Then a big sulk when I went into the other room to ring the children when Emmerdale started resulting in a flounce off to bed at ten past seven. Then up again fully dressed in different clothes at half eight and a tinkly chat about things until finally going to bed at around half nine.

Yesterday was a more settled, quieter day. I went to a Carer's meeting in the evening and was glad I did, despite deciding twice that I wasn't sure I could face the drive. I met some really lovely people, had a KitKat and a cup of tea and came away determined to make a 'Memory Book' with Ma. This seems to be an updated version of a scrap book and is intended to provide memory prompts for the dementia sufferer and a sort of primer for any staff should she be taken into hospital or respite care. So Ma and I will look through old photos and talk about her life and I get to play with glitter, glue and different coloured gel pens. Win win.


Two things which amused me so far this week:

Me: (laughing) You're obsessed with the weather!
Ma: (affronted) I never talk about it.

Ma: Oh Murray's on again.
Me: Yes, they play every other day.
Ma: But he's just won the last match.
Me: No Ma, that was Tsonga.
Ma: I'm sure it was Murray.

Easily mixed up I'm sure... they look so alike.


I picked up a king prawn biryani last night on the way home and it was bloody lovely. Cold leftovers for breakfast, hurrah!

No ideas for tonight yet. I'll keep you posted ;)

Edited to add: possibly this I'm a huge huge fan of Simon Hopkinson.