Monthly Archives: December 2005

Merry Christmas…?

It’s been a while since I last let you all know how Mum is doing, so here is the latest update.

Christmas was different to say the least. My husband Jeff and I visited Mum on Christmas Eve, and I think our unique brand of humour cheered her up. I never realised ’til now how expressive Mum’s face can be. As Jan has said, Mum can say alot with just a lift of the eyebrows!

Dad paid Mum a visit on Christmas morning, Denise and I went there in the afternoon. Mum was offered a cup of tea at one point and she said yes. Unfortunately, she is not allowed hot drinks yet and the necessary withdrawal of the offer was very sad. At this point, tea may be what she wants but evidently it is not what she needs.

I have been thinking about the whole issue of why this stroke has happened to my Mum. She has been fit and active and possibly the most health conscious in my family for as long as I have known her. It really does not make sense. My sister and Dad are not best pleased with God (they are not believers) and, if I am honest, nor am I (I believe, though sometimes wonder why I bother). Sure, s**t happens, but I find myself wondering why it seems to happen more to some people than others. As a family we have not had it easy, as those who know me will be aware.

I let some of this doubt and anger out at Jeff and, after letting me rant and cry for a bit, he made the point that believing in, and even worshipping, God does not make us immune to disaster. It is one thing to know this, it is another to experience it. Non-believers have the dubious luxury of raving at someone they do not necessarily believe in, people like me don’t. I maintain that I trust God, but what does it do to your trust when someone you love is so terribly afflicted and you know that the Lord you serve could have prevented it? It is not beyond him, after all.

These are all deep, philosophical questions that great thinkers have not answered over many years. What chance then, do I have? A wise man once said to me that when there is alot that you do not know, focus on that which you do. So, what do I know?

1) God, despite the evidence, does love us and can be trusted.

2) My Mum will need my support in the times ahead of her, as will the rest of my family.

3) I have the resources at my disposal, through my faith, job and life experiences, to make a difference.

4) Some of those resources are reading this blog at the moment – I need you guys and am glad that you are there!

5) I have a family, both by birth and by marriage, that love and support me.

6) Asking the question ‘Why me/her/us?’ is futile and frustrating, a better one is ‘What now?’, meaning ‘What can I do at this moment to make things better?’

7) Sometimes the answer to the latter question in no 6) will be ‘Nothing’ and I will have to deal with that too. Hopefully, tho’, there will generally be something, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant.

8) What we get, as with the cup of tea situation above, is not always what we want. However, in light of the statement in no 1), we just have to trust that it is what we need.

In times ahead, Mum will not always want to try to speak or walk or whatever. However, very little is achieved in life without some effort and willingness to try. A nurse this morning was not letting Mum get away with just a little nod of the head, she encouraged her to say ‘Yes’. My Mum is a detetrmined character, as I have said before, and I am going to need to be very much her daughter. I need to be determined too. Not to count the cost of how much effort I need to put into being the person my family need me to be, but to see the value of the outcome.

The widow in the gospel who donated the two copper coins to the temple was commended much more than the rich man with his bags of money. It is not how much we give that matters, much of the time it is how much that it costs us. The word is ‘sacrifice’. It is easy to love from a distance when people are nice to you and can give something back. It is harder when it hurts you to give, when you are abraded and injured by the rough edges of those you love and have to face the fact that you also injure them. To forgive and be forgiven are both difficult to do in the real world, it is much more comfortable to keep your distance and suffer the illusion that this forgiveness is unnecessary. The fact is, no-one can really live like this, though some of us try.

There is much more to think about on the above subject, but I need to go and cook dinner for Dad and Denise. The prosaic intrudes on the profound once more…but, hey, that’s life!

Nice young man

Well, the speech therapist has been working hard with Mum today and she is onto food now – well, a sort of thick, fortified yogurt which she seemed to enjoy. The guideline for the gastric tube is still in place but no further work appears to have been done with this. I am wondering if they are going to leave it as Mum is eating quite well.

The physioterrorists (sic) have also been on her case. They had her out of bed and sitting in a wheelchair for a couple of hours. All this work tired her out and Dad and I did not stay as long as intended in order for her to get some well earned rest. Denise and Jan are there now but are unlikley to be expecting much of her and she should be back in bed by now.

We left her in the wheelchair, knowing that it was time she was back in bed (it said so on the board above her head). This distressed me a little, as did the fact that the drip was left unattended to. It actually angered Dad by his own admission. We know that the nurses have so much to do, but when it is someone you love that is suffering due to their overwork, it is not easy. The best we can do at the time is gently remind the staff if they appear to have forgotten, which Dad did. Makes you wonder, though. At the end of the day, nurses are only human (as evidenced by Jack the Lass’ comment – thanks btw *8-) and it is the kind of job where things can slip your mind. Now, in some jobs, this may just mean an annoyed customer or mail not being delivered on time, but in the medical profession it can affect the wellbeing of some very ill people. Thankfully, on the whole, I am happy with the professional and caring attention Mum is receiving, which helps us all when we know a job is being done well.

Now to explain the heading! Dad had left the ward to get a paper and a doctor entered. I noticed him at the desk behind me and turned to see that Mum was looking at him. He was pretty easy on the eye to be honest. I caught Mum’s eye and she gave me a meaningful look. I mouthed at her ‘Nice young man’ – which is her phrase when in the presence of, well, a nice young man. This raised a smile. It is good to see that after all that has happened, she still has not lost her touch!

Thanks again to you all for your thoughts and prayers, keep ’em coming.

Positive news

Firstly, thanks toyou all for your encouraging messages, it is good to know that so many people are on our side.

I headed this ‘positive news’, and that is what this is. Today Mum is sitting up in bed, considerably more alert tho still incredibly tired. She is able to utter a few words, getting out ‘yes’, ‘no’ and the odd comment (such as ‘I don’t care’ when I told her she had bed hair!)

The medics have been on the case and she is on thickened apple juice – called ‘syrup’. (There is apparantly a thicker consistency called ‘custard’ – this makes sense of the instructions over the bed next door which say ’10 sips iced custard – saw that yesterday when I assumed it meant regular custard, am glad for the patients that even hospitals do not sink that low with their food!) They are going to hopefully start her on pureed food tomorrrow but she has had to have a tube inserted in her nose to supplement the diet by piping the stuff into her stomach. Denise and I were there at the time it was inserted. Well, to be honest, Denise was present and held Mum’s hand while the tube was put in. I went away, thinking I would miss some of the procedure and be there at the end. They’d finished by the time I returned (v quick) and I felt such a coward and deserter. Mum said ‘Doesn’t matter’ when I apologised, which helped.

Den and Dad are doing much better today and it is a relief for all of us to see such an improvement. However, it is one step on a long journey. Still, I am not going to waste today’s triumph by worrying about tomorrow. Keep praying, guys, I think it might just be working!

Daftness in a different form

To those of you that are looking here for my usual light-hearted ramblings, I’m afraid that I am not going to be able to deliver the goods today. A time will come when that is so, but not today.

As those who know me will already know, my Mum has had a severe stroke and is currently in the acute stroke unit of Poole Hospital. I have visited her yesterday and today and, although it is extremely difficult to communicate, it is possible. She is paralysed down all of her left side and has lost the power of speech. She is, however, able to hold my hand with her left one and squeeze it in response to simple questions. The occasional flicker of movement accross her face and the occasional raising of the eyebrows shows when she has understood some of the daft banter we try to use to lift her spirits.

The thing is, this could get better, worse or stay the same. The most severe outcome is that the bleed in Mum’s brain which has caused this will spread to the right and she could even die. She does not know this. She knows she has had a stroke and that it will be a long road to recovery. That is what we, her family and friends, also need to believe. Thinking anything else just leads to despair…and we must not give up hope.

Reading my husdand’s wiblog before typing this one, I noticed the entry he had written about Andrew, our friend with cerebral palsey and MS. This guy is an inspiration. My family have been told that even if Mum does recover she will most likely be left with some level of disability. However, I know that my Mum has the same positive, can-do spirit as Andrew. I know that if we get through these dodgy couple of weeks that are ahead of us, we can breathe a little more easily and work on harnessing Mum’s natural resiliance and ensuring that she has the best life possible. Not an existence, a life!

Having said that, if it would be better for her and all concerned for Mum to be called home, then so be it. It is not ideal, but any outcome of this would not be ideal. There is, and will be, much grief no matter what. But we must not give up hope.

For those of you that pray, please remember my Dad, my sister Denise, Mum’s brother Alan and his wife Jan. Also remember the wider family such as the Morris family up in Lichfield and our friends here in the village, where Mum is much loved and respected.

To all of you who have sent your best wishes and prayers, thank you. It does help. Keep an eye on this wiblog as it may be the best way to keep you updated. Also check the tiredandemotional wiblog. Gosh, that is an apt title – tired and emotional. Just about sums us up! Love to you all.

A monumental mistake

Okay, so this blog is really supposed to be about *my* daftness, but I feel the need to tell you of something said by one of my tenants that brightened up a difficult day.

Names are changed to protect the innocent, the guilty and also to safeguard my job…tho’ I’m not sure if client confidentiality extends to amusing comments.

Anyway, my tenant ‘Chris’, and I were walking to my car (yes, I did know where it was) and I was a little despondent as I felt I was not being as much help as I could be. She was telling me of a day centre she had attended in the past where they would do many interesting activities, including making monuments. Yes, she said monuments.

I was glad that I was walking a few steps ahead of her which meant that she could not see my attempts not to laugh. I think that staff of the day centre in question would have made less work for themselves had they stuck to making the traditional ash trays and random items for the mantlepiece. Instaed, they had apparently set themeselves the monumental (ahem) task of having Chris and her fellows chisel out war memorials and the like.

Chris then went on to say that they also made "Things, y’know, thing things." I must confess that I did not know. Her previous slip had not done much for my composure, and trying not to imagine what these mysterious ‘thing things’ were did not do much to help me regain my professional veneer.

I managed, though.

"Really?" I replied "Things?"

Well, what else *could* I say?