COUNTING SMILES (Part II)

I’ve agonised over this post and there hasn’t been the opportunity for me to do a ‘July’ post as yet, because my time has been sparse and the good in my life has been particularly slim pickings.  There will be one, once I get a grip, but for now, I figured I might as well try to explain.  I honestly don’t know where to start … and I fear I will most definitely ramble.  I am not strong, nor heroic, nor robust … right now (if ever)… So, as lovely as everyone always seems telling me how valiantly I cope with everything; with Archie, with my Dad, with the family, with what I’m going through.  I feel owt but.  I feel like I am failing epically in all areas – starting with my own sanity!!

I guess the beginning is a good a place to start as any.  I say the beginning but my woes, to be perfectly honest, seem to run riot with no real beginning and no end in sight.  It’s all a bit of a blur (just as blurry when the tears dry up).  If I didn’t joke my way through this I’d cry – so bear with, whilst I blunder through the bad quips.

You know how someone asks you ‘How are you?’ and you say ‘I’m fine!’ because that’s what they expect, and that’s what they want to hear and well for appearances sake it’s just the easiest option. The question wasn’t really a question after all it was a ‘pleasantry.’  We all do it as a ‘conversational in.’  No one really wants to know that you’ve had a very real and very recent cancer scare, that you’ve just had an almighty row with him indoors that has thrown your marriage into question, that you tripped over the dog this morning and stubbed you toe and it’s still throbbing, or that you haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in over a year.   So we establish that you’re fine, that they’re fine and hastily sketch over the inner torment and then you can talk about something mutual and less important, the task in hand.  The fact that the kids are driving you momentarily insane over ‘Pokemon Go,’ yes, you can both have  a good laugh about that.  Or the weather – how English that we can just say ‘I’m fine, you, lovely day/awful weather,’ and job’s a good ‘un.  You can smile and make on your merry way. Well, here’s the news, about to shatter the equilibrium.  I can’t lie any more.   Behind the facade (which I hasten to add is already crumbling) is a broken mess of my former self and she’s anything but ‘FINE!’

My life has never been ‘easy’ (far from it), I’m not the perfect Mum or wife.  I’m not strong or brave or indestructible.  Fact is I’m a bloody mess.  There I’ve said it.

It’s an effort to get out of bed on a morning, but I do, because I have to.  Ironic really because, as exhausted as I am, when I’m in it I’m normally doing anything but sleeping, with crying and worrying high up on the agenda. Even reading is pitifully infrequent of late.

I’m avoiding social media.  I don’t want to hear about my friends perfect lives with their perfect families and perfect jobs.  Yes, I’m bitter and I’m envious.  Above anything I hate jealousy – but here I am the green-eyed monster in me coming to the fore, coveting every life I see on there, any life but mine.  It doesn’t matter that I know, hell we all know, Facebook is false.  A showcase of what we want others to see.  Painting ourselves in a picture of perfection and prettiness so the whole world can gasp and wow at how the other half lives.  I’d love to think that I’m the exception to the rule, that I’ve always been honest on there and that I’ve painted life as it is, which I have – in the main.

What I don’t showcase for the media world to see are the pictures highlighting my imperfection.  The tears behind the smiles.

We don’t do ‘normal’ round our house (never have and never will), but revert back to the beginning of June and a standard day tended to comprise of; an early start  getting everyone up and organised, a walk to school (to combat kidney problems and to prevent ceasing up- I swear I’m nearer 90 than 40! The change is just as hideous as everyone says I tell ya! ), several phone calls from my Dad, usually of a repetitive, forgetful and despondent nature, a visit to Dad most days full of happy tales and buoyancy in the hope that today – he won’t tell me how he wishes he were dead and how life isn’t worth living.   (I have to check up and give myself peace of mind) and then I spend upwards of a couple of hours or so on the phone to sort out his latest gaff (cancelling subscriptions- he signs himself up to anything and everything, chasing appointments, co-ordinating calendar dates, checking pills, etc, etc), emails, chores at home, collecting No 3 from school, feeding Nos 2 & 3, setting up and plugging in No 1 and conversing with the daily Angel about Arch care, making tea and juggling after school activities …. Crawling into bed not much after 9 at best and often before – utterly exhausted and cranky as hell- but unable to sleep! It’s as if as soon as I get my body where it needs to be it turns round to me and goes ‘Nur, nur, fooled ya!’  So then it’s another sleepless night, listening to the traffic and the planes, whilst my head pounds with worry over whatever’s next on the agenda.

Then there was one particular day at the beginning of June which started out no different, except I also fitted in making birthday cards for the kids, doing a tray bake for some event or other, oh and receiving a phone call at around 7.30 pm, in between stops of the Mum taxi.  No one else heard the phone, or couldn’t reach it (from the sofa), or tuned out (due to electronic devicitis)!  I put down the chocolatey palet knife and checked the answer machine … It was the doctor – needing to speak to me urgently about a recent ‘routine’ blood test, with emphasis on the ‘urgent!’

I haven’t shared the worry of the past two months since that fateful phone call from my Doctor about the blood tests.  Those damn blood tests that showed that I quite possibly have cancer.  The following trips to and from the doctors, the hospital, the needles, the enemas, the surgeries, the biopsies, the mardy consultants, the waiting (hell the waiting hell!) and the fact that they whilst they still haven’t found anything I can’t expel that sigh of relief because they still can’t be certain.

I haven’t shared the additional worry that whilst all this has been playing out I’ve been caring for my Dad, whose health and mental stability seems to go up and down like a tarts knickers and most days those knickers are down well below the knee!  When I’m not with him I worry about him, when I’m with him I worry all the more.  I worry for him and I spend endless hours rallying around trying to sort out his care, to get some sort of support – any additional support – because there is only me and I am not enough. The hour the social worker did her assessment must have been the only hour in the past 8 months that he seemed perfectly able and coping admirably, because he really isn’t.  He is in denial and he doesn’t want any help – but he isn’t coping admirably and  I can’t do this on my own.

 I feel like I’m quite clearly speaking another language entirely because no one with the means and authority to help is listening to me.  It would also appear that I’m wearing a pair of milk bottle-bottomed glasses and ear defenders – because right now I don’t see or hear a way out of anything.

In the last week alone  I’ve spent 8 hours on automated phone lines, or talking to incompetent customer service personnel- trying to cancel subscriptions that my lovely Dad has signed up to in his boredom and loneliness.  In addition I’ve spent over 2 hours filing paperwork (I caught him one fine morning with a big pile of important documents and his trusty shredder!)!  I kid you not there was more importance in that pile of filing than the utmost importance of my two youngest kids place on making sure that their toast has the thickest possible spread of Nutella!

I registered my parents with TPS for unsolicited telephone calls and junk mail many moons ago, when I still lived at home, and have re-registered and clarified this from time to time, as these things inevitably mount up again as our details get banded about to all and sundry. I don’t know how they managed to get themselves onto so many lists, or where these incorrigible sales ‘terriers’ get their lists from.

In the past months my Dad had signed himself up to two subscriptions – several copies of both lay unopened on the sideboard and a company providing dinky toys!  He’s had the Jehovah’s Witnesses in for tea and biscuits and signed up to two charity lotteries and ironically a telephone cold-calling electronic filtering system that was costing a small fortune each month- I kid you not!!

After my Dad’s health and well-being and my children’s – this week, extricating him from all these unnecessary commitments was my ultimate objective.  Time Magazine – I have to hand it to them – were incredibly understanding, professional throughout and helpful, even promising a refund for copies not yet received.  Many thanks to the young man at the end of the telephone who listened to my plea, who understood my angst, who didn’t take it personally and who did everything in his power to ensure I put the phone down with a smile – which I did momentarily.  The other magazine company (who shall remain nameless for now) were abysmal.  After 40 minutes of to-ing and fro-ing, my face turning from red, to blue to pewse, I’m not sure that I’m any farther along – in fact I fear my pleas and instructions fell on profoundly deaf ears.  However, if my father continues to receive copies, invoices, etc, I think I may just have to name and shame.

My apologies go to my Dad’s lovely gardener, Kevin, to whom I extend my thanks – not only for his hard work and friendliness towards my Dad, but for his common decency and honesty.  Kevin told me last time I bumped into him that on one occasion my father tried to pay him for his services three times on the same day.  Fortunately he was decent enough to refuse payment and to advise me of the same.  He also, in a very tactical and kindly way, refused to cut my father’s already beautifully tidy and trimmed hedges after having done this job just a week or so previously, despite my father’s insistence!

I am however, less impressed, with the chancer who knocked on my father’s door and advised him that his lawns needed cutting, did a shoddy job, and took a handsome payment for the same.  You also seem to have taken my Dad’s best long garden shears- mistaking these as your own property I’m sure!  Perhaps if this blog makes its way around Yorkshire as it normally does, one of its thousands of readers will be alerted and be able to salvage the situation, in so much as the reprobate won’t be able to prey on another vulnerable soul.  I’d like to think that my Dad’s very expensive garden shears (that he’s cleaned, sharpened and oiled religiously since I was a child) will be returned to him, though I fear I’m living in a fantasy world.  At the very least I hope that perhaps my blog will bring the attention to any other vulnerable readers, or those with vulnerable family members and friends that they care for – so that they don’t befall the same mistake.  I hate the fact that there are some people, ‘lowlifes’ out there, that prey on those like my dad.  Despite putting up signage to detract door-steppers and chancers…. My blood is currently boiling!

It’s the school holidays and, thus far, we’ve barely stepped outside the house.  I’m exhausted, weak as a newborn kitten, and most days it takes every effort just to drag myself out of bed and put some clothes on.  I can’t remember when I last put a face on, despite that fact that I actually require a bucket load of concealer!

The house is such a mess, full of clutter and madness – definitely not helping my state of mind and yet the time and energy to tackle it just isn’t there.  Again, so overwhelming and so time-consuming even making a start is leaving me dumbfounded.  My mojo is missing .. any motivation and former orderliness gone AWOL.

I’d gladly watch mindless TV all day, rocking and dribbling.  Although the reality is I’ve never been a fan of dribbling!  Besides Archie prefers CBeebies and in the periods of respite from Mr Tumble and friends I’ve enjoyed watching the Rio Olympics.  I haven’t been completely useless.  At least whilst I’ve sat in my misery I’ve sewn name badges on all the new school uniform (yes already purchased – get me), a feat in itself, and I’ve constantly monitored Archie’s gastro-feeding and hydro-flushes and ensured he hasn’t self-harmed, (although there has been the odd moment when he’s had a self-induced major nosebleed).  His current favourite thing is ramming anything and everything down his throat until he dribbles like crazy and is ultimately sick.   (Probably another reason why I’m not a fan of dribbling!)!

So, think of me as you will … self-obsessed, attention-seeking, gaga – I’m not proud of how I’m feeling, but I’ve found it incredibly cathartic being open and honest about my mental state in this post.  I always thought of myself as one of the strongest people I knew, a ‘coper,’ but it appears I’m not, far from it.

However, life, as they say, or in my case ‘the show’ must go on.,,,

 

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