… just gotta ride it, as the song says.
This past year certainly has been most strange. The way my life has turned out did not even feature in all the possible scenarios I’d played around with.
I blogged about life being a funny thing back in April, about Neil being in hospital and how that had changed things with us. To continue…
The month of May saw a significant improvement in Neil’s memory; it was as if a switch had been flicked. Each day, he was that bit more lucid while remembering more and more. At the end of May, Neil was finally discharged from hospital to a care home. It was decided, with his agreement, that the best thing was for him to get respite care to help him back on his feet and to build up his confidence.
Because of his age, it wasn’t that straightforward finding him a place. The home he ended up in was a 20-30minute drive away, dependent on traffic; it was actually closer to Liam’s place of work than home!
I’d visit him 3 times a week; the boys did on some weekends. Oh, while Neil was still in hospital, I used a bit of emotional blackmail with Gordon and he agreed to visit. Both he and Liam had to do a bit of ‘processing’ to get their heads around it – as they said, it was as if the last 2 years hadn’t happened; they had their dad back.
On Father’s Day, the four of us went out for a meal; we had a nice time. We were showed the bar while they got our table ready, but Neil said he’d rather sit on the comfy chairs and ordered an orange juice.
To begin with, Neil kept to himself at the home. But gradually he started to respond to the activity ladies whenever they asked if he’d like to join in with certain things, especially after they got an idea of what appealed to him. He looked forward to going on outings, even on a boat trip despite being unsteady on his feet.
The one thing that bothered him, and still does, is his mobility. He’s not steady on his legs at all and always takes his walking stick when he’s out.
He’d walk short distances at the care home, to the kitchen and back, getting his own cups of tea. What he found annoying even though he understood the reason why, was not being ‘allowed’ to go down to the garden unless he was accompanied; it’s the rule because the other residents are so much older and they all need assistance. And, I guess, it covers the care home as well in case of accidents.
We started to talk about how he was going to move forward; being at the care home was never going to be a long-term thing. The initial plan was for him to buy a place close enough for us to visit him often. I thought, whether he’d want me to or not, I’d most likely go see him daily, just to make sure he was ok.
That plan morphed into something that would give us all peace of mind – all 4 of us living in the same house.
I know, I know – sounds like I’ve lost my marbles but, honestly, it felt like the right thing to do; and it still feels like the right thing.
We talked about it a lot, the 4 of us, with lots of thinking time too. When we agreed on it, we first thought I’d sell this house and buy another so we’d have a fresh start.
But with all the headache that entailed, I started to wonder why on earth I was selling a 4-bedroom house to buy a 4-bedroom house?! Also, things seemed to be gradually going downhill at the care home; Neil was finding it increasingly hard work being there. With all the noise – there'd been constant construction work from the day he moved in – day and night, he hadn’t been able to manage even one good night’s sleep. And there’s been a change of management, which meant every day he had to explain things to a new nurse. So much for continuity of care.
Gordon and Liam admitted to feeling happier about staying and not having to move. So, I talked to Neil about how he’d feel coming back to this house then left him for a few days to have a good think about it.
We all agreed it would be strange, but he was happy with the idea. As for the ‘fresh start’, he said he’d pay for the house to be redecorated!
How different he is without the alcohol. In fact, he’s back to being the decent guy I married, the father the boys remember from when they were little.
Long story short, Neil’s now back in the house with us. As we expected, we’re experiencing some bumping up against each other as we get used to another new way of being; nothing horrendous though.
Because of his mobility problems, we’ve had a stairlift installed, and have a few more things around the house to make life easier.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that he’s not expecting us to do anything for him. He constantly thanks me for every single thing, which is nice and makes me happy to do for him. He’s adamant about doing things for himself. He keeps telling us not to change our routine because of him. He’s making a real effort to exercise as much as he can by going for very short walks and building up his strength.
What has been driving me around the bend – I succumbed to one heckuva black mood this week – is other people. Just trying to get his meds turned into a farce as I kept being given wrong information.
He hasn’t had a drink since March; he says, at the moment, he’s got so much to think about and get his head around that he hasn’t thought about it. But he will ask his doctor for support. Even though he’s been medically detoxed, he’s not had any sort of therapy or had the opportunity to talk to a professional about his alcoholism. That’s another thing that annoyed me about the care home – having repeatedly asked if he could have support and being told that they’d look into it, nothing was forthcoming.
I’ve been upfront about his drinking and he knows that we’re back in his life only because the drink isn’t. But, as my cousin Peter said, don’t react badly if he does slip – support is the way to go, trumps recrimination every time.
There are some who have asked me if Neil and I will get back together. They can’t seem to get it when I say that’ll never happen – been there, done that! I’ve known the man for over 30 years, but the love that we had has gone; now I love and care for him as a friend. I have explained that to him; he hasn’t said much about how he feels.
As my lovely friend Jenny said, we all have regrets, usually small ones; don’t let this be the one big regret of my life. If I don’t do this – help and support Neil – I know I’ll regret it.
When I was talking to my neighbour, she said, if it feels like the right thing to do today, then do it. Who knows what’s going to happen six months from now? It may still be ok, it may not. If it’s not, deal with it then instead of projecting so far into the future, it paralyses you today.
I know I’ll have moments of wondering what the hell I’ve done only because I love my own space and, literally, being on my own with no one else around. Times like that, I have to remember to take the time to think about all the great things I have in my life.
That’s my takeaway from this post – when life wears you down, when you’re going through tough, challenging times, think about all the great things you have in your life. When you do that, it gives you the chance to focus on the good; it helps put everything in perspective. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the small details of our situation, we forget the bigger picture, and the incredibly wonderful life we do have.
With all that’s happened, I think this is going to be the last ‘Joyous Life’ post for now. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Take good care of yourselves and those you love.