Wednesday, 25 January 2017

More Tears than Laughter...

...since I last posted. Although there is still the involuntary giggle he has made me cry many times in the last few days. I had thought for a long time that my tear ducts must have dried up or got blocked,  in recent  days I learned differently.

There is still no definite news on a placement although I have found a Care Home/Nursing Home who have spare capacity. A nurse is visiting the hospital on Friday to ‘assess' him. That’s a euphemism for checking out if he is a suitable resident for their posh - and very expensive - premises. Most homes aren’t registered to take people like Beloved who try to escape every chance they get. He is quiet, still enormously polite and well-spoken, still a true gentleman, but he has this urge to 'go home’.

The first thing he said to me when I arrived today - straight after the usual initial remark and question: “how lovely to see you, how did you manage to get here and find me?” - was that he had had words with the staff. "I told them in no uncertain terms that I could leave any time I chose, that they had no right to keep me here. Of course, they apologised and pleaded that they have to keep me here for safety reasons, that I might cause an accident and endanger others. What nonsense.” He still speaks like a well-educated man and throws long words around which nobody, in their right mind, or with a lesser love of language, would use. He is such a dear.

As always, I managed to placate him quite quickly. The staff had been waiting for me, promising him that I would turn up soon and explain. He has an almost childlike belief in my ability to make things better. I promised him that I would ‘spring’ him the first chance I got, but that the staff were quite right to insist on his temporary stay with them, for the sake of his own safety as well as that of others. I reminded him of his fall at home - “I had a fall? I don’t recall at all.” - and that he might fall again if he went off without assistance.

“Yes, but if I stay here, where are you going to sleep tonight?” I daren’t use the word HOME, any mention of it immediately makes him question the wisdom of him staying behind while I’m allowed to go home. The answer to his question was “In my old bed, upstairs.” He has no idea where that might be.

We had some poetry - I often take some of his favourite poems and read them to him. Today we had Siegfried Sassoon’s “Everyone Sang”

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on - on - and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

By the third line I was crying. It’s a poem he knows by heart and he was reciting along with me. “Beautiful”, he said, but I doubt that he made the connection between freedom and beauty and his own sad state of imprisonment, both in body and mind.

Hospital food is not very appetising, he says, barely audible, hand hiding the words from view, making sure that nobody can punish him for criticising the service. I have tried all sorts of treats, special sandwiches, puddings, sweets, fruits; what he likes best is his own rhubarb from the freezer - grown and cooked by him - with a layer of custard on top. I spoonfeed him, because rhubarb is apt to dribble and soil his pyjamas. He opens his mouth wide “like a sparrow baby when mum comes with a juicy worm”. He laughed at my remark, not at all put out.

I’ve also smuggled in cider and beer. I have no idea if alcohol is allowed or not, but he always had at least one drink every day at home. Even his taste buds have gone. He drank the first (toddler)cup of cider with great pleasure but didn’t like the beer very much. The next time the drink of cider wasn’t a success, he said: “hm, apple juice, but rather different from the real stuff.” I expect he will be allowed a drink in the Nursing Home, where I can join him for a sip or two. He is too ill for anything much to make any difference now. Like the doctor said “quality rather than quantity.”

One day this week I arrived to find him sitting outside the front door of the main hospital building, in a wheelchair, wrapped up in blankets, with an auxiliary in attendance. He looked so frail and grey, so lost and hopeless, my heart just broke. The auxiliary said that he had badly wanted  to go out - go home - and the ward staff had decided to allow him a trip in a wheelchair. By the time we reached his floor I was crying so hard, the auxiliary hugged me and handed me over to the nurse in charge; someone else made me a hot drink and several people spoke to me with great kindness. The problem is that I see the man Beloved has become and a huge wave of guilt hits me for leaving him there, in the hospital, all alone. Realistically I know I can’t look after him at home, but sometimes the pain and heartache overwhelm me.

I still have a friend who looks after Millie every day; she herself has a dog and Millie and Tessie get on well. I finally took Millie to the Vet yesterday, she has bad arthritis in her front elbow and will have to have pain killers. Poor Millie, she hardly gets any attention from me and she misses Beloved terribly, he used to give her a thorough cuddle every evening and, of course, she slept at the foot of his bed. Now she has to make do with me.

I have also done a lot of driving during the last days, it’s getting to me; luckily, we have a good Neighbours Scheme in Valley’s End whose drivers will take people on hospital trips; I shall make use of them more now. Friends are willing but don’t always have the time and when something like this drags on it can become a bit of a chore for everyone.

Keep your fingers crossed that the Nursing Home will accept Beloved.


  1. Dear Friko, I also cried when I read your poem. I remember well when we "had" to move my dad to a nursing home 15 years ago.. Your situation is very similar to what I experienced. It was heartbreaking and reading this brought it all back. However, I knew, like you, that it was the safest and best place for him.

  2. Tears here too.
    Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring. With everything crossed.

  3. Sassoon's experiences certainly give him credit in writing about pain and suffering, as well as the beauty in life. Hugs to you. Hoping for a good Nursing Home placement.

  4. With all else you have to cope with, Millie's problems no doubt worry you, too. My kitty has rather bad arthritis, and it's painful to watch her trying to cope. It's so good that Millie has a friend to visit as well as someone to be sure she's safe while you have to be gone. I hope her medications help.

    I remember trying so hard to get my mother to eat. She came to the point where nothing tasted good -- and what's the point of eating if that's the case? I am heartened to hear that your physician is wise enough to recommend quality. I must say -- when it comes to quality, you certainly fit the bill.

  5. I hope that the placement comes to pass and that it works out - and that the expense is not crippling.
    You must have been heartbroken to see him sitting out there...and feeling you had abandoned him: but what else could you do?
    Poor Millie. She must wonder where her world has gone too..

  6. My neighbor has just gone through what you're going through. she felt guilty but feels better now that her husband is in a good care facility. The first two nights away she stayed at the hospital and slept with him in his bed. He seemed to be satisfied that he wouldn't be abandoned.

  7. Hoping you get a "YES", and Beloved has a place. That will be such a relief for you. I look at Old Man every day. So thin and frail. Cannot eat an entire orange or apple at one time. His dog is old, too. I wonder which I might lose first? And which would be worse? To lose her would break his heart. Feeling your pain and heartache. Thanks for sharing. We care.

  8. Our fingers are duly crossed, and we continue to send all good thoughts. Though I can well imagine, in the face of this, how you must time and again feel you fall short of what's required, I agree with shoreacres, "when it comes to quality, you certainly fit the bill."

  9. How very sad it all is, and while nobody blames Beloved for wanting to go home (wouldn't we all, if we were in his spot), it is good that you keep reminding yourself it is realistically not possible for you to give him the care he needs at home. Let's hope the posh nursing home find Beloved a suitable resident. Of course, the move will confuse him further, but hopefully he will like it more than the hospital, and see it as some sort of holiday or rehab after the fall he does not remember.
    Not sure alcohol will be OK with the medication he probably has to take, but a little here and there won't make a difference, I suppose.
    Poor Millie! She can't understand what's going on even less than Beloved.

  10. Dear Friko - your comment on not using certain words and/or in my case normal things about life ... brought back that time to me. I do hope the Nursing Home accepts Beloved - which at least will help somewhat and perhaps Millie will be able to visit too ... so glad he's enjoying the rhubarb ... and a glass of cider is just what is needed - normality, and not much alcohol. The ideas that will come to the fore used to make me laugh and then we'd laugh together ... but it's is just challenging and you seem to be doing so well ... and rationalising what you can do, and what will make your life easier - so pleased Millie is getting well looked after - with thoughts and hugs for you both - Hilary

  11. My fingers are crossed for the move. I was younger and more distracted when I went through this with my mother-in-law. I had a job and children to fill the days she was away. It is much harder when the burden is totally on your shoulders and you have only Millie. Be sure to eat and rest and be kind to yourself.

  12. Oh dearest Friko ~ I pray the right space will open up to take Beloved in.

    Love, hugs & prayers for you and Beloved and Millie too ~ FlowerLady

  13. Thinking of you. A Trying time. But you are doing so well in your care and thoughtfulness.

  14. Hugs to you and everything crossed here!

  15. Dear Friko, my fingers are crossed. My admiration for you is great. xo

  16. Dear Friko,
    This is all so hard.I was searching for words and did not find them...
    Then I went down your labels to
    "Things that bring Joy",
    and what an abundance of beauty and wonderful things I found there. All your gorgeous photos, full of colors, sun and joy. Your garden, wow... Your countryside.
    I was so sad before, but in seeing all this I know, there is also the good side of life, which will always remain. You will remember it too. And one day the crying will be done. Much love to you.

  17. This is so heartbreaking and sad because the best we can do is not nearly what we would want to be able to do. yes, fingers crossed that the facility takes him in.

  18. I am so full of admiration for how you are coping. Everything crossed here for a good place for Beloved, and one which will allow Millie to visit, and which will help and support you emotionally too. Oceans of support and sympathy coming your way.

  19. It's interesting how much more support there is available these days for carers . Recognition of the importance of love in dementia care .
    Love , rhubarb and custard and the odd glass of cider .

  20. Oh, the poem. How that touched me. It sounds like they are doing their best in care. I'm glad you brought his little bit of cider/beer/wine. Yes, it's the quality that counts and I'm not sure at this point it can do much harm. I'm glad you are getting support from your community. Perhaps when he's moved Millie can go see him, too. I hope so for both their sakes. Stay strong my friend.

  21. Sometimes we have to do such hard things, but Beloved is safe there and you know he wouldn't be at home. No one person can watch somebody else 24 hours a day. I pray he gets in the nursing home! :)

  22. My heart aches for you
    and praying a nursing home is soon found for your Beloved.
    I went through some of this with my mother
    and wonder much about my future.
    Stay strong, good food, try and rest all you can..

  23. Love U, friend Friko. Always, cat.


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