June – A Special Month

June – My favourite month of the year because it’s my birthday in June 🤗

It is always nice to celebrate a birthday but each year I get to celebrate mine alongside my Son’s birthday and Fathers Day, all within a few days of each other.

It’s a week of cards, presents and family time, which is always nice and my dad gets to spend time with all of us as we celebrate each other’s special day.

This year was even more special for my son, as it was his first birthday as a daddy, he also celebrates the anniversary of his engagement (3yrs ago) in June to his beautiful fiancé too. .

Family time is precious 💙❤️

National Carers Week

This week is National Carers Week

There has been so much Information in the media this week regarding ‘National Carers Week’ and as a carer myself I am so pleased to see this information being promoted through Twitter and Facebook via Carers UK, NHS Trusts and Care Support Agencies across the country.

Research shows many people don’t expect to take on an unpaid caring role but every day 6000 people starting caring for a loved one and I guess I am now one of them.  As I have said many times in my blog, I never expected to be in this position but I have taken on this role and I see myself as the main support for the health and wellbeing  of my lovely dad.

Therefore, I would like to give a big shoutout to all of the wonderful Carers out there, who have taken on the role of support for a loved one, family or friend.

Happy Carers Week ❤️💙

Some Things Are Sent To Try Us

My last brief post was a tweet regarding the words ‘Dementia’ that dreaded word anyone with elderly parents dreads hearing!

As you know I have been caring for my elderly dad, dealing with a number of health issues but things have been going ok and we have been taking things a day at a time.  In recent months I have been more concerned with my dad’s  short-term memory loss, which has been quite worrying.  Some days he is very alert and active, other days he can be quite frail and doesn’t recall many things that have been said or done the previous day.

I have lots of helpful ideas which I put into place for my dad, such little notes reminding him to take his tablets at certain times, if I’m not there.  I also have a whiteboard on which I write a few things down for him, such as what day and date it is, what he needs to remember , such as an appointment, or a time when I will be calling around.  These do help most days, but then there are days when my dad doesn’t even remember to read the little notes or the whiteboard 😥

It was during a visit to my dads consultant at the memory clinic two weeks ago when that dreaded word ‘dementia’ was brought up!  First of all I let my dad do the talking when asked how he had been in the last six months since his last appointment and as usual my dad replied “I’ve been fine, no change really, I can’t complain can I” . .

Dementia:

It was at this point the consultant turned to me to ask if I was in agreement with dad’s response or was there anything I wished to discuss regarding my dad’s condition, had things stayed the same or was there anything I had been worried about.

I discussed what had been worrying me regarding a few incidents over the last few months of which had concerned me, and there had been quite a few, such as my dad calling me late at night to see where everyone was? Telling me he had been out shopping and on his return he wondered where everyone was, telling me someone had been in the house as things had been moved?

This was worrying for me as my dad doesn’t go anywhere on his own, he is to unstable on his legs, his balance is not good and he gets confused easy therefore, he only goes out with me, to hospital appointments, for his pension, shopping etc. . .

When I recalled the conversation with my dad the next day, he had no memory of this at all.  We did laugh about it, but after the discussion we attended his memory clinic appointment only twenty minutes later and on discussion with the consultant, my dad, again couldn’t recall the conversation at all.

There have been other things happening similar to this, that have had me worried about his memory and all this was discussed at the appointment.

When the consultant finally suggested it could now be the start of dementia, it was quite heartbreaking, yes I know my dad is 84 but you don’t want to think of your dad suffering with the onset of this debilitating disease, I didn’t want to think of losing the dad I know to dementia. . .

A Good Life:

I also feel quite sad for him, he has had a great life, this isn’t suppose to happen to him. . He has seen the world, experienced so many things I could never dream of doing, he spent ten years in the Merchant Navy and loved all of the experiences, the places, the people, the culture of so many countries across the world.  All of these he can still recall and talk about and I always encourage him to discuss.

Life Story – A Book in the making?

I keep telling him I will write the book of his life story as he’s had such an interesting life.  This may be something I will complete one day, as a while ago I did start to write this book, I have quite a few chapters already written, depicting his life, maybe I will complete it one day 🤔

Medication:

The good news is, they have advised a course of medication for him to trial over the next few months.  Apparently this should help the decline of his memory and hopefully retain it for a while.

So yet another thing to deal with on this journey of caring for my dad, who has good days and bad, all of which I deal with one day at a time.  I just hope that dementia does not take over him, I want to keep the dad I know, and not see a steady decline when other decisions may have to be made concerned his welfare and still very independent life.

Dad is still livin in his own house, I am only two street away and spend time with him every day, sometime two or three times, he also spends a lot of time at my home or out with me. However, my dad still likes to go home to relax watching his own TV and reading his paper, as well as sleeping in his own bed and while he still enjoyed doing all those things in his own home, I will carry on supporting him to do that.

Apart from this little set back and worrying diagnosis, we as a family are all carrying on as normal, keeping dad involved in everything, keeping him as active as we can.  Dad has been advising me on my latest project of home renovations, sanding down walls, painting and decorating and I know he would love to be doing the painting and has said so on many occasions, but he couldn’t hold a paintbrush for too long due to the arthritis in his hands, he can’t climb ladders anymore because of his balance issues, and he gets too tired for me to even consider this, but I know the thought is there and the advice 😍

Thank you for reading my latest post, do comment as its always nice to see what others think. . .I’m off to pick my dad up for his dinner and we will enjoy some father daughter time this afternoon, while he inspects my painting. .

Have a nice week

Chris x

Time To Look Forward

Time to look at the positive side of life as I now know it: 

I can honestly say I have always tried to look at the positive side of life, the negatives will always come and go, but as long as you deal with each issue, you will always come out of the other side, with a lesson learned.

I have had to adjust to a lot of changes over the past 2 years as you know, my blog was inspired by my change of direction from the NHS Career I loved, to the role of ‘Carer’ for my dad. . .and my blog has been dedicated that journey.

However, I feel now is the time to lighten things up, start blogging about the best things in life, and how they make me feel.

It’s taken me a long time to deal with my change of direction, and there have been times that I have felt it has all been too much to take, being tired, run off my feet, trying to fit so much in for others, not taking the time for ‘me’ (which I really did try to do, but so many other things got in the way)

So, what has given me this new outlook on life?

I have. . .

I have finally decided that I am ‘not’ going back to work, I have always had this niggling worry in the back of my mind that I would have to go back to work soon, as you know, redudancy money doesn’t last forever however, I have certainly done a lot with mine, which have included some very much needed home renovations (and I’m still doing this) of course, Ive also had live off this (with no salary coming in) for the past 13 months, paying all the usual bills, mortgage, gas, electricity, rates etc. .

I have the chance to take my NHS pension early, a choice I always knew was there, but I hadn’t really giveen it much thought, until now!

I have decided this is the best option for me at this moment time, with the responsibilities I have with my dads health issues. .The other option, which I have considered if I did return to work, would be to put my dads day to day care in the hands of a professional carer however, I am not prepared to do this at present, but it is something I may have to consider in the future if dads needs become more complex.

Life is short and we have to cherish the times we have with our loved ones, but we also have to decide what is best for us and make the decision that is right for us!  I feel I have made the right decision for me and my dad at this moment in time and I am looking forward to enjoying life ‘out of the rat race’ for a while longer!

I have lots of plans for my free time including some new projects in the pipeline which I will be blogging about.  Although I have had most of my time taken up with my dads care, hospital, GP and clinic appointments, I have been able to fit in some home renovations, working with some really good tradesmen, and seeing some long awaited home projects being completed. (My dads advice has been helpful too)

I have a few more projects on the go, which I am taking on myself and I am really looking forward to getting my teeth into those, I also a few hobbies that I have recently taken up, mostly in design which I’m enjoying

I would like to share these on my blog in due course, so watch this space. . .

Thank you for reading my post, I look forward to hearing any feedback if you have the time to kindly comment.

Chris x

Torn between decision’s ‘Caring’ or ‘Career’

Time for a big decision – Is it time I went back to work?

Throughout the month of February and March I have been thinking a lot about the possibility of returning to work.  As you will know, if you have followed my blog, I have just spent the last year caring for my Dad, although my caring role started back in April 2015 when my dad had his heart attack, I was still employed, and was lucky to be allowed to be quite flexible with my hours, as well as working from home, allowing me the time to look after my dad.

However, when the chance of voluntary redudancy came up, I jumped at the chance, and was happy to have this agreed.

The last year has been difficult, but my dad needed me, and I was happy to be in a position to take on the role of his carer (although my dad always said, he would be ok if I went back to work, I knew this was not the case, and I needed to take responsibility for his wellbeing) Dad has had no further issues with his heart, he continues with his medication and uses his inhalers, which all help, but the diagnosis of Parkinson’s and his ongoing COPD, plus the onset of short-term memory loss has added to his overal health issues.

My dad has lots of good days when he is really well, and then other days he does not feel up to doing anything, when he feels exhausted and tired.  These are the days I find hard, as I always try and involve him in everyday life, and encourage him to come out and get some fresh air, even if is just a short car journey to the local shops, or a visit to the garden centre (which he loves) but saying that, I do know when I need to leave him be, allowing him to just stay at home reading his paper, and watching television.  Dad sleeps a lot these days, and I am aware once I leave him during the day he will have a sleep on and off throughout the day.

Looking at the possibility of a return to work has been on my mind for the last few months, I always thought that I would return, I envisaged taking at least a year off, and I have done all I can within the last year to get the help my dad required through the community services teams.  This consisted of cardiac therapy, rehabilitation programmes, physiotherapy, speech & language therapy, and most recently assessment at the memory clinic.  All of which my dad has found helpful and supportive throughout the last year.

Over the last few months I had been able to see my dad taking more of an interest in things, looking forward to the spring so he could enjoy planting in his garden, and the warm weather had certainly brought out the best in him.  I was starting to discuss my return to work with him, and he was quite supportive of that.

Dad has always said that I should do what I needed to do, and that he would be ok, but that is easier said than done when you see such a dramatic change in someone who has always led a healthy, active and independent life.

So, my decision to return to work was made, I started to look for work, applied for a few posts, nothing really exited me, but they were within my area of expertise.  I was short-listed for one post, and attended the interview, but wasn’t successful, however it was all experience for me, as it had been over 10yrs since I had an interview.  My progression in my career had come with promotions within my work area therefore, interviews were something new, but I was ready to take on the challenge.

During the early part of the year from January to the end of February  my dad was doing well, and looking well, he seemed to be taking an interest in himself again, and looking forward to the warmer weather.  I was continuing my search for a new post, and we discussed the possibility of putting a care package in place for my dad, just  a few days a week, which would give me peace of mind that dad would have professional Carers popping in to check on him, if I was to return to work.

In early March I found the perfect post for me, it was in my work area, it was something I had done for the last 12 years, and I was really excited to see a post (which doesn’t come up very often) that I knew I had all of the essential criteria, the background, the qualifications, and the experience. . .I applied for the post, and patiently waited for a response. . .

However, a few days later, after a visit to dads GP we were informed his on-going blood tests were coming back with worrying results, these had been repeated throughout February and March, the results had shown a drop in dads kidney functions and his blood count was low, he was showing signs of  aenemia and weight loss.  Dads GP went through a series of questioning on health matters with my dad, and subsequently referred him back to the hospital, continuing with checks on his bloods etc. . Another worrying time.

Dad had started to look poorly, he was getting tired easily, exhausted when walking for no more than five or ten minutes, and he was also struggling with his balance and coordination.  I had noticed his short-term memory was becoming worse over just a short space of time, forgetting his medication, taking his evening medication before his morning medication, or not taking them at all.  I was forever finding some of his medication in the bin, and on questioning, my dad couldn’t remember how they had got there.

I had to be careful just how much I pushed my dad, as I didn’t want him to feel confused, therefore I would take it one day at a time, start again, and make sure I was always there to put his medication in his hand throughout the day, and watch him take it. . I hid all of the medication, as I didn’t want him forgetting he had taken it, and looking at taking more! I was feeling very worried, and in need of some help and support myself during this time.

Throughout this time, I was wondering if I would hear anything regarding the post I had applied for, I was already having mixed feelings about my decision to go back to work, and these issues were bringing me back to the worry I had about leaving my dad.  Within the next week, I received an invitation to attend for interview for the post, I had two weeks to prepare a presentation for the interview, and I was really happy to have been invited.

My worries regarding my dad had increased, but despite this, I accepted the invite for interview and proceeded to work on designing my presentation, but my mind was in turmoil throughout this time.  I wanted to attend the interview but I had to address the possibility of not being able to accept the post if I was offered it, due to the increasing awareness of my dads health issues, and my responsibility for his welfare.  I felt torn between my need to continue with my career, and my dads need for me. . .

I made the difficult decision to inform the employer that I would have to decline their kind offer of interview and explained my reasons, thanking them for the offer, and wishing them good luck with their recruitment.

My decision was made, I needed to be available to support my dad through these on-going tests, as well as supporting him with his every day needs, especially with the worrying sign of his failing memory and frailty.  I couldn’t consider putting his welfare in the hands of other Carers, I had come this far with him, I couldn’t leave him to deal with this alone. .

How Time Flies

Well, what can I say, it’s been three months since I last posted on my blog, where have those three months gone?

December – The month of December, like most families, was dominated by planning for Christmas, along with my dad’s birthday (which was on the 23rd December) I arranged a lovely family meal in one of our local hotel restaurants to celebrate dad’s birthday.  In attendance was my daughter, granddaughters, son and his fiancé, my dad, myself and my partner.  We arranged for a cake to be brought to the table, which dad was delighted with (and blew all the candles out in one go). The meal was lovely and we all had a really good night.  As a family we don’t get chance to all be together at the same time, and for me, it was lovely to have my children and granddaughters together to make dad’s birthday a special occasion (he was 84)

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January – Dad has been doing well considering all of what he is has been going through over the last two years (as you will know if you have been following my blog). I was getting worried about his weight, which at times has reduced due to him not eating properly on some days (usually when he has been left to his own devices) I do try and bring my dad to my home as often as I can so he can enjoy meals with the family, this gives me chance to make sure he eats well, and spends time in company rather than eat alone.

Dad has had a few blood tests in the last few weeks, his GP was concerned that he may be suffering from a decrease of his kidney functions and he is keen to look into this further.  I do hope this can be rectified as I would hate to think it’s something else dad needs to be worried about.  Dad is still being cared for long-term by myself, I have not gone back to work yet, still enjoying the time away from work after taking my redudancy, almost a year ago now.  I guess I am lucky to have been able to take this break, considering all of the different aspects of dads care that I have taken responsibility for.

Dad is still attending all of his follow up appointments at the different clinics for his various conditions – Parkinson’s, COPD, Memory Loss, Speech & Language Therapy, and now Dietetics (which helps with his diet, and advice on what to eat to sustain his weight, which has dropped at some times) all of the services delivered through the NHS have been very supportive over the last two years since my dads heart attack in April 2015.

February – Looking on the brighter side of life, I have some wonderful news – I have a new addition to my family, and that is an adorable new grandson.  My Son & his partner are just over the moon with their new born Son, and he has certainly brought some sunshine into our lives, and this has really brought the smiles out in my dad.

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Little George Sebastian was born on the 8th of February 2017 weighing in at 7lb 9oz and he is just so cute.  They have named him George, after both their granddads, which is a lovely honour to them both (especially my dad George) I feel so lucky to have two beautiful granddaughters who are aged 10 & 7

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The lovely addition of a grandson. .

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Our family is growing, and life goes on. . We always have something good to look forward to. . . 💙❤️ My family mean the world to me ❤️💙

 

Progress – Positive Reactions

Its good to see a positive reaction to the long awaited therapy group:

In a recent post in October I  wrote about my disappointment of the cancellation of a much awaited ‘Speech & Language Therapy Group’ which my dad had been assigned to in August.  After just 2 weeks on the programme my dad had been informed of the lack of available staff to continue the programme, which had to be cancelled and would be rearranged for October.

Although this did not happen in October, I am pleased to report the programme has now been rearranged and my dad has just completed his 2nd week of group therapy.

These sessions take place at a local GP surgery not far from my dads home, I usually drop him off at 2pm and pick him up at 4pm.  After his 1st session, dad seemed very positive about the group therapy and seemed to have enjoyed meeting other people who have the same problems he has been experiencing due to ‘Parkinsons’

I was really happy that my dad was back on the programme and this time the group seemed to have a lot more people in attendance.

This week when I dropped my dad off at the session I was happy to see him greet the other members of the group with plenty of humour and he seemed happy to see them, this was positive for me especially as I could see a little bit of mischief about him (something I have not seen fo a while)  however, when I was about to leave, letting dad know I would be there at 4pm to pick him up, a lovely elderly lady who was sitting quietly opposite the group spoke to me about dads singing? I approached her, as she was speaking very quietly and I didn’t quite hear what she had said. To my surprise, she told me that she hoped she could hear my dad’s singing soon, I asked her if my dad had been telling the group about his singing with the ‘Irish Guards Choir’ and to my surprise she explained he had been telling the group all about his 12 years singing with the choir, as well as his hopes to join them again one day.

This made me really happy as I had asked my dad if he had participated in the last group discussions and asked if he had spoken about anything of himself in the last session, but he didn’t seem to remember this.  I guess the little short-term memory loss can have that effect on him sometimes and it’s easy for him to forget things while trying to remember other things, such as his fact sheets and his homework (voice excercises)

On my return to pick dad up from his session I noticed how in tune he was with everything going on, it was lovely to see him chatting with other people and looking forward to seeing them the following week, dad even had a plan of action as he greeted me, he suggested we find out if the Irish guards choir would be performing any ‘Christmas Carol Concerts’ and wondering if he may be able to join them!

This was music to my ears, as dad had not showed any interest in joining the choir since his last visit to their practice session last Year.

This was a good day, a day when dad had planned something, a day that I was happy to support an idea and look into making this happen for him (that’s my plan of action for next week)

It would be so lovely to see my dad dress up in his uniform again and attend a carol concert at this special time of the year, I do hope I can make that happen.

Over the last 2 days I have seen such a positive mood in my dad, he has been chatting more, joining in with family conversations, even joking and tormenting his grandson, like he always used to do.  It’s all positive this week, what a difference a few sessions of group therapy can do to lift a persons mood.  I hope this continues, but on the other hand I really wish these sessions had gone ahead when dad was first diagnosed with ‘Parkinsons’ a year ago as everything I have read about, all points to the importance of early therapy sessions to help with the symptoms.

These pathways should be in place for all ‘Parkinsons’ patients and they should not have to wait over a year for these to be put in place, as early treatment or therapy helps with the problems they face and can help them in various ways.