09 August 2009

More than meets the eye

I expect you may have wondered where I had got to this past ten days and whether I had disappeared down a black hole. I had in fact gone to spend time my mother again, this time taking Snoopy with me. Kay did not come as she preferred to spend some time with her friends before they all go their separate ways in the autumn to universities all over the UK.

I seem to spend my life at the moment administering eye drops. Greg had a cataract operation at the beginning of July. My mother had one ten days ago. Antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops have to be put in four times a day for several weeks afterwards. Greg's operation was sudden, complicated by his diabetes. My mother's was long-planned, having waited many years for the cataract to ripen. It was pure coincidence that both operations were within three weeks of one another. As is usual with the operation, the patient needs someone to collect them from hospital and stay with them overnight. This has a lot to do with the fact that the eye is covered for 24 hours with a bandage and plastic shield which can cause the patient to become disoriented and misjudge distances and obstacles. Add the fact that, in my mother's case, the patient is an elderly lady who is prone to falls anyway, my presence was a necessity! I spent ten days with her in all and returned today. As always, we had a lovely time together and managed a few outings to shops and restaurants. I administered the requisite eye drops for her, tidied up her garden and did a few other chores. Because Snoopy was with me, I managed a few good walks with him too. He loves my mother's garden and enjoys rolling on the lawn as well as chasing the seagulls who dive-bomb him, thinking he is a threat to their young even though the latter are safely waddling about on the rooftops. The weather was (almost) in competition with Greece and I managed to top up my tan while I was gardening.

Kay had coped admirably on the home front looking after Greg. She had done food shopping, including lugging it home, cooked meals (which Greg as usual did not have the appetite to eat), stood over him to make sure he took his medication, washed dishes and still found time to tidy her room. Yes, I'll repeat that.... TIDY HER ROOM. I don't think it has seen a duster or vacuum cleaner in months because you have to hack your way into it. A maelstrom of clothes, shoes, books, jewellery and plastic bags covering every horizontal surface including the floor, so that walking across the room is a hazardous occupation and one I have refused to even contemplate in the last six months without a hard hat and elbow pads. I couldn't believe the transformation when I got back today. All this domesticity will stand her in good stead when/if she goes to university. I think too she has found it relaxing not having to spend all her time studying for exams for a change.

One thing that was very apparent to me while I was away is just how much Greg's mind has deteriorated. We would speak daily on the phone and he would repeat things over and over again. He would tell me some piece of news or information at the beginning of the call and then tell me again about ten minutes later as if it was the first time he had mentioned it. He would sometimes go on to tell me a third time. He can recall with remarkable clarity things that happened ten, twenty, thirty years ago. In fact his conversation largely centres on living in the past, recalling experiences and episodes long gone. But when it comes to things that happened or were said ten, twenty or thirty MINUTES ago, it seems he needs reminding or he has totally blocked it from his memory. Kay has noticed this too. One morning she came down from her room, had a long conversation with him over breakfast and then went to watch the television for a while. About an hour later Greg bumped into her and was surprised to see she was awake and had not come down to say hello to him! He had obviously forgotten that he had seen her and talked to her an hour earlier. Things are definitely worse in that department than I thought. Whether it is permanent damage or short-term (only while he continues to drink) I don't know.

19 comments:

Esther said...

Hi,

Been reading your blog for a while, I can only begin to imagine how hard it must be for you. Unfortunately alcohol depletes thiamin from the body which is essential for brain funtioning this in turn can lead to memory problems. Sadly there is a dementia only found in alcoholics which is Karscoffs psychosis, which results from permanent damage to brain tissues resulting from the lack of thiamine.

Louise

rosiero said...

Hi Louise. Your comments are very very true. Greg has to take thiamine three times daily as part of his medication. When he was in hospital last year the doctors did consider Korsakoff's, but then ruled it out at the time, but I reckon they were too hasty and that Greg may have a touch of it.

Gill - That British Woman said...

Haven't been by in a while, just catching up with all your goings on. Glad you had a lovely holiday in Greece with your daughter. Wish her well with her university studies from me,

Gill in Canada

Elaine said...

It sounds as if Kay is going to be just fine at Uni, looking after herself. And hopefully it'll free up more time for you to spend with your Mum...or doing whatever makes you happy. You deserve it. x

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Yes I did miss you Rosiero - pleased to see you back again. My Mum had her cateracts removed a few years ago and I had to do the eye drop thing for her, but she only lives down the road. Still, it gave you some time with her and you were able to enjoy some good weather too. Sorry to hear that Greg's condition is no better and that some "complications" are setting in. More for you to have to deal with. Good for Kay to have dealt with her room, I well remember such places!! A x

Working Mum said...

That is sad about your husband; I hope it is not permanent and if he ever manages to kick the booze, he faculties will return.

Yes, Kay sounds ready for University. I was so glad my mum taught me about food shoppping, budgeting, cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing when I went off to Uni. I was one of the most prepared students in our hall. She'll have to watch she doesn't end up looking after the other students though!!

nuttycow said...

Glad to hear you had a good time with your mum. Hope she's recovering from the eye operation. I bet Snoopy will miss the garden though?

When does Kay find out her results?

Nota Bene said...

Lucky Snoopy dog.

Could Kay come and give the boy a lesson or two, now that's she discoered the joys of tidy?!

aims said...

Your last line has me wondering if you think Greg is actually going to quit drinking? Is there any sign of hope on that regard?

btw - delighted you had such a marvelous time at your Mom's. Is there ever any question of that not happening tho? :0)

Flowerpot said...

Kay is obviously a very bright capable young lady who will do so well at whatever she does. No worries on that score. Just look after yourself.

Nechtan said...

You mum must love having you around. It seems very much a relationship that has carried on another generation with Kay. Though you must be worn out and needing another holiday.

I'm not sure what to think about Greig. The memory could be temporary. My wife's aunt always phones when she's had a few tipples and the repetativeness is apparent.

All the best

Nechtan

dulwich divorcee said...

Glad you had a good break with your mum and got some walks in, and sounds as though Kay coped really well in your absence x

Stinking Billy said...

Rosiero, you refer to Kay having coped, but what always comes across to me is how *you* remain so strong and manage your life so successfully. Yep, I said 'successfully' because I am sure that many a woman in your position would have collapsed long ago. Your blog is a lesson to us all. x

Rebel Mother said...

The short term memory does get slowly worse and does not go away when the boozing stops. Esther is quite right with the dementia.

However, the long term memory is as clear as a bell - 10-20 years ago. Its quite amazing really.

Does get irritating when you have to repeat yourself ten times in half hour though!

RMxx

Retiredandcrazy said...

I agree with Billy, I know that it's hard for you, but you do seem to have claimed your life back again. ...and a teenager cleaning their room?! How does that one go??

rosiero said...

nuttycow - 20 August. Only 6 nail-biting days to go!!

aims - things are getting worse not better. I can't see him ever giving up... but I suppose I always live in hope!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I remember the eye drops with my late fil. Hated doing it!! You have a lot of patience.

CJ xx

Working Mum said...

It's 11am on Thursday and I've been popping in all morning. What's the news? Is it good, or are you working your way through clearing? I can't stand the wait any longer!

Not Waving but Drowning said...

You must be so proud of your Kay and how she's taking Greg's drinking in her stride.

She sounds a lovely girl. I'm so glad you had that special holiday together,

GG