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

Friday, 30 September 2011

And there's more

Rather than extend the already ludicrously long previous post... there's a bit more... and it was, without any doubt, my own fault.

Whenever I go to Tesco I always ask Mavis and Vic, and also Betsy across the road if they want anything. Betsy is 75, widowed for 35 years, has dodgy knees, a heart of gold and talks without full stops, commas or drawing breath. Mavis didnt need anything. However...

Hi Betsy, off to Tesco do you want anything?

*the following is spoken in a true Lanky accent. None of that Manc rubbish - think Janice Battersby*

'Ooh well if you're going could you get me some Warburtons medium sliced just the small loaf and two bottles of Milton because although I never use the jacuzzi in the bath I've got people coming to look on Saturday and it doesn't half smell sometimes and a bottle of whisky whatever is on offer it's usually about £18 for a litre but only Bells or Grants none of that own label rubbish oh and my hoover is buggered and I've asked our Angus to fix it but he's too busy bloody fencing (that's putting up fencing not whiffling about with an epee) and our John might be here at the weekend so he can look at it but I never know from one week to the next but I know when they turn up they always expect me to provide a bloody breakfast our John will bring you some eggs in return for the egg boxes thank you very much you are a darling'

So off I go and do said shopping and suffer the subsequent fallout detailed in the previous blog.

At about 5ish this evening I told Ma that I'd just pop over with Betty's shopping and wouldn't be long.

Didnt lock the door. *insert face slapping smiley here*

Clearly you can see from the above that 'just popping over to Betty's for a minute' is a ludicrous statement. However I have developed an exit strategy which involves necking the proffered (small) glass of red at high speed, stepping out of the house and gradually walking down the drive, culminating in a hug at the gate and walking backwards across the road still talking, then saying goodbye just as our beech hedge threatens to cut off her direct line of sight. So I was actually only in the house for 5 minutes, and on the step/drive/road/drive for another five or so.

Back in the house and it is ominously quiet. When every room is found to be empty my immediate thought is that she's gone back out into the garden and fallen down one of several sets of steps to the lawn. A panicky dash around the outside of entire house and no sign. Find phonebook ring neighbours. Found her on the third attempt.

I won't be leaving the door unlocked again. And will not feel guilty about locking it.

Where's D Ream when you need them?

The dulcet tones of the burglar alarm going off in the small dark hours of the morning will get you down the stairs pretty rapidly I can tell you. Having told Ma a couple of times to go back to bed during the night she decided to go and talk to next door instead. Since then (approximately 6ish) she has been in constant tears. Now I'm not entirely sure why - other than I'm horrible and it's all my fault, naturally - but the gist of this behaviour seems to be because she spent 'all night' in bed. On her own.

Well bugger me.

Anyway, she is now kissing the photograph again and is going to pack a bag and go to her friends. Fine. I have the front door key so no doubt the sound of several klaxons will alert me when she departs.

She's refused breakfast which is probably a sensible thing in the interest of self-preservation.


More later no doubt.


The storm has passed (09:32)

Will you have some breakfast?

No *sitting in a huddle in the bedroom*



Poached egg?

No. Not a poached egg.


Yes ok

Will you have it in the living room?

No I'll have it here


Ok its ready I've put it in the living room

Thank you

*eats the lot*


I finally persuaded Ma to sit in the sun for a while. Note the stripey pj bottoms under the trousers and although you can only see two tops (one only half pulled down), there is another one under there...

This is after another huge crying spell brought on by me going to the supermarket. Last time I went she hated going with me, so this time I explained where I was going and that I would be a while. Despite racing to, around and back from Tesco in exactly one hour she went into meltdown. More tears, hair pulling, accusations and kissing dad's photo etc.

However at one point she told me that 'the girls' at the day centre yesterday were 'absolutely lovely'.

You really, honestly, truly, couldn't make it up!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Oh well.

She was up 7 times during the night. I felt jet-lagged this morning but got her showered and breakfasted in plenty of time for the transport which arrived at about 09:45.

Unsurprisingly I've spent several hours of today asleep.

She got off the bus in borderline hysterics at 17:00 and the zimmer frame was practically thrown at me, I took this to mean that she didn't particularly enjoy her day. An hour and a half of tears, accusations and a truly massive tantrum later she is happily tucking into sticky toffee pudding and cream. The dog has had the ham sandwich she flung at me and I am still shaking with distress. She has stated in no uncertain terms that she will not be going again. I can't quite work out what was so horrible and in fairness I don't think anything actually was, just that she didn't and doesn't want to go.

Unfortunately it looks like my one day off a week isn't going to happen anytime soon.

Edited to add: I'm not really surprised, just disappointed.


Wednesday, 28 September 2011


Yesterday we had tears and tantrums (ok not huge ones but nevertheless...) because no one came to visit. Today Barbara came this afternoon and within 20 minutes Ma told her she was tired and buggered off for a nap. In fact I've spent most of the day digging her out of bed as it happens, she just couldn't get her head around time today. Luckily Barbara is very understanding and doesn't take offence.

She dressed herself this morning. Yesterday it was two coats at a time day, today it was trousers. Although I didn't realise it was trousers until I dropped her off with Mavis this morning for a cuppa while I did a dash to the Coop. As she sat down in the chair her grey trousers suddenly sprouted pink flowery frills around the bottom as a pair of pyjamas made their presence known. Coupled with the insistence on wearing her slippers when she goes out and her shoes when she gets home and using her vest (yes she was still wearing it, and no she doesn't wear anything else underneath it) to blow her nose it's been a sartorial surprise at every turn.


Every single time she sees two presenters of opposite sex on TV she's convinced they are married - Phil and Holly, Matt and Alex etc. Tonight it was the turn of Gordon Burns and Ranvir Singh on North West Tonight. The most unlikely pairing ever I would've said.


Devilled chicken and rice tonight. Although I bottled it at the last minute and gave Ma tinned spag with little hot dog sausages and some toast instead, which she ate without a fight. She's also had porridge (the Oats So Simple gravy train appears to be off the buffers momentarily) and a ham and parsley two egg omelet for lunch. A stunningly successful day food wise.

And the devilled chook was magnificent. Another recipe from the new book. Incredibly simple (with a few tweaks... I know, I know) and really tasty. I used chicken thigh fillets which I poached in some stock and a dash of sherry in the top oven of the Aga for about 40 minutes (possibly a bit longer). Softened a finely sliced onion, sliced mushrooms and a diced courgette in a little oil and butter then stirred in half a pint of cream (it said single, I don't buy single so let down 1/3 pint of double with water) 1 tbs of Madras curry powder and 1 tbs of mustard powder. Add the shredded chicken and bubble until the cream has thickened and reduced. I added some chopped parsley for colour before serving.

(the onion, mushrooms, courgette and parsley were my additions)


Tomorrow is Day Centre day *toots horn triumphantly*. The transport will pick her up between half nine and half ten and then return her (with packed 'tea') at around five. I am almost giddy with possibilities. But will probably spend the day cleaning the second bathroom and wielding the pressure washer over the miles of paths and paving outside.

Edited to add: it's now 01:03 and she's been up three times already. Tomorrow may be spent sleeping.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Tuesday Tidings

This is by no means a whinge but I thought I'd try and show how difficult it is to follow a conversation with Ma. I've just typed verbatim a short minute or two of what she's just been saying to me. Most of the time it's incredibly frustrating for her, sometimes it can be very funny and occasionally it is quite upsetting for me.

'I don't know if you know but a man came up and asked me if I had a paper then a girl came over and asked me if I was ok and she was going to come but she couldn't. They were all in the place around. I had a friend here and one further down but I don't know where they've gone. And another friend of mine who used to come to things. Oh I don't know now. I don't think Mavis will have gone to the shops everytime she goes she says I don't know what that lot are doing here - that's all the people coming. I hope they're going to do my feet my friend comes down and she's going to have them too. There was a boy he came up the steps and said he was fed up with it.And I love the boy who sings. *shows me photograph* Look at this... (I tell her they are my children) Your children?? When did you have those? They are my children you haven't got children. I didnt know that. When is Peter coming?'


It's taken an hour to eat three chicken dippers and three onion rings. She's very grumpy at the moment because I kept reminding her to eat.

How are your onion rings?
I've lost them all (displays fingers)


Things I say everyday. (over and over and over again!)

Use your frame

Of course you can go to the loo, you don't need to ask

Please don't feed the dog from your plate (grrr)

Peter is at work

You don't take sugar


She didn't eat any of the pie yesterday. I'm making cheese and tomato tarts today. Maybe some pics later if I remember.

Edited to add: Tart was lovely but didn't photograph well, just looked like a pizza...

However it was much more than a pizza: clotted cream pastry, a smear of mustard, skinned de-seeded sliced tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, light scattering of grated cheese, baked until golden brown around the edges. Eaten warm (not hot). Ma ate less than a third of a very slender slice.

Monday, 26 September 2011

A heartfelt sigh

The day didn't start well and then went downhill rapidly.

I doled out the meds and water but turned my back for a second. Next thing she was vomiting over the bedclothes having tried to swallow the tablets dry. This pretty much set the tone for the day. She refused to get up this morning and stayed in bed until 1:00 then once she was up she went into a complete meltdown because there haven't been any visitors. Since then all she has asked is when Peter is coming and am I ready to go out.

Food wise toast was spat back onto the plate, a poached egg and waffle poked at and refused, a slice of carrot cake refused... I've made a new pie (details to follow) which I hope might tempt her. She is very very pale and washed out, but then if you aren't eating or moving about much you would be.

Conversation is incredibly confused and disjointed. When I point out something on tv I think she might like she doesn't know where to look (unless it's Loose Bloody Women which she thinks is hilarious). All in all a not very good day really.

I actually think she's missing all the fuss and bother of the home but would rather pull out her own toenails than admit it. This gives me hope for her first trip to the day centre on Thursday.


Simon bought me a new cookery book last week - the National Trust Farmhouse Cookbook - which I was really pleased to find is packed with interesting regional recipes. So today I've made a Potato Crust Pie. This has a mashed potato and flour crust (basically like a potato cake) with a finely minced ham, parsley, thyme and onion filling.

Me being me, I decided that although this sounded rather nice it could be improved upon so... I've added 50g of parmesan to the crust and a small Cox's apple, some cream and some mustard powder to the filling. Oh and just because I thought it would be nice, a layer of lightly browned mushroom slices under the top crust. I even took some pictures....

Potato paste


Mushrooms under the top!
The potato paste is quite soft and I found it easier to mould in the tin with damp hands, but it's quite well behaved.

Settling in the tin before serving

Sunday, 25 September 2011

D Day

Well today's the day... I've just spoken to the home and they tell me she's had a 'really good appetite' all week and eaten well. How very interesting seeing as she told me on Wednesday that she hasn't eaten a thing. The only problem they've had with her is having to chase after her with the walking frame.

I spoke to Mavis last night, they went to see her again yesterday afternoon. She said Ma was fine and totally 'Audrey' - meaning she was far too interested in what else was going on and hardly spoke to her guests! I'm hoping that this will bode well for the upcoming day centre visit on Thursday, by then she will be so bored with my company she'll embrace the whole thing like a long lost friend.


Update at approximately 3pm.... watch this space.

(edited to add: how odd that the photo of the big bruise from the vein poppage in my leg has generated so much traffic recently. Google is a strange but magical beast)


We're home. So far so good. Some very bizarre conversations and odd behaviours (constantly pulling her trouser legs up over her knees) and she insists on carrying her walking frame or leaving it behind, but otherwise not too bad. This means her leg is hurting quite a bit but she isn't able to remember to use the frame so needs reminding constantly. I've just given her a hefty dose of codeine in the hope that this will ease things for her a little.

Shepherd's pie for tea in about 20 minutes and then I suspect an early night. She's already dozing on the sofa.

The most used phrases so far are 'Would you like to put a skirt on? No? Then perhaps you should pull your trouser legs down again or you'll get cold' and 'Use your frame!'


Beverley came to see me.

I'm Beverley Ma.

Are you??!? I never knew that!


How's your son?

Which one?

How many have you got?


Oh goodness me, you've got a lot now haven't you?

Friday, 23 September 2011

A quick hello :)

Good morning! It's our last full day today. Tomorrow we are going to this before heading home:

I must resist all the 'bargains' on display... Something happens to your brain at a food festival where suddenly three small jars of chutney for £7.50 seems totally reasonable. Or you come home with a carrier bag full of obscure cheeses wrapped in organic burlap and two kilos of maple syrup and jelly baby sausages.


Collecting Ma on Sunday afternoon, so normal blogging will resume on Sunday evening. I spoke to her on Wednesday morning when she told me she was 'terrible', hadn't eaten anything and had 'tipped over' and hurt her leg again. Peter saw her Wednesday afternoon and she was fine, eating well and no problems with her leg. Poked all the huge guilty feelings back into their cave after I'd heard from him.


On the food front: I made a steak and kidney pudding on Wednesday and last night we had a roast dinner - chicken, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cheesy leeks, yorkshire puds, sausages in bacon and gravy. This was speed cooking at its best - it took just over an hour from the moment we got back from the pub (and three large glasses of wine!). Tonight we are having a meal out at the same pub, the Fox and Hounds in Ennerdale Bridge. This is now a community-run pub which re-opened as such in April this year. The menu isn't huge but the food is homemade, very generous portions and very reasonably priced. The most expensive item (steak) is just £12 and it's the first time I've seen puddings on a pub menu for under £4 in a long long time.

Here's the steak and kidney pud I made (doesn't look that spectacular actually, should perhaps have taken a slice out of it first...!)

I promise to stop posting pics of food once we're back to normal, I wanted to keep things ticking over until I got back. I just didn't want anyone to forget about the blog.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A few more

A lovely day driving through bits of the Lakes I haven't seen before and then a gentle pootle in the kitchen chucking together a very nice chicken curry (recipe at the bottom). The weather was very pleasant today, if a bit on the cool side. We spent some time in Cockermouth which is a very pleasant little town, although there are markers showing the flood water levels from the floods in 2009. It's quite sobering when you realise that in parts the level would have been way above your head.

Bassenthwaite and Skiddaw

Honister Hause


Chicken Curry

This is what I did... the paste I used was Pataks Balti because that's what I had, but any Indian paste would be fine.

400g diced chicken breast
2 tbs yoghurt
4 fat cloves of garlic, grated
1 thumb of ginger, grated
2 tsp turmeric
2tsp ground coriander
1 tsp black onion seeds
1 seeded red chilli, finely sliced

Mix all of the above and leave to marinate for about an hour or so.

2 large onions very finely sliced
3 tbs oil
2 inch cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods, popped open
6 cloves
1 red pepper, seeeds removed and cut into 1 cm dice
1 red chilli, seeded and finely sliced
2 heaped tbs curry paste
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 large bag of spinach, washed and drained
chopped fresh coriander

In a large deep pan, fry the onion in the oil until a deep mahogany colour. Add the cinnamon stick cardamom pods, cloves, pepper and chilli. Continue frying for a little longer until fragrant.

Stir in the curry paste and add the tin of tomatoes. Fill the tin half full with water and add to the pot. Stir well, then simmer for 15 mins or so until reduced and thickened slightly. Add the spinach a handful at a time, allowing each to wilt before adding another. Once all the spinach is in and fully wilted add the yoghurt and spice coated chicken, bring to a simmer and allow to cook gently for another 15 minutes. Strew with chopped fresh coriander and serve with rice, naan, or whatever you like to have with your curry. (large spoon for me, thanks).

Monday, 19 September 2011

An update and a few photos

I phoned the home on Saturday morning and they told me Ma didn't go to bed until 9pm! This is unheard of but she was probebly too busy tooting at what everyone else was doing. She did get up four times in the night but slept well enough in between. Just spoken to them again and she is fine, eating ok etc. The only problem they seem to have is having to chase after her with her zimmer frame because she keeps forgetting to use it!

I have to be honest and say that I feel more able to relax knowing that she's ok. Honestly, it's worse than taking your child to nursery for their first day! I thought all that was behind me but it appears not.


Here's a few photos from the holiday so far:



TV dinner in front of Downton :)

Friday, 16 September 2011

Signing off

I'd be lying if I said today hadn't been a bit traumatic but it's done now.

Ma was fine until she realised we were leaving her there, then it all kicked off. In the end we just had to kiss her goodbye and leave. And of course I cried. But I've just spoken to the home and they tell me that she's quite settled, chatting to people and has eaten hotdogs for tea. Excuse me while I faint with astonishment. I've never known Ma to eat a hot dog. Mind you it's Bingo tomorrow night and I've never known her do that either. This could be a week of discovery for her! I do hope so. I hope she settles in properly and enjoys having new people to talk to. Plus of course, if she does enjoy it there's a chance I could do this again at some point. Here's hoping.

A message for any family reading this who are planning on visiting. There's no restriction time-wise, you can go whenever you like. I warn you though that she will want to be taken home, I guarantee it. With that in mind, although you are free to take her out for the afternoon etc. I would counsel against it.

Lily was about as impressed with the kennels as Ma was with the respite home. She entered the building happily enough but walking into the kennel block was a bit intimidating for her. As soon as the door opened the occupants started barking and it was quite overwhelming. I had to pick her up to get her into her kennel but once inside she went off to investigate her own run quite happily enough. I hope she's ok though, she's 10 years old and this is her first time in kennels.

I tell you, I'm wrung out with all this emotion.

Other things... Pete and I finally managed to register the LPA with the bank, so that should make bill paying etc. a lot easier.

It has rained so hard here this evening we lost the satellite signal for twenty minutes. Glad we're not camping in the Lakes next week.

One of my front teeth is slightly longer than the other. The light from the laptop screen is reflecting off this longer bit. I look like I'm channelling Nanny McPhee.

I have a case to pack and the #FridayTwiz to look forward to. Better get on with it then.

See you on the 25th or thereabouts if I don't see you on Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

What a good start to the day!

Nothing like a hearty breakfast to start the day :)

Once we'd found the pesky fork hiding under the lefthandside of the the plate and thus resolved the eating it with a knife and teaspoon issue she's tucking in quite happily.

Two things: 1) Nescafe Cappucino is freaky stuff. I really don't like the way it froths up, I prefer my drinks without witchcraft and 2) Why do people have to spoon up the froth? It's disgusting. Stop it. Seriously, stop it.

I'm taking the dog to the vet for her follow up injection this morning and need to go to the bank so hoping Ma will be able to go to and see Mavis. Mince and tatties for tea and some suitcase packing to do. Best get on with it then!

Update later.

PS I keep clicking on the +1 thing at the bottom of each blog post. Not entirely convinced it does anything though... Does anyone else do it?


Well it's been a relatively quiet day today. She did get confused with the tv again but I managed to divert any inclination towards tears. And by leaving her with Mavis for two hours and then getting her to have a nap at 4pm we avoided the 'sundowning' which usually happens at this time.

That two hours passed very quickly because every decision I made was doomed. The vet bit was very quick but then I decided to go to Barclays in Bury town centre instead of nipping into Ramsbottom and using the little bank there. Parking was a nightmare, then the queue was heading out of the acres of plate glass so I decided to use the cash deposit machine. No pens in the pen box, find some elsewhere, bollox up the first deposit envelope, fill in another. Get to the machine and realise that actually I don't need an envelope for this super-duper cutting edge cash counting machine. Am quietly impressed with it actually. I love technology when it works and saves you time - it's my fault I didn't read the instructions and wasted 10 minutes.

As I'm halfway there decide to do a quick trip to Sainsburys in Heaton Park, hoping that the new store is now open. No it isn't. Not only are we still using the poxy old store but they've hived off more than half the car park for big machines and piles of stuff so there's nowhere to park. Finally get a space, dive in, blat round at the speed of light getting bits and bobs for Ma and her stay. At this point I should have sucked it up and queued at a till, but no, the lure of the self-scan aisle is too much. I only had 15 items. 13.5 of them needed to be put aside until the self-scan monkey told the machine I wasn't stealing a box of cress or was 'clearly over 25 and probably an alcoholic'. So rude.

Made the fatal decision to return via Bass Lane, which is a short cut only hampered by a very long single track road with passing places. The locals know how it works and it's a smooth dance between those going up and those going down. Today we had a gridlock due to someone in a Micra not knowing the system and not being able to reverse.

Got back to Mavis and Vic's to find Ma eating beans on toast. This is unheard of! They were very gracious about me taking so long and sent me away with a lovely bottle of wine to enjoy next week. The perfect excuse to cook some steak methinks.


Last morning with the girls tomorrow, I shall miss them a lot. They don't just sort Ma out, they chat to me and empathise with me about all that goes on. It will be a far more isolated existence without them.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

So that's what it's called

I was lucky enough to come across Rosemary from Carer Watch on Twitter yesterday. She emailed me several links to support forums for carers including one for the Alzheimer's Society's Talking Point forum. On there I found a thread discussing something called Sundowning. It sounds very much as though this explains the tearful, accusatory, unreasonable behaviour that Ma goes through each day during the afternoon or early evening. Today was particularly bad and as I was having a bit of a sob in the kitchen she had moved on rapidly and was laughing at Open All Hours. We did have another hiccough a little bit later when I was accused of neglecting her because I've had the temerity to sit at the dining table today doing some writing on my laptop rather than sit in an armchair. Being in the same room is no longer good enough apparently, but she's been calm and reasonably happy since then (now 18:45).

Here's a link to a page on Sundowning: 

it's fascinating.

Having a label does change things. I can't honestly say that it made things easier today but given time I'm sure I will be able to separate myself from the feeling that it's all personal. 


You would not believe what she's eaten for breakfast over the last few days. The poached egg and potato waffle combo has had it's day and we are now having egg, potato cake, mushroom and a slice of fried Spam. Seriously. If she asks for it again tomorrow I'll photograph it to prove it! Mind you, once she's eaten that she doesn't eat an awful lot else during the day.


I've spoken to the respite care people and they've asked that all her clothes are labelled. Yeah right, that's going to happen in the next 24 hours. I will use a permanent marker and put her initials on things but I'm not sending her best clothes so if the odd t shirt or pair of pants goes missing I won't be terribly worried about it.

Saturday seems such a long way away but I know next week will fly by!


Don't look now, but it's 19.10 and she's still up watching Emmerdale. I won't talk about a full night of sleep or anything like that because I don't want to jinx things. But... well, here's hoping etc.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Trials, Tribulations and Tesco

Why on earth did I have to wait for someone to suggest using a wheelchair? Rearrange the following into a well known phrase or saying: idiot, stupid, you. So with Ma in full support *wry Miranda-esque look to camera* I loaded her into the car and we went to Tesco. Ma wanted to go and see Mavis so hardly complained at all.

Naturally there weren't any blue badge places near to the door and I have often pondered on the reasoning behind offering a single full row of badge spaces which runs away from the front of the store. This just makes 85% of them no better for the disabled than any other. Anyway once a wheelchair was wrangled back to the car I managed to persuade Ma to sit in it. She wasn't happy on several counts - she didn't need one, it was windy, it was cold, we didn't need any shopping and she wanted to go to see Mavis... With a blanket over her knees, her collar pulled up and the hood of her coat fully over her eyes we set off.

In the store it wasn't much better but using a combination of selective deafness and being in control of steering we did a mutinous trip around the store and managed to fill a hand basket. At the till I realised that I'd left my purse in the glove box. Arse. Took Eskimo Nell back to the car then sorted the shopping. Back to the car for a nice sit down. God I was bloody exhausted. Who thought this was a good idea? Then I phoned Mavis.

They were out.

How do you solve a problem like my mother?

So blogettes, we have a conundrum. Ma is in a major snit this morning because she's been awake for 'hours' (see previous blog post about time awareness). She is currently refusing to take any medication and blaming me for everything. Eh well, that's not new.

I have no doubt that she has been awake for a while, she doesn't move about very much and goes to bed at 6pm at the latest so is bound to be raring to go at an ungodly hour. But any attempt to keep her up longer is flatly ignored/refused/rebuffed.

Given that she can't walk very far at all, how can I get her to expend some energy?

I know she gets up in the night and I don't always hear her (although I do my best, I need an old fashioned baby monitor I think). This morning when I went into her bedroom she is huddled under her dressing gown on top of the bed so she's clearly been up. That and the fact that her slippers are in the bed. Big clue.

I'm breaking out into a cold sweat imagining her falling and me not hearing her. I notice she's started carrying her zimmer rather than using it for support, is this a good thing ie she's getting stronger? Or is it foolish and far too soon. Either way, she won't be told about using it properly and I'm not convinced it's stubborness, more likely that she can't remember how to use it. But it certainly increases the risk of falling in the night.

Any ideas?

Monday, 12 September 2011

Another new week

I woke up at around six but clung to my mattress for as long as I could before getting up and dressed just before the alarm went off at seven. About two minutes before the alarm I heard the zimmer frame clattering into life. So was downstairs within a minute of Ma getting up. It is currently 08:04 and she has yet to speak to me, other than accusing me of twisting her arm when I helped her put her dressing gown on. She is lying on her bed with her eyes closed refusing to look at or speak to me. I have no idea what I've done, but it doesn't bode well for the rest of the day. I suspect offering breakfast might result in the loss of a digit or two.

I think I'll go and take it out on a kilo of carrots and make a cake.

Updates throughout the day, if you're interested.


Carrot cake cooling, waiting for icing. It's a bit thinner than usual because it's a bigger tin than I have at home. I did increase the quantity by half again but probably need to double it. It's standing next to my pint mug which gives you an idea of how big it is :)


Ruth from next door arrived at about 11am and of course Ma was delighted to see her and extremely sociable. After Ruth left she did start talking to me but very soon after lunch, from about 1.30 onwards, I had to keep telling her it wasn't bed time yet.

Theresa came at 6 to help Ma to bed and I gave her a load of carrot cake for the girls because this will be the last week I get any help and they've been so wonderful. Ma is now tucked up and I really hope she stays there, I feel so very tired at the moment - the bags under my eyes are horrendous! Did I read somewhere that used tea bags are good for this?


We are on the build-up to Friday. I've done a fair bit of laundry and ironing today but I'm not making a big fuss about packing a suitcase (for either of us), just quietly stacking things in the spare room. Reiterating the positive aspects of her stay seems to be working well although telling her how long she will be there doesn't really go in. She has little if any concept of time - be it minutes, hours, days or longer. I just hope and pray that I don't have to deal with any serious fallout against me if she really hates it. I suppose I can find someone to blame if she does!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Sunday again

I was so tired last night I think I slept in the same position all night. I'm as stiff as a board this morning! Ma did get up a couple of times but I managed three blocks of decent sleep. After the effects of watching the rubgy yesterday morning and the subsequent accusations about having footballers in the living room, I was a bit apprehensive about the backlash from watching a combination of Strictly and Dr Who. However, so far so good.  In the way that these days I feel if I want to store a new recipe in my head another one has to go, hopefully watching both the Coronation Street and the Emmerdale omnibus will have pushed any other stuff out of her head.


What would you like for breakfast Mum?

Erm not that thing like yesterday. Something lighter.

Not a poached egg and waffle?

No thank you. But the egg was very nice.

A poached egg then?

Yes please.

On a potato waffle?

Ooh yes that would be very nice...


On the eating front, she did quite well yesterday. Along with the aforesaid egg and waffle for lunch I did some leeks and cabbage in a blue cheese/cream sauce, added some chopped ham and topped it with diced steamed new potatoes. Slung in the top oven until crisp and brown on top. It was delicious. She was resistant to start with but ate it all in the end. Tea was sticky toffee pud and cream. Along with a couple of milky coffees and a small milk shake I'd call that a successful day.

Thinking of making a carrot cake and poaching a chicken today. Lots and lots of things you can do with poached chook.


It's been a fairly difficult afternoon with the now usual tears etc. It began with a lot of agitation and garbled talk and the refusal to eat the sandwich I'd made. Then with a very stubborn look on her face she headed for the tv where she asked the Hairy Bikers for some of the soup they were making. Tears followed until I eventually managed to persuade her to go for a nap. 20 minutes later she got up again and we watched Songs of Praise where she was convinced her GP was in the choir and we are now watching the news reports on 9/11. Each time this is news to Ma and she is horrified all over again. Each time I see it I remember and I'm horrified all over again.


I've made a sort of cheat's Spanish chicken type thing. Ma wouldn't be able to eat proper chorizo so I've used ordinary pork sausages, a couple of tbs paprika, a bit of chopped chilli, garlic, chicken thighs, onion, a tin of ratatouille (for speed and hopefully more digestible peppers), a tin of chopped toms, Fino sherry and then plenty of finely chopped parsley to finish. I'll give Ma some with a bit of cous cous, which she probably won't like. I'll have mine later sans cous cous but will add olives.

I've got all the ingredients to make the carrot cake but with all the furore this afternoon I haven't had a chance to make it. Tomorrow. Hopefully.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A long night

I battled to keep her up until 6 last night, she kept heading for bed from 4.30 onwards. So when the girls arrived she was under the duvet faster than you could blink - I think they struggled to get her to wash her face!

At regular intervals during the evening came the ominous clatter of a zimmer frame hoving into view. At one point I was on the phone and she'd come to 'join the party'. Unfortunately this didn't stop after I went to bed. Roughly every hour or so during the night I could hear her clanking about. She wasn't in distress and wasn't calling for me so I let her get on with it, but obviously I couldn't (and wouldn't) sleep through it in case she fell etc. I managed to hang on to my own mattress until half six but then finally relented.

'We' are now watching the news on tv. Ma has had her tablets and a cup of tea and is snoring away on the sofa.

The weather is dreadful but I think I might insist on a trip out at some point today, maybe just to the garden centre for some bird seed but something to get her moving about a bit and using up some energy. Then try and encourage her to stay up a bit later. I know Strictly starts tonight, so that should help.


I made a cracking shepherd's pie yesterday with the remains of the roast lamb. We both had some at lunchtime and the remains have been portioned up and gone into the freezer. I feel like doing some proper cooking today though. Not sure what yet but definitely some baking at some point.


Cooking/baking put on hold due to me selfishly falling asleep this afternoon. This apparently means that I don't care about her so I've just spent an hour listening to floods of tears and being ranted at. The only thing I could follow was that I'd had three blokes in the lounge playing football. If only. This would be watching the rugby this morning but according to my mother they were running all over the room. She's phoned both my brother and my cousin asking them to come and take her away and stated over and over again that no one comes to see her. And of course, I don't love her...

It's just tiresome and it wears you down. No doubt it's tiresome reading about it all the time too. We went through exactly the same thing yesterday and I'm really hoping that this is just a short phase she's going through.

As I'm typing this the girls have just arrived and the switch in mood is shocking. She's all fluffy and pleasant, laughing and joking with them. You honestly would not believe it. Roll on the Lake District!

Friday, 9 September 2011


Here's how it is, on this day, warts and all.

05:30 Hello??! Helloooo.....

Hello Ma, it's a bit early, maybe go back to bed for a bit??

Oh I'm sorry, is that early then? I've only got one thing *rattles zimmer* It's not working. I can't drive it properly.

Don't worry I think you've got it round the wrong way. Back to bed for a bit longer?

Oh it's ok I'll just sit here. *stands in hall*

Obviously I can't leave her there and as I am now awake and slightly annoyed at the interruption to my dream involving Julie Collinson, a cook book, Tom Ellis, too many tomatoes and a goat (this is no exaggeration - my dreams are frankly exhausting) I come downstairs and make a pint of tea. Decide to cut a knackered towel in half to make two rolling towels for the Aga rail. Make a mental note to buy Wonderweb and velcro. As you do.

By now Ma is raring to go - waiting for the girls to arrive has quickly become one of her favourite parts of the day. She has a fluffy half hour with them getting showered and dressed then she has a poached egg and a potato waffle - the current breakfast of choice. Fear not, this will soon wear off.

The window cleaner calls for money, Ma shows him the 'beautiful carpet Peter did'. Not sure who is more bemused, me or him. The carpet has been in situ for approximately 30 years and certainly wasn't installed by dad.

The morning is spent watching the tv - Operation Hospital Food, Homes Under the Hammer, This Morning, Loose Women... each news bulletin is greeted with shock and distress despite saying the same thing each and every time.

Is your boyfriend here?

No he's working

Oh no! I'm very worried about him. It's not safe.

What? In Cheltenham??

Anywhere. That man is out there (Gaddafi).

Don't worry Ma, Gaddafi won't go to Cheltenham (yep I actually said that)

Oh that's ok then.

Time for lunch and we have a moment where she nearly kicks off. I tell her she must eat, she tries to pull rank, I ignore her, she starts to get tearful and aggressive, I refuse to listen to the 'you don't love me' crap and tell her to stop it. For once it works. She decides on chips. I suggest she has cheese on them rather than the requested butter and stick three onion rings on the plate too. She eats the lot.

After lunch Dave and Glen arrive. This perks Ma up no end, She is very animated albeit confused and making very little sense. We watch Miranda again, have a cup of tea and then Dave and Glen leave. However, not before Ma shows them the 'beautiful carpet...' Dave's face is a picture.

Tinned peaches and cream for tea and a drink of Horlicks in front of Pointless. Absolutely no irony intended there.

The Betterware man calls for the brochures. Bad move. 'Look at this beautiful carpet...'

The girls arrived to help her get ready for bed and she chooses to sit up for a bit longer, watching the evening news. More concern about 'safety' which is thinly disguised racism. I reassure her again and suggest bed.

It's 18:55.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

I found the Lost Post!!

I know I've already blogged about this but I'm so thrilled I've found the original version I just have to post it. Next time it happens I must remember to look in the editing bit for saved drafts... *looks stupid*

New gates installed (pics to follow), two van loads of stuff taken to the tip. We are both shattered and just waiting for the roast potatoes to finish cooking before wading into a much deserved roast dinner - seven hour roast shoulder of lamb, Yorkshires, roasties, carrot and turnip, cauliflower, greens, cheesy leeks and gravy with fresh mint sauce and redcurrant jelly.

Ma has been a bit teasey today because she's been left on her own a lot due to us shovelling stuff into bags and boxes. So we had a few tears and sulky behaviour because no one had been to visit - well, other than Betty who came for an hour or so. But clearly she doesn't count.

She's eaten well enough today - half a scrambled egg with half a slice of toast, two potato waffles with three (three!!) chicken dippers and a small slice of orange sponge with custard.


I do love a good clear out once I'm up to speed. Two van loads takes some doing though.

Things we've disposed of:

a marble-topped monstrosity of a coffee table - one of the four golden carp holding it up was broken. Even if it hadn't been this was a crime against taste and had to go. (Gill think Despot Bedroom Chic)

Three broken plastic garden tables.

A huge roof rack last used in about 1936. Would fit your finest charabanc.

Roughly fifteen boxes of sundry shite - ie a carrier bag filled with used candles another full of blown lightbulbs, 77 feet of anonymous cable, a box of mortice locks (old replaced mortice locks), thirteen cubic feet of ancient tacky Tupperware including 64 lids, none of which fitted anything, 33 almost empty tins of paint... also two rubble bags filled with leafmold, 23 dead orchid plants and two boxes of chipped or cracked glassware/crystal etc.


Here's Lulu :)

Mum, Dad and baby

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

A getting better sort of a day

Thankfully it wasn't such an early start today, just after 6 and by stoically ignoring the zimmer clattering I managed to stretch it to 6.15. She has taken to layering on the clothes during the night, so this morning it was (from the skin up) pants and vest, nightie, fleece, jumper, another jumper (cue sausage arms) and joggers. Far preferable to the duvet throw and a full frontal it has to be said.

Unfortunately we had a bit of a hiccough with the medication this morning, entirely due to my trying to ring H to make sure she was up and had sorted her lunch. I handed Ma her meds and the shot glass I use to dissolve the soluble aspirin. I was on the phone for less than a minute - it's really to check that's she's up more than anything - and when I went back into the living room Ma asked me if the meds should be slumped in the bottom of the glass like that. In retrospect I should perhaps have added more water and made her drink it, but the thought of that makes me shudder - some tablets are so bitter and also some should only be taken whole.

Anyhoo the upshot of this is that Ma had a wasp-chewing face on for most of the morning and it was entirely my fault. The girls got both barrels when they were helping her to shower and dress.

We managed to negotiate a breakfast request and dispatch without once making eye contact or indeed aiming any verbal discourse in my direction (poached egg and a potato waffle). Most of the morning continued in the same vein until Peter arrived just after 12 then she perked up noticeably.

I took the opportunity to nip out for a bit of time off, but being utterly without a life I ended up in Tesco looking for a TV for my newly rearranged bedroom. Fail. Comet. Fail. Currys. Fail. It's not rocket science, honest. All I wanted was a 22" Samsung LED tv. Nope. However, Currys online had one. Huzzah!


Listening to Ma trying to join in on a conversation is heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking.


I have been fretting quite a bit about my upcoming week away and having to put Ma into respite care. I know that she will hate it and it may damage our relationship for a while. Peter has agreed to be here next Friday so that we both take her, this is in the hope that she won't take it personally against me.

However sometimes you get a lightbulb moment though and this afternoon one presented itself....

Ma: When will they sort this out? *rubs leg*

Me: It just takes time Ma, you need to be patient and...

*lightbulb goes off*

Oh! There's a place you can go where they try and help you get better. Would you like to go do you think??

Ma: Yes that sounds like a good idea, anything to help get rid of this thing on my leg.

Fingers crossed that this works with minimal distress for all of us.

I am SO having my week away in the Lakes regardless *digs heels in*

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Why did I open my big mouth?

Today has been a long one - Ma was up at 0 dark hundred hours again.

The morning passed quite pleasantly, Ma had toast at about six (sigh) but this did mean she actually asked for bacon and egg at half 12. The weather has been really horrendous today so my plans for a trip out to the dementia cafe this afternoon were well and truly scuppered. Instead I moved things around in my bedroom this morning - moved some things out/some things in, including removing the spare single bed and adding the computer desk from the landing. Then reserved some new bedside lamps on the Argos website and when Sheila from next door popped round to see Ma I did a swift 30 minute round trip to collect them.

Everything went to hell in a handbag at approximately 4pm. Lots of crying and accusations started. Then we were back to the 'what would your father think' comments. I hadn't done anything I promise you, Ma had just got herself into a verbal cul-de-sac and then couldn't get out. I had honestly thought that we'd moved on from this behaviour but it appears not.

Naturally when the Enablement ladies arrived she was suddenly all fluffy telling them how much she loved them and trying to offer them money… and they think she’s such a sweet old thing. While the ladies were here I had a phone call from Ed to say that Luana Eve was born at 4.25 weighing 7-14.5, some dark hair but not much… Mum and baby doing well :) Photos will follow as soon as he sends them to me.

The last 24 hours have been such an emotional roller-coaster. It would’ve been nice if she’d arrived on Dad’s birthday, but he already has a grandson to remember that and it’s nice for her to have her own day I think.


Well the girls say I can have a drink if I want one (thanks girls... all those well)

Ok Ma that's fine but you didn't like the wine I gave you last week

I'll have something else then

*pours tiny sherry*

I'll drink it slowly

Good idea!


I don't think I like this. I'm off to bed.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Weekend update

So the weekend went in a blur of activity. Lots of gate action on Saturday and lots of tip action yesterday. We managed to fill the van twice (note use of the Royal ‘we’) just with stuff from the garage and I’m delighted to say that it doesn’t appear to look any different.

Amongst the sundry items** disposed of: a double mattress, two white garden tables, one Rover roof rack, 47 assorted empty tins of paint, a box of ancient wires, a box of old locks, a carrier bag filled with half burned candles, two broken teak coffee tables, 3 cubic meters of sticky Tupperware, the entire contents of the pan cupboard, a lot of old plug sockets, bald brooms, dusty silk flower arrangements, a box full of cracked or chipped cut glass, way too many ornaments for anywhere… you get the picture.  

The finest object to leave the premises was the coffee table whose onyx top was supported by the tails of four up-turned gilded carp. The matching onyx table lamp swiftly followed. (Sadly no tattoo murals though, Gill. I had high hopes that my dear old Pa might have been hiding one behind the old army blankets in the boiler room but sadly not)

** I may have exaggerated slightly at some points.


Today was recovery day. My joints were in revolt after all that activity so just some gentle kitchen cupboard cleaning and Simon did all the high up stuff for me above the top units etc. Well, he’s rather tall and that’s jolly useful. After he left I did a bit more and then sat with Ma for most of the day because she’s been feeling a bit abandoned. 

It’s tricky though, the jobs desperately need doing and it does take up a lot of time but constantly having to pop back in and out to check she’s ok just makes it take even longer.  When I tell you that she get now gets anxious and thinks she’s been left on her own when I go to have a shower, perhaps you can appreciate why I have to keep reassuring her.

Early this afternoon she asked if we could call Mavis which we duly did. The upshot of the convo was that Vic would drop Mave off because he had some jobs to do and then collect her later. Ma took this to mean that she was going up to theirs…

*clatter of zimmer on the hall parquet*

You ok Ma?

I’m just getting my nightie.

Umm… why?

Well I’m going to stay at Mavis’s

No you aren’t love, she’s coming here

Yes she’s coming to collect me

Sorry but no, she’s coming here for a cup of tea and a natter

Oh ok. *goes back to chair*

Thirty seconds later…

*clatter of zimmer on the hall parquet*

Ok Ma? (still cleaning cabinets in kitchen)

Well, not sure this *plucks at fleece* will be enough, I’m getting a coat

Mavis is coming here Ma, she’ll be here in a minute

Yes and then I’m going to stay at theirs

Repeat and fade


Ma has eaten really well today – a slice of Best of Both with butter and jam, oven chips, Heinz beans with sausages (2) and onion rings then tinned fruit salad and cream plus a Horlicks. I know I go on about this obsessively, but it makes me feel better when she eats something approaching a reasonable amount of food.


Today is my gorgeous son George’s 18th birthday. I’m sad that I’m not with him today but to be perfectly honest he started back at college this morning on his new full time musical theatre course, plus out with friends so he probably hasn’t even noticed that I’m not there. Especially as I’ve been bombarding him with texts as per usual.

It would also have been my equally gorgeous Dad’s 83rd birthday today. I am typing this with tears streaming down my face, I miss him SO much. If you have one, please raise a glass to one of the finest men you could ever have wished to meet.


(Whispers quietly that Ed’s partner Hayley’s waters have broken so there could be another family birthday to celebrate on this day. Wouldn’t that be a lovely thing?)

Sunday, 4 September 2011


I wrote a nice witty update on emptying the garage and taking a lot of shite to the tip etc. but Firefox crashed AGAIN - that will be 7 times today already. And yes, thank you, all the helpful suggestions on Twitter but I'm stupid OK? I write my updates directly onto the blog. Or at least, have done up until NOW.

I am very very tired after doing the above so won't be rewriting that this evening I'm afraid. And having just stuffed myself with seven hour roast lamb and all the trimmings I am about to fall into unconsciousness.

Ma very teasy today due to a lack of visitors or phone calls (and being left alone a lot due to shit shovelling by Tigs and me). Went to bed in a huff at 4pm and refused to get up again, even to put on her nightie.

Proper update on the weekend tomorrow. Nightbless all.

Here are pics of the very lovely new gates made and fitted by Simon:

ETA It's my gorgeous George's 18th birthday tomorrow, can't believe it really. It would've been Dad's 83rd birthday too. So I might be a bit emotional. Just saying.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Bimbling along

Over the last few days we seem to have settled into a bit of a routine again. Ma will watch tv in the morning then go for a nap at about 2 ish. Then up for a couple of hours before the girls come to help her get ready for bed. Sometimes she won't go straight to bed but will sit and watch a bit of Emmerdale, although generally speaking not all of it. Her lack of appetite is still an issue unfortunately, I offer her very small amounts of things I think might tempt - one fish finger, half a sandwich - but it's very hit and miss. Often what is popular one day is refused thereafter. Baby fruit puree anyone? Actually I thought I might use this to top a steamed pudding, something which does remain quite popular.

Yesterday she was definitely sulking in the afternoon because no one had been to visit since, ooh the day before. I was asked to phone pretty much everyone she could think of and when I wasn't successful at getting hold of anyone we had a return to the old passive aggressive behaviour with tears etc. I suggested she went to lie down for a bit. If it continues I'll be installing a naughty step.


Today has been fairly calm so far. Simon arrived early and has been installing the gates which will block access (and escape!) on either side of the house. All week she's been asking me if he's arrived yet, so naturally last night...

Where is he?

He's coming tomorrow.

Oh that's a shame!

Er... why?

All that extra work for you.

I've ironed the laundry mountain and braved Tesco while Simon has been very busy all day. Ma has just asked me if he's gone yet...

Friday, 2 September 2011


I used to do this when the childen were small, they loved a 'sunflower' breakfast. It seems to have worked for Ma too, she ate it all.

Perhaps I need to resurrect some of the other things you do for toddlers - faces, boats etc...

ETA: Just realised that tray is 34 years old! It commemorates the Queen's silver jubilee. If you look closely you can just see 1977 bottom right.

Thursday, 1 September 2011


I don't really know why but I've found today to be quite a struggle, Ma hasn't been particularly moody, just very very rambling and confused. I think I might just be a bit tired.

Her current belief/obsession is that the vicar has left the church, both the local parish and the wider organisation. I'm not sure where this has come from but suspect it's to do with Doreen who visited last week and mentioned that the vicar was away, the fact that he has gone on a pilgrimage has completely passed Ma by. She returned to this subject time and again from the minute she got up. Apparently even the actor Andrew Lancel (Frank Foster in Corrie) who was on Daybreak this morning, was talking about it on the tv...

She also keeps returning to the tale she tells about being in hospital with Elsie (HEllloooooo?!?) when they went on a trip to somewhere with someone and did something, but she can't remember what. I still think that this was a dream or the meds she was on but she does mention it on a regular basis.

I took her up to see Mavis and Vic this morning - her first time out of the house since the op! We negotiated getting into the car ok although she doesn't understand the instruction to keep her knees together. Makes me cringe to watch her getting in and out. I left her there while I took Lily to the vet for her booster injection which left me £47 lighter and with an appointment to have a tooth removed which will cost a further £209. It will however, thankfully, resolve the dragon breath issue and mean I can stop worrying about the paintwork melting.

Barry came this afternoon and Ma was pleased to see him. As he was leaving he commented on the fact that she doesn't mention Dad very often any longer and even when she did - a brief detour in the conversation when she said she didn't like where he is buried and will be digging him up - there were no tears or distress. This is a definite trend since she's been in hospital. I'm not saying that she doesn't get upset, of course she still does, but it's no longer a constant possibility where any mention at all could upset her.

Unfortunately the eating had started to backslide a little again. Today she's had two slices of bread, a sausage and a Mr Kipling angel slice.

But on a good note tonight I did the last Clexane injection *rejoices*


Just popped back in to say that it looks like the blog is about to tip over the 9k views mark. Astonishing. Just unbelievably astonishing.