Monday, 9 May 2016

Thanks very much anyway,

for the kind enquiries I’ve had from  many of you as to my state of mind and general wellbeing or otherwise.

You realise, don’t you, that if you ask me “how are you?”  I might just possibly tell you? No manners, that’s me. Telling you how it is is not at all the done thing in the UK and the correct answer is always “Not too bad, thanks” if you’re common and “Very well, thank you” if you’re posh,  even if you’re shortly to be thrown into the fiery furnace, weeping and wailing and gnashing your teeth. Like if you push your shopping trolley (hard, and maybe deliberately, because they’re slow and you’re in a bad mood)) into someone’s ankles they invariably turn round and say “Sorry”. Whereas I would quite likely say “Watch where you’re pushing that thing!"

And if you ask me “What’s new?” I have nothing to say at all, except maybe that the garden is overgrown and weedy, that Millie is getting fat for lack of walkies, that I’ve had three separate bouts of AFib in the last four weeks, but am feeling better (who knows for how long - see, there’s positive thinking!), that Beloved's still eating and drinking and sleeping, and making bad jokes, that I’m bored out of my skull and utterly depressed most of the time when I’m not stressed to the point of wanting to rip everybody’s head off.

Told you I’d tell you. Satisfied?

What’s even worse is that I’m compensating for stress and rage by eating chocolate, loads of it. And getting fat. Without chocolate I’m a fiend in human form, impossible to get along with. I did an hour’s round trip to get to my favourite chocolate shop on Friday, taking Beloved along for the ride and his own chocolate fix. What do you think happened? He ambled along the shelf, pawed a bar of the stuff here and there, put them all back and said “I don’t really feel like chocolate!”

On the drive to the chocolate-selling town we’d stopped off at a very fancy Food Centre, posh and horribly expensive, and what did we do? we argued about bread. Apparently, all bread has a rubbery edge now. Or so he says. He wished to explore the breads this Food Centre had on offer, he said in a posh voice. He’s good at big words in a posh voice. So I said that one of the freezers at home is stuffed full of bread of all kinds, shapes and sizes, wholemeal, sourdough, white, black, French pain de campagne, German rye, English soft. Very well, he says, no need for me to go in then, you go and buy what you like.

It was lunchtime, attached to the Food Centre is a restaurant, nothing fancy, good enough for a bite and a drink. We even had a table outside in the pleasant sunshine. Millie came too; she lay between us looking up first at me, then him, hoping for a handout. She was in luck. Beloved said his lunch of pulled pork was tasteless, practically inedible, chewy, too bready (bread again) and as for the salad, which consisted of rocket leaves, well, he said, how am I supposed to eat this? With my fingers? Apparently the fork wouldn’t spear the blasted leaves.

When, in the name of all that’s sane in this crazy world we have been pitched into, will we get used to the status quo? There is no hope. The prognosis is bleak and cure is there none. We can bicker and row and make the rest of our time together a penance or we can stop and enjoy what’s left. Positive action is the only thing that helps. How long does it take to accept your hand and play it for all you’re worth? Even the doctor said ‘it’s quality of life that counts, not quantity’. When I told her that I wasn’t going to nag Beloved into giving up his glass of wine, eating only the most sensible food, stopping him from sleeping several hours during the day, making him take exercise he can no longer cope with and any or all of the good advice handed out by helplines I thought she’d want to tell me off. But no, staying as happily together as we’ve been for many years was the thing to do, she said. Put the nagging on hold.

I am leaving the comments section open for this post. Although I am very grateful for your empathy, your kind thoughts and prayers, please don’t go soft on me. If I need anything, it’s a calm and competent and very thorough talking to, otherwise known as a kick in the backside.


  1. Being the caregiver in a hopeless situation is the pits. Actually being a caregiver in any situation sucks.
    Walk the dog, even if it is just around d the house fifty times a will help...and I hope you loaded up on chocolate! :)

  2. Being a carer sucks better than any vacuum ever invented.
    And I am a firm believer in 'give us this day our daily whinge'. Very glad to see your fattish grumpy self back here.

  3. Friko: It's good to see you here, and while I won't go soft on you, neither will I give you a kick up the backside. What you do so well is tell it EXACTLY the way it is, so what I say is, whenever you want, as much as you want, bring it on. Much, much love from us to you, Beloved, and Millie.

  4. I'll avoid the elephant in the room and ask what is it about pulled pork? I don't know what part of a pig it is, but I find it much as your beloved described. It is only vaguely ok when cooked to the point of disintegration. Good suggestion about walking, especially as your weather should be improving.

  5. Hello Friko - it's good to see a post from you. I'll echo Susan's comment that you tell it the way it is so very well, and I appreciate your candor. The challenges of growing older aren't a walk in the park.
    I hope the walking opportunities improve, and you can stock up on chocolate for when you need it.

  6. Hi, Friko. I am so glad to find a post from you! No good to go soft on you, This post is so typically you, exact, to the point. All I will say---what I have been thinking since your last post---is that I am in the same place as you. My "Old Man" --- and I have been together 52 years. He is 83. He is suffering greatly; nerve pain that he gets a little relief from every two months. I think living with that pain is causing him to lose mental ability more quickly than he otherwise might. He is so thin, 118 lbs., that it is scary to see him. He is my world. All I can do is try to make his days happy. I have to be strong. For him.
    Please try not to let depression overcome. We are all in this together. Thanks for being here.

  7. No kick in the back side as I might hurt my foot, then I'd be mad at myself, you and probably the whole world -- life sucks! You can't ignore your feelings, so maybe expressing them here makes room for more -- of the same, or other? Perhaps baggage from long ago complicates being in today for "what is." I don't know the answers as just hangin' in there, sometimes, is all we can do.

  8. Good to see you back, friend Friko ... Love you ... so there, I went soft on you ... take dat ... smiles ... Always, cat.

  9. Yes. that's what you need, a kick in the ass!
    :-) Ich mag Dich sehr gerne, rapple Dich auf.

  10. It is good to see a post from you, and good for you to let your real feelings out.

    This next bit is oh so true and good ~ staying as happily together as we’ve been for many years was the thing to do, she said. Put the nagging on hold. ~ Bless your hearts.

    Care giving of our spouses is very hard. But putting all of the love that is in our hearts into it is good for the one being cared for and for the caregiver.

    Love, hugs & prayers for the both of you ~ FlowerLady

  11. I think you are handling this situation better than many. I do NOT think you need a kick in the behind, so maybe I am soft. But I think we do what we can do as we face greater challenges. We take it one day at a time, as we have no choice and it is quality and not quantity. Of course having written these platitudes my life is back on an even keel and I have yet to be tested...but I am sure my contest is ahead.

  12. We don't want to make people uncomfortable so we lie and say everything is OK. What we really want to do is scream. So scream, Friko, do what you can and know you are not alone in a sinking boat. We are all treading water, and our legs are so tired.

  13. I'm so glad I found this in my mail this morning. In two hours, the change from "this" computer to"that" computer commences, and who knows what that is going to entail. While I have promises that I'll be offline for only a short time, "short" is always open to definition, and it is a computer. There will be complexities: of that, I have no doubt.

    But of course, when we get down to it, life is complexities, stacked one atop another. Your complexities are of a different order entirely, and finding ways to cope more difficult. There are computer geeks who can help me with my tech issues, but I've not yet found an emotions geek who can tweak this and that and get us back to functioning.

    I'm just glad to see your post. I miss you, a good bit. I don't do well with too much sugar and saccharine in my life, and you're much more to my taste than bloggers who seem to favor sugar roses over the cake itself. Carry on, woman. We're all pulling for you.

  14. Well, when I ask someone how they are, I expect them to tell me -- the good, the bad and the ugly. (Maybe I wouldn't do so well in Britain as I always hoped I would...). And you did. Thank you! You should do it often -- if not to other people at least write the crap out of it. You do it better than anyone I know.

    No kick in the butt -- you've been kicked enough, mostly by yourself and by the hurricane whirling around you. No going soft, either, except to say that there are a whole lot of people in the world who know that caregiving is the hardest thing we can do. I'm not sure since I've never had babies myself to care for, but I think it must be harder, so much time and years invested. Your doctor is absolutely right -- quality tops quantity. So when Beloved goes down for his sleep, if you aren't ready to do that yourself, find your mellow zone. A garden patch (weed it if you like, if not, just settle!), a walk with Sweet Millie, a big pot of chocolate mousse. (Well, that certainly explains MY hips).

    And one other quick thing. This blog is YOURS. If writing here helps, write it. We care about you and if you want or need to dump, dump. Your gift with words is remarkable and in what you say, believe it or not, it helps others, I think, who may be experiencing the frustrations of a similar situation. It so helps when you know you aren't alone.

  15. Well, now . . . I was so happy to see a post from you and that your wit is still with you that I wouldn't dream of kicking kicking your backside. I had to laugh a bit as we had a bread conversation yesterday (I was right, he wrong). :) The conversation took up far too much time for what it was worth, but, bread, it seems is the staff of life, even if we must occasionally whack a loaf over the other's head. Take care, Friko

  16. thinking of you every since your last post
    and can relate
    as quality of life decreases
    just do all you can,
    sunshine, good food and rest..

  17. It is so nice to have an update from you! No need for a kick in the pants as the others have said, I have great empathy for you. My mother-in-law is in the same boat and she is 89 and the primary caretaker to my father in law, 89 as well. He is in denial that he has any problems, issues, etc or that my mother in law is being run ragged taking care of him.

    I think you should eat all the chocolate you want, and maybe get out once a day with Millie for a little break for you both.

  18. Thanks my friend for your fearless honesty. We're a few years behind you, and I've recently had a health scare myself that was deeply sobering in this new home of 5 months (MUCH different in so many ways from a home of decades at such a time). We're all just trying to be real and still carry on despite the fear and the odds. You have always shared the truth for which I am more grateful than you know. I wish you luminous moments of pure happiness (tho tinged with uncertainty) as I clutch to myself with deep gratitude. Now back to my usual sharing of nostrums that seem to help...

  19. I am so glad to see this post from you, dear Friko.

    My grandmother's answer to questions about her wellbeing was, "fair to middling." I have adopted it.

    Once again, I will tell you that I wish that I lived closer to you. xo to you and yours
    (That wasn't too soft, was it?)

  20. You endure the best way you can. If chocolate helps--go for it.
    Honestly, it has to be torture to live with and care for somebody who, the majority of the time, isn't even really who you knew and loved all these years. I'd be eating chocolate, too. Hang in there.
    Love and hugs!!

  21. I have been thinking about you. OK, here's your kick in the behind...Snap Out Of It! If only it were that easy. Your doctor's advice is good...quality over quantity. what's the point of living miserably only to live longer in misery. one more thing, take Millie out for walks. It will do you both good. and go dig in the garden, get your hands dirty and smell the dirt. get those happy making microbes in your nostrils.

  22. It's good to see you posting - writing out the misery helps. It doesn't go away and you still need to scream and eat chocolate. Fresh air, beautiful scenery and a dog all help though not enough. Keep - I was going to say 'smiling' but 'grimacing' may be more apt.

  23. Heavens, I don't think I've ever had anyone actually ASK for a kick up the backside before! Usually I am on the receiving end, and believe me, I did not ask for it!

    Sometimes life is just so hard. Not to be Pollyanna-ish, I guess we just have to make the best with what we've got for as long as we've got. Though there are times when I wish I might have chosen a different path while I was still in a position to do so. But who knows? That choice might have been worse than the one I actually made.

    Oh dear - now I too sound depressed. Sorry to be such a downer! Sending you lots of sympathy and if it were possible over the internet, tea, which I find is a panacea that lightens all ills.

    Love and hugs to you, Carol

  24. People who've never been 'carers' have no idea of the tedium , I'm afraid .
    I do hope chocolate and some good books keep you going till it's time for the garden to come to life and bring you with it .

  25. As we all grow older, we are more or less in the same boat. Too bad we didn't all live closer together. We could eat chocolate, argue about bread, and have scooter races round the yard. Been there, done that, still doing some of it, but thinking of you dear Friko on this frikin cold day in Canada. My Mum always answered with "Very well, (pause) thankyou for asking"....I use that one myself :)

  26. Friko, it scares me too. There are many signs of fading mental and physical capacity in my husband also.I feel as though I keep gathering the out-most edges of our lives closer and tighter, like the unraveling of an ever diminishing flotation device. My hope is that he goes nuts enough not to notice when I drop him off at a local kennels. No tags, no microchip and he doesn't know his home address although we've lived here for two years.

  27. We have choices, sort of.

    Those he-men we married years ago, aren't. Too late we discover they are little boys, and we are their mothers and now they are little boys lost. What can I say. When I was younger, I worked for a woman who had married three times in old age, each husband dropping dead before the other. She nursed each one. Another woman I know, in her late 80s, writes that when you are older, if a man takes an interest in you its because he's looking for a "nurse with a purse."

    My cousin three years older than me, lived with a guy for several years. She thought she would eventually marry him, but he never asked. She discovered she had another financial option, namely Social Security from her first (deceased) husband. When the male friend with whom she had neen living finally asked her to marry him, she said No.

    Okay, my point is this...all we have is ourselves and each other...for a while. I try to live one day at a time. David is slowly fading as is often the case with those in their late 80s, but so am I. Every morning he goes out with the dogs. Every morning they poop in the garden. Every morning when its not raining I go out to weed in the garden and step in poop. Every morning I yell and say, couldn't you get that up when they do it? Every morning he says, "I didn't see it." Such is life, stepping in poop you know will be there and complaiing about it.

    I do try to make sure he eats a proper diet. However, the day may come, when like the infant in a high chair he throws his food on the floor. Guess who will clean it up?

    1. This is wonderful! I found myself laughing out loud in recognition. One of the things that makes me crazy is the way my husband of 52 years never believes a word I say. "The widget is broken." Indignant response: "It isn't." Or my all-time favourite "What did you do to it?" This morning I said the grandfather clock must be off balance because the pendulum clicks against the side of the case. Indignant responses, etc. Eventually followed by, "By golly, you're right, the noise was the pendulum bumping into the side." Can't win, just have to keep playing the game, as long as we can! Thanks for your post, Schmidley!

  28. Dear Friko - thanks for being brave enough to stand up and write this - giving us sufficient detail so as not to be too horrified, but to totally understand where you are both at ... trying to get the best out of life, when you're down and your dearest is no longer desperately with it ... and repetitive - that is so challenging.

    I hope things will settle down ... not in that way sadly ... but in as much as you'll be able to block out some of it ... and be able to enjoy parts of your day together ... with so many thoughts and big hugs - Hilary

  29. I stop by regularly, hoping you will post.
    I thank you for posting, and letting us know what's happening. I hope you continue to share, and let those here give you comfort and encouragement.

  30. I haven't much to offer other than a 'good to see you'. Life goes in waves and right now you are definitely in a trough - so am I, so I recognise the topography. Hang in there and don't lose your edge.

  31. Life itself is giving you the hardest kick in the backside, Frike. You don't need any from us too, though I'd be happy to supply you with endless chocolate. Your doctor is quite right to emphasis quality over quantity. "Staying as happily together as we’ve been for many years was the thing to do" is exactly what my parents did when my father was diagnosed with incurable cancer. For as long as he was able they enjoyed life quietly, with little trips out and treats and no worrying about eating the wrong things or trying to live healthily. "Too late for that" my father said, so they concentrated on being happy together for as long as they could. I hope you and Beloved can do the same.

  32. I think it may be therapeutic in a small way to tell the truth about your hard situation so share away with us. The doctor gave wise advice. You are trying so hard with the fun little excursions and your dh is being difficult. Bless you both.

  33. Thanks for your honesty. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and eat the damn chocolate. You have a unique perspective on life and you matter. Greetings from Dalamory. I'd say "Blessings" but am not sure that you might want to throw them or me out of the window.

  34. I'd been wondering how things were going. . . and I'm glad you told us (in your own inimitable style. Eat the chocolate; enjoy as much as you can; try to find someone who can give you a few hours of respite now and then.

    And keep telling us the truth.

  35. I think your doctor is wise. You each need to do what makes you happy and focus on what you love together, whatever and whenever that is. It sounds simplified, I realize.. I don't mean it to (too soft?).

    "“I don’t really feel like chocolate!” <--- That's just wrong! Then again, more for you.

  36. The toughness of life and ageing. You're saying it. You're living it.

  37. A poem for you, from me:

    Why Me?
    by Susan Noyes Anderson

    Of all the people
    in the world
    millions of guys
    zillions of girls
    of all the animals
    there are
    from Timbuktu
    to Zanzibar
    of all the statues
    ever raised
    to villains feared
    or heroes praised
    of all the buildings
    ever built
    that stand up straight
    or even tilt
    of all the car tops
    ever made
    from fiberglass
    to steel
    to suede
    why did it have to
    land on me
    not on the ground
    not on a tree
    not on the street
    or at my feet
    but on my head
    with liquid dread
    I must exclaim
    at the deadly aim
    of the dreadful turd
    of that dreadful bird

    Kinda made me feel better when I wrote it during a bad time. Hope it does the same for you.

  38. Be kind to him, Friko. Anything else will backfire. Don't remind him of what he's forgotten, don't get after him for what he doesn't understand. He wouldn't have chosen to be this way, and it's his - and your - bad luck that it's happening. He is disappearing and there is nothing you can do about it but be kind. Your rage worries me, and I won't pretend to understand what that's all about except in some part, the general shit of ageing. Eat your chocolate. Drink your wine. Walk the dog. Find one thing, however tiny, to appreciate once a day. None of it is fair, but you know better than most that life isn't. But find that one thing, please.

  39. Hugs to you both...and I agree, stay as patient and kind as you can and do get out as possible and find an acceptable outlet for yourself...thinking of you.

  40. Grumbling is good for us. Lose your patience all you like, just remember to couch your words in love. Consider yourself kicked (with affection).

  41. I check every day. Hope so much that you are doing all right. As I have said before, my situation Is very similar to yours. One of the commenters above stressed that you should be good to Beloved. I am having one hard time trying to treat my Man with kindness all the time. So many things he does not remember! So many things he does that just don't make sense. It is a whole new world for me, and I am not adjusting well!!! I guess the only answer is for us to do our best to cope? Meanwhile, you need to treat yourself with kindness,, too. We are all only human, after all.

  42. You sound sad but calm and coping. Good to see you back. I hope you will be easy on yourself as well as Beloved. Blessings.


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