Yes, its a while since I wrote in the blog, and Christmas seems a good time to get back to it. Its been quite a tough year for us, but there have been good moments too! The main problem is that Paul’s condition is slowly getting worse, and as it is getting harder and harder for me to cope with him at home, we now have carers who come into the house 3 times a day: to get him up, showered and dressed, to check how he is at 4pm and to undress and put him to bed at about 10pm. As I have rheumatoid arthritis in my knees it is difficult for me to bend down to change his clothes. Last winter, he had a severe chest infection, and I wondered how we would cope this winter. My social worker started suggesting we consider a care home for this winter, and in fact it has now come to this stage, and we have set the wheels in motion.
However, as Paul is physically quite well, we have managed a few outings and trips away. We still attend the Alzheimers cafe in Comber on Wednesday mornings, which he enjoys, and on Mondays and Thursdays he is taken by bus to a day centre in Newtownards, where he plays darts and botcha, which he also enjoys. We have 3 hours a week with a care company called Bluebird, so that I can still work in the Oxfam shop, and can pay for any extra hours I need for other events such as choir. On Tuesday afternoons, Paul goes out with a carer from Bryson House charity, and they have coffee or take a walk. I’m hoping these can continue after he goes into care. Although he still knows me, he really has no idea where he is, or what day it is, and even has difficulty finding his way around the house. I just can not leave him on his own at all.
As well as Oxfam, I still enjoy my choir, Voices Together, Bookcrossing and our local church, where I am now on committee. Its also important for me to get to see my grandchildren as often as possible, but sadly, airports have become too difficult for Paul, so he has been in various care homes for respite while I am away. This has been a good opportunity to see what they are like, and decide which ones we would prefer for long-term!
So, over the year, our calendar has worked out like this:
In January, Paul went into respite while I went to London to see Jenny and family. February was a quiet month, and in March, Paul’s daughter Karen came to visit. We enjoyed a trip down the Ards peninsula and visited Mount Stewart estate with her.
In April, I broke my right arm, so was unable to drive for a month. Fortunately the weather was good and we were able to walk , or take a taxi if necessary. I had another trip to London then, and in May, Paul’s daughter Lindy came to visit, and we attended a 90th Birthday party in Antrim for cousin Jean McCormick and also Nora Hill’s husband Sam. Sadly, Nora passed away earlier in the year, and we both attended the funeral in Cullybackey. It was an opportunity to see their daughter Barbara, who works in Germany, again.
I was asked to accompany our minister to the church Synod in June, and also joined the local U3A, where I started a creative writing course, a reading group and an urban gardening group.
In July, Paul was given a new Social worker – Olly Bates, who would re-asses his condition with a view to moving to a care home. He went into respite again while I went to Prague to see Niall and family, as well as the Dublin family. Earlier in the year we decided to book another cruise, as there was one leaving from Belfast. So in August we set off on our cruise to Norway and Shetland, which was a great success. On it we made a new friend, Jo Bannister, who lives in Kircubbin and writes crime novels! We have met up with her a few times since.
September was Uncle Arthur’s 90th birthday, and we went to yet another party! And also that month I started a course at Queens University: Mining Your Memories, as I have been planning to write my memoir! And my nursing group from September 1964 celebrated their 50th Anniversary at the Slieve Donard Hotel! In October, another visit to London, when I also saw my friends Yvonne, Sancia, Valerie and Nigel. And here we are in November already. The weather is getting colder, which Paul hates. He enjoys reading and watching TV while at home, and even tried to brush up the fallen leaves during the autumn.
This Christmas, as we have spent the last 2 Christmases away from home, we plan to stay here, and Jonathan is hoping to join us. We wish you all a very merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.