Friday, 31 December 2010

Have a go! And now, Yes, it has gone!

Every time I start thinking I can cope and that they will all be gone in a few days, something happens that socks me in the eye. I had, foolishly, thought that Dr P's daughters would have been satisfied with the money they'd got only a few days ago.

But wait! There was more. Money to gain, that is.

After the last very large transfer of money from him to them, lo and behold, they have done it again. Yesterday's little effort removed three quarters of the remainder of his cash assets. They have helped themselves to 90 per cent of it in all. Cheque butts neatly filled in by the WSD. This took place while I was out of the house doing the food shopping.

Don't they ever think that he might need to have ready access to cash, if he needs, as he surely will, to move into a nursing home?

I was so outraged when I discovered this latest raid that I remonstrated vigorously that it was unconscionable and reprehensible of his daughters to demand and take this money, but all I got was a mumbled response about his evening up what he had given initially to one daughter as a loan, which was to have been deducted from her share of the inheritance.  And then further comments that I was jealous, grasping, and wanted his money for myself. He was very abusive to me.

They MUST realise that he is incapable of handling his affairs rationally! Surely they are using that very fact. These women, all with high incomes and amounts of property, have been here day after day, while he has asked them time and time again, with only a few moments between his questions,  where they work, where they live, what they do, who are their children and how old are they, while haring him ask me has he had his daily medicine, minutes after he has swallowed it. And then presumably they would claim that he has the capacity to manage his affairs. Well, a mere 6 months ago he would not have given away all this money. They, of course, are all returning to their various foreign countries and of course do nothing for him of practical use. Bloodsuckers, they are.

Dr P does not have an appointment with a geriatrician until late March, and the Guardianship Tribunal will not act without a medical report.

This morning after his shower he could not walk unaided back to the bedroom and it took all my efforts and strength to get him the several metres from the bathroom to the bed. It was all I could do to keep him upright. My mind raced ahead to the possibility of admission to a nursing home sooner rather than later, and how it could all be arranged. He has recovered somewhat. Who knows how he will be tomorrow and in the future?

The WSD and family leave tomorrow, all missions accomplished. Thanks Dad!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Where did I put my cheerfulness?

I am sure I left it somewhere around, but I am damned if I can find it right now. How pathetic!

There is probably a land not far away characterised by really soggy heaps, into which you trip, fall, wallow and struggle to escape from.  That is where I have been and perhaps still am. Where bogs suck you under, and sap your strength, and the capacity to hope.

My daughter visited me, and she was terrific. Although I don't think I was able to fully rejoice in her presence and support, and fell apart quite a lot, I was so glad to have her here, and she helped with Dr P and the latest stepdaughter, her partner and children. Now she has gone back home, and I miss her acutely.

Tomorrow brings more stepdaughters and step-grandchildren.

However. We went out for a walk while Dr P had his nap, and visited the Red Cross Op Shop, where she picked up several rather snazzy pieces of clothing for remarkably little, and a pair of purple sandals too - they probably won't be very comfortable but they are purple and look nice. And I picked up a very colourful sundress, for when Sydney reverts to its usual summer horrors - a loose and floaty thing which does not look too bad at all. My daughter was very impressed by the quality of the local op shop - one of the few local places which was open yesterday.

We had to hang around all day yesterday waiting for SD4 to turn up. Firstly they suggested coming here at 9 am. No, I said, Dr P won't be up and ready by them. 10 am then? Yes. At 11 she rang to say they were running late, and would not arrive before 12. Some time considerably after 12, she rang to say they would more likely arrive about 2 pm. About 3.20 they rang to say they were out buying a car seat for the 2 year old and might arrive by about 4 pm. At 5 pm they still had not arrived, so we went out for a walk along the foreshore, where we observed a couple of fishermen toss a microscopic toad fish back into the sea. SD4 has young children and they have just arrived from a week's holiday in Thailand, but it occurs to me that they could have thought ahead to the need for a folding cot and a car seat, and perhaps one of them could have tried to do something about it in the morning.

My daughter and I had hoped to get into the city for an hour or two, to get to the wool shop, which has been having a sale, but never made it. Of course, I am not sure that it was open, and I am of course sympathetic to the exigencies of small children. But still, my daughter was here for only one full day and it would have been nice to have got out for a little while instead of hanging around watching the clock.

Whinge, whinge, bitch bitch. My needs are not their needs. I know that. I am just determined, so it seems to me, to be as miserable and unreasonable as possible about all of this, gloomily thinking that the rest of the week will be even worse, with the return of the WSD and family. And when I get into this mode, it convinces me that I have an infallible propensity for stuffing up my life and for making the wrong decision all the time. And to feel exceedingly trapped, and that I can do no better.

I must haul myself up by the scruff of my neck, gird my loins, grit my teeth, put my nose to the grindstone and my shoulder to the wheel, and just do better. Just because the weather has been extremely soggy is no excuse for me to follow suit.

I need a a nice crochet project, possibly with purple wool. This might help me cope with the tedium and repetition of their conversation. Surely the mind is far better occupied with the complexity of crochet patterns than with the available alternatives. I reckon so.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Some people might use the word depredations. I couldn't possibly say.

It has been a stressful few days, despite the tranquillisers. The visitors have been so very keen to see Dr P, and eager for me to go out. I smelled large rats - and I had to deal with lots earlier this year, but where there is a will there is a way. Except some people don't want to wait for the will, and so they have managed to extract some prior advantage. Three fifths of what is readily available, to be precise.

Well, it is his money to give away or keep as he pleases, and none of it was ever intended for me. While I do not think he is capable any longer of understanding or managing his affairs, his lucidity, memory and capability flash on and off, so it is not possible for mere non-medical mortals to ascertain the exact level of competence or incapacity. And the appointment with the geriatrician is not for another three months. What's the point?

So I am not doing anything, and hope not to even mention the war. Dr P has said nothing to me so far, and I wonder if he will.

Another tranquilliser combined with some wine should help. And perhaps takeaway dinner. No point slaving away over a hot stove. Nor is there any point dwelling on what must be endured, except that I wonder about so many questions. Except that right now I'd like to be out of here, and far, far away.

While the rats were gnawing away at the substance, I met a friend, whose husband is also declining. We had a lovely time lunching and talking. We travelled to Italy together in 2009 and had a great time, and we thoroughly enjoyed the recollections of the trip.

Perhaps symbolically, there was a total eclipse of the moon last night, but in Sydney it was almost over before the moon rose, and because we are on the downside of a hill, with terrace houses and tall trees obscuring the view, the moon was full and white by the time it rose into sight. I wish I had seen it.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Plagues of locusts, and the elephant is still in the room

Many of our farmers, already severely afflicted by years of drought, and now of extensive floods, must also now contend with plagues of locusts. I feel for them - I really do, and have always done so, but now sympathise with redoubled fervour, and increased understanding. For I feel similarly afflicted by pests which arrive uninvited and wreak havoc and destruction all about them.

We did have a couple of days break, during which nobody visited.

When the WSD arrived, I explained to her that she should keep her visits short - about an hour. Longer than that, I said, was liable to provoke more tiredness and confusion.  It is not about you, I said, and it is not about me: It is about your father. And please ring to check when you want to come again.

So she stayed almost two hours. And came back later that day, and told me that I 'was crowding her'.  I let them alone for most of the time, but now waft in and out as I please.

Next morning she was back again, and so was Vixen, the SD1, and again they stayed for longer than I'd specified. No conversation at all was directed to me.  A text message arrived from my brother, who has low grade prostate cancer, and I told Dr P that his PSA levels had fallen and that he would not, as expected, have surgery soon, neither of the SDs even clucked, let alone enquired. This is quite typical: when the diagnosis was first made, and I told Vixen, she just looked straight through me. (I run these little tests and checks from time to time to see whether their operating systems are functioning as normal. They always are.

I ducked out to go to the pharmacy, and on my return found Dr P had put himself to bed. He was tired. Then they left.  The same thing happened yesterday when I went shopping with a friend. Her wheels, her agenda.  I had no control over the duration of the expedition. When I returned, Dr P had been in bed for one and a half hours.

Yesterday we had another visit. I directed some conversation to her from time to time, but there was never a word from her to me. I offered her a drink, which she declined, but when I went out for 10 minutes to get milk and some cake and hot chocolate for Dr P, she made herself a drink in my absence.

She evidently has real problems dealing with mothers, mother's partners, or her father's wives. Her mother's partner is to have surgery next week for bowel cancer. WSD apparently does not speak at all to her stepfather, and 'may make a day trip' with the kids once they arrive. The kids' grandmother gets perhaps several hours with her grandchildren. Nice.

Vixen and Cubs have departed for their month's overseas holiday. Bliss. The WSD will be here most days, her family arrives on Monday and they will be around for most of the time until 1 January.

This week I needed to do some double checking on Vixen, and I have to say you cannot keep a good researcher down. With the help of a good mate, another chorister, I found what I needed. She was amazed. 'I know her', she said. 'She is awful! I cannot stand her. I have had some run ins with her. Is she his daughter? Ooh!'

Nothing like some independent verification!

Earlier this week I decided I needed chemical help, and at my request the GP prescribed tranquillisers.  I am taking one each morning, and the heaving and heart thumping have subsided to what the sea watchers describe as a mild swell. The GP wrote a referral for Dr P for the local Geriatric Clinic, but so far no one has answered the telephone.

What I find so awful about all this is the worry that I am turning into a nasty, horrid, begrudging and resentful person. Negative and hateful thoughts besiege my every minute. My mind swirls and cannot relax or let go. Oh, to be free of it all! And I miss my own family and far away friends. Today my family is having the annual Christmas picnic, and for the second year running, I cannot be there. This blog is a kind of outlet, but really what I yearn to do is to unleash some abuse. And I must not do so: it would do no good. I know this, but still long to try and make them feel as bad as they make me feel. They never would, of course. I must instead concentrate on detachment and the art of the possible. Dr P does not know the half of it, and naturally takes his children's part. Although he does appreciate the care I give him, I miss the true sympathy and understanding he neither feels nor knows how to give. I wonder whether I will ever get the chance to repair my life and to become once again my natural self.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

More woes, relatively speaking

Just when you think life is complicated enough, up pops another complication.

Here I am, in the midst of unpleasant visitations, with tortured slumbers, and heaving stomach, and all of a sudden I discover that I cannot turn off the back right burner on my cooktop. As it is a gas burner, this is a worry. Well, I suppose even if it were electric it would be a worry. We managed to turn it off, and next morning I rang, or started to ring people to try and get it fixed. After being advised that I should contact the service department of the manufacturer, I rang them and was transferred to a firm which does all their service work, and I have to wait until 23 December to get it fixed. I hope that if it needs a new part, they will bring it with them. How extraordinary to have to wait two weeks for a service call. The first thing they tell you is how much a service call, plus the first 15 minutes will cost…and the answer is plenty.

So I have covered the faulty burner and its control with foil and pasted up a note saying Do Not Use, crossed my fingers, and started to wait and to hope.

When I made the hideous error of moving here, the kitchen boasted a rather awful electric cooktop. You know, one of those which thinks it knows better than the cook. They switch themselves off and on.  They ignore any attempts you make to regulate and control the heat. Thus any real control by the cook is impossible.

I used to make fudge, using a rather delicious recipe, which avoided sickly-sweetness with the addition of cinnamon. I also used to make toffee, and cocoanut ice. You could not make fudge or any other confectionary on this abortion of an appliance, which was obviously designed by a non-cooking man who had never taken the trouble to reflect upon the various applications and use of heat. It was impossible to dissolve sugar without it partially boiling, no matter how careful you were, and as anyone with a bit of nous knows, if sugar boils before all the crystals are dissolved, the whole mixture recrystallise as soon as it cools.  A simple rule of chemistry, eh?

In the olden days, and even now, recipe books failed to give such elementary information. Indeed, I remember reading the advice that if home made jams or preserves smelt or looked funny, never to taste them, just to chuck them out straight away. They never said why, and thus most omitted to warn the hapless cook/reader of the toxicity and dangers of botulism, which is likely to be fatal if tasted. Now, of course, it seems that botulism is  every female celebrity's best friend. O tempora, or mores. Being a dedicated, not to mention compulsive researcher, I quickly discovered the reason to avoid tasting suspect looking/smelling preserves, and thus have survived to transmit the warnings. I like to know why is it so.

You could not cook a stir-fry dish on electric hotplates either, because the hotplate kept deliberately cooling itself down. Evidently it understands only the concept of the average temperature. (With the gas one, you can cook a stir fry: the only problem is that it invariably sets off the smoke alarm, and that is likely to trigger a heart attack.)

After several years of putting up with this rubbish, I managed to get the gas cooktop installed and have been a much happier cook ever since, although I stopped making fudge because eating it makes you put on weight. This happens anyway without eating fudge, I regret to say. Especially if you binge on peppermints, as I am wont to do.

However I am presently in a phase of not eating sweets – with me it really is either total binging or total abstinence, and what with all the stress, anxiety and sick feelings, some weight has actually fallen off. Which goes to show that every cloud has a silver lining, so to speak.

Why cannot we have silver linings without the horrid black clouds?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Crowded House

Would anyone like to come and stay with us? Come join the throng!

In addition to the visits from Vixen and Cub, SD3 (the one who offers to stay while I go away, but who opined that one night with Persiflage is more than enough) arrives Thursday night and is planning to stay here for three days. The WSD, or SD2, is arriving Saturday morning and 'will come and see you, Dad, on Saturday morning'. She has to work for a couple of days elsewhere, but was to return until departing on 19 December. Now, it seems, oh frabjous day, that her husband and children are also coming from USA and visiting us, Perth, Melbourne and Canberra, and no date of departure has been mentioned.

I had mentally fixed my endurance to last for a week to ten days, but it will be longer. SD4 and family arrive on Boxing Day, but probably will not stay more than a couple of days. Vixen and Cubs will be away for a month, and that should help me relax a little.  I hope.

Vixen and Cubs were here yesterday and Dr P put on one of his most impressive lack of memory performances to date. Of course, they have no idea how to talk to him to stimulate him: their conversational skills are limited to the recital of their doings, and there is never any mutuality in their discourses. Even Dr P used to admit that they were heavy going. Other visitors manage to converse - con being Latin, of course, for 'with'. Dr P brightens up considerably during their visits. Naturally.

I am thinking of getting a T-shirt inscribed with the injunction 'Please continue to ignore the elephant in the room'.

I think my second daughter and children are making a surprise visit this weekend, and I hope my nursing sister will come during the following week, her work roster permitting.

Will it be possible to suggest, I wonder, that no one should stay for, or expect to be present for a meal? Even if they go out and buy it all? I expect not.

There is more than enough for me to do without having to worry about feeding them, or having my kitchen invaded.

In all my spare time, I have organised a handyman to come and replace the drawer handle broken when Dr P fell on it, to insert the light globe in  Dr P's bathroom, to install a new doorbell, to glue back the shelf in my shower recess, and a few other little things. On Friday someone is coming to inspect and give an opinion about getting Dr P a new shower recess.

Oh, and I made the Christmas Cake, which is now sprinkled with brandy, wrapped and hidden away, against the probable depredations of Dr P. The cake took most of the day, not to mention the time it took to find all the ingredients. Eventually they were obtained from about six different shops. I mentioned last year that the quantities packaged have been reduced, so that extra has to be bought in order to have the quantities specified in the recipes. Upon my growling about this yet again to friends, it was pointed out to me that this is actually due to a filthy capitalist plot by supermarkets and suppliers, to reduce quantities instead of raising prices. Ice cream, for example, now comes in 1.8 litre containers instead of 2 litres. When I whinged to the salesperson at one shop, she raised her eyebrows, but at another shop, the more pleasant and helpful assistant said she thought it was all due to the decline in the number of people who make Christmas cakes. And it is certainly true that years ago the health food shops would have a complete array of cake ingredients, according to several recipes, but now there is relatively little on display.

But back to the cake. This recipe uses semolina rather than flour, and I had almost got to the final stage before I realised that I had not added the semolina Almost a disaster, but thanks to my lovely spurtle and the risotto stirrer, all was added and well blended. The cake cooked successfully and smells fantastically good. and I have just remembered that because the cake contains 12 egg yolks but only six stiffly beaten egg whites, I now have 6 additional egg whites and thus will have to make a pavlova.

At least making the cake gave me a feeling of accomplishment, unlike most of the rest of my life at present, which is characterised by deep gloom, a heaving stomach, and a a plethora of nasty, mean and spiteful thoughts.

Being positive and pleasant is greatly to be preferred as a mode of being.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Feeling very aggravated over this, that and the other thing

It is odd how changes suddenly become apparent. We had a busy morning yesterday, with an appointment with the audiologist. One of Dr P's bridge mates was coming to visit shortly after the appointment, and we left the house early so I could do some grocery shopping while Dr P sat in the car. This enables me to use his disabled parking sticker. Of course, it all takes longer than you think to get Dr P into the car and out, and accordingly the whizzing around the supermarket had to be done with the speed of light. I asked the young man ahead of me in the queue if I could go before him - 86 year old husband has to be at an appointment in 10 minutes, and the young man kindly agreed. Then I wondered how I was going to get the trolley and groceries across to the car and back in time, but then spied a young man on the staff reorganising the shopping trollies, and asked him to take the loaded trolley to the car and then to return it. He agreed, so we got to the appointment on time. And I did not even have the contemplate abandoning the trolley in the street.

I think it must be the first time that I have asked for this sort of help, but can see it won't be the last. And both people were kind and pleasant about it.

Once at the audiologist, it transpired that we (I) did not remember that we should have brought the old hearing aid with us, so I left Dr P there and drove back home and found it. The new mould is now in place, and Dr P had a hearing test, and it was explained to him that everything would sound loud to him for a while, but his brain and therefore ears would adjust. We (I) have ordered a set of wireless earphones for the TV which  should mean the the volume can be turned down a bit. Hurrah.

We got home just in time to receive Dr P's mate, and so I left them together (one to one conversations are easier for the deaf) while I dashed out to the pharmacy, dropped off some dry cleaning, paid the rates, bought some bread and cake treats, and a coffee for myself.

After the friend left I gave Dr P some lunch, and as he suddenly got rather shaky and confused, made him go to bed for a sleep. A regular routine with lots of rest seems essential.

I am considering ways in which Vixen could actually be more helpful, in ways other than the planning and execution of bathroom renovations. She could buy the rather peculiar large Edison screw light globe which the idiot who did the lighting in this house put in Dr P's bathroom. The bathroom has a very high ceiling, and I do not feel confident about clambering up and down ladders, reaching for the ceiling.  I got the grandson to remove it, forgetting that it was actually a globe and not a fitting. The replacement will probably be available from a large hardware store like Bunnings and it would take me about an hour to get there and back. Did he offer to buy the globe and return to install it? Silly question. No. Did I ask him? Another silly question.

Actually, forget all that. I will just get it done myself.

On Sunday I got my hair cut and coloured, having deferred yet again the decision about whether or when to let nature take its course. My hairdresser is a sweet young woman who has a young baby. Before I went on my trip, I ran into her in the street, and she told me she intended to leave the salon, which is just around the corner from us. She gave me her contact details, and said she would happily come to the house. As I was worried about leaving Dr P alone, we arranged for her to come to our house. While we were upstairs, Dr P called. He had fallen in the kitchen, very heavily - enough to break off a handle on a kitchen drawer, and could not get up. Simone and I managed to get him up, so I did not have to get emergency help, or go outside and look for help from a neighbour.  Poor Dr P has a couple of nasty scratches on his back, a big lump and a large and angry bruise. Just as well I was at home - but he still fell!

My hairdresser told me that she left her job because the owner of the salon had completely neglected to pay the compulsory superannuation component of her wages during the eight years she worked there.

What a lot of utter bastards there are in the world. She has reported him. Good.

So that was yesterday. Last night there were Defence Force 'exercises'. These involved lots of helicopters, which flew over our house at 10 to 1 am, and then flew around some distance away until about 1.30 am, but nevertheless they made enough noise to keep me awake and to get stressed about lack of sleep, etcetera. Not happy, Jan. I wonder how many people had their sleep disturbed. These exercises featured on all the News reports.

All this was more than enough to wake my Inner Grump. Actually I am not so sure that the Grump is still an Inner one. It has come right outside today and is giving out some grief.

We have had quite a lot of rain, and in Sydney this really manages to stuff up the flow of traffic. The carer rang to say that she was running very late. Not to worry, I said, I will wait until you arrive, and it does not matter if I run late too. It seems that lightning struck the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and this caused problems with the trains. Many grumpy commuters complained. I suppose they all think the government should have stopped the lightning from striking the Bridge. Of course.

My BIL rang this afternoon and sent me the draft of a letter he is sending to Vixen. Oh boy! What a compelling document it is. A real paper scorcher! It should cause quite a lot of perturbation. And frizzle her hair. Good.

Dr P was very disagreeable this afternoon, so the Inner/Outer/Total Grump pounced and bit him and (so far) is Not At All Sorry. Grrr. Seethe.

It was partially soothed by making Pesto and eating it with pasta. Dr P had to make do with Bolognese sauce. A couple of glasses of red wine did no harm, either. I have prepared my Dante for tomorrow morning, and while I sit here grumpily typing, I am listening to some lovely Rossini. Although I probably need some really grumpy, angry and disagreeable music. I can't think of any, though.

Apart from the letter, my daughter sent me a lovely card and parcel, along the lines of Don't let the Bastards Grind You Down. Thank you, darling daughter.