18 September 2017

Bone weary

I am tired. The sort of tired that, when you open your eyes first thing in the morning, you would happily close them again for a few more hours' sleep. I force myself out of bed and into the onslaught of the waking day. I am pushing the boundaries of sleep in both directions. I often do not get to bed until 2am and am up again at 7am. No wonder I am tired. I am caring for an aged parent on the one hand and an adult child on the other, both having time clocks on the opposite end of the spectrum.

As I heralded in my last post, Kay has moved back home with me for six months to save money for a big trip of a lifetime to Asia and South America next year. It is lovely having her home again and (so far) we have not torn one another's hair out or thrown a vase at the wall. We have not had this much lovely girlie time together in years. However she is working as a locum doctor, often on late night shifts in a different part of London, so by the time she gets home it is near midnight or, as in the case of last night, 2am. Silly as it may sound, I cannot rest until I know she is home safely. When she was in Yorkshire or Maidstone, I had no idea what time she came home, so I slept peacefully in ignorance. But now she is home with me again, I cannot rest until I hear her car pull up and the click of the front door. Then I can sleep.

On the other end of the spectrum, my 94-year-old mother is getting frailer. She now weighs only 7 stone, but her legs are enormous, swollen with fluid like tree trunks. A huge ulcer, which is the size of a plump peach, on her right leg is not healing. It will never heal, we are told, as the blood supply to it is very poor. She has stenosis, or in other words narrowings of the arteries in her pelvis and leg. It's just an old-age thing. Furring up of the arteries. One day the narrowings will close completely and the blood flow to her leg will stop altogether. Presumably that means gangrene. We have already been told amputation is the only real option to help her leg pain, but how is a 94-year-old, who can barely move, supposed to cope with an amputation or a prosthesis? The outlook is bleak. My mother has visibly deteriorated in the last six months. Back in April, she was coming with me to the local hypermarket to do a big shop and pushing a trolley up and down the aisles all by herself. Today she can barely lift herself out of her armchair and walk across the room to get to the bathroom. She sleeps all night in her armchair because she cannot get any rest from the relentless pain in her leg if she sleeps with them flat out in bed. She only gets relief if her feet are down on the floor. The armchair has become her home - day in, day out, night in, night out. The less she gets about, the less she is able to.   A vicious circle.

She needs to be woken up early, as she has daily appointments in the mornings that require her to be up and dressed....regular visits from the district nurses who dress her leg ulcer, appointments at hospitals, surgeries, you name it. Because of her medication for the pain, she sleeps quite deeply and so needs me to telephone her early at 7am and at regular intervals thereafter to make sure she is awake.  For the last ten weeks, I have visited every day at about 11am to make her lunch and prepare a supper to put in the fridge. Sometimes I get there to discover she is still undressed, having dozed off again after my last telephone call. Sometimes I find her eating her breakfast at 11.30am just as I arrive to cook her lunch. I feel as if I am in the middle of a nightmare world where strange things happen. As an only child and a widow, I have nobody else to call on to help. It's me or complete strangers and she's dismissed the idea of the latter. Living with me is not an option. My house is on 6 storeys with too many stairs. She would be incarcerated in one room - my bedroom, as it is the only room with a bathroom on the same level.

I'm so run-down, I've even had a gum infection (the first one in my life ever)  with a swollen cheek that made me look like a lop-sided hamster and pain I didn't know was possible. Occasionally, I am so battered by the relentless early starts and late nights, that I nod off after my lunch. I try not to, as I don't want to waste the precious hours when I could be doing something for me.  I guess I'm just going to have to find some bigger matchsticks.....

Image result for matchsticks to keep eyes open


Maggie May said...

I'm really sorry to hear of your distress. Being a carer is the most excruciating and tiring thing in all the world. I had this for the last few years of my husband's life. I think it took me a couple of years to feel well again afterwards.
I really do feel for you and wish there was something I could say to ease things and make a difference. If your body needs to sleep, then I'd give in to it and sleep in the afternoon. You will catch up with 'me time' later on.
I understand completely how you cannot settle until your daughter comes in at night. I have also experienced this too and no matter how old offspring are, they still are your children while they're living with you.
My heart goes out to your predicament.
Maggie x

ADDY said...

KVille left this comment on Monday 18 September.For some reason it would not publish, so I have copied here.

oh dear, what a thing. The only words I have are "look after yourself" but how can you with so much on. So I guess you just have to keep on keeping on and let Kay look after herself in the wee small hours..maybe a flag system for when you get up so you know her ship passed through in the night?

Elizabeth said...

I agree with Kville - it is definitely time to look after yourself and sleep in the afternoons. You'll not be able to look after anyone if you get sick yourself. A carers role is so demanding and seldom properly acknowledged. We should be fighting for more support for carers. For some it is a life long pursuit.

Polly said...

Oh Addy, I do sympathise with you. I’m an only child and when my mum started to deteriorate she was living 180 miles away. Moving her closer to me was dreadful because she had difficulty settling, then dementia set in. I know it’s easy to give advice but you do need to look after yourself, lay down on the settee with a throw or blanket over you, set an alarm and have an hours sleep in the afternoon, it works wonders. Take care.