Sorry, who are you?

I have a relative recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I won’t go into too much detail as I have some family members who don’t like family business going on the world-wide web. But, it is a horrible condition and I’d actually written some poems about it a while ago. Remember on Coronation Street a while ago when Eileen’s bloke Paul had a wife with Alzheimer’s? I became quite interested then and wrote a poem from, in this case, the woman’s point of view and then the carer’s/male’s point of view.

Last weekend, when I visited my relative, he didn’t know who I was. ūüė¶ You can prepare yourself for this all you like, but you are never fully prepared for that look they give you. No recognition. No love. Just blankness. He also thought I was another relative dressed up as someone else in order to fool him. I was caught between laughing and crying. It is difficult because you don’t know how much you should try and jog their memory. He was getting frustrated you see, as he knew he should know who I was.

It made me think of my poems again. See what you think:

Sorry, who are you?

(From a wife with dementia to her husband)

‚ÄėSorry, who are you?

I like that picture.

Yes I’d like some orange

 Juice.’

‚ÄėSorry, who are you?

I like you a lot but

why have you given

me orange juice?’

‚ÄėSorry, who are you?

I hate that picture!

Let me tell you a story. It’s

really funny.

‚ÄėSorry, who are you?

I don’t feel like telling a

story, I just want to go home!

Sorry, who are you?

Where is my orange juice?

I’m parched, I want it now!

It’s meant to be a rambling poem in terms of the form, structure and content. A lot of repetition and forgetfulness¬† – as these are the kind of things you here in the old folks’ home. Here’s the husband’s response:

I remember who you used to be

(A reply, to the woman with dementia, from her husband)

I remember who you used to be,
so happy and content and carefree.
Taking care of others then,
And we always watched the news at ten.

Your long hair flowing, you took such pride,
No imperfections, then, that you had to hide.

Now I take care of you
Since it took over, I have to.
I don’t resent it but it’s not easy,
‚Äėcos I remember how you used to be.

Your eyes showed a knowing smile,
Your clothes sang an elegant style,
Your chatter and laughter filled the room,
From that day we were bride and groom.

Now, you glance the room, as if it’s not home,
But it was you who made it, made it our own.
I still love you as ever before
Even when you forget who we are,

I can get by each day you see,
because I remember how you used to be.

They still need a bit of work but I think they capture the thoughts and feelings overall. At the old folks’ homes I visit, you really do see some funny habits. There is one woman, who used to be a head teacher. She, now, patrols the corridors of the home all day, closing windows, moving things, checking on people, telling them they are smart etc. It is like she has regressed to that job role now. Once a head teacher, always a head teacher. Sad as it is, she seems happy. It was funny when I last went, because she put her head around the corner and gestured me to come to her with a pointed finger – just like a teacher would to a naughty pupil. I was tempted to go, but she soon forgot and walked off!

There is another woman, who is lovely. She sits there all day and it amazes me because¬†she has her hair done nicely, wears her jewellery¬†and smart clothes. One day, she said to me, ‘excuse me, can I say something? Aren’t you pretty?’ That was nice to hear and I thought ‘ooh¬†I like coming here!’ Another day, she started the same, ‘Can I say something?’¬† I thought to myself, ‘ooh the compliment’s coming again.’ But she said,’ your husband is really handsome.’ Haha, it was his turn that day, ‘my husband.’ I had to check she didn’t mean my dad! But, luckily, she did mean my partner!

I recommend going to an old folks’ home if you can. It is great to go and talk to someone, even if just for half an hour. It brightens up their day. My boyfriend’s mum visits one of her relatives¬†regularly¬†and now takes her puppy border collie. He has a profound¬†effect and made the old people interactive – and one woman spoke to the dog, who hadn’t spoke in years!

So people with dementia can still have a good quality of life, they need understanding and visits and patience. And a relative in disguise occasionally it seems! ūüėČ

Driving Me to Despair

 

Me and my boyfriend have lived together in our own house for nearly three years now. I like it. I don’t like the area so much. We live near a block of flats so fondly called ‘Cannabis Court’. I think that¬†says it all. In addition to this, I like the parking situation even less. We don’t have off-road parking you see. So on the road, either side, whether we can fit really. It is also a bus route, which doesn’t help. People who don’t live on the street and park up to visit someone, don’t get the ‘unspoken rules’ that you have to shift your car right over or if on the other side¬†then half on the kerb so that buses can fit. Also that you have to wait at one end of the street if car has started coming down the other end. Unspoken rules. Meaning, that we get buses impatiently pipping¬†because a car is parked on the wrong side of the road (not on the kerb) and a bus can’t fit. I always end up peering out the window saying to myself ‘god, such idiots…oooh are they gonna move?’ It’s quite entertaining.

It is not so entertaining, however, when you get up in the morning and realise that your wiper blades have been bent backwards and upwards. This is what I saw this morning as I was about to go shopping. Drunken idiots having a laugh I imagine. I had to spend precious shopping time at Halfords asking for a new wiper blade to be fitted, to then be told that it was the actual connected bit that holds the wipers in place. That was broken because the scumbags had bent them back so far. So not as easily fixed. Great.

In the past, me, my boyfriend and neighbours have all had numerous wing mirrors broken… you know just the glass part so you know that it wasn’t knocked by a car. I think I had to buy 3 new ones for my KA – so we are talking one a year on average just because some thugs get a thrill from breaking property. Tyre valves have also been nicked and some neighbours have even had windows smashed in. Lovely society we live in, isn’t it? My elderly neighbour was telling me that someone set fire to his garage once and his car burnt to ashes. I just don’t get it. Is it just the thrill of doing something they shouldn’t? Or is it jealousy because they don’t have nice things? Or is it blind drunkenness¬†and they just don’t know what they are doing? I imagine it to be gangs of teenagers, who have or maybe not had drink. This is why have categorised this post in ‘Teenagers’ but I know that this is prejudice and it could have been anyone. Sadly, though it does tend to be this age group.

From experience though, I know that the elderly can be just as nasty. When I had my KA, as it was a bit smaller and parking was a real nightmare (still is but I will go round the corner now) I used to park right in front of my house. This is the wrong side of the road if you like – pointing the wrong way – meaning I had to park on the kerb quite a way. I used to consciously think of people with push chairs and wheel chairs and make sure they could still get through. This is why, I was really angry when an elderly woman in a wheel chair had a go at me one morning. It was a Saturday and I had a lie in and then treated myself to some beans on toast with a cuppa and some morning TV for breakfast. Then I heard a massive bang on the window. When I look back now I think it was with a walking stick that she banged on the window with because I don;t know how she could have reached otherwise but I don’t get why she would have had a stick as well as a wheel chair. Anyway, she was shouting ‘move your bloody car so I can fit through!’ Then she wheeled off with a friend in tow. The thing that was the most infuriating was that she was sitting in her wheelchair in the gap between my car and house so she must have fit anyway. I opened my door, in my pink nightie and said ‘Excuse me, but if you have a problem, I would rather you come and knock on my door and talk to me like a civil adult.’ They ranted on about cars being on the pavement and threatened me with the police. She also pointed at numerous spaces over the road… I thought ‘course there are spaced now you stupid cow, people have gone out!’ She said she would scratch my car all the way down the side if it wasn’t moved. This made me not want to move it because threats like that shouldn’t get things done. After I calmed down, I did move it because¬†I didn’t want to risk it getting scratched. But it really made me mad that by kicking up a fuss like that, she got her way. A couple of neighbours mentioned her too and I noticed they moved their cars. So turns out, threatening people can work, sadly. If she had come to my door and gave me a sob story about not fitting through easily, she could have easily made me feel guilty because, as I said, I used to think about that anyway and there wouldn’t have been any need for threats or insults.

The funny thing was, a couple of days later, I came home from work and parked in the same¬†place again. I think it was only going to be for an hour because i¬†was going out again so I thought it would be OK. As I was about to get out, I noticed a girl come batting down the road on a bike and to avoid my wing mirror, she over compensated and banged into my fence. I got out immediately to make sure she was alright and knew I was in for it now as her Mum came closer. Her Mum, though, had a got at her. For going too fast and not looking where she was going and asked me if she had damaged¬†my car! I couldn’t believe it¬†and because she had been¬†so nice, I apologised anyway and made sure she had enough room and said that people complain and a wheelchair woman had a go at me the other day. She said that it was fine and she feels sorry for us having such a problem with parking down there.

Guess it isn’t always the things we do then but how people react. But I now know that number one priority in our next house is …. a drive!

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

Lost in Transit

I had a whole other post planned for today. I was going to share my favourite quote with you and talk about that. But that’s down the pan. Because, something so bizarre just happened that I just have to share with you……

Have you ever thought about the people who lived in the house before you? You may have met them if you bought the house off them. We bought our house off the¬†previous owner’s daughter as she had died – after turning the lovely bathroom suite into a disable and she didn’t even have the time to make the most it, we all lose on that one. I also tend to think about owners before her. Our house was rented for a few years before we bought it so there has been quite a lot of occupant. Some things from the old woman and her husband remained though. Like the locks on the stair and pantry door. Odd. I thought she was trying¬†to keep her husband from the food or alternatively lock him in there! I found out after because my Dad is mates with the woman we bought it off (see it’s always who you know ūüėČ ). Turns out the man had bad dementia and would go into a room and forget how to get back out. The locks were to stop him going either in the pantry or upstairs. We also found a trap door in our living room when we bought a new carpet. I was already gob smacked as the old carpet had a date of purchase on it and it was 50 years old!!!! I thought about the day it got put down and how the floor had not seen any light since. We then discovered the trap door and were muchly excited at the thought of money… or not so excited at the image of a dead body. Neither were down there and it was just a view of the pipes. Very odd. Viewing hole perhaps? The screws were so old when we got it open that we couldn’t put them back so we sealed it shut, preventing future occupants the joy of anticipation of what could be in there.

Anyway, the odd thing that happened to today! I got home and there was a letter, a small envelope in a plastic wallet with a note from the post office of apology. It said how Royal Mail were very sorry that the letter had taken so long to arrive. I couldn’t think of anything we had not received and then looked at the address¬†‘Mary Smith’. Mmmmm… we have lived there for nearly 3 years so it had taken a long time to arrive. I then looked at the date of postage and it was 2003!!!!! It had taken 12 years to arrive…. lost in their network it said. I was quite excited about what could be in so had a peep inside. You know what it was? Something really important since it had an apology letter? Something really worth waiting 12 years for? Nope. A Christmas card! I then felt unreasonably angry for some reason. I thought: ‘How much money and time has been wasted to get this to an address, with now¬†different occupants, twelve years too late! And it was only a christmas card! Poor Mary must be thinking ‘God, I never did get a Christmas card off¬†Doreen in 2003!’ Maybe she even stopped sending them in return because of this. I know my Gran does that. She will say, ‘Well she never sent a card last year so I’m not bothering again!’ So maybe the contact ended between Mary and Doreen because of that. Sad thought. I just still can’t get over the fact that it has been floating around the ‘network’ for 12 years. Crazy.

Something similar happened a while ago. We received a parcel addressed to someone else but with our address on. I opened it. I just had to. It was a lovely card, a little girl’s jumper and a handmade wooden teddy bear. I felt sad that the owner would never receive it. I kept it for some reason. I just had a feeling and figured that eventually I would give them away. I was convinced the woman would never know¬†because how close could these people be if they didn’t even know each other’s correct address? Anyway, a few months later, guess what? She showed up at the door. I was so glad I had kept it. She was very happy and said the sender would too. We exchanged a bit of small talk and she commented on how the house had changed etc. Must be weird going back to your old house years later. Happy ending that time…. just wish I could tell Mary that Doreen did send Christmas wishes 12 years ago!

We also get junk mail for various people and get calls for ‘Mrs Curtis’ very regularly. I like the fact the house has a history though…. a bit of character. Maybe one day something more useful will arrive through the post or I will find another money laden trap door ūüėČ

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

Riches to Rags to Riches

Afternoon gang,

Thought I should fill you in a little about my holiday escapades. We went to a few different places in France, staying in three different accommodations. they were very different and I just have to share with you the contrast  that we experienced.

We got to Paris and arrived at our hotel to be told that our room had been upgraded…. to a lower floor funnily enough. It was lovely though as it had its own¬†little courtyard. The room was great and had air¬†con, which was very welcome in the 30 odd degree heat!! I’m not sure which my boyfriend was more excited by – the mini bar or the fact that we had twin beds!! No, it wasn’t that he couldn’t bear to share a bed with me any longer he just decided that this was the perfect way to sleep. Two single beds pushed together. I tend to hog space you see and he loved the fact that he had his own bed but was still next to me! It also had the perfect line down the middle so¬†I¬†couldn’t easily claim¬†i was on ‘my side’ when I wasn’t!!

As for the mini bar, you would think we normally lived in squalor! I reminded him that it would be very expensive… but we later discovered that in Paris, the prices all around in bars and restaurants were ‘mini bar’ prices! So we enjoyed a wine and beer as we got ready, freshly chilled. And I took advantage of the Toblerone when we came back to the hotel after a day of sightseeing!

So yes, we had luxury. Lovely, white fluffy towels (why they always so amazing in hotels??), a bath (we don’t have one at home so even in the heat, I insisted on having one – wine by my side too!), the tempting mini-bar and lovely, separate beds all to be enjoyed with the wonderful invention of air con!

2 nights later and we left for Evian where we to spend 4 nights. The accommodation¬†there was the reason we planned the whole trip. My boyfriend’s workmate¬†was loaning us a flat there to say thanks for some work my bloke had done for him. It belongs to his mother-in-law and we were allowed it for free! Great! Free yes but oh it came at a price. We came crashing down to humble, domestic, unclean reality.¬†I just want to say first that I am truly grateful¬†that we had the flat and we wouldn’t have been able to have afforded the rest of the trip of we hadn’t had it for free. But i¬†just have to tell you how yuk it was. It is the lady’s main home and there was clutter everywhere. Honestly, the toilet room was surrounded by a big green tub, which I can only assume was weed killer. The bathroom had a big, fold-up washing line in the bath! The barbecue stood proudly by the sink in the bathroom also. There was two fold-up beds proppned up against the double bed in the bedroom, along with sun loungers – so we had to shimmy to get into bed. The wardrobe was crammed full of her clothes and a standing rail in the living room was also (but I managed to hang up some of mine on that too.)

The kitchen had every gadget and utensil you could imagine with some grime added in for good measure. It had a portable, two hob cooker that had a note saying ‘Do not use the cooker until the water has heated up or the electricity will trip.’ Weird. There was also a fold-up garden table and more sun loungers and plastic chairs all propped up in the kitchen. No where to move. We had to move all this stuff mentioned outside¬†onto the balcony¬†and in the garden¬†to make room for ourselves, let alone out stuff.

I hated to think it, as I said I am grateful that we didn’t have to pay (I would have been pretty p*ssed off if we had to pay to be fair!), but I would have been ashamed for anyone to see that I lived like that, let alone loan it out to extended friends and family! I also felt angry at her. Totally unreasonable… but I thought ‘God, you are so lucky to be able to afford a flat like this with a great view of Lake Evian and this is how you treat it!’ Makes you think some people just don’t deserve money. So riches to rags indeed. We spent the next four days out as much as possible or on the balcony! We didn’t use the cooker hob once but had a go with the barbecue – rude not to when it was standing there waiting to be used! I told my boyfriend to tell his friend the flat was ‘well equipped’ (a positive spin on cluttered) and ‘had a great view of the lake’ (rather than a horrible view inside) and had a brilliant balcony (not a horrible living space inside) – that’s how horrible properties get sold right?

For our last night we went to Reims. I was glad to leave the flat but was not pleased that all my clothes now smelled of ‘old lady’. We got to our hotel and was in luxury again – yay! Another great room. I did panick though because I opened a door and found a toilet¬†– haha – I wondered where the shower was?! My boyfriend swiftly¬†opened an amazing glass painted door to reveal an amazing shower room (no barbecue and washing line included!). We had a mini bar again, but didn’t indulge in the 35 euro champagne – not that into ‘riches’! The hotel had a pool… which we had to ourselves when we went for a swim that afternoon. We had gone from shimmying around a crowded flat to a big, open swimming pool to ourselves. Bliss. There was also a steam and sauna – places where we were meant to get hot, not just a flat with no air-con! It was great. Back to riches again for the end of our holiday.

Now we are back home, in our three bed semi – and I think it is somewhere in between! But we have a bigger fridge and the wine in it is free (or paid for very cheaply on the ferry ride home!)

Whether you have brilliant or rubbish accommodation, you mustn’t let it spoil your holiday because no matter what it’s like, it always gives you a story to tell ¬†ūüėČ

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

Circle of Life…

Well guys, I’m starting to miss the kids at school (starting to…only just!) because I’ve been to the old people’s home today and seen the other end of the scale. I took my neighbour to visit his brother there. I’ve been a few times… even though I almost drove past it haha…. and they say the elderly are forgetful!!

The old people’s home… or residential home as I should really call it… reminded me of¬†a cross between a hospital and University halls of residence. Which, got me thinking of how life is all a circle.. I know not really a new idea and Elton John beat me to it with¬†his song! We start off in a hospital (well in most cases) where we are dependant on others and need help to be fed, cleaned and clothes.. and that is how we end up. (And if you believe it, we may come back as someone or something else and start again.)¬†The University link came to me as I walked to the room of the man we were visiting, Donald. We walked through the corridor with room after room after room; some had funny photographs on their doors. This reminded me of student life and how our life comes down to that one little room where we sleep, get clean and watch Tv.. amongst other things! Also the smell of sick/poo at on point helped to strengthen this link a bit …. we all know what students can be like at the end of a night out!

Donald made me laugh with his ‘problem’. No I didn’t make light of it or show that I was amused! But he showed me a pack of four beers that he had in his wardrobe. he had been given them as a birthday present by one of the volunteers. He said that he only fancied a beer in the evening. Yeh great! But… the evening is when Horlicks is delivered around the rooms. Can’t he turn it down you ask? I asked this and he said ‘Oh but if I refuse it once, they will never bring it again!’ I thought this was a bit extreme and they aren’t going to be offended if he refuses it once (or four times; one for each beer!). Can you imagine if they did with food? ‘Oh you left your dinner.. that’s it… no more food for you! EVER!’ The other related problems were that no he couldn’t drink both because creamy hot drinks don’t mix with beer, which I kind of agree with. It would be like the students mixing their alcoholic drinks! He also couldn’t bring himself to throw his Horlicks down the sink.. so at the minute the beers remain in the wardrobe and the Horlicks vs beer battle continues! I knew what the students would pick ūüėČ It also reminded me of when we are little and ‘treats’ are all we think of… when can we have sweets? If we leave a bit a dinner we will have room for pudding! It is funny because in between¬†these two ages, you wouldn’t have time to think about something as trivial as that!

Later on, Donald patted his tummy and said he was getting too fat. I liked the fact that at his age he still cared about his health and appearance so much. Apparently, Cyril, his brother, who I took to visit him, had very bluntly told him that he was getting too big and had to eat less sandwiches and biscuits!! Well, we can’t blame it on the beer can we?? I loved the fact that the brothers could be this honest with each other,… men aren’t usually about issues like that. Again, it reminded be of children in the playground, ‘You’re too fat, you eat too many biscuits!’ Donald very solemnly told me that at tea time (they have their main dinner at lunch time) he used to have three sandwiches and recently he had upped it to five… (wahoo got to love the oldies and their eating competitions!) but now he realised that he should only have four… plus a piece of cake! He didn’t seem a problem with having the cake everyday… no it’s the damn sandwiches!

Obviously another¬†fact will be that Donald just doesn’t move about¬†as much as he used to and that would cause the weight to pile on. He tries though and will help the staff sweep up and collect plates and cups in. It got me thinking that at that point in life, he must need a purpose. As well all do. He always tells me that he would rather be back in our town than there; as happy as he is there. I always look shocked and say, ‘No way.. it’s much nicer here, you get your meals cooked for you and everything done for you! ‘ Is he crazy??? Joking aside, I can see that in some ways it must be like a prison and as nice as they are there and how much attention you get, you do not get the same independence¬†as you do when you live at home. I find it amusing that there is a key pad lock on the door.. to get out! But you don’t need it to get in! Obviously this is for safety of the residents but it seems a bit like they can’t escape even if they wanted to!

So guys, think of the oldies and even if you’re not anywhere near that age yet… think back to your childhood, because it’s very similar! Also think of Donald’s Dilemma (mmm¬†Donald’s dilemma could be a regular slot on my blog haha)…. Horlicks or beer??? ūüėČ

See you tomorrow,

XSXS