Sweetly Sleeping

Lying quietly in her bed, the morphine pump doing its work to keep her free of pain, Aunt sleeps peacefully.


The pain, we think, is due to the fact that she fell out of bed sometime in the night and was discovered by Linda first thing this morning, lying on the floor, her head under the bed. The ambulance arrived in four minutes. It would have been three but the paramedics couldn’t get through the front door.


When Linda told me this just as I was about to leave home for the coach, I was whispering “oh no, oh no, oh no”, sure that Linda was about to tell me Aunt had been taken to hospital. But no. The wonderful paramedics checked her carefully and got her comfortable in bed once more. But she must have bruised herself, because she was wincing and grimacing in pain. Something the cancer has never caused her to do. So this afternoon, the community team arrived and set her up with a morphine pump that is keeping a steady flow of pain relief flowing into her. Continue reading


One Way Ticket

The nurse said it would be better to come as soon as possible, rather than wait until the weekend. So some work has been cancelled, a seat booked for the coach, and only then did I wonder who would be looking after Himself. My panic levels rose as I left texts and got negatives for answers. Fortunately J&B, with whom MasterB bonded so well over Christmas, declared themselves up for the task. I have written the notes, stocked up the biscuit container (his, not theirs), and started to pack my bag.

Aunt, who was so wonderfully alive last week, is fading. She is now bedridden; too weak to support her own weight; unable to keep fluids down. She has, finally, agreed to care, and forms are being hastily filled to apply for funding so that she gets the attention she needs. Tonight she is on her own. A risk. But she has slept most of today and seems unlikely to stir much in the night.

Yesterday I had a conversation with one of the visiting community team. She was loud about her duty of care, about how Aunt would be safer in the hospice, how these things needed to be considered, and Aunt’s stated desire to stay at home could be overruled in her best interests.

I politely disagreed, saying that to my mind to move Aunt now would be an act of cruelty. Yes, the care would be better, yes she would be safer, but what she wants is to die at home with her friends near her. Continue reading

Death is Overrated

I’ve not seen A for a while. I’m trying to remember the last time, and if the conversation I recall having some time ago was face to face or over the ‘phone.

But late last night I got a text from Nicola telling me A is in hospital and giving me the directions should I wish to see her. Nic said A had been very unwell, so I sent off another text saying I’d like to come and visit and when would suit.

Further texts from Nic made me realise the extent of very unwell. Dying. Cancer, though what type I do not know. Maybe that does not matter.

No reply from A to my text, but today a flurry of exchanged messages with Nic who had been to see her and found it hard. Near the end was a phrase she used in one of these messages. I brought forward my plans from Wednesday to tomorrow. Continue reading

Anniversary Days

It’s a year since I wrote this post.
I am so glad I was blogging a lot then. Now it is the anniversary of Mother’s last weeks and by reading back, I can follow the trajectory of those days; my visit in mid April and then the call to say she was dying; the five days leading up to her death. Afterwards.
Octavia and I were talking yesterday about the power of first anniversaries. Why does it feel so important that this month, day by day, I follow, relive, what happened then? The waiting for the inevitable; the knowledge that each time I left her might be the last time I saw her alive. Dementia robbed her of so much, but she was still recognisably my mother. Still someone I loved, with whom the connection was strong. So often those living with dementia are spoken about as though they no longer exist; no longer have rights; no longer have claims to be as human as us.
In the current issue of of the reader there’s a poem written by a woman about her mother who has dementia. It’s warm, celebratory, about the person not the illness. Continue reading