I used to love a pamper day. Nice massage, nails done, relax in spa. All a distant memory as since my first op went wrong I haven’t ventured into a Spa for fear of germs. I have had a couple of massages though and my sister does my nails now and then. Now my hair had taken on a new dimension and has a habit of growing in volume rather than length so a trip to the hairdresser was long overdue. The hospital hairdresser hadn’t got back to me which was a little disappointing so I checked to see if there were any hairdressers near the hospital and there was. So appointment booked, consultant authorised it so it was a matter of waiting for Stephen to arrive to chauffeur me there. I was nervous, last time I ventured out I fainted. We took a wheelchair which initially refused to fit in the boot but with a little persuasion and a lot of swearing from Stephen, he made it fit 😫
We drive the short journey to the hairdressers and park outside listening to the radio, as we are early. Neither of us can cope with sad songs yet but luckily the music was upbeat. I ventured out the car and tentatively walked the few steps to the hairdressers, suddenly feeling like a hundred years old. What in earth has happened to me, legs like head, head spinning, am I even going to make it?
It made me think of my mother, was my run of bad luck some kind of punishment for putting my mother in a home following her brain haemorrhage. My past feelings of stifled anger towards her made me feel guilty. But she repeatedly refused to take her blood pressure tablets in the 12 years since my father died, whilst continuing to smoke and partake of the odd Gin or 10 ( OK maybe not 10 but more than a couple) seemingly oblivious to the potential disaster that was building. I took her to consultants and various doctors but she was adamant she could NOT tolerate the tablets. They made her tired or ‘out of it’, her memory was failing she said and blamed that on the tablets – she had to be well to help with the boys. I realised that but I said to her once ‘ you’ll have a stroke and then how will we cope ‘, she shrugged her shoulders as if she didn’t care. She knew I was unwell but had never been outwardly supportive although I know she did care but she could be a cold fish, never showing affection, although never nasty – she just found it hard to show her feelings. So when we were all plunged into hell back in 2012 when I found her slumped semi-conscious in her chair the day after my sisters 40th, it really was the start of this run of bad luck. She spent a year in hospital, jobs, relationships and our health strained to the hilt as we tried to visit regularly ( same hospital as I’m in now so yes that long journey again). We’d arrive to find her aggressive and abusive towards us – it was just awful. When she came home eventually it was a massive strain on all of us. We had managed to get a grant for a disabled bathroom and I had to arrange all of that but she refused to use it as in her brain damaged state, there was nothing wrong with her, it was us who were mad. So yes I did have feelings of resentment whilst I tried desperately to keep her at home. It was such a juggling act with her lying to carers saying she was going out for lunch when she wasn’t so no lunch was left for her. She would then phone me saying she hadn’t had lunch, I’d then phone the careproviders, well you get the picture. She tried to make coffee with gravy granules and cold water, dropping it all over the floor ( despite having a special urn next to her bed). She forgot how to use the phone and would mix up the remote with her comb. We then put a camera in but it became a double edge sword as I’d see her doing bizarre things like pretending to smoke or having animated conversations with no one, or just looking sad and lonely or as things progressed, packing stuff away repeatedly only for us to have to unpack it again trying to explain to her it was her house, there wasn’t another house somewhere else where all her family lived, as she vehemently believed. I can’t say I found caring easy – we had help in the form of carers but their effectiveness was hit and miss. One of her sisters called but the rest barely visited – they had their own lives and their own problems. One day my mother set fire to the bed, this was the start of the end as the care company said they could not take responsibility. An awful time. Was this Karma repaying me for not embracing the situation but I had just been retired on Ill health when all this happened, I wasn’t well myself, my sister had two jobs and young children – it was a constant strain. She was so difficult about everything, but it wasn’t her fault I know that. I just struggled with it all, even taken her out in the wheelchair -she’s 13 stone – was hard work. We used to go to M&S every week food shopping. She would always insist on buying a massive French stick ( no idea why) so I’d be struggling with the wheelchair and bags, she would be knocking things off shelves with this bloo*y French stick, and then we’d get to the till and she’d say I was controlling her money, it was a nightmare sometimes! So yes I did moan, not to her of course, Stephen in the main plus Ann my friend, but I didn’t always enjoy my new role as carer, There were light moments too of course – she used to love the days I’d bring the boys there after school and make them tea – she would come out the kitchen and sit with us, a happy nanni. Once she’d had enough then she would say ‘ right boys where’s your shoes’ – a sure sign it was time to leave. But on the whole, it was hard and stressful. She is now in a home and I don’t think she even mentions me, my sister takes her out when she can. When I visited her she told her friend I was her sister. She now has vascular dementia as a consequence of the brain injury and takes the blood pressure meds that could have avoided all of this, with no issues.
I reach the salon and we are asked to take a seat. It’s a glass fronted salon and very hot in the sun. I’m on edge and feel like walking out but I persevere and Stephen asked if I could sit out of the sun, explaining the situation. They were very kind and soon I was washed, cut and dried. I felt OK, not faint and pleased I’d achieved something normal. We got back to the car and some ‘pillock’ ( not my words ) had parked so close to our driver’s door, Stephen couldn’t get in. He stomped to a few nearby shops to see if he could find the perpetrator to no avail ( Thank God). We then have 5 minutes of him trying to get in my side and climbing over to the drivers side – now when you are a bit portly with two very arthritic knees and 3 displaced discs in your back, this proves difficult, he is about as flexible as a very hard swede. But he makes it and off we go, back to my cell for another evening. Job done.