Family isn’t always blood related.

Last week was just the reminder i needed.

Just because you may be related by blood to someone, it doesn’t mean they deserve to be part of your family.

Family are people who love and care for you no matter what. Family stand up for each other. Family are there for you at your lowest. Family are there for you when you need them most.

Last week i had an Aunt and Uncle (siblings) pretty much kick me out of my childhood home-the home where my Mum and Nan live, i have been helping my grandparents for as long as i can remember. For the past decade (actually longer, but approximates are fine here) i have been regularly helping my Nan with gardening, household chores, shopping, taking her to do her banking, taking her to doctor’s appointments, cooking and baking for her plus whatever else she wanted me to do for her.

When she came home from hospital last month, i became her Carer and moved back home so i could take care of her 24 hours a day. I continued to do everything i had been doing previously as well as new roles such as helping her get dressed, helping her on the toilet, getting all her meals for her, making sure she was taking her medications at the right time, helping her walk around and then also making sure her oxygen condenser was correctly in her nose and was working right. I was also putting her to bed, i was there for support and company.

At times, my caring role even extended to caring for my Mum. Helping her with things that my Nan usually did for her. Some of the things i didn’t mind doing at all, but others i believe went well and truly beyond my role.

In the past few minutes i had a friend text me asking how i was and if i needed a shoulder to cry on or if i wanted a hug.
THAT is what family is.

Now i’m off for a while to see my friend. We may not be connected by blood, but we are sisters in every other way possible.

A change of mind.

For the past week and a bit my Nan has talked about going back to hospital. This time, to die. She kept saying she had done everything she wanted to do, seen everyone she wanted to see and she was ready to go.
Each day, I’d ask her if she wanted me to make the phone call (a phone call to a specific number would start the ball rolling with her admission to the Palliative Care Ward at the hospital of her choice), but she kept saying “No, not just yet. I want to see (family/friends) one more time, they should be visiting today or tomorrow.”

Last Wednesday though, she couldn’t take it any longer, the previous two nights had been horrible. She’d barely had any sleep and had also started hallucinating. Some of the hallucinations were quite bad and to her, VERY real. She had been waking every couple of hours from nightmares, shortness of breath or hallucinations. I had been with her throughout the night as company and a reassuring voice that i would keep her safe and that she would be OK with me by her side.

She was also becoming much weaker, barely being able to walk more than about 5 metres without getting overwhelmingly exhausted.

Wednesday morning saw the Personal Care lady come as usual to bathe Nan. All went well until it came time to put the compression stockings on Nan’s legs. As Nan’s health has been deteriorating and it seems like she is aging faster, her skin has become extremely delicate. As the Care lady was putting on the stockings with her gloved hands, a skin tear occurred and as can be expected, it bled. The skin tear was seen to and dressed but Nan had been so scared by this and seeing as she was still hallucinating, she had had enough. She wanted to go to the hospital as soon as she could.

I made the phone call and the Palliative Care Nurse came out, assessed Nan, had a chat to her and arranged everything so Nan could go to hospital.

By this time my Uncle had arrived and also called his sister to come and move into Nan’s house (I still don’t know why she is now living in Nan’s house). I don’t think my Uncle or Aunt understood much about hallucinations or how Nan had been feeling as they kept telling her there was nothing else in the house and she was being silly and it was stupid how she was imagining these things. That was the last thing that my Nan (their Mum) needed to hear, and hearing them say that to her just made her more anxious, worried and stressed than she needed to be.

We got to the hospital mid afternoon and she was put directly into a bed in the Palliative Care Ward. Her medication was checked and changed, she was monitored and reassessed and had some food organised for her.

The Palliative Care staff are amazing. They are so caring, nurturing and compassionate.

 

Have I failed?

I feel that i have failed those i love, those i care about, my family and friends… Myself.

I know i am in a situation that i cannot control.
It is up to God, Mother Nature, fate, whoever or whatever you believe in as to what happens from here.

I feel lost.

I feel i have failed myself because i sometimes have thoughts that make me second guess myself. Thoughts that make me question myself. Thoughts that have me wondering if i have chosen the right path.

Am i doing the right thing?
It is NOT a walk in the park. There may not be much physical effort or work involved, but psychologically, it is so hard.
I am not too far away from my family, but i am scared at who i am becoming. What i am turning into.
Will i still be the same Mum that i was at the start of the year? Will i still be the same wife? The same friend?

I just don’t know.

I thought being a carer wouldn’t be so bad, after all, i was looking after my Nan which is something i have done in the past. But this is much harder.
I am having to see her health deteriorate. I am having to help her dress when she can muster the strength to change into nightclothes, otherwise she just asks to sleep in the clothes she had been wearing that day. I am now having to help her when she goes to the toilet. Sometimes, it is like i am caring for a young child who has not yet mastered how to use the toilet. It is killing me seeing her this bad. But i know things can possibly get worse.
Her eyes seem to be sinking back into her eye sockets further and further each day. He body is now just skin and bones. She is continuing to lose weight. She is shrinking away to nothingness.

I feel hopeless. I do not know what i can do.

I can’t leave the house as i have to help her. I am her carer. I promised all her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren that i would care for her as long as i was needed. I feel that it is now that she needs me the most.
BUT it is now that things are getting scary as i feel i can’t help her anymore. My hands are tied. I am being held captive by her illness, although in a different way to how it is affecting her.

I wish i could take her pain away.
I wish i could take away the illness.
I wish i could make everything alright.

 

A decline in health.

Unfortunately my Nan’s health is worsening.
Last week, i could tell she was getting weaker, but she was still mentally strong.
I think now, she has had enough.

She is exhausted.
Mentally.
Physically.
Emotionally.
Completely and utterly exhausted.

I think her body may be ready to start shutting down. That’s if the process hasn’t already started.
She now finds it extremely tiring to walk more than about 5 metres at a time. Twice that distance has her almost collapsing, buckling at the knees.
She also gets exhausted if she has to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time. Listening is exhausting for her, so is talking.
Things we take for granted are such a huge effort and exhausting for her now that she is so fragile and ill.

The illness has spread throughout her body.
It is in tissue, glands, organs and bone. It is sucking the life out of her.

Up until the past few days, i have been able to keep the pain away with medication, now that doesn’t seem to be working.
I will have to talk to the medical staff taking care of her and see where we can go from here.
I do not want her to be in pain if i can help it.
It is painful watching her in pain, knowing there is nothing more i can do.
It makes me feel i have failed her. I told her i would take care of her, but now i have to watch her face screw up as the pain takes over. I am helpless, i am unable to do the one thing i told her i would do for her- keep her comfortable.

It’s not fair.
Life isn’t fair at the moment.

She doesn’t deserve this.

When trust is lost in an instant.

It seems that a man who i have respected for almost all my life will now be no more than a stranger to me.

During a meeting with some health care staff the other day, he lied to them in regards to how i look after my Nan.
He looked them in the eye and lied, saying crap about me that was completely false.

After the staff had left, he then assaulted my husband and verbally threatened me. Thankfully my husband wasn’t hurt, but that didn’t stop him telling my Nan that my husband’s minor injuries were self-inflicted, which again, was a huge lie!

That was the last straw. We could have pressed charges but we didn’t.
We will NOT stoop to his level of immaturity.

I will still be civil towards him if he comes to see my Nan, but i no longer feel a need to help him.
I plan to cut him and possibly his family, out of my life when the time is right.
I don’t need toxic people like that in my life.

The moment he said hurtful, false claims about me, in front of me, to other people and then to go and hurt my husband and i…
That was the final straw. At that moment, all trust was gone.

He can rot in hell.

Life’s too short.

Some of you may be following the progress, or decline, of my Nan’s health.

Today we had the Palliative Care doctor visit.
I know Nan isn’t well, i have noticed her declining each day but today my fears were confirmed.
The doctor couldn’t give me an estimate for her life expectancy, but she said the time was nearing. It could be weeks or months, i’m not sure, it may even be days… I simply do not know.

I am not overly religious, but it is times like this when believing in something or someone does help.

I am not scared about my Nan passing away, i just don’t want her to be in pain. I want it to be peaceful. I know i’m not the only one who thinks this.

I wish i could keep her alive forever, but i know that’s not fair on her. She has to have some quality of life, but that is now shriveling away with each day that passes.
She no longer has the energy to dress herself or change into bedclothes. She asks that i let her sleep in clothes that she wore that day.
She sits in her lounge chair all day, most of the time is spent with her eyes shut just listening to the TV or else she is fast asleep, usually with her mouth wide open. We joke that she is “catching flies”.
Occasionally she’ll hear something that sparks her interest and she’ll prop herself up and watch TV for a while.

I am doing everything i can for her, without actually forcing her to do things. She is now eating very little, it is worrying with the little amount she is eating but i have been told it is normal for this stage of life. Her thirst has somewhat increased over the past couple of days and she has been drinking more than she was the previous couple of weeks.

Nan has had so many visitors. More are planning to come for a visit over the next couple of weeks or so. She really loves her visitors. She does get quite tired, but she still loves the visitors. She talks about them after they have left, how wonderful it was to have seen her family and friends.

Her most favourite visitor in recent days has been her sister who lives a couple of hours away. It is so beautiful watching the two of them sit together, holding hands, singing to each other and talking about the olden days.
Today she got to meet her newest Great-Grandchild. Her face lit up so much and she got to have a little cuddle until she was too tired to hold him any longer.

I have been taking photos of Nan with our visitors. I show them to her when i have them on the computer. She loves looking at the photos but hates seeing images of herself.
In a way, i don’t blame her as i hate seeing photos of myself too.
I have to remember to try and get a few photos myself with her too. I always seem to be taking photos of other people, but not of Nan & myself.

Next week, we have a number of people come to visit from Community Health Care and the Palliative Care teams. I hope she finds the strength to hold on until next week…
We have a number of family birthdays coming up so i will remind her that those are happening in the coming days.

Pain

Pain.

It’s different for everyone. What is off the scale for one person, may be nothing for the next.

I’ve been told i have a quite high pain tolerance.

For the past week my pain has steadily been getting worse.
I think my back pain has turned into sciatica, the pain is almost unbearable at times but i know i must go on as i am a carer now and i cannot give up.

It feels like someone is stabbing me and twisting a knife, other times it feels like a burning sensation is shooting down my legs. It is FAR from pleasant. I would not wish this upon anyone.

It messes with my mind. It stops me from being able to concentrate. It takes away any joy i might have left within my soul.

I am in pain when i sit. I am in pain when i stand. I am in pain when i walk. Jogging or running is completely out of the question- i accidentally did that a few days ago to keep up with one of my children and i was on the brink of collapsing and crying from the pain.

I wish there was a quick fix for issues like this.

No one deserves to live like this.

No one.

Free the love within

Do not hold love within your heart for fear of your heart being broken.

Free the love within.

Do not hold back from telling someone how much they mean to you for fear of the unknown.

Free the love within.

Do not stop loving someone because of ignorance or a lack of understanding.

Free the love within.

Don’t ever stop loving for fear of running out of love as love is never-ending.

Free the love within.

Do reach out to those with a tear running down their cheek, they need love at this moment.

Free the love within.

Do accept love from others with open arms and give love to others just as freely.

Free the love within.

Do be accepting of everyone; we all have pain, joy and sorrow, we all deserve to love and be loved.

Free the love within.

Just as the butterfly flutters away from the sweetly scented flower, you too must learn to…

Free the love within.

Alone in a crowded room

Every day people come and go in the house.

Carers, family, friends.

They all come to help or see my Nan and how she is going.
Some ask how I am, but the response is always the same “I’m fine thanks”.

This could not be further from the truth though.

I can’t recall the last time i felt this lonely. Maybe it was during my teenage years when the bullying was at it’s worst? When i always had people around but i never felt i could say anything without being told I’d brought this upon myself.
I did not then, as i do not want to now, bring attention to myself.

This time is my Nan’s time. She deserves to shine for as long as she can. I do not want to take the spotlight away from her.

Meanwhile i stand out of sight watching over her, watching over everyone. Standing in the wings silently weeping, silently wishing i could make things better, silently wishing i could give her everything she wants and everything she needs at this very moment.
Silently wishing i had the guts to speak up and say what i felt.

To say that some people should take a good hard look in the mirror as they are hurting Nan by thinking of themselves, by putting THEIR wants before hers. By suggesting options which make THEIR life easier even if it is the complete opposite of what she wants or needs.

But this won’t ever happen. Not out loud anyway. Not while Nan is living. I will continue to keep my thoughts to myself, i’ll continue to have a weight lift off my shoulders when you leave the house until next time.

I will continue to put my whole life, spirit and soul into taking care of Nan.

I truly want her to be able to do whatever she requests. I will do my best to be able to make it happen for her.
So far i feel i am doing the right thing for her.

She is my #1 priority.
I wish i could take the pain and illness away and die with it so she doesn’t have to.

Starting to believe…

I think i am finally starting to really believe in myself.

I believe that people DO appreciate me becoming a carer. I am learning to ignore the ignorant comments of those who are still in denial and are only thinking of themselves.

I know i am doing the best i can do from what i know BUT i do have the help of medical professionals, they come to the house and help me with things only they can do.

I look forward to seeing movement of the bed covers when i go to check on her in the middle of the night, it means she is still breathing.

I believe i can allow Nan the freedom to stay home for as long as she desires as i am doing the very best i can to offer her the love and care that she gave to me in my infancy and childhood when she raised me.

I believe that there are friends and family who i can rely on… it may take me a bit more time to feel comfortable leaving Nan in the care of others so i can run errands for her, but i believe i am getting there.
Baby steps.

All we have to do is take one little step at a time and not give up.