When Dad became really poorly suddenly and with very little warning last weekend I was totally unprepared. And shocked that I got so exhausted in just five days. There are some lessons to be learned if your parents are getting elderly and less able to look after themselves.
First up I didn’t know how to operate Dad’s stair lift so when he said it was broken I took his word for it. Had I known how to work it myself I would have known it wasn’t broken but that Dad was not able to use it correctly as he became ill. And if I could have laid hands on the instruction manual it too would have helped. The same was true of his burglar alarm. So lesson one, know how to use things in your parents house and where to find all instruction manuals.
Second I had no idea who delivered his papers , milk, did his garden, washed his windows or even that a mobile car washer did his car. Finding out all that and making suitable arrangements took time which could have been used in seeing more of Dad and significantly added to the stress of the situation. So know who does what and have contact details.
As a result of this experience we have now got all our instruction manuals in one place in our home. Most of the people we deal with are in my mobile phone but Dad had not done this. His mobile only stored immediate family numbers.
Dad is a very private and independent person who is more than capable ,when not in the grips of a pneumonia induced delirium , of running his life himself. I tried to protect his privacy by doing everything all by myself. So the hardest lesson I learned was to let other family members and friends help.
Once I had admitted that and the need to stay calm I tried to remind myself to “stay in the moment”. To look after myself in small ways. Because the real trouble is you don’t know how long the situation is going to continue.
I found that ordinary every day things could really sustain me and get me through each day. The daffodils all came out last week and the lambs were in the fields as I drove to the hospital.
When the sun shone one morning I made the effort to sit in the garden for 20 minutes with a cup of coffee, feel the sun on my face, listen to the frogs in the pond.
Mr E made sure I went out on Saturday and Sunday for a walk, just being outside with the breeze blowing through the trees was just blissful.
One evening I knitted two rows in the jumper I was making H. The rhythm of the needles and the feel of the wool was just so relaxing. The next night I did some hand stitching, simple running stitch, no thought needed.
When I couldn’t get to sleep at night or woke up too early Radio 4 and then the World service lulled me off again.
And rather strangely going off to work every afternoon and just doing my job took me to a ” normal” place which became soothing in itself.
I wonder what ordinary things have attained others in difficult times.
Dad is doing well and hopefully will be home at sometime. He’s “back” and making his own decisions. For that I am really thankful.