Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Search

key

She inched forward across the lawn, feeling the iced blades of grass underfoot, breath hanging in the air like a whisper. If she had looked behind, she would have seen the whitened prints she had left but her gaze was firmly ahead, searching for the key. She drew the coat around her tighter, tension growing, eyes focussed, thoughts ranging from ‘what if’ to ‘don’t panic’. It felt like hours but was probably only a few minutes when she saw the glinting metal a few feet ahead. It lay there, taunting her with its icy stare, daring her to pick it up.

Aside

William did love his little brother but just occasionally  he couldn’t resist the temptation to be a little bit naughty. Saturday was just such an occasion. Mum was busy cleaning and tidying as the two boys stood in the kitchen … Continue reading

Lifestyle Change

A week ago I was invited to my local surgery for a health check and fasting blood test. Today I had to go back for my results. I knew what they would say before the nurse even pressed the mouse button…..

I am no fool. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are. I love food – especially sweet things – and I hate exercise of any kind. My husband tells everyone that I don’t like anything that involves taking clothes off and getting out of breath! So it came as no surprise to find out that my cholesterol level is too high and after a few more clicks of the computer, I was classified as ‘inactive’.  I was then given the options of lifestyle changes or tablets. 

I don’t want tablets. I take more than enough tablets keeping the old Rheumatoid Arthritis at bay. So I guess this leaves me with lifestyle change then. I was pretty glum when I returned home. I can only have a very rare glass of wine because of the medication I take for RA and now my only other pleasure was to be knocked on the head too. I opened the kitchen cupboard and saw the two family size chocolate bars that my husband bought me at the weekend and felt like crying. No more lavishly spread toast and butter. No more Bakewell Tarts. No more Highland Butter Shortbread.

Despite the fact that I am ‘busy’ looking after my father 24 hours a day 7 days a week and my active grandchildren two days a week, I would also have to look at taking some formal exercise several times a week. This almost feels worse than the food issue. I can’t think of a single thing I’d enjoy doing for thirty minutes a day that would get my heart racing. I don’t like being outside. I don’t own a bike or have any desire to ride one. I certainly wouldn’t want to be seen in a gym – even if I had the freedom to do so. I can’t really swim and my RA makes me not-so-brilliant at flexibility or balance. 

So, I sat down and ate some of the chocolate from the cupboard, telling myself that I just need to use it up and then I can start being good.

I have three months to get myself turned round before I have to go back for another blood test. During that time I’ll have to train myself to eat more healthily, drop a few pounds, take more exercise and give up chocolate, cake and biscuits.

Wish me luck.

What Goes Around (100WCGU)

When you are young, it is easy to mock the antics of the older generation. For years, my in-laws put up with comments like ‘You must be going bleedin’ senile!’ when they got anything wrong. But as the saying goes, ‘what goes around comes around’  So after cooking the tea last week, I switched off the light and spotted the faint blue glow of the gas burner still flickering and thought to myself ”Oh my goodness, I nearly forgot. I must be going bleedin’ senile!’  It brought a smile to my face to realise that I am now the older generation.

Grandchildren

Grandchildren can bring such laughter. This week, in Sainsbury’s, S (who is very nearly 5) was telling me that the following day people would be giving up things they like. I asked him if this meant things like chocolate. He told me it did but that he wouldn’t be giving up chocolate. After a quiet moment of thought, he said ‘I think I am going to give up …….wine’. Cue everyone in that aisle bursting out laughing.

Then yesterday S  was in the car with mummy. He told her that he had now decided who he was going to marry. Naturally she was curious so asked him who the lucky girl might be.
‘I am going to marry X’ he told her. Mummy asked why he had chosen this particular girl.
‘Because she is so helpful’ replied S.
Mummy then asked what she was so helpful with. 
‘She helps take my clothes off’ was the reply.
Mummy was now feeling a sense of alarm so probed further.
‘When we do PE she helps me with my buttons and things. Then after PE, she helps me again. She folds all my clothes carefully and puts them back in my PE bag.’
Definitely ‘wife’ material then!

Incidentally, two weeks ago he told me he was going to marry Y and they were having one little boy who they would call ‘Mario’. Apparently she has now been ditched as ‘She is too bossy’.
Aren’t grandchildren brilliant?

History (#100WCGU Week 76)

They all thought she was a confident girl. She had one of those faces – all smiley and positive. She listened attentively and when she spoke, people stopped and listened and nodded in agreement. What they didn’t know was that beneath the surface lay a timid girl. A girl with terrible memories which had shaped and formed her into what they saw today. She had a history which was buried deep in her heart and mind, never to be mentioned to anyone – not ever. She had built a wall, impenetrable and strong, laying the positive, confident demeanour  – concrete  – over the surface.

Being a Carer

In October, we made a life-changing decision and bought a new, much bigger house and took my dad from the Care Home where he had spent the last ten years and brought him here to live with us. Before doing this, we had thought it through, discussed what we thought would be the positives and negatives and discussed hypothetical issues with dad too.

I have to say that there have really been very few issues in the months since then. First of all, I must praise the various organisations that have offered support during this time. Hartlepool Carers have been brilliant, as have my local doctor’s surgery and the physiotherapy team. There were financial benefits that I hadn’t even realised existed – reduced Council Tax, Carer’s Allowance – and we have applied for a Blue Badge so that we can take him out a lot more.

He has settled into his new environment well and seems happy and comfortable. He is eating more and putting on weight (he was losing weight terribly in the Care Home) and has stopped talking about wanting to die and now has a more positive attitude generally. He says I spoil him – and that makes me very happy. Most of the time he stays in his room even though we have a stair lift and expected he would want to be downstairs with us. This is his choice. He has a bedroom and en-suite and we got him Sky TV for Christmas. He is perfectly happy watching TV and having the occasional nap, interspersed with tablets and good food.

Of course there have been ‘issues’ but we work through them together and talk about things openly. One of the things I worried most about was personal care but it is amazing how quickly it becomes just routine and really wasn’t worth worrying about.

I think one of the biggest problems would be the fact that being a carer is very tying. We can never go out together any more as I worry that with his reduced vision and lack of balance, if there were an emergency while we were out, he wouldn’t be able to get to safety. So, we hoped to go and see Les Miserables together but so far this has not happened.

This morning, dad and I were talking about the fact that we have a very expensive motorhome on the drive which doesn’t go anywhere. He asked if we were going to sell it. We tend to use it as a second car at the moment – but even this is a bit odd as we don’t tend to both go out at the same time. However, if I’m out in the car with dad it means that my other half has a vehicle. He is always free to go off on a fishing holiday with the dog too. We use the motorhome with dad for days out as it is easy for him to get into and we can cook a lunch, he has the toilet and can always have a stretch out on the bed if he wants. This chat then opened the door to a conversation about the fact that we would need a holiday at some stage and that we would have to consider the options for his care at that time. I know that he would hate to go back into a Care Home but he doesn’t want to tie us down either. It’s a problem – but one that we will talk about and work out together. At least we could laugh about it and I told him I would ‘put him in the kennels’ while we went away.

There will always be little problems to work through and as he gets older and even more frail, there might be bigger issues to face. But we can do this. It is about caring for someone you love but also about making sure that you don’t close the door on caring for yourself, keeping your marriage happy and keeping in touch with friends. Being a carer has been a learning journey at a time of life when we thought we would be driving off into the sunset and touring Europe and beyond. But I’ve learned that life doesn’t always go as planned and you must appreciate the positives of what you have here and now.

Virtual Friends

Most of my friends and family know that I love twitter. This is really odd because in my early days of using a computer, I would run a mile from any form of communication with ‘strangers’. Well, twitter changed all that. I love the conciseness of it – if you can’t say something in 140 characters then don’t say it at all. But most of all, I love the fact that you can pick and choose who you interact with. My twitter friends are mostly teachers and even though I have now retired, I still maintain a healthy interest in education. In my last working years I was heavily involved with Enterprise Education and then set up my own business as an Enterprise Education ‘consultant’ (I hate that word!). The pressure on schools to jump through hoops added to the cuts in budget and loss of additional funding for Enterprise (thanks to you, coalition) mean that it was more than a struggle to make it a comfortable income. On top of this, I found it difficult to do the ‘business’ part as in ‘taking money from people’. My business still has one outstanding debt that I gave up on because I’m just too much of a softie to keep pestering. The joy of it now is that I can happily help people find solutions without charging them and I find this much more ‘me’.

So……twitter. I read a lovely post from one of my followers this week about friends. Read her blog – it’s really good. You’ll find it here: http://highheelsandhighnotes.wordpress.com/ and the entry I’m referring to is Day 31. She refers to ‘virtual friends’ meaning those who exist for us on the internet via social networking. A few years ago I would have laughed at this but twitter has taught me otherwise. I have built up the most amazing collection of people over the years. When you feel down they respond within seconds with just the right words. If you are happy about something, they pat you on the back and congratulate. Of course, it isn’t always positive. Last year brought an example of the dark side of social networking as referred to in my blog in August  2012 under the title ‘The Strangest Four Days’. I don’t want to go over the whole sad tale again as it still hurts but you can read it if you wish to know more.

Twitter has taught me that there are a lot of good people out there that we may never meet. I have met some of my twitter followers though and they turned out to be just as I’d hoped and expected. Who was it said ‘Facebook is for people who are friends but you wish they weren’t but twitter is for people who aren’t friends but you wish they were’? Well, something like that, anyway. I pick and choose my Facebook friends very carefully, so if you are on my list please don’t take that last statement as meaning you!

This week was a sad twitter week in some respects. A lady I follow has been counting down to retirement and finally retired at Christmas. However, her husband was admitted to hospital before Christmas and sadly died this week. At times like that, kind words and thoughts and prayers from twitter peeps can make a difference. I find her in my thoughts a lot over the last couple of days.  There has been a lot of good news this week too as many of my twitter friends were shortlisted for NAACE Awards. The shortlist read like a Who’s Who of my twitter ‘friends’.

I don’t follow celebrities really. I can’t see much point as there is little or no interaction. I do unfollow people who irritate me and have been known to block people too. (Blocking means they can’t see your tweets.) I don’t like bad language on twitter and sometimes have to fight the urge to correct people’s spellings (once a teacher, always a teacher). My other pet twitter hate is people posting using auto tweets, telling me how far they have run, walked or swum and how many calories they have burned. In fact, I hate auto tweets altogether. For me, twitter is about people. I also get a bit narked when people retweet praise that has come their way. I’m not really a ‘look at me!’ sort of person.

Here are some of my favourite twitter people. I wonder if you can spot yourself in this list:

The lady who is married to a Head Teacher and has a great sense of humour. I feel we would be great friends if we ever met.

The lady who  went through cancer treatment and is always there now for anyone having similar health issues – as well as the rest of us.

The lady who was a surrogate mum for her friend. She is one very special person to help a friend like that.

The lady who has to live far from home for work and is having a pretty tough time with her school at the moment.

The man who runs a careers information business and always makes me laugh with his tweets.

The lady who lives on an island and despite the loss of her husband at a young age, is always positive and lovely.

The retired Head who has become an amazing influence on so many schools via blogging.

The bubbly, crazy woman from Wales who is a brilliant artist and SEN specialist.

The lady from Yorkshire who works for an education company and had a lovely baby girl last year

There are many, many others – too numerous to mention. All special people and all appreciated very much. I may not meet any of you in the flesh, but will always think of you as my friends.

And that is the beauty of twitter!

Video

Another Apple fanboi!

J (18months) is getting really good fine motor skills by using the iPad. He loves Duck Duck Moose’s ‘Wheels on the Bus’ and ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’.