Sunday, 22 September 2013

The decline

Not much blogging been happening here lately - I've had quite a lot else on my mind.

My Dad has had a few episodes where his words have become slurred and he's been shaking and dizzy. Once when I was down for the weekend, but apparently this has happened a couple of other times too. He's become less mobile and, when (perhaps ill-advisedly) he decided to do a bit of plumbing work, he lay down on the ground and couldn't pull himself back up.

This is very worrying for us - he's 78 and getting increasingly frail.

My Mum has been quite difficult to deal with. When I was at theirs and he had one of these episodes, she had a big rant about how he wouldn't go to the doctor. When I suggested she go herself and speak to him, she got angry at me and said it "wasn't that easy", although she has done this before a few years ago, when it turned out his blood pressure meds were causing him problems.

They've been to the doctors and Dad has had a whole series of scans and blood tests, and gets the results this week.

I am mostly worried for my Dad and how they will cope, but it's difficult not to feel slightly infuriated with them too.

For one of the hospital appointments, Mum dropped Dad off and then immediately continued on a round trip of another two hours so the dopey, fat dog could be dropped off at his favourite kennel during the appointments, even though this gave them another three hour round trip the next day. Because Mum felt the dog couldn't lower his standards.

Mum has has been talking about Dad becoming increasingly frail for about the past two years. But up until the brain scans, they were still talking about doing their regular annual long haul trip, which involves at least a 12 hour flight to a destination that you really have to be on fairly good form to handle. The last time Mum started complaining about my Dad not doing enough around the house, I gently suggested that they could possibly get a home help but spend less on holidays. This was not what Mum wanted to hear. Mercifully, they haven't mentioned going anywhere for the last couple of weeks.

Mum decided a few weeks ago that my Dad had had a mini stroke. She called the nurse up ahead of my Dad's regular checkup to tell her that. Dad them got referred for all the hospital appointments he's undergoing at the moment, and started doing more exercise...

... except that the exercise seems to be giving him joint pain and actually making things worse, and now Mum is convinced he has an another, more obscure illness. I think it might be better for him to take it easy until a medical expert (one more qualified than my Mum) has diagnosed him.

We're going to view some properties closer to my parents next week. We might end up taking on the dog, if need be. And I know we're probably going to be spending more time with my parents at their home. We do expect to have to spend more time looking out for them.

It is a one way process, but I'm finding my Mum's way of dealing with it a bit difficult. My Mum is meant to babysit the Boy for half a day every week while I get some work done. She's told me she might not be able to do it after the meeting with the doctor, depending on what's wrong with Dad. Which is fine, and perfectly understandable, and totally her decision to make. Although she's told my sister she's definitely can't help us any more, and I don't really get why she didn't just tell us that. I know she loves looking after the Boy and didn't want to upset her any further by making other arrangements (which mainly involve my husband decreasing his hours, which he needs to give notice with his employers for; so if she'd decided a while ago she couldn't help any more then it would have been useful to know!).

I'm heartbroken that my Dad is ill and I think, realistically, unlikely to get better. It's also frustrating watching both my parents getting old and making increasingly irrational decisions. Most of the time it's not the inconvenience of their choices that bothers me - it's more the fact that it's worrying that they don't really seem to quite live in the real world any more.


  1. oh Sushigirl, that is so hard... Indeed, especially the irrational part. My parents are a bit younger, I've only once had my father denying he was ill (with pneumonia) and saying he could take the bike to his office while he could hardly stand up straight. He was probably weak enough I could have physically stopped him, but I didn't dare. I remember my heart hammering in my throat. How do you protect them against their irrational decisions?
    Hope his health can be 'fixed' a bit by taking it easy (and not three hour drives..)
    Don't forget to take care of yourself too.

  2. I think you have expressed this beautifully. It is hard, isn't it? And very sad when our parents get to an age that their illnesses are not always going to improve. And seeing their cognitive abilities decline, with rational decision-making often the first to go. And yet too often they won't accept that. My in-laws are very much at that stage, and although I know it is part of life, it is worrying both (and primarily) for them and their quality of life, but also for us and ours. If you know what I mean.