Getting to the gym while being a carer
Mum has been on a rollercoaster. These are the kind hearted comments I get, “I’m sorry to see mum has taken a turn for the worst.” or from mum herself, “I seem to have turned a corner now, maybe it was a little blip.”
Erm No mum, it’s how things are.
Vascular dementia won’t get better. It will have bad times and good. We talk in code much of the time. Mum doesn’t know what a TIA is and I hope she doesn’t. She’s very good at keeping smiling and still the laughing habit is with us. I know this annoys me as she laughs AT me so often which makes me feel once again very unloved and violated (is that the right word?) but I also know that laughter is a great medicine and for her to keep going like that not only makes others think she’s great but also makes all those ‘feel good’ hormones do wonderful things to the brain.
Vascular dementia is a condition rather like heart disease. The vessels in the brain become blocked. In mums case it was likely caused by her smoking for all those years (over 60 a day until 1989) but ‘they’ never quite know the reasons. Cases are all so individual. So we suspected a TIA about 2 weeks ago which is a mini stroke. Not much treatment is available for these as it’s simply part of the illness. Mums symptoms of ‘wiggy worms’ in the eyes had her thinking she might suddenly need a new glasses prescription although I knew that you don’t suddenly awaken with worse eye sight and so this was something else. Coupled with a drooping eye lid, a new soreness in her arm and massively high blood pressure I was fairly sure of what was going on here. The optician always tests so thoroughly and I was keen to get her looked at. While so many other people have suggested mums ‘wiggly worms’ are floaters (she does have floaters), once again, i knew they were something that was always there and not something you suddenly woke up to – to the point she couldn’t see to do her word search.
The optician was sensible. He looked into ‘lots of things’ and suggested the message from the brain to the eye was bad on these days. Sounds simple right? Makes total sense. As she is having issues like this anyhow I would say he’s right.
Some days are good. Some days are bad. She will never get better and she is living for today as tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
On those good days, we do what we can and sometimes this involves me trying to juggle taking care of myself too. My Nutrition degree is almost over and I had promised myself I would start taking better care of my health. More than ever, I know through my research that I need to keep my vascular system in check. With Dad dying of a brain stem stroke and mums vascular issues, it’s important to keep my physical activity and healthy diet in check. My children need a parent and there will literally be no-one else to take care of them when my time comes. Can you imagine how that feels? This is the end of the line. With my brother Steve gone for 20 years now, there is no other immediate family. I love my aunt to pieces and she is literally the only other family we have.
Anyhow, how can I put myself first when mum is also in need?
This is the way i see it,…..you know about ‘fixing your own oxygen mask before you help others‘? Well that’s where I am at. I can’t help the family if I’m ill.
Taking care of my own vascular health
It’s important I make sure I can’t crumble. With my own health issues of Crohns disease (and other stuff!) to give respect to, the Admiral Nurse is concerned. She suggested restbite for mum after hearing mum say selfishly, “What are WE all going to do if SHE ends up in hospital.” She didn’t mean it the way it sounded. It’s just how mum speaks.
All this said, I promised myself a day at my gym. I’ve neglected going recently due to work pressures too. Yet I needed the whole works, the gym, swim, jacuuzi etc. So I took Mum with me and she sat in the lounge with her word search and ”watched the world go by” as she puts it. Win/Win.