Isn’t it obvious?

Tony and I’ve never made a secret of his deteriorating health, or that the decision to go into resthome care was made by the medical system. We knew the time was coming, but the choice was taken from us – which was a good thing.

In the six weeks he’s been in the home Tony has (mainly) been quite well, although he isn’t doing so well just now. A few people have made comments about how well he looks and questioned whether he needs to be there. Not helpful, even if well-intentioned.

Yesterday Sandra visited an old friend of Mum’s who was sensible enough to ask “is Tony seriously sick?” and expect an honest answer. Sandra simply said yes. Mum’s friend said “thought so”.

From the way the conversation went, I gather some people in town are discussing why Tony is in the rest home. It’s simple; he’s there because he needs to be. Yes, he’s that sick. If people want to know more, ask. We’re happy to provide the truth rather than have people make up their own version.

It’s going to be ok #BlogJune 26

Tony came home for about 5 hours today, and we had a visit from his good friends Doris and Dan, and his brother Roger. The photo is an older one, when we met up with Doris & Dan in Hamilton.

We sorted all his clothes and labelled them – I have a pile to wash and take to the Op Shop. We have his funeral clothes chosen and put aside. He’s picked what ornaments etc he wants, things with special memories, and we’ve put them in his room. His new duvet is on his bed, and I’ve got a cork board to go on the wall so he can put photos up. The room is looking like his now.

Having Tony home was good, but also a bit stressful. I guess it’ll get easier over time? It reinforced how fragile his current relative wellness is, and how easily it could be unsettled. Still, while he can come home it’s nice for us to spend time together at the weekends – we need to make the most of these pockets of time together.

It had to happen #BlogJune 24

I woke up this morning with a scratchy throat, feeling dreadful. I sent my boss a text and went back to sleep until 11am. Do I have a cold or COVID? No. As I said to Fiona, I think it was just that I’d been away and had to trust things were ok, came back and saw for myself that Tony is doing well, got a few things sorted and then – with the pressure off – my body said stop! The reality is I’ve been living on my nerves, and little unbroken sleep, for probably a year.

I’m immensely grateful I was away when he went into permanent care and, as much as it hurts my heart, I can see how much better he is with 24/7 professional care. The picture below is Tony with a Puzzli puzzle I got him; I thought it would keep him busy for days … he was finished it in 3 hours.

Inching to a new normal #BlogJune 22

My flight from Christchurch got into Palmerston North just before 8pm last night and I was home by 10pm. Alan and I had stopped for a pie for lunch at Arthur’s Pass on the way over from Hokitika, and then afternoon tea at the airport so I didn’t need to stop for dinner.

The house was warm (thanks Janet) but quiet and empty…my new normal. Goldie was delighted to see me and yelled at me for a bit before getting up on the bed beside me and dribbling a lot. I think, at 16, she’s got a bad tooth or two!

I popped in to see Tony quickly on my way to work – sometimes I won’t do normally – then spent almost 2 hours with him after work. We’ve ordered a shelf for his room to put bits and pieces on, and a new paint by numbers. At the rate he is painting them, we’ll going to end up papering his room with them 😉 We’ve ordered a duvet set to make his room look more like him – pale grey/blue satin isn’t really his thing.

I’ve come home and unpacked, done the washing & put it on the airframe in the lounge seeing I never go in there, cooked dinner, cleared the mail and then sat here thinking “ok, now what?”. Normally I’d be looking after Tony or, if he was particularly well, chatting with him. I don’t want to start the paper tonight and it feels too late to start some art.

Tony & I will settle into a new normal but who knows what it will look like. When we fell in love 30 years ago I didn’t imagine myself, at 56, visiting my husband in a rest home. We always said one day the 18 year age gap would bite, but somehow the reality is different.

He’s made friends with the resthome cat, and it pops in and out of his room regularly. He was tearful when I left tonight but, given it was my first day back after he went in 11 or so days ago, I think that was understandable. Overall, he’s looking much better than he did a few weeks back. With the anxiety of being home alone gone, he looks less frail, although he had another fall t the weekend. I’m sure some people are going to think he doesn’t need to be in a home but they are so, so wrong. Anyway, today was a small step towards a new normal. One step at a time…

Tony; it’s been a big week #BlogJune 7

I’ve been saying for a while on FB that Tony isn’t very well, but haven’t gone into a lot of detail. I’m more open on Twitter because family don’t see it (with one exception – sorry Ro!). It’s where a lot of my support network is. Now it’s time to put a bit more on my blog.

Tony’s got multiple complex health needs – diabetes, kidneys, congestive heart failure & AF, peripheral vascular disease, lung issues and there’s serious problems with his gut. We’re not investigating any of it because he doesn’t want much intervention and isn’t well enough for surgery etc. He lives on Fortisip, yoghurt, and ‘baby veges’ i.e. mashed potato, pumpkin, carrot etc and very occasionally a tiny bit of pork sausage from Normanby Butchers cooked by Tairoa Lodge. Oddly, it’s about the only meat he can eat.

He had a fall last Sunday and again early this morning. No broken bones, but a decent bruise and painful lump on the back of his neck. Hospice think he’s having TIA (transient ischemic attacks) which are like mini strokes caused by a clot blocking blood supply in the brain.

They seem to come in swarms, leave him very sleepy, with slurred speech for a bit and a few other physical signs such as his hands dropping constantly. He also talks rubbish for a bit – we’ve both had a few laughs out of it. I can kind of spot when they’re going to start now, which isn’t as useful as it sounds! After they stop, he sleeps deeply, often for only a few seconds or minutes at a time, but falls asleep over and over for hours.

I am booked to go for a break at the end of this week. His brother Roger and a caregiver/friend, Janet, were going to look after him at home between them. After this morning’s fall we’ve agreed that’s not safe so he is going into Te Mahana for respite care, and to try it out. It’s a big step but feels inevitable.