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Showing posts from October, 2019

Living with triplets

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I said in reply to a comment on one of the posts the other day that living with someone who has dementia is a little like living with twins but I've decided it's more like living with identical triplets - they look exactly alike but each has their own personality.  You begin with the nicest one and live a long and happy life but then your other half starts to change places with one or other of his two siblings.  The swaps happen infrequently at first and in short bursts so things just seem a little off but it's nothing you can put your finger on.  Then the swaps become more frequent and you know something isn't right but, because he/she doesn't always swap with the same sibling, each time it happens the reactions are different and you're not sure what just happened.  Eventually however your life partner, your best friend and the corner stone of your life, fades into the background leaving his two siblings to take it in turns to switch places.  The problem here …

A day of pure relaxation

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Last Christmas Ash (for Ash read 'Jake') organised a voucher for me for a day spa just over an hour's drive from us.  He's done this before and this would be my 4th visit in 5 years so I knew what was in store.  What I didn't realise was how much I needed it.  As usual lots of planning had to go into a full day away from home as I thought about the least stressful scenario for Ash.  What I really wanted to do was be there when it opened at 9am and stay until at least 6.30pm but with travelling time that would have meant being out of the house before he got up and getting home way after tea time so that wasn't an option.  Instead I arrived at 10 and left at 4.30 which actually helped me to relax as I knew I didn't have to worry about him (well not too much).  I may have said already that finances are tight at the moment so what I had to spend was totally reliant on the value of the vouchers but I'd booked myself the spa day, breakfast and a 'foot smo…

On a lighter note

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On a lighter note than yesterday I thought I'd give you an update on the garden.  Last week if you remember I, along with the so nearly 6 year old, planted bulbs.  There were lots of them and we managed to plant the vast majority but he got bored so yesterday I decided to get the rest of them into the soil.  I made the first set of holes, put the bulbs in and then started to cover them up at which point I managed to uncover some of the bulbs I planted with him!  We hadn't marked where we'd put what (and anyway he'd mixed packets together so in some cases I had absolutely no idea) and now in certain parts of the garden we obviously have bulbs planted on top of other bulbs so who knows what'll happen now.  Spring 2020 will certainly be interesting as far as the flower beds are concerned.


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Sex and Dementia

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I've come very close to writing about this again and again but, again and again, I've backed off.  Our sex lives aren't something we talk about are they?  Or maybe that's just me (but my friends don't seem to either), or maybe it's our generation but whatever the reason every time I've come close to putting this into words I've changed my mind.  One reason is that friends read what I've written and maybe they don't want to hear about my sex life and, more importantly, Jake reads this blog occasionally to find out what's really going on in my head and who wants to even think about  their parents having sex?  Then I realised that friends don't have to read it if they don't want to and Jake will run a mile as soon as he sees the title so I came to the conclusion that this area of our lives is too important not to be put out there for some discussion or other.

So, sex and dementia, can the two exist side by side?  The main difficulty wit…

Treading water

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Do you ever feel you're treading water, that you're swimming against the tide and getting nowhere fast?  I've put strategies in place to make life easier so we watch quiz shows not only because Ash likes them but because it gives us something to talk about; I've learned to go to events on my own if he can't face people; I join friends who ask me to do things with them or they join me if I feel the need for active company (as opposed to Ash who is there but not really there); Jake will come over if I feel a need to escape responsibility for a while; I count my blessings on a regular basis; I bring memories to mind which make me smile but always I feel as though I'm marking time and that this is not how our life was meant to be.  I know this is selfish and that life could be so much worse but it could also be so much better and (although this could be due to the miserable weather I'm staring at through the window) today I really, really wish I could turn back…

Life gets just a little more complicated

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A few weeks ago, you may remember, we went grocery shopping only for Ash to get confused at the self checkout and I had to hand him the items for him to scan.  Since then we've used a manned checkout with great success and little stress until, that is, today.  Today we joined the checkout queue and Ash stood watching the belt empty before his eyes without putting any of our items onto it.  I lasted a few minutes before I began to hand things to him and then we were back on track but it's just one more notch on the bedpost of dementia and I'm beginning to feel I'm losing the war.  Add to that the fact that Social Services seem to have lost some important paperwork I sent in August with regard to my mum and her finances but hadn't managed to tell me and you can see this hasn't been a particularly good day.  Having said that the lady I spoke to regarding the lost paperwork was lovely, told me to keep my chin up and promised someone would ring me back.  They haven&…

Gardening adventures bring out the best in us.

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Considering the disastrous start to yesterday things actually turned out ok mostly due of course to the magic surrounding a so nearly 6 year old.  We went to the garden centre and braved the Christmas shop, had food and drink in the coffee shop, looked at the toys, discovered they also sold plants (who knew?), bought bulbs then came home ready to plant them.  One of the joys of gardening with a so nearly 6 year old I'm discovering is that knowing nothing is a help rather than a hindrance.  Out in the garden after lunch the first two bags of bulbs we chose to begin with were similar so we decided to mix them together and then plant them in groups as per the instructions in one of my new books.  I then went to clear another space to plant the next lot and returned to find the so nearly 6 year old had tipped out another two bags of bulbs and mixed those up too but I don't know what they were.  As a result I have no idea what we planted where but, unlike a proper gardener, I didn&…

Who is this man?

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We have the so nearly 6 year old staying for a few days so I didn't think I would have time to write anything but he's currently cleaning out the fire place with Grumps and I needed to share this morning's episode which happened before we even got up.  You have to understand that Ash was always a pretend 'grump'.  He would groan at the thought of a party; he would moan when we were going away; he would sigh if I planned a day out but it was all pretend and it was a joke.  If he really didn't want to do something he didn't so if he agreed to something it was ok to give him instructions such as, when going to see my mum,  'don't snap', if we were on our way out to a party 'don't look bored' etc.  all part of the joke.  Today the plan is to go to the local garden centre to buy bulbs for planting when we get home.  The so nearly 6 year old and I had chosen what to buy last night and he was very excited but the bonus (for him) was that da…

He remembered!

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It was my birthday yesterday and I had a lovely run up to it, then came the day itself.   I was determined not to mention it when we first woke up and Ash certainly didn't so I got up, plugged in the clock telling the day, date and time and went down to make a cup of tea.  When I got back upstairs there was a card waiting for me so he'd remembered which was lovely.  Then he got up and, without a word, went downstairs coming back a few minutes looking a little downhearted.  He'd apparently bought me a present but couldn't remember where he'd put it which could have been a crisis but I reminded him that I'd lost the valentine card I'd bought him back in February and it never has come to light so he obviously doesn't have a monopoly on losing things which cheered him up.  Anyway a few minutes later he went off to have another look coming back with a small box containing a beautiful pair of earrings.  I admired them but was taken aback when he said 'loo…

Pushing buttons

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I've said before that we have good days and bad days where  a good day starts with Ash reaching for my hand and commenting on something (anything) that springs to mind and a bad day begins with him lying rigid with panic while he thinks about what's supposed to be happening.  I hate the bad days but we haven't had many of them recently not even when we were away last week.  This morning however we woke really early (5.45am) and it was apparent from the outset that this was going to begin as a bad day.  Things didn't improve as the hours crept on and it became more and more obvious that he was anxious, only over what I couldn't fathom.  We were going shopping so I made the list, said yes to the suggestion that he took the dog for a walk before we left and then got in the car ready to set out but the anxiety and confusion sat between us all the way there and continued as we worked our way around the supermarket.  When this happens Ash will, just like a toddler, emoti…

Crisis in the kitchen

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Actually not quite so much of a crisis as I feared but once again we have an example of Ash's fading skills.  At the beginning of the week we discovered that the waste pipe in the kitchen was dripping silently into the cupboard underneath the sink.  There wasn't a flood and not even a small pool of water just a kind of dampness over everything in there.  I emptied the cupboard, discovering in the process all sorts of things I'd forgotten ever existed, and the waste pipe was inspected.  There was definitely a drip so we turned the tap on full and the drip got quicker.  Turned the tap off and fixed the pipe with sealant.  Only problem was the sealant was about 3 years out of date so surprise, surprise, the drip continued.  Into town to buy new sealant, old sealant removed and new added but still the drip continued but much more slowly so we decided we could live with that and put a container underneath to catch the drips.  Problem (almost) solved or so I thought.  Came home …

A watershed

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Someone said in a comment on yesterday's post that sometimes coming to a decision is a relief in itself and I really do feel that the decision not to take Ash away from home any more was a watershed moment.  As reported,  last week was very sad and the knowledge that it was the last trip away made it all the more difficult but since we've been home I've felt so much better,  Most of the time our holidays have been an adventure usually to somewhere completely new and often for a completely different experience but thinking back over the past three years I've realised that recently we've gone away mostly out of habit.  When I was working full time my summers were spent inside so a holiday somewhere hot was a chance to get out into the sun; a holiday in the snow was a chance to spend my days focusing on staying upright which took my mind off work and being away from home gave us time to talk and reconnect.  Now we're together the majority of the time, I'm at h…

Bouncing back

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You'll be pleased to know that, as usual, I've bounced back from the holiday and all the sadness it engendered quite quickly helped I think by the fact that Ash has been so relaxed since we got home.  I'm not sure whether he knows deep down that I won't take him away from home again or whether it's just that, having made that decision, I'm more relaxed but whatever the reason he's happy and contented so I can't ask for much more really.  So my big decision was that we won't be going on holiday together any more but Ash has made a big decision of his own.  For the past 30+ years he's spent the winter bush beating (vegetarians and vegans should look away now.  If you're neither but don't know what bush beating is then click on this link http://www.nobs.org.uk/beating to find out more).  Over the past 3 or 4 years he hasn't gone often but was very proud of the fact that he had a 'Working' Cocker Spaniel who actually 'worked&…

The last time

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I wrote a while ago about how I wished I'd recognised all those 'last times' which passed me by; the last time Ash reached for my hand, the last time he commented on how I looked, the last time he put his arm around me just for the pleasure of it, the last time he made a decision, the last time we talked about the future ..........  All those last times which went unheeded but last Monday I knew from the minute we left the house that it would be our last holiday and I would never have guessed the knowing would make it so sad.  The three months (almost exactly) following the diagnosis I went through life feeling as though I was hanging on by my fingertips and that if I even for a minute lost focus I would go into free fall.  However life went on and that feeling, much to my amazement, went away to be replaced with a determination to get to the other side of this with my sanity intact.  Last week nearly undid all that hard work and I realised it's been a long time since …

A lovely few days away BUT ..........

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Back home, back to normality (whatever that is) and time to take stock.  Getting away was difficult with anxiety kicking in from the moment we woke on Monday morning and I uttered the fateful words 'we're leaving after lunch'.  Why? What for? Where were we going? How long were we going to be away? Were we taking the dog?The list of questions went on and on right up until we left.  I packed the bags, got the food together, gathered the coats and boots, measured out the dog food, picked up the dog bed/harness/lead and made my way out to the truck where Ash was waiting to stow it all away and that was when reality hit.  The man who on more than one occasion managed to pack the three of us plus equipment and clothes into a soft top Ford Escort for a three week camping trip to France stood looking from the small pile of bags and boxes to the back of his four wheel drive truck and back again with no idea where to start.  Once upon a time he was a champion car packer.  He had a …

Organisation is the key (I hope)

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We're going away for a few days with friends so it's been planning, planning, planning all the way.  I've dropped the odd comment over the past few days all of which have been taken well and Ash has come up with some suggestions of his own so, stupidly, I thought it would all be plain sailing (and you'd think I really would know better by now).   Cut to this morning and I mentioned on waking that we were leaving after lunch.  No hurry, everything organised but still he went into full panic mode and we had to get up right there and then.  This was obviously going to be harder than I thought so the planned morning walk with friends was cancelled and all energy, spare and otherwise, was put into calming things down so that we actually got into the truck after lunch and set off.   We're now halfway through the morning and things are better.  The cool bag is packed; Ash's sandwich filling is mixed so that he can have his usual lunch every day; all the ingredients ar…

Learning to relax

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Ash and I have been through good times and bad over the years just like everyone else and we've supported each other every step of the way.  However when we were given the diagnosis of dementia nearly two years ago we really did feel that this was going to be the very worst of times and that it was going to be a downward slide into oblivion.  I remember saying that night 'we need to do as much as we can while we can' and Ash going completely white as he thought about what that meant.  I've learned a lot since then and, if you're a regular follower of this blog, you'll know that most of the time (with the odd blip here and there) I don't feel that way anymore and sometimes I even think that possibly this might even be one of our least difficult times.  This was brought home to me this morning when I realised that I no longer wear a watch.  That might seem an insignificant thing to some/most of you but for me it's huge.  For our 30th wedding anniversary i…

Making the most of the sunshine

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Spent this afternoon dividing my time between gardening and conker collecting.  For those of you who've never done the latter I suggest arming yourself with a carrier bag (rucksack in my case) and seeking out your nearest Horse Chestnut tree as soon as possible.  Conker collecting is my 'go-to' activity at this time of year if I need to clear my head or just want to do something mindless but satisfying at the same time.  I put a day sack on my back and off I went down the field, over a couple of fallen trees, through some nettle patches and there they were.  I filled the sack with those still in their shells then brought them home to sit in the sun on the patio and split them open.  I really don't think there's a more satisfying activity than prising the shiny brown nuts from those prickly shells.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with them and any suggestions will be gratefully received but for now I'm just going to sit and gaze at them letting tranquil…

A day for commonsense

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Yesterday was a day of extremes as far as commonsense was concerned and neither example connected to dementia.  Arrived to check on mum's house to discover a letter from 'Homeserve' to say that her insurance renewal (for plumbing matters in case you didn't know) was due.  I was instantly in fight mode as apparently the renewal was due on 16th October and I had to give four weeks notice of cancellation.  The letter definitely was't there went we went last Sunday and so at no point would I have been able to give the correct notice time and on top of that I knew they wouldn't discuss it over the phone with me as it was all in mum's name.  I got on the phone, launched into my speech about how I knew they wouldn't talk to me but I wanted some suggestions of what, in mum's absence, I could do.  The polite gentleman heard me out and then gently told me that they knew it was sometimes difficult for the policy holder to speak to them and so they now had a po…

Dementia's life changing effect

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When Jake was little I stayed at home with him determined to give him the best start in life I could.  Problem was I wasn't very good at staying at home and if, when I woke up in a morning, I didn't have coffee planned with a friend I panicked.  He and I did lots of stuff such as dog walking, baking, singing etc.  (not tv because that was in a room which was unheated until tea time each day) but we went out a lot (to save me climbing the walls) and he learned to mix with other children, to socialise and to share all of which were useful skills I felt and all of which he's still very good at today.  So I don't think I did a bad job but when he went to school I was more than ready to go back to work and that's where I stayed until very recently.  Not only did I work but most of the things I've done over the years have involved spending hours and hours out of the house and the only way I could properly relax was to go on holiday, consequently we went away a lot.  …