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

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Would you believe it?

Ma has eaten more in the last two days than she has managed to eat in the last three weeks. Today she actually requested toast, tea, Horlicks, fish fingers/mash/baked beans, chopped tinned pears and cream. Fantastic. It is, frankly, astonishing. I hope and pray that this trend will continue.

Her friend Barbara called this afternoon so I left them to it and nipped off to B&Q. Yes I could've gone for a facial or a pedicure but I needed ferrules for the zimmer frame and a clothes maiden. We've been 'borrowing' Betty's maiden for the last six months and I thought it was time to gird the collective loins and buy one of our own. Good old B&Q had either a crappy maiden for a few quids or a decent one for a heck of a lot more. Plus a pack of six ferrules for £7. Who needs six?? Ever?? Most people buy them to stick on the end of walking sticks, so that's a maximum of one required approximately once a decade. Once I'd got over the sheer cheek of it all I realised that they were too small anyway. So sucks boo to you B&Q.

After Barbara left Ma sat and watched the tv and I sat here and did a bit of twitter/facebook stuff. Then The Chase came on, which is one of Ma's favourites. After about 20 mins I noticed that Ma was getting distressed - pulling at her fleece jacket and fidgeting in the chair.

Are you ok mum?

Well I don't know what I'm going to do

What do you need to do? What's up?

How am I going to get there?


Where are you going?

I have to be there > points at the tv

No it's ok Ma, you don't need to be on there, they've got plenty of other peope to do it.

Oh have they? Thank goodness for that.


Heading for the bathroom, zimmer frame at full tilt....

This is feeling really so much better *rubs right thigh*

That's great Ma, but you broke your left hip.

When did I do that?


I did a simplified version of my lamb korma recipe for the Dementia Cafe cook book. It works really well and makes me wonder why I bothered to make it more complicated....

Anyway, here's the pic which will appear in the cook book:

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A different woman

The morning started as usual. I took her tea and tablets in bed, the tea was ignored. The ladies arrived and got her up and in the shower. I made her toast at her request but she only managed one quarter then she settled in front of the tv asking at regular intervals where Peter was.

Peter arrived just after 12 and of course Ma was delighted to see him. They chatted for a while and Peter got out his laptop and showed her photos of their time in Spain, Jean's sister and brother in law have been out there helping to renovate part of the house so there was plenty for Ma to look at as she and dad have been there in the past.

The GP called round at about half 12 to check her over after the episode on Sunday evening. He reassured me that there's nothing sinister going on in her stomach and told her she really must try to eat a bit more. Peter said the same thing and she said she would...

After the doctor left I offered her some lunch. She wasn't keen but after some encouragement from Peter she asked for a cheese sandwich. And only went and ate the bloody lot. Then drank a whole mug of tea. Words fail me. All the frustration and distress of the last few weeks and all it appears to take is a word from her son **

I had a bit of a headache this afternoon so left Peter with Ma and went to lie down for an hour. Apparently whilst I was snoozing she's had some chocolates. Then just before Peter left she ate two tinned pears and some cream with a mug of coffee.

It's hard not to feel mutinous and resentful but I'm really pleased she's eaten so well today. And weirdly enough, she looks so much better for it. Pfft! What are the odds?

** I'm big enough to admit that it's probably the Omeprazole she's been prescribed which has made the difference rather than my brother having magical powers... but still... Let's hope it continues tomorrow.


We are watching a report on BBC North West Tonight on Arthur Lowe and Ma has just got all upset about where she would go when it all starts happening. I've just had to reassure her that it's a report about a tv programme on the Home Guard not the start of another world war.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Good bits and bad bits

Not a good start to the day with a full set of bedding to wash but the Enablement ladies got her cleaned up, dressed and ready for breakfast..

The baby food fruit puree idea worked quite well, she ate half a jar and also had about two sips of a milky coffee. And all was fine until a mid-morning trip to the loo. Another shower and a full set of clothes later she was back in the living room.

It has taken all day to dry the mattress protector on the Aga. I am SO getting a tumble drier tomorrow.


Thank you for all the helpful comments and suggestions for getting Ma to eat and drink. Unfortunately she won't eat fresh fruit or anything remotely crunchy, she doesn't like yoghurt or smoothies. She's gone off mashed potatoes and chips, biscuits and cake, won't eat pasta, rice or cous cous. So....

Today she's had the fruit puree I mentioned (it went down okish but I'm not sure she'll eat it long term) and half of a soft boiled egg, but left the bread and butter. However, this is approximately 100% more than she ate yesterday and therefore no bile attack tonight. I'm hoping that a steady supply of tiny portions might bring her appetite back a little bit.


Peter is coming tomorrow. It's 20:00hrs and she's already been up three times asking me where he is. This may be a long night.

Sunday, 28 August 2011


The Doctor came and was very thorough but as she isn't clinically dehydrated there wasn't much he could do. His advice to Ma is 'you need to drink more fluid'.

Well hey. I may have mentioned that to her at least five times a day since she came out of hospital.

Can you believe that it's only three weeks since she fell? No, me neither. Seems like at least three months.

So how exactly do you get a stubborn 81 year old woman with dementia to drink when she doesn't want to without resorting to a funnel??

She will mostly only drink about an inch of any mug of tea or coffee, although there are exceptions to this. She doesn't like squash, juice, milk, herbal tea, fruit tea, fizzy pop, yoghurt, smoothies and especially not water.

She will have soup, but only about once a week. Likewise an ice lolly.

Any ideas or suggestions?

Far too early

I woke up at about 05:30 to the sound of sobbing. Dashed downstairs to find Ma sitting in the living room in a terrible state.

What's the matter???

I couldn't find anyone. And I don't know where I am.

You're at home Ma, it's ok.

But I haven't seen anyone. I couldn't find them.

No one else is here I promise.

Why didn't they say hello to me?

*light bulb moment*

David and Glenys aren't coming until this afternoon Ma, don't worry...

I gave her her meds and a cup of tea then she went back to bed quite happily and fell into a deep sleep.

Naturally I was wide awake and jangling. So I did a full Dyson and dust downstairs, put some laundry in and had a shower before the Reablement lady arrived to get Ma up. Am now thinking about prepping the veg for this afternoon and I might use up the rapidly blackening bananas sitting in the kitchen and make a cake.


More later. And possibly some photos :)


Banana cake! As you can see, it has cracked on the top. But it tastes very nice :)

Orla with Great Great Auntie Audrey


Dave and Glen arrived just after half two and Orla was, naturally, the star of the show. She was very taken with Lily and followed her everywhere. Unfortunately Ma didnt make it to the meal I'd cooked, she took herself off to bed at about 4pm. Dave and Glen left just before 6 and as they were pulling off the drive Ma was heading for the bathroom. Next thing I hear her vomiting. She is bringing up bile, which indicates that she really isn't eating enough. As this is happening Michaela arrives from the Reablement service and after talking to her about it I decide to ring Bar Doc which is the local out of hours medical service. They have decided to send a doctor out to look at Ma due to my concerns regarding her lack of eating and also because I suspect she may be slightly dehydrated. I really hope it doesn't happen but it wouldn't surprise me if she is readmitted. Update later.

Here is Orla trying on Granny's FitFlops - we couldn't get her off them! Every time she said 'shoes' I told her it isn't shoes it's 'Jimmy Choos'. That'll please her daddy :D (love you J xx)

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Not the best start...

I guarantee there are worse ways to start the day but personally I think that fishing a carrier bag out of the loo is up there with most of them. Why she chose to empty the bathroom bin and use that instead of the loo roll which was on the wall next to her where it has been for nigh on 30 years is beyond me.

At this rate I'll be penning an ode of gratitude to the latex glove.


Another day, another accusation. I think she's a bit bored with being housebound and is constantly asking me to ring people up. So somehow not being able to get hold of anyone suddenly became 'I know you don't love me' and all the other nonsense that comes out at times like this. Today I am struggling with it all and finding it a major effort not to be resentful and surly and absolutely must not think about saying goodbye to the children last Thursday.


I am, however, a culinary genius *cough*. The pork dish for tomorrow smells fab (currently in the bottom oven of the Aga), so will post a recipe if it works out ok. The tiramisu isn't looking quite so fab and may have to be served with straws. But hey, it'll still taste ok. It flipping should do with that amount of Tia Maria in it.

Friday, 26 August 2011

The Doctor Calls

Ma's reluctance to eat has been worrying me for some time now as you know. This morning I thought it would be a good idea to have a chat with her GP, so I rang for a phone appointment. Typically his phone appointments were all taken so I was offered one with the triage nurse. She was very pleasant and said she would speak to Dr Hampson. At 12 there was a knock at the door and there was the man himself.

Ma adores her GP and this can be quite useful! He asked Ma a few questions but it was obvious that she wasn't able to answer them (What did you do? I can't remember. You fell Ma. Oh that's right I fell under a bus. Not in the kitchen you didn't..), although interestingly she does try to divert the conversation in an attempt to disguise this. We talked about various medication adjustments instigated by the hospital and I mentioned that Barry was organising a re-referral to the Dementia Team, which he said he would chase up.

He then gave her a stern look and told her she must start eating a bit more. I asked about food replacement products but he was reluctant to prescribe them because a) they don't taste very nice and b) he feels it could encourage Ma to be lazy about eating - which I think is a fair comment. Especially as as soon as he had left she asked for an apple and some soup! He agrees with me that so long as she is eating something I shouldn't get hung up on it being all sweet food if that's what she will eat.

She's been resting since half two, so may not get up again properly. On the other hand she may be up for a party in a bit. You never know!


Are you going now? Should I get out of your way?

Where am I going Ma?

I thought you were going to look at the land.

Umm no. Not going anywhere today don't worry.

Well aren't you going to be with your husband?

(He's not... uh never mind)

No Ma, he's not here.

Isn't he? Oh I thought he was. Are you sure?


Some things:

It has been weeks since she last kissed and cried over my dad's photo.

She joins in with any conversation and will say things in an attempt to sound as if she knows what's going on. Example: Uncle Vic was here chatting away. There was a break in the conversation and he jokingly said 'What else? Oh yes, the Dutch have taken Holland!' To which Ma replied, 'Oh I think I saw that on the news!'

She asks permission to do so many things now. It's heartbreaking.

Reading is beyond her now really, and for someone who set such great store in sending and receiving greetings cards, it is quite shocking to see her barely glance at her get well cards. There was a time when they would've been counted and the number paraded about. I think I get my aversion to greeting cards of any description from this.

She's convinced there's another room off her bedroom. There isn't. There is, however, a set of mirrored wardrobe doors which she opens to 'go in the other room' and is then very confused when there isn't one. Unless she's been skipping off to Narnia in the night...


Reablement ladies get her ready for bed, lots of good natured laughter when she goes to use Canasten to clean her teeth.

Phone rings. It's Glenys saying that they will be visiting on Sunday with Judith and Orla. Absolutely delighted to hear this. Tell Ma and she's also thrilled.

She's now dozing in the chair having refused to go to bed.

Why don't you go to bed mum?

I'm waiting for them to come.

The girls have been already?

I don't remember that.

They put your pyjamas on.

Oh yes I remember that but I'm waiting for the others. With the little one.

They aren't coming until Sunday! Today is Friday.

If you say so. I'll just wait here.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


She is in a most peculiar mood today. First thing she was all fluffy, saying goodbye to the children and telling Harriet she adored her. Harriet made a wry little comment to me about going from villain to hero which was quite amusing. I left Ma in the capable hands of the Reablement team and took the children to the bus station. Cue quite a lot of sobbing and embarrassing behaviour but they are quite used to it so shovelled me back into the car and waved me off.

When I got back she was dressed and sitting in the lounge. I made some tea and put the TV on and all was well for a while. Glenys phoned, I offered to make her some lunch (declined) and then she dozed in front of Mel and Gino.

For the last hour we've had tears and flailing arms which all started with her not being able to see if Sheila is in - this is due to the way the houses are oriented not because I've stopped her from going anywhere! We went through everyone she thought she needed to see and I reassured her that she has seen all of them within the last few weeks. From this we went to her telling me to go and spend some time with my 'husband', when I said he wasn't here she didn't believe me and kept telling me to go and do whatever I wanted to do (sit here and do exactly what I am doing which is read a book, actually). This moved seamlessly into asking for permission to go to the loo and then standing in the hall because she 'didn't want to be in the way'. When I suggested she went for a nap she refused but went and sat on the edge of the bed. More weeping, more arm flailing (and an accidental slap to my left eye) until I managed to persuade her to have a cup of coffee and a rest. As I was plumping up her pillows I discovered a stash of Celebrations in her pillow case...

She's mentioned that she'd like 'a few chips' for tea, which I will gladly do and perhaps she'll have an egg to go with them.

As I'm typing this I can hear her singing in the bedroom.


A few chips turned out to be 2, which she ate with the yolk from a poached egg. Add that to the crumpet this morning and we're hardly talking over indulgence here. I'm currently trying to keep her up until the evening shift arrives to help her to bed but it's going to be nip and tuck.


We made it to 6pm. The girls arrived and Ma was helped to bed etc.

Just chatting on the phone to the Cornishman (19:25) when the door opened and the zimmer frame clarts into view. Ma got bored with bed and is up again. Now sitting on the sofa with Lily in a death grip. There may be a tricky night in store.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A better day than yesterday

We've had a fairly quiet day today. Ma slept a lot throughout the morning and then this afternoon she's had two visitors, so she's been kept busy.

It's interesting that she was all fluffy for the Reablement ladies this moring - telling them she loved them to bits! A complete turn around from yesterday when she was adamant that she didn't want them any longer.

So far today she's eaten three quarters of a crumpet and two chocolate HobNobs. One of her visitors, Sheila from next door, told her she looked like she's lost weight. Ma replied that she couldn't see how she could have... When I suggested that it was because she wasn't eating enough, Sheila backed me up saying that she must eat. So this evening, because Sheila said she should, she is having some tea. Admittedly it is sticky toffee pudding, so that's all sweet stuff today, but she has flatly refused anything savoury. Including any of the roast dinner I've done for the children. It's all food at the end of the day though I suppose.


The boys and Harriet go back tomorrow. I am going to miss H so much and haven't seen the boys for anywhere near long enough. It will be so hard saying goodbye. I am going to be very very upset tomorrow.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


I've found the Stats bit on the blog. And I do love a spot of obsessive compulsive number watching.

However it also tells me lots of other things including where blog views have come from. So a big Hi! to all the UK followers, but also a lovely hello to those from: USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, France, Spain, Portugal, Bahrain (Hey Iain x), Ireland, Germany, Hawaii, Pakistan and Malaysia.

Who knew??!? Fan-flipping-tastic.

Please stop and say hello when you call by, I'd love to meet you :)

The honeymoon is over

It's been a fairly quiet day. Ma had visitors this morning and the district nurse came and removed the clips from Ma's wound.

At about 5pm Ma started making noises about going to bed. I suggested it was a bit early and tried to distract her with some quiz show she likes while I put together a lasagne for George. That worked until about half past when she clattered into the kitchen and asked me when we were going.

We aren't going anywhere Mum.

You said you were going away.

Nope. The children are going back on Thursday but we aren't going anywhere now.

I want to come too.

But we aren't going anywhere!

At this she declared she was off to bed.

I followed and asked her if she'd wait for the girls to come, but no. So of course there was a discussion about what she needed to wear in bed but she put them on in the end. Then tried to put both legs in one pyjama leg, nearly pitching to the floor. I caught her of course but she wasn't happy.

Injection done and meds taken I offered her a cup of tea which she accepted. As I'm making the tea I can hear her shouting in the bedroom.

When I go in she is crying and starts saying to me that I'm not the wonderful daughter she knew and she doesn't know what happened. I'm horrible and rude, it's always about me and she can't imagine what my father (who loved you so much) would think about it all.

Let me tell you it is SO hard sometimes. So bloody hard not to respond in kind. So hard to keep level and carry on. To make sure you only cry when you aren't in the room because any sign of that makes things far worse. So hard to just read a message on facebook from SIL bemoaning that they are on the last week of their holiday. I don't begrudge them at all, but the timing was crap.

She's waiting for the girls to arrive. Face on. Duvet up to her chin.

I might ask if there's any chance they could come earlier in the evenings.


For the record she has eaten 1 crumpet, 1 bite of cake, and 1 dessertspoon of sticky toffee pudding today.

Well that went well then

When I got back with the boys last night the reablement lady was still here. Ma had got herself into a complete state because she couldn't find me and although Harriet had stayed with her all the time and had reassured her that I would be back soon it had no effect. Ma was continually roaming through the house (with zimmer) looking for me.So anything more than half an hour away even with someone with her is no longer feasible. I'm becoming slightly concerned about how she will cope with the day centre.

However, once I was back and she saw the boys all was forgotten. She was so delighted she stayed up until half past nine!


Circular conversations this week:

How's your husband? He's not my husband. I don't care, how is he? He's fine. What time will he be here? He's not coming this week. Aw why not? He's working. Is he?? Oh that's good. How is he?

I think I need to see the doctor. Why's that Mum? It's this thing on my leg, it hurts. That's where you had the operation after you broke your hip. I broke my hip? When did I do that? Two weeks ago. Well it hurts. It just takes time to heal Mum that's all. Well we'll see. When am I going to the doctor?

When are we going? Are we going somewhere? I thought we were going to the place. What place is that Ma? The place. The place where... Oh I don't know, I thought we were going there. Nope no plans to go anywhere today. But when are we going?


The Oats So Simple gravy train has hit the buffers. We are back to battling over breakfast again. This morning she's been given and refused to eat a mini strawberry Muller Corner, a banana and a slice of toast. She asked for some crisps... I thought what the hell, at least it's something, but after eating one she rejected them. So I'm just about to offer a toasted crumpet. I don't actually care what she has, so long as she has something especially when she takes so much medication. It can't be good on an empty stomach. All she ate yesterday was a boiled egg at lunchtime and some tinned fruit for tea.

It distresses me. Probably more than it should I suppose, but if she doesn't eat I feel I have failed to care for her properly.

Monday, 22 August 2011

A new week

All Hail the Bradley Wiggins idea, it only went and flipping worked. I might still consider getting a tumble drier anyway. And definitely another mattress protector.

Nothing can dampen my spirits today. Not one single thing. Will and George are already on the bus speeding north as I type. I am beyond excited but also keep getting emotional at the realisation that H is going back with them on Thursday.


Ok Mum?

Yes I'm fine. Just this side here is hurting. Wonder why that is?

Because you broke your hip.

Did I? When??


I'm just off to pick the boys up in Manchester. Ma has no idea they are comiing and will be delighted to see them.

We've had a funny sort of a day really, she's been upset many times but I can't quite work out why. The recurring themes seem to be that she will be happy when she gets home, she doesn't want me to leave her, and a bizarre story about hospital involving a day trip on a bus and nursing staff who sound as though they were moonlighting from Prisoner Cell Block H.  

She doesn't want the enablement team coming any more. She seems to really dislike people coming in on a regular basis, she was the same earlier in the year when we had to pay for carers to come in and administer her medication. It's odd really, as she has always been such a sociable creature you would think she'd like the regular contact but she doesn't. I've told her they are coming in for my benefit so perhaps we can keep it going for a little bit longer. I must admit that the morning visits are an absolute Godsend.

Possibly back later when the boys have settled in :)

Sunday, 21 August 2011


The Bradley Wiggins shorts combo didn't work. But only because she took them off.

Just replaced everything. And with the oft repeated 'this will make things easier for both of us' to which she replies 'oh that's good'.

Anyone else thinking what I'm thinking...?

*looks up tumble driers on*

Allow me a sigh. Not a whiffly barely there kind of sigh. One that lifts your lungs and means a heap of beans.

Nightbless x

Sunday Things

Another full set of bedding to wash. (*sings* Latex gloves I love you, Latex gloves I dooo...)

A trip to Boots for supplies to attempt to prevent the above happening again.

Ma's tolerance for visitors is roughly an hour. But only if they talk about the past and her part in it. Any deviation from that and she is likely to get up and walk out.

It is easier to persuade her to eat in the evening if it is something sweet: sticky toffee pudding, tinned fruit and evap etc.

Those mattress protectors take some drying! Thank goodness for the Aga otherwise it probably wouldn't be dry despite going on the line before 9am.

She may have dementia but she clearly hasn't forgotten how to be passive-aggressive.

I hate giving her those injections. Not because I haven't injected before (two diabetics) but because it's quite a thick liquid and hurts for quite a while after it is done and the injection site always bleeds a little. Bless her, she never complains but does say now and then that it's 'not very nice'.

To keep the new night time underpinnings firmly in place she's also wearing a pair of cycling shorts. When I said 'Goodnight Bradley' I don't think she got the joke but it amused the hell out of me.

Saturday, 20 August 2011


06:30 Put the kettle on, let the dog out, fill up the bird feeders, feed dog, make tea.

07:00 Go into Ma. Thank the Lord I bought a mattress protector. Thumbs already throbbing at the thought, I get Ma out of bed and deal with bedding, pyjamas, Ma etc. Put her back into bed and dispense tea and tablets. Seriously consider trading in the kingsize bed for a small single.

07:30 Put washing on. Dust Ma's bedroom, shove the Dyson round downstairs. Have a cup of tea and surf the net for a while.

09:00 Reablement lady, Julie, arrives and Ma is encouraged to get up and go into the bathroom for a shower. Take the opportunity to empty and refill washing machine and peg out wet washing.

09:45 Julie leaves. Ma is clean and dressed and has put herself back into bed. Take the opportunity to go to Tesco.

10:00 Struggle round Tesco with sore, tired and therefore clumsy hands and a wonky-wheeled trolley. The wave of shoppers I travel around the store with include an inept father with an iPhone permanently clamped to his ear who threatens his three children with draconian punishments for the merest transgressions of behaviour (like walking in front of the trolley) resulting in one, two or all three of them constantly in tears at any one time, and an elderly couple who are incapable of moving to the side of the aisle when they have to stop and look for something. Arrive at the tills and find one just finishing someone's shopping and sweep in. Bad move. This is the till with the faulty card reader and the numpty till assistant with verbal diarrhoea. I hear far more about her medical problems than I need to then wrangle the trolley out of the store. /rant off

11:15 Unpack the shopping. Promptly drop two bottles of wine and a jar of pickles on the kitchen floor. Stupid bloody hands. But should know by now to do the shopping before the cleaning. Get dustpan, mop and bucket. More throbbing.

12:00 Make Ma a sandwich and sit her and it in the lounge in front of Love Actually. Forget to warn Ma about the porn movie body doubles. Oops. In true Ma style, 10 mins before the end of the film Ma declares she's off to bed for a rest.

15:25 I settle down to watch Shrek Forever After. 

More later. Maybe :)

Friday, 19 August 2011

Heading for back to normal

The day kicked off at around half six and as usual I went downstairs, let the dog out, topped up the bird feeders and put the kettle on. By this time Ma had heard me wibbling about so was awake and ready for a drink. I'd checked on her a couple of times during the night and as far as I could tell she had slept soundly throughout thank goodness. My biggest worry at the moment is if she gets up in the night and then has a fall but I don't hear her. I'm seriously considering getting a baby monitor - she'd have to shout quite loudly for me to hear her over the noise of my CPAP machine without one. Anyway, the first night at home passed without a hitch.

She did an F1 circuit to the loo and back then decided that she wanted to stay in bed for a bit longer. I tell you, she's a demon with that zimmer frame! I suspect the parquet flooring helps. And is possibly also a safety hazard but I had to take up all the rugs because they were a serious trip hazard. Can't win. As I was getting her settled with a cuppa and her medicine she asked for a little sandwich or something so I suggested her favourite porridge and she was delighted with that suggestion. And bugger me if she didn't eat it all! She napped for the rest of the morning then ate scrambled eggs (with a dash of sneaky cream for calories) but not the bread and butter, and two Nice biscuits.

Flowers arrived for her from the Ladies' Club so we spent half an hour chatting whilst I arranged them in a couple of vases. Well I say chatting. Ma talked and I made non committal noises due to the fact that I couldn't make head nor tail of the majority of it. Then Mavis and Vic arrived (cue choirs of angels on high) so I took some chairs into the bedroom for them, along with some tea, and left them to natter. I half dozed on the sofa, listening to Mave and Vic chatting away and blithely ignoring the mad bits. I love them more than I can say.

About five minutes after they left, the lady from the reablement service arrived so more kettle boiling and tea making ensued. She took notes, asked questions and we have agreed on a morning and evening visit to get Ma up, showered etc. and dressed in the morning and then into bed in the evening. The aim is to get her as independent as possible so I hope this will be successful. The first visit is 9:00am tomorrow.

After all that excitement Ma was a bit tired so she had a nap and I pootled in the kitchen with chicken thigh fillets, white wine, onions, rosemary etc. which went into the bottom oven and prepped the spuds for mash. Suddenly I heard the zimmer approaching...

Hello where are you going?

I thought I'd go and see the girls

Which girls?

The ones over by the place

Ok. But there's nowhere for you to sit comfortably in here Ma, how about sitting in the lounge?

Ok shall I turn round then?

Yep good idea. I'll get your dressing gown to put on.

*gowned and sitting comfortably

Ok? Shall I leave the news on for you?

Yes that's fine. And I'll have a (strokes throat) something... umm... a thing... Can I have one?

A glass of wine??

Yes please.

I gave her a very small, watered down glass of wine, which she didn't drink in the end. I think it's a knee-jerk habit type of thing really. Dad and she always had a couple of snifters.

She managed 12 minutes of the news before going back to bed where she ate a reasonable portion of chicken and mash (about as much as a four year old would eat) and two Jaffa cakes. Then injection, meds and lights out.


Night Mum

Goodnight darling. Make sure you leave the thing on the road. No not the road. Upstairs. Or is it in the fridge?

Ok Mum don't worry about it. Nightbless.

Thursday, 18 August 2011


... she's home. The ambulance dropped her off at 4pm, still in her pyjamas having done a Skipton and refusing to get dressed all day.

She wasn't deemed to be in need of rehabilitation or intermediate care but Barry phoned this afternoon to say that she can have the services of the reablement team. I do think this is a good thing. As we know, her mood swings can be mercurial, especially with me, so I'm hopeful that having someone here to encourage her to do things who isn't personally involved will work well. This is assuming that she doesn't take against them of course.

She looks tired and it is very difficult to follow what she is saying so I suggested that she goes to bed for a while, and she's just zimmered her way to the bedroom. Slightly concerned by the speed and lack of control with the Zimmer though!

Also apprehensive about giving her the Clexane injections. But I'm going to have to get over that.

Her appetite is still rubbish so I've just nipped to the chemist for some Complan. It's all very well me sneaking extra nutition into her food but its not much use if she won't eat it. At the very least she will have half a 'milky' drink at bedtime.

I'm hopeful that now she's home she will settle and stabilise. Not the best time for me to suffer from the worst IBS attack I've ever had mind you. Typical.


Injection done. Painkillers and meds given. Bell placed at the side of the bed. Chocolate Complan and some biscuits on the bedside table. I hope she has a good and restful night.

I'm off too. Nightbless.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A ray of hope

My wonderful cousin David and his equally wonderful wife Glenys visited Ma yesterday afternoon. While they were there they spoke to the hospital social worker and told him in no uncertain terms how difficult it would be for me to care for Ma when she's only five days out of surgery. I am hopeful that they will now offer her intermediate care. I know it's only available for six weeks but to be honest even a couple of weeks would be incredibly helpful, I'd hope by then that she would be able to get on and off the bed and loo for example. As they pointed out, before Ma fell her mobility was far better than mine!

David was shocked at how much Ma has deteriorated since she stayed with them last weekend. I struggled to follow her conversation too when I went in the evening, she was all over the place. One moment she was telling me she hadn't been out of bed, the next saying that they'd had her scrubbing floors and washing up...


(to Elsie's husband) Hello! Did you bring them?

*he looks confused

You know! The things. The sticks. What do you call them?? Cigarettes!! Did you bring me some cigarettes?

But you don't smoke!

Ooh but I could do with a bloody fag.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Ring Ring


Oh hello, it's Ocupational Therapy here. Just to let you know your mum will be coming home tomorrow.

Oh right. How easy will it be to cope with her?

She's fine. She's had a wash this morning and is using her frame. We'll send her home by ambulance. Bye.

Bye then.

I sincerely hope she doesn't need lifting. Or I'll be in A&E having my wrist/elbow/shoulder dislocations reduced.

Every cloud though. At least she'll stop asking when. But not today because they've already told her she's going home. I expect she's got her coat on by now.

Monday, 15 August 2011


Yesterday was a day of two halves. Afternoon visitng was fine, Ma was quite chirpy although still confused. She was delighted that the Vicar had called to see her the previous day but I'm not convinced that they'd been out for a drive and tea. She told me she hadn't been out of bed yet, then when Simon arrived after parking the car she told him she'd been up and down the ward and the staff said she was fantastic! It turns out that she had been out of bed and was doing really well. She still isn't really eating anything at all, half a bowl of soup and half a sandwich yesterday, so when I offered her a banana she could barely lift it she's so weak. Stern words about how they won't allow her home until she's eating and drinking properly fell on deaf ears due to her being far too interested in what's going on everywhere else. It was almost impossible to engage her interest due to her earwigging!

When I returned in the evening she was morose and tearful. Even more so when I had to tell her that no, I wasn't there to take her home. As I arrived she was halfway off the bed 'going to the loo', luckily a nurse was nearby and managed to stop her explaining that she still had a catheter. I dread to think what would've happened if she'd tried to get up without help.

She's now on a new ortho ward and seems to be in the company of four other ladies who are all in various stages of dementia. One is as garrulous as Ma but as neither listens to the other properly they aren't communicating so much as talking at the same time. One poor soul keeps calling 'Hello?' and asking where her husband is and another is permanently distressed because she believes she's going to die because she's in hospital. So not exactly a restful environment!

I took in some bits and bobs such as jelly pots and sandwiches she likes in the hope that it might tempt her to eat. It didn't. But the Nurses have stored everything in the fridge and will offer it to her if she refuses her meals.

I've also replaced her old heavy bedding at home with a lovely new pluffy duvet which should be much more comfortable (and probaby warmer!) for her.

Proper physio should start today so hopefully this will give us a better idea of what happens next. She may not be referred to rehabillitation due to her dementia. I'm told that this is partly because dementia patients tend to recover quite well due to the fact that when they are told to do an exercise it is usually done fully without hesitation because there's no expectation or recollection that it may hurt.


(Hello?? Hellloooo? Have you seen Keith?)

Ma: Hello? Are you all right? (to me) So am I ready?

Me: What for?

Ma: to go home.

(I'm going to die in here I know I am *keening*)

Ma: (laughs) Oh she's always saying that.

Me: Not today Ma, you need to see the physio first and get back on your feet


Ma: *getting upset* oh I'm useless. I've been here such a long time.

Me: But it's a serious injury, they need to be sure you are ok before sending you home


(This is my pink cushion, it came from Wales you know. My daughter lives in Wales)

Ma: (to pink cushion woman) My son is in Spain. He has a place.

Ma: (to me) She's goes on all the time you know. She knows it all.



Friday, 12 August 2011


This afternoon she looked so much better. Thank goodness!

She was bright and alert but very very very confused. She told me lots of tales about going on trips to the seaside with the ladies in the beds across from her etc. Nothing I hadn't expected and quite amusing.

What did distress me was when I handed her the cards which had arrived in the post this morning. She studied each envelope very carefully, looking at the front and turning it over and over in her hands. Then put them all aside because she clearly didn't know what to do with them. I suggested she might like to open them so out they came again. She studied each one very carefully, once again reading the front, then with a bit of gentle prompting remembered that you have to tear across the top . Which she did. And then put them aside again.

Eventually with a little more prompting she did remove the cards from the envelopes but couldn't interpret the handwriting so it was all a bit of a lesson for me. In future perhaps I should just open the cards on her behalf and tell her who they are from? It just feels wrong to open a card or letter addressed to someone else and it is taking yet another function (is that the word I'm looking for?) away from her. But it is clear that she is no longer able to do this.

Apologies if this post is dodgy. I'm in the throes of a migraine - all aura, no pain, which mans I can't see the screen properly to check my speeling ;)

We can rebuild her

Thankfully Ma finally went to theatre at 08:00 yesterday morning. I went to afternoon visiting but she was still very much out of it, incapable of focusing never mind conversation. Well, I say that but she was clearly having a conversation with someone. Probably giving my dad a hard time (for a change...). However not so out of it not to try getting out of bed or remove her drip or catheter.

I'm sure she'll be much better today and hope she wasn't too troublesome for the night staff. I did buy them doughnuts as an apology in advance.


Just spoken to the Ward Sister:  'From a physio point of view she's going to be smashing....' Or in other words 'We can't keep her in bed.'

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Tooting my own trumpet for a second

This chap has included my poem Saga Love in his LoveSongs song cycle which has just been published. I feel incredibly honoured and flattered.

Does this make me a proper published person now rather than just a cook book writer?

Edited to add the poem. Just in case you are one of the few people I haven't already forced this upon.

Saga Love

Love me when I'm old and shocking
Peel off my elastic stockings
Swing me from the chandeliers
Let's be randy bad old dears

Push around my chromed bath chair
Let me tease your nasal hair
Scaring children, swapping dentures
Let us have some great adventures

Take me to the Dogs and Bingo
Teach me how to speak the lingo
Bone my eels and bring me tea
Show me how it's meant to be

Take me to your special places
Watching all the puzzled faces
You in shorts and socks and sandals
Me with warts and huge love-handles

As the need for love enthrals
Wrestle with my dampproof smalls
Make me laugh without constraint
Buy me chocolate body paint

Hold me safe throughout the night
When my hair has turned to white
Believe me when I say it's true
I've waited all my lives for you

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Best laid plans and all that...

I love the rain. And I especially love watching it through the triple patio doors in the living room. So after ringing the ward to check on Ma I was sitting here this morning with a pint of tea, a Dick Francis and a view of the birds dodging the rain to get to the feeders, feeling quite content.

At 10:30 the phone rang. It was the Ward Sister. Ma had refused point blank to take any medication whatsoever and wouldn't let anyone near her 'until my daughter gets here'. So I threw on some clothes and got there within 30 minutes of the phonecall.

She was delighted to see me and took her medication without any fuss, then over the next few of hours she had an echo-cardiogram, a chest x-ray and a catheter fitted (had refused to go to the loo since arrival!). I left her at 4pm because my car park ticket had run out and I'd not had chance to get any cash on the way in, plus she was due to go down to surgery at any time and H had been on her own all day.

The ward rang at 5 to say that they had 'run out of theatre time' so she wouldn't be going this evening. On the plus side Ma could have something to eat and drink and Laura said that she was quite happy chatting and laughing but suggested I ring at half 6 to see how she was doing. Which I did.

Inevitably she'd had a bit of a mood swing. This started when Laura mentioned that she'd spoken to me on the phone...

You've spoken to my Bee on the phone??

Yes. She said you had to roll over so we could check you for sore bits. (which she duly did)

*Cue mutinous look and pursed lips.

Well I can't wait for my lovely boy to come back from Spain. When I go there it's always so wonderful. We go for walks and have ice cream and he holds my hand...

Laura said she's in a huge sulk, has clearly forgotten that I've spent 5 hours with her and none of the food they offered was acceptable.

I'm battling years and years of conditioning and gamely attempting not to feel guilty but it's so hard.


Several things today:

Constantly bundling up the covering sheet on her bed.

Joining in with every single conversation going on on the ward! Luckily people are so kind and just let her butt in.

Telling me, whenever a member of nursing staff walked by, that they were from Liverpool.

Very very chatty but making very little sense.


You'll be going down for your operation soon Ma

What? Another one?

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

I'll have what she's having

The hospital are keeping Ma well medicated. She's on the list for surgery in the morning and is not in any distress at all. But possibly somewhere near Pluto right now.

During a brief moment this afternoon when she woke up long enough to realise we were there:

Hello mum. How are you? Can you feel any pain?

I don't think so

Well you'll feel much better after the operation

Are you having an operation?

No, you are.

Am I? Where??

Here. In the hospital.

What for?

You fell yesterday and broke your hip.

Did I? I don't remember that.

Oh well, don't worry about it. Have you had some lunch?

Yes I had some brushes.


The fallout from this is likely to be quite marked. Notwithstanding the mobility issue, which I hope will be minimal, this is exactly the sort of thing to generate a noticeable decline.

Things that catch you unawares

Paramedics are wonderful people. As soon as they arrive on the scene you feel as if everything is going to be ok. Yesterday was no exception. They were calm and efficient, asking questions and jollying Ma along with just the right amount of humour.

As they were wheeling Ma out of the house, one of them turned to me and said he remembered taking my Dad to hospital last December.

I suddenly realised that that would've been the last time Dad was in this house.

Cue overwhelming and unexpected tears.

Monday, 8 August 2011

24 Hours

What a difference a day makes....

Ma is in hospital after falling in the kitchen and fracturing her hip.

Looking back on it there was a moment when I could've prevented this but she can be so arsey about me 'doing things' for her and she was determined to take her lunch tray out to the kitchen so I let her do it. I should've been my usual bossy and controlling self.

30 seconds later she was calling me to help her up off the floor. She says that she fell over the dog but the dog was sitting behind me on the chair at the time. I suspect that either she clattered over her own slippers (she gets tangled and they are not a snug fit) or she's had another TIA. The latter would be my favourite. I helped her up off the floor and once I could see that she wasn't willing to take any weight on her left leg I rang for an ambulance even though she kept saying that it didn't hurt. The paramedics strapped her into a chair, offered gas and air and whisked her off.

At the hospital she looked frail and old and was still saying that it didn't hurt much but she was very restless. The A&E Doctor was pleasantly dismissive about Ma needing to be there for much longer after examining her but obviously x-rays are needed to rule out any other problems. We went to X-ray, then after what seemed like a very long time we had the extra bonus of an ECG and some blood taken. Then the A&E Doctor came in to say that it had come as a surprise to them (her?) to learn that Ma had a broken hip and that she must have really good pain resistance. Or perhaps she has dementia, and yes I did tell them several times, and the fact that this means she can't always process how she feels into a neat reply and tell you.

We had a scary hour or two when there wasn't a bed to be had and she could've ended up pretty much anywhere in Lancashire, Cheshire or Greater Manchester. Thankfully the orthopaedic ward clearly shuffled some poor sod off home and Ma has a bed.

Surgery tomorrow is a definite maybe.

Will keep you posted....


In the midst of posting this, talking to people on the phone, sending emails and replying to texts I suddenly had a nosebleed. Crikey!  Stressed much? Or maybe just some weak capillaries.

Sunday, 7 August 2011


We're baa-ack.... and a soundbite update because I'm tired and wishing I was still in the Lakes and need my bed. H and I had a really lovely weekend with E and P in the Lakes; relaxed, fun, fab food and almost enough HP. The gaps were filled nicely by Up (Squirrel!! ----->)

Ma had a lovely time with Dave and Glen, visiting Liverpool and eating Thai food (I bet she didn't just eat the coconut prawns this time!), visiting her sister and seeing Orla. Dave did comment on how much Ma has deteriorated recently.

We've had tears, false memories and emotional fallout when we arrived home, however. And some incredibly harsh asides to H which I batted away hoping that H didn't hear. I have enough baggage from my mother's comments about me when I was growing up without her visiting them upon my daughter. Unintentioned, dementia driven or otherwise.

Normal service resumes tomorrow.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Change of plans

Unexpected extra evening with Ma today, so the plan for Harry Potter and Nandos with H will have to be shelved until a later date - it's not easy to find a Ma-sitter at short notice!. I might see if Mavis would like to come and spend the evening with us after visiting Vic this afternoon. Ma would like that.

Musing on what to do this lovely rainy morning. Suggestions welcome...

More later. Enjoy your day :)


Would you like a cup of coffee Mum?

I'll do it. Do you want one?

No thanks, I don't drink coffee.

*sounds of an awful lot of stirring going on*

That'll be tea with mascarpone cheese then. Better than coffee and salad cream I suppose. Just.


Good news! Ma is to be re-referred to Dr Prasad, the dementia specialist who initially gave her the dx in January. I think this is a very good thing. I know that there's a lot of support out there (notwithstanding Sue and Barry who are both brilliant) and this can only be a positive move. Ma will be thrilled to see Dr Prasad again. Not. He is the one who told her to stop driving, something she is still insisting she can do (fear not, her car is now SORN and without insurance or a working battery). So that will be fun. Do I tell her beforehand and suffer the consequences of her refusing to attend and the resulting nightmare, or not tell her and then have to strong arm her into the clinic when she realises where she's going.

Either way, it's going to be messy.


Time off tomorrow for a few days. See you Sunday :)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

What a difference...

... a day makes! Ma has been much calmer today.

It did start with the smoke alarm going off though. This was because she tried to turn off the shower herself but always just turns the temperature dial. This means if she turns it the hot way we get full on super-heated Aga hot water. Anyone who has an Aga will know just how bloody hot this is. Cue clouds and clouds of steam and the smoke alarm going mental, I was in serious risk of scalding myself trying to turn it off. I've suggested that she doesn't try to turn it off any longer because she never manages to do so even if I tell her how to do it. She simply cannot process directions any longer, not being able to take the tray out is another example of this. However, she'll remember for a day or so and then start doing it herself again. So I think the time has come to actually stand in the bathroom while she is in the shower.

She's rocking the layered look today, with an interesting selection of garments, but has managed to stick to black, white and a combination of the two. And I may have to have to do something about her Elnett addiction, she sprays and re-sprays her hair many times a day. Her hairspray bill is threatening to overtake my wine bill!

Other than thinking that Peter is coming to pick her up any moment (or Dave and Glen or Jo and Ian...) she's been ok today. Plenty of confusion of course but no tears.

I'm dropping her off with Dave and Glen tomorrow then H and I are running away to the Lakes for a couple of days.

I took Mavis to see Vic in hospital this afternoon. He looks so much better now that his hernia has been repaired - his colouring has completely changed. However, his continued low blood pressure is a worry so he's still in the high dependency unit for the next day or two at least. This may delay taking Ma to D&G if Mavis needs a lift to the hospital, but it's not a big problem, Ma won't know any different and our plans to go and see HP on the way back from Warrington can be put back to a later showing.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Feeling a bit meh

Yesterday was a quiet day after all the excitement of going out for lunch and seeing Peggy on Sunday.

Apart from Ma asking me take the top off a bottle of toilet cleaner so that she could wash her face (eek) nothing much to report.

Today we've been to the dementia cafe again. This month a lady from Pets As Therapy brought her great dane Maisie along, who was lovely. Huge but gentle and so well behaved. Ma had a good chat with Barry and I talked to Joanie, one of the volunteers, about how she had cared for both of her parents. She's very inspirational and gave me lots of suggestions.

In the car on the way home Ma was clearly in a mood. Turns out that I had the temerity to talk to someone else and she could see that 'I was really having a good talk about her' so I told her quite calmly what the conversation had actually been about. We've been home for over an hour and she is still in 'Skipton' mode. Weeping into a tissue and refusing to look at or speak to me.

It gets wearisome sometimes. Hence the meh.

Some good news though. Ma will be going for a full day at the Grundy Centre, complete with minibus collection, lunch and a member of staff with her at all times. Unfortunately it isn't until 22nd of September. Slap bang in the middle of my longed for week away in the Lakes. Will have to see if Peter can cover, if not I'll have to ask for another date.

More later maybe. When I feel a little less downhearted.


Due to the outstanding support of people on here, Twitter and Facebook I feel an awful lot better. Thank you xxx