Inevitable

He was alert this morning. His face still showed that grey palour of sickness but there was a pink tinge to his cheeks that had been absent for so long.

Within seconds though, it was evident that the confusion that descends every time my dad is hospitalised had arrived.

Hours later and the alertness has diminished and the confusion increased. He has now been prescribed medicines to help but history has shown us that these take some time to work.

“No dad, you’re in hospital.”

“We can’t give you tobacco dad.”

“Dad, you’ve got to keep the mask on.”

Yesterday we were here from 8am til 4pm and then we returned in the evening. The grim reality of the situation is never far from our minds despite the slight improvement last night and this morning.

“He’s not out of the woods yet.”

The Non Invasive Ventilator (NIV) we have been told is keep him alive is doing its job. His carbon dioxide levels have improved. This morning though we have been told dad has refused to have it on – no doubt fueled by his increasing confusion. As the day wore on, it was clear to us that he was deteriorating again.

The mask has just been put back on.

It’s hard to process this roller-coaster of emotions and feelings. Hope to despair to laughter (fuelled by dad’s jokes when alert) to fear when his chest wheezes and his face pales.

It’s hard to see him suffer. It’s hard to think that he may still not make it. He has a ‘do not resuscitate’ order in place. He is not eligible for Life Support. And I really don’t want him to suffer. Then I feel bad because then it sounds like I want him to die. I want him to live in comfort. I want him to be happy. And I don’t think that is going to be possible, even if he survives this time.

I’ve taken to noting things down. Like how he told us yesterday that we were “the best four daughters [he] could ever wish for” before the confusion set in. Or the winks he gave me when he saw the tears I was desperately trying to hide.

The clock is ticking. We’ve been told that he can have the NIV for a maximum of four days. If his lungs haven’t sufficiently recovered by then we would need to consider end of life care. I get the impression that this would not take long. Without the NIV, we’ve been told his organs would begin to shut down.

Why am I writing this down? Why am I telling you all this?

If this is the end of my wonderful dad’s life, I want to remember it. All of it – the painful bits too. Because this is all I might have. These last days and hours might be it.

We picked up a booklet today on ‘Coping with the final stages of a long-term lung condition’. It is hard to read but really helpful and informative. Reading it, I realised that Dad is showing many signs that he could be at the end. Even if he survives this time.

When he survived the lung cancer four years ago, and the prostate cancer only recently (the cancer is being controlled by drugs meaning that it is not life threatening at present) I thought this could mean, if I was really, really lucky, that I had another ten years with him. He has older siblings that are still alive and one that lived til she was 90. I didn’t think about the others that have all died under 70.

My Dad… My generous, funny, loving Dad is dying. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.

For however long he is here, be it hours, days, months or years, I will cherish him. The best dad I could ever wish for.

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Little victories

I’m quite proud of the fact that I managed to get up at 6am again this morning. I know this may seem like a little thing but to me it’s a sign that I am mentally well and preparing for my return to work. These little signs that I have been getting better are very important: particularly in the beginning when the world was so dark.

Unfortunately, that’s where it stops for this morning. My attention has been taken by the warm glow coming from outside- snow has fallen in North West England and it’s heavy. I also have to say that the thing I was most looking forward to this morning was the chance to take my various nasal and throat sprays and good old paracetamol. I’m not feeling good with swollen glands and aching joints to add to the blocked nose and sore throat.

My son also continues to be unwell. We went to the doctors yesterday and he was put on antibiotics. For the third night in a row he came into my bed in the middle of the night and it takes some time for us both to fall back to sleep. He’s going to be very disappointed when he sees all the snow – the first substantial fall of his four years – and realise he can’t go out it.

So after taking various meds, I’ve turned the lights low, made a hot drink and opened the curtains so I can see outside. Beautiful.

I’ve got my final back to work meeting later on today. I’m not sure what else can be said but I have to go I suppose.

Wishing a good day for you all. 😊

Why happiness is mine to accept

To understand this post, you may want to read the previous one first! https://startingfromthemiddleblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/11/why-am-i-depressed/

I have a good job, a nice home and three beautiful and healthy children.

My dad has survived lung cancer and his prostate cancer is in remission. He is still with us.

My relationship with my mum has improved. She is happy and I know she will always be there if I need her.

Never say never. The job I have now is suitable for my situation on the whole. I get time off with my children. My job is enjoyable and challenging and I am good at it. There will be time for change in the future when the moment is right.

My children know they are loved. They know they can depend on me. They may not have as much as some but they have more than others. They are polite and well mannered and have a healthy interest in reading and history and technology, of course.

Happiness is not just for those in a relationship. I can be happy without a man. But at the same time, love could be on the horizon til the day I die.

At least I know that the connection exists. Somewhere, out there is another connection – so strong that nothing will keep us apart.

I tried my best to keep my marriage alive. What I have now are lots of happy memories, three beautiful children and a much better relationship with their dad.

As I write, I am an able bodied woman with no major health concerns other than the need to lose weight. It could be worse.

Life can be good if we open our eyes to it.

Myself

Oh the house is so quiet! For the first time in a while I have not gone back to bed today. So I am sat in a quiet, empty house (for now) enjoying the silence and relative calm. Last week was difficult. Although I think I have said that the new tablet seems to be having a more positive effect on me, I’m still having relapses of low mood particularly when I perceive that I have to do something difficult. Last Friday I had a welfare meeting at work. I won’t bore you with the details. But I made myself go to the school (hiding from any pupils who might see me). I met with the Headteacher and the Business Manager. I cried – a lot – but sort of silent tears as I listened to what they had to say. But I left feeling supported and hopeful that when I return I can put all this behind me. I don’t know if the stress of that and the impending Occupational Health meeting on Monday juat were to blame, but I came down with a violent cold and severe eye infection the next day. I’d been feeling pretty smug the week before that I had managed to ‘get away with’ a head cold whilst everyone else around me seemed to have a full blown cold/flu. Seems like this was not the case as my week’s worth of head cold turned into a second week of sore throat, cough and constantly streaming nose. I spent all day Sunday on the couch asleep. Monday I went to the Occupational Health meeting. I had been dreading this and if the appointment had been later in the day, I probably would have cancelled. Instead I went, eyes and nose streaming, hair a little greasy (yuk – I know) and just wanting to get it over with so I could go back to bed. It was fine, you know. She said a lot that I’d heard from my gp and counsellor and so that helped to reinforce their messages. She’s going to suggest to work that I have more than six counselling sessions if I need them. She told me to give myself time, be kind to myself and work slowly to get back. She said my tablets would take a good month to have full affect – I’m only a week and a half in. Yesterday I looked after my three year old whilst nursing one of those headaches you get from constant coughing. I did more housework than I had done for a while (but not enough, of course) and then spent the day alternatively playing and cuddling with him on the couch as we watched a film. It was heavenly, apart from the headache ☺. This morning I feel like I have turned the corner. I woke up without headache, sore throat or streaming nose. I have taken the children to school and then have put washing on and have had a quick tidy. I’m now sat drinking my first coffee in a week. Delicious. So what? You’ve had a cold. All I can say is, it felt like yet another hurdle. You know how utterly fed up you feel when you’ve been ill for a while? Well picture that when you already feel low. Not good. I’m at the stage in my recovery where I want to start thinking about everything properly. It feels like an open wound at the moment. It’s there; I can see it and feel it, but if I don’t look at it, it doesn’t feel as bad. But I know that if I don’t deal with it, it isn’t going to heal. I keep glancing at it, knowing that I’ve got to face up to it soon. I feel like to do this I need to prepare, like going into battle or, (perhaps better so I don’t mix my metaphors) preparing for an operation. I need to focus on only this, without disruption or distraction or interruption. I need to think, and write and feel at my own pace without pressure of anything else. What I would really like is to go away for a few days on my own. I’d like a little cottage or maybe even a B&B somewhere beautiful like the Lakes. I want to walk, to write, to contemplate. I don’t know if I can afford it and I would need my Ex to move in for a few days. I just think that this space would help me to truly focus and I love the Lakes. I’m missing my walks there with my friend. To be honest, in just writing this I have summed up the cause of all that I am feeling. There is no time in my life where I don’t feel pressured by outside influences; my roles as mother, daughter, sister, homeowner, teacher. I need to unpick all this, refine and define my roles and carve out a new role as caretaker for ME. That is the one area I am truly failing at, not the others like I believe. I need to keep telling myself that. My one, and only one, failure in my life so far is not caring for myself.

Fighting on

Although my own blogging may have slowed, I enjoy catching up on followed posts most days. Some of you out there are experiencing a life I can’t even begin to imagine: be it through exciting dates or travelling or photography or experimental cooking.

I always find it sad when someone stops blogging for a while. I feel an anticipation when I log in, wondering if the next installment will be there, and then disappointment when it isn’t.

I’ve lost my way with my own blogging. I started out wanting to chart how I was starting again: separated at the age of 37 and desperately wanting to live a fulfilled life.

First, depression hit me. Then, Lost Soul came back in my life and dominated so much of my thoughts, emotions and life. I’ve managed to wriggle free from that hold he had over me.

Since then, probably as I grieved the potentially perfect relationship that never was, my writing has reflected my ever changing emotions. Unfortunately it hasn’t demonstrated my journey to the life I want, mainly because I don’t feel like I am any closer to it.

But I will fight on and write on.

Talking of fighting on, it has been a difficult week. My dad ended up in hospital again with a severe chest infection- not good for a man who has survived lung cancer and has COPD.

We thought we were losing him on Thursday and he was not responding to treatment. Slowly though, he is starting to pull through. Confusion and hallucinations have followed but today as I visited him in hospital, he seemed more like a very weary version of himself.

His scan results have come back today too. As expected, his lungs are continuing to deteriorate. Not expected though, was that he has also had a little stroke.

I have lived with my dad for most of my life. I estimate about three years in total where I have lived away, before I bought and extended my childhood home.

It’s not easy sometimes. My dad is stubborn and is not too keen on change. He also doesn’t always tolerate my moods which is fair enough. On the whole though, we get on great.

I haven’t had a lot of patience with him though this last year. Fighting my own inner demons makes it hard to cope with someone else’s. My dad is naturally a pessimistic person and that can be hard to deal with day after day when you’re fighting to keep yourself positive.

He is a fantastic dad though. He has been there for me and my siblings whenever we need him. He is funny and caring and generous.

He tells us that we are his life and he is certainly the centre of ours.

I can’t wait for him to get home. I’m looking forward to hearing his grumblings because, you know what? He has earned them. He has survived cancer twice, three serious infections that have brushed with death and now a stroke. He is fighter.

Keep fighting daddy. Xx

5 pairs of underpants sitting in a drawer

I am ill again! I have worked out that since October – and the separation – I have been ill each month: cold, Tonsillitis, sickness and diarrhea,  cold and eye infection  and then,  this week,  I have had flu.  Proper flu. The flu that knocks you out for three days with a temperature, aches and pains, shivers headache and cough.  You get the picture.  

I think I have read somewhere that stressed people are more likely to catch an illness.  Talking of which,  in amongst my lying in bed sweating,  coughing and shivering,  I had my 30 minute mental health telephone consultation. 

It was hard.  The girl (I say girl as she sounded so young) was very calm and patient but there were lots and lots of questions. I don’t know whether it was because I was too ill to think about it but I found myself answering almost automatically, before my head had a real chance to think  about it.  I was surprised by some of my answers –  does that make sense?  She asked me what I hoped to get out of their support program.  I said “to not feel like a failure”.  It just rolled off my tongue.  I went on to say that I wanted to deal with things better the way I used to, and to feel strong and less anxious like I was before.  I don’t think I realised that I felt like that. 

I was offered ‘step 2’ of their support and was given a choice of three options: an online course which I can access anytime for upto a year which a counsellor/therapist will check fortnightly; a stress management course which is lecture style but given as a group; or a six session block of 1-2-1 cognitive therapy.  I wanted the third option-I want someone to talk to. I was told that there is a twenty week waiting time.  Somehow,  I ended up agreeing to try option 2.  As soon as I put the phone down I had a panic attack.  Although the content of the course seems ideal,  I don’t fancy sitting with a group of strangers feeling even more like a failure for needing a stress management course. It’s strange: I was once congratulated for being able to manage difficult situations calmly and productively. Now I have been offered a course to teach me how to deal with stress.   All participants are advised not to share during these sessions but to listen to each lecture and implement the strategies. 

  But I want to talk.  I want to talk out this mass of negativity,  anxiety and stress that has taken over my chest and solar plexus,  and that sometimes  seems to swell and pulsate so that I can’t think straight and I can’t breathe. 

I also know that I can’t wait twenty weeks. So I agreed to try option two but I am still not sure it is right.  I have got a month before it starts so I have time to think about it.  Maybe with more time my meds it will be the right way to move forward. 

With being bed ridden again,  I have had to ask their dad to help. Which he did with out complaint.  Things are still rocky though.  He won’t commit to a regular routine of visits which is confusing for all of us.  He arrives at the house with his perma-scowl and there is an instant atmosphere.  Today when I picked up our youngest from my mother-in-law’s,  she told me that she had put him in the pair of underwear she has washed the day before so “he’s got underwear on now”. 

My flu-fuzzled brain didn’t compute what had been said until I was back in the passenger seat of my auntie’s car.  As I thought back,  I half remembered him asking if there were any clean pants anywhere whilst I lay in bed feeling like I was on a bed of hot nails with a hammer doing a good job on my head.  I recall telling him to check the drawers or the clean washing basket –  I hadn’t done anything other than sleep and swallow tablets so putting away washing was at the bottom of my list.  

For the rest of the car journey I turned this over in my head,  the ball of anxiety in my chest,  flexing and stretching.  They obviously think I am not looking after him properly because he couldn’t find any pants.  They’re judging me.  I’m a bad mum.  Being ill is no excuse…. But I am not that behind on the washing, only two days.  I can’t believe that I haven’t washed any. I’m such a failure,  can’t even keep the kids in clean clothes… 

And so on. Until I got home and opened my son’s drawer and found five clean pairs. Five.  And do you know what the response was to this information when I text him? “OK”. 

OK? OK! Really? 

I don’t know what was said between my mother-in-law and him.  In my anxiety and paranoia I can only assume the worse. I know my m-i-l enough to know that was a snide remark but it doesn’t follow that what he said to her was likewise.  

We have moved on to the next stage in our separation.  We have done the sad,  the pleading and the angry.  We are moving on to the bitter now. I said in my first post that I was not here to criticise my husband and as far as I recall I have not gone into detail about how or why we split.  I,  no doubt,  have my fair share of the blame in all of this.  What I have learned is no matter how seemingly amicably you split,  separation is difficult and painful and stressful.   Because,  what I have not mentioned before,  is that this is not the first time we have separated. We’ve been here before.  And there is a part of me that believes that this is where the anxiety and the feeling of failure come from.  But that’s another story.