MERRY CHRISTMAS to One & All at Carers UK
Long time, no posting; just over 5 months to be precise. My how time flies. It feels like just a few weeks ago I posted; I was shocked to find out it was in mid-July
Any road up, for those of you who previously followed my posts on this thread you’ll know that I’m what’s known as a recovering alcoholic. You may well have thought that I’d fallen off the wagon – yet again – but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I had my 1st Sobriety Birthday (as AA quaintly describes it) just over a month ago on 22nd November. I can honestly say I’ve never felt better physically, mentally and emotionally - all at the same time too - in my life before. It won’t last I daresay, but that’s life… init!
The simple truth is that over the past 6 months both my caring duties increased regarding dad and, at the same time, my right hand became increasing wonky, which didn’t help. SM’s parents have both been in poor health too, so he’s been back & forth between N Wales & England at a rate that would leave a spinning top dizzy… Poor sod!
I’ve also attended 3 funerals; one of my aunt’s died of sepsis, a family friend died from pneumonia and a close friend committed suicide (obviously not that close, or why didn’t they say anything? Or I pick on something, anything. But not a peep, not anything.)
On a much more positive side, my niece got married – ace wedding in Scotland - an operation sorted my wonky hand out, dad’s had a full on knee replacement and since late Sept I’ve become a part-time student (sort of) for two mornings a week.
I had my op in early September and the op worked brilliantly; much better than some rubbish injections I’d had previously. AS I couldn’t trust myself not to drop the hedgehogs with my dicky hand I had to give up my voluntary work at the sanctuary… Bummer! But I’m back there now and will be working there tomorrow morning & Boxing Day morning.
Dad had his op 2 weeks ago come Xmas Day (the first one in Nov was cancelled) and considering that he’s 84 is doing remarkably well. He spent 3 days in hospital which was a private one despite having the op on the NHS. He had his own room with an en suite bathroom, telly and a back door that led straight into a beautiful little quadrangle garden. Shame the weather was so awful he couldn’t sit outside in it. According to dad the food was terrific too but he had no real appetite to take advantage of that… typical!
He’s at that stage now were he’s well enough to walk around in very short bursts without his sticks or rollater, but not well enough to go outside yet and he tires very quickly and is still in a fair degree of pain. As such he’s becoming very stir crazy and now regrets having the op.
I was warned by some of dad’s cronies who’ve had knee/hip replacements that this would happen. But, give it a few weeks, and he’ll have forgotten all the horrible exercises he has to do, etc, and will be going down on bended knees (for first time in years) to thank his lucky stars that he had the damn op.
Fore-warned is fore-armed so I just ignore his most understandable crotchetiness and ratty outbursts. More importantly, I also ignore his pleading attempts at puppy dog eyes when it comes time for his dreaded exercises (currently 5 types, 10 reps each, 10 times a day plus little walks round the room & hallway) and the equally dreaded ice pack thingy on his knee afterwards. I’ve lost count of the amount & type of excuses he’s come up with to try and wriggle out of doing them. When his attempts to imitate Puss-in-Boots from Shrek fail, he calls me Nurse Ratchet instead. That too is water of a duck’s back.
Oddly enough, on the occasions that SM or my Well Bro have had to make dad do his exercises when I’m not there, dad does so with an uncomplaining compliance that’s led them both to think I’m exaggerating. I’m not, but I think that SM having once been a Sargent Major and my well bro a Sargent has something to do with dad’s acceptance of their ‘orders’.
Regarding myself, I was doing so well on the booze front that I began to become worried that as I approached my first birthday free from alcohol I’d become complacent again. The last time that happened I nearly died. It was hell and I never want to go there ever again. You’d think that would be enough, so why the niggling doubts? I really don’t know, they were just there, as insistent as a slight but annoying itch.
So, operating on the principal of prevention is better than cure, I decided to join the Spider Project. It’s an amazing place that offers a safe haven for ex-alcies and druggies, offering all sorts of courses & activities, therapy sessions & advice, etc, to keep us on the straight and narrow in a very relaxed, supportive way.
I decided to do a 10 week Level 1 Photography course, and the Film & Video one on. It’s only two half days a week, and that’s why I described myself earlier as ‘a part-time student (sort off)’.
I suppose I’m not really a student in most people’s eyes, but I am in mine, and loving it; best thing I’ve ever done.
I’ve worked like Billyo on both courses and have learnt so much. I handed in my Level 1 photography portfolio last Monday which I’m very proud of and worked very hard at; far more than was required actually. As a fellow learner put it, “Bloody hell girl, you’d think you were doing a shoot for Time Magazine not a Level 1. You do realise that it doesn’t even class a GCSE?”
Of course I did, but I don’t care. If/when I’m handed my Level 1 certificate in Feb (our portfolios won’t be assessed till Jan) I’m going to frame it. I’m more pleased & proud of myself for completing a 10 week course for a very small potatoes certificate than of my so-called degree.
The film & video course doesn’t have a certificate but we’re in the middle of making a short film. We’ve done story boards, location try outs, etc, and hope to start actual filming in the New Year. I’ve already put myself forward for doing Level 2 Photography (you can take up to a year to complete that.) I’m also starting a 1 day a week course for a NVQ 2 in Social Care in January. That was organised by some bod who offers advice on training & employment from some organisation called Involve North West. He comes every Monday, and I just got chatting to him during a fag break. Strange how these things happen.
Of course I couldn’t have done all of the above without the support of SM and my Well Bro. My Well Bro is retired but has a part-time job as a delivery man for a local bakers; he calls it his bun run. He shares this job with another bloke, and their boss doesn’t care who does the bun run on what days provided it gets done. So my WB has structured his work days around my courses so one of us is always at home to look after dad; the little darling! (my WB that is, not dad.)
I’m still doing the lion’s share of caring, but it’s amazing how even just a few hours on a couple of days ‘off’ a week to do other things really helps. It also means that I’m caring better too as I come back to it refreshed so to speak. It’s made all the difference in the world. I’m very lucky in that regard.
SM has helped too. I’d broken my digital camera a while back so was stuck with using my rubbish 5 year old mobile phone camera for my course. SM presented me with a new one; a Cannon Ixus 185. It took some getting used to as it’s a good deal more complicated than my old very basic one. But it turned out to be a terrific pocket digi camera, and I couldn’t have completed my course so successfully or as enthusiastically without it. But I’ve already out grown it!
So I’m saving my pennies to buy me a really good second hand mid-level DSLR camera; the sort you can actually focus with, and change its lens and stuff. SM is under strict instructions NOT to buy me one for Christmas as I’m still undecided on what I want. I know him, he’ll dash out, spend a small fortune and it probably won’t really be what I want. Besides, it’s important to me that I save up for it and buy it myself. Don’t know why? It just is. My tutor and more advanced learners reckon I’ll be able to pick up a really good kit second-hand for about £250, and they’ll help me choose it, etc. I’ve already got over £100 saved towards it. I’m aiming to buy it in March as a birthday pressie to myself.
Just as me and WB have decided to push the boat out this Christmas as, at dad’s age, it might well be his last, so too has SM regarding his parents. Weather permitting (he and his parents are currently housebound due to freezing fog) SM will come up for the day after Boxing Day. He’s left me a token pressie for tomorrow, but I’ll get my main on Thursday hopefully; I haven’t got a clue what it is despite my third degree questioning. I’ve got him a giraffe which I had to perform surgery on as it broke it’s neck.
Enough wittering from me. If anyone reading this has had a knee replacement op, then any hints and tips on how to help/deal with dad during his recovery will be most gratefully received.
Wishing you all a very good Christmas of whatever type you desire.
That’s one of my home-made Xmas cards I’ve been printing off for family & friends, using photos I took for Scally’s old thread ‘Birds in Garden’ from about 4 years ago. The actual cards have silver glitter on the snow/ice stuff…. Very Christmassy!