Monday, 14 June 2010

Monday, Monday!

Hope a little more sleep means more effective study as I need to get my assignment wrapped up by early next week - not before time! Hope I can then redeem my reputation with the course director and make my intended intercalation official. That will, I am sure, relieve some of the underlying stress that is affecting my sleeping pattern.

Then I have to prepare for a course residential and think of some way of bringing a little joy and pleasure into my mother's life (more difficult now, as she seems to be too weak to get here, so I have to think of something I can send there). Today would have been her wedding anniversary, an occasion I don't normally celebrate, as I reckon it's for the couple themselves, or at most other married couples, to mark the occasion, but nowadays I am conscious that I need to mark every occasion in her life just in case it is the last opportunity I will ever have. A bunch of red roses is on its way, courtesy of M+S, who I hope will get it right this time!

I wish I could find some way to support my sister: she is bearing the brunt of caring for mum and needs a break. That is difficult because the moment she is out of contact my mother goes downhill: she relies on Fiona to ensure her well-being and feels insecure without her. Even to get mum to Burrswood requires a letter from the doctor, which Fiona will have to organize, but there she may feel secure and Fiona can feel confident she is well cared for while she is away.

The person who has been caring for mum is the best of the bunch: she is unfortunately due to leave this week and I fear the next one might be the occasion of another downward turn (through no fault of her own: mum is just so sensitive to any omission in her care).

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Bumping along ...

True of both my mother and me! I have managed to do a little (far too little) study. A new textbook arrived this week which looks very interesting, but I must confess to having been rather relieved to find it was only loosely related to the topic I am working at: it can wait for perusal when I've more coursework under my belt. For the moment I am revising what I did earlier as I have become rather disconnected from it, and then I have another bit of reading which should wrap up the current topic, and I hope, at last get my brain into gear for the assignment.

Spoke to my sister yesterday: she was more than a little annoyed that, yet again, the doctor had been to visit my mother when she was not there. Even though the doctor had asked her to ring, the receptionist was obstructive about putting her through. One can understand filtering to a certain degree (not all on the books have been brought up, as we were, only to get the doctor when necessary: some seem to think a headache on the morning after the night before is worthy of medical attention .... ) but the result was that my sister arrived AFTER the doctor. When will the NHS realise that its patients also have busy lives and tight deadlines?

Fiona said that my mother was back to her old tricks as regards eating: making a meal of tiny portions. How can one get her to relax?? I suspect inability to do so is at the root of everything. She goes downhill if Fiona is out of reach, and Fiona needs a break: she said she was herself feeling very weary, and I am not surprised. She is dealing single-handedly with a teenage son doing exams and a frail old lady for whose well-being she has to keep constant watch and be ready to intervene.

However long my mother lives, she would not now be alive if my sister had not been to visit every day the last time she was in hospital: she would have been one more added to the statistics of those who die of starvation in hospital. What sense does it make to dump a tray of food out of reach of someone who is, anyway, too weak to eat unaided?? One fellow-student who works as a care assistant said they were told that to feed someone was an infringement of their human rights!! (That Act has been a pernicious nuisance: the interpretation of it has no respect for morality or humanity and it is constantly misused to wicked ends.) So it is NOT 'an infringement of Human Rights' to allow someone to starve to death?? My understanding of that Declaration is that it was made in response to the terrible abuses perpetrated by the Nazis: now it is used to starve the infirm to death - precisely one of those abuses. I gave my mother a stern talking to, to the effect that she was not a useless old woman because she could no longer do: she maybe had reached the time when she needed just to be. It is not for her to say if she is useful or not: she has given to various people over the years (foreign students, young and old) so she should not be ashamed to receive now that it is her turn.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Ups and downs (mainly downs ... )

Still have not completed coursework! I am finding it very difficult to concentrate on study as I have not been sleeping well and there is a limit to how much I can do when tired. I know that some of the problem has been coming to terms with the fact that I have not been able to study with the commitment I hoped this year: circumstances have conspired against my new start. The other factor is undoubtedly the knowledge that my mother is increasingly vulnerable to the slightest threat to her well-being.

Her carer appears to have been doing everything she can for my mother: encouraging her to move around, to eat, reading to her while she is eating so she doesn't have time to realise how much she has eaten and keeping her spirits up. Despite that she was very weak last week: it took her a long time to get to the bathroom and she would forget why she was there. I tried to speak to her on Friday and after a very short time (five minutes?) she said hadn't we better hang up. So I did. Maybe that was a mistake: she might have been distracted and would have continued to speak after a while. The carer, who by now must know her better than any of us, says it is just the extreme weariness of old age ...neither Fiona nor I are convinced.

I was much relieved to talk to her today for quite a long time: as I was doing most of the talking I'm not quite sure how much she was taking in. She responded to my query as to whether material of a spiritual nature (spoken rather than read) would be a help by saying she didn't know. I suspect that was her usual (maddening!) indecisiveness (which I have, even more maddeningly, inherited!) rather than incomprehension.

I was glad to learn that she was getting more visits from church people: I have felt they were neglecting her. I haven't dared suggest they visit, as the last time I tried the message came back on the grapevine that I had been critical of the person concerned. I only meant to be firm and stern enough to get something done, but either I was too straight (Northern fashion?) or it came over all too well as I meant it to without having the desired effect! Either way, I hastily sent messages that I hadn't meant to be critical (true: I did want them to pull their socks up, but wouldn't have wanted it to come over that way so obviously that that was what they remembered!) as they are basically good people. Even less would I have wanted them to feel bad as I discovered afterwards that they had suggested bringing my mother communion, only to be told they needn't as she wasn't used to it that often, having been brought up Church of Scotland.

I suspect that had more to do with not wanting to be a bother than her upbringing. I gave her a stern lecture today to the effect that she had given to so many people over the years that it was now her turn to receive and to enjoy as much as she could. She might not have been conscious of giving, but the fact remains that many people remember her with affection and thankfulness. I also gave her a stern lecture on the fact that her being was not defined by what she could do or her capacity to think: those are parts of her, but her being is greater than either capacity: her incapacity does NOT mean she has ceased to be a human being. I added that the last Pope had been greatly incapacitated, but that he was was precisely what the world needed to see and learn from. The fact that she is still here means she still has usefulness: it is up to the Lord to decide when she has no longer (at which point he will take her elsewhere).

I can see I shall have to have another look at the Philosophy textbook!