2015 – Review

I was looking across at the blog over the past year it been rather a mixed bag of things. I always like to look back over the year. Try and see what if anything I have a accomplished and what maybe I would like to do better in 2016.

At the beginning of the year I had a few tests as I found a lump in the right side of my breast. I can say breast can’t I? Well I was sent to the breast clinic and was there for four hours having to having a mammogram my goodness those are unpleasant and you women need medals for having your knockers squashed by this horrible machine.

Consultant took a biopsy without anaesthetic so that was a lot of fun. It was sore for sometime. Eventually I got a letter that there was no cancer and but I had to go and see another consultant because my hormone levels were very low. So more tests etc. Even weeing into a container for twenty four hours. More fun.

Eventually told after tests that I had a tumour on the pituitary gland which could be the causal affect on the gland sending the right messages to other parts of the body making me very tired. It wasn’t big enough to remove but I have to go back for another MRI to keep an eye on things and in the mean time I have hormone injections every three months. Basically I am going through the male menopause. I even started growing a beard it was that bad.

The neighbour next to mum passed away. Because of mums illness she wasn’t in a position to attend the funeral so I went in her place as I did with a colleague she worked with the year before when she had passed away. It was strange as you didn’t real want to tell mum these things because you wouldn’t know how much she would have understood and probably best not to say anything as it would confuse and upset her.

Then I went to a conference back in the beginning of April about the state of mental health funding and what we could do to highlight the desperate need to make sure that in the up and coming general election that who ever we were prepared to vote for that mental health be a priority and increased funding is desperately needed. I met a chap called Danny Bowman who had suffered from Body Dysmorphic Disorder. A disorder that not many people know about. What you see in the mirror or in a photo gets distorted and you pick up on what is perceived flaws or imperfections. This then can cause all sort of problems of depressive and some times people taking their own lives.

I found it interesting to hear other stories from people who had suffered different kinds of mental illnesses or who had been dramatically affected by other peoples suffering. To listen to a lady who had been trying to cope with the suicide of her teenage son was heart-breaking. It reinforced the need for people to talk about what may be troubling them. As said in a blog back in February that 6223 suicides were reported in 2013 and 78% of those were young men.

Then to the ridiculousness of the evangelical church in Northern Ireland fighting over a cake and it’s “political implications”. People coming out in favour of a bakery that was asked to bake something that pro-gay marriage. Or marriage equality the term I rather use. They lost as they should have done. Gone are the days that in B&B’s you put up signs saying no Blacks or Irish.

This year I tried and failed miserably to resurrect my gardening time. Mums worsening health meant I couldn’t. She eventually became bed bound because she was leaning to one side in a chair and it wasn’t deemed safe and bed was better for her as she could be protected in such a place. She was given a specialist bed to protect her from any bed sores or various other problems that occur with someone with such restricted mobility. I knew that at the time she wasn’t going to get better from this and it was a matter of keeping her comfortable and pain free which we did. The district nurses, carers, occupational therapists and other professionals were excellent with her and attended to her in great detail.

This certainly had an impact on my health at the time as well. My medication was changed and I was suffering from terrible anxiety in the mornings. I would always expect the phone to ring and it usually did. I had to pick up various things for the nurses on prescription and assist with people who were visiting to assess or treat mum. It was then agreed that the best thing was that she was given 24 hour care and allowed to be turned during the night.

Every time the phone rang I dreaded it when I saw it was from the nursing home. The year seemed to slow down. I don’t know how to describe it. It was like I had been running around for mostly seven days a week and the responsibility of looking in at mums had gone and knew it was the for the best as she would never gone into a home voluntarily. I didn’t pick the first one that was suggested and knew that I had to do some research about care homes as you always hear the bad stories about them and never the hard work that they do each day for very little recognition.

It was only three weeks in that I was warned that she was in decline and the phone call came at 10:10pm 1st December. I sat with her for nearly an hour talking to her and telling her how much I would miss her. Telling her all the gossip and who was doing what. I did the same when she was laid to rest in the funeral home. I used to say to her ‘I have some gossip …’ turn around to see that no one was listening and she would always said ‘Come on then what’s happened…’  Like two gossipy old women. I mean I am not a one to gossip I would say. I merely impart knowledge.

In two days time it will be the beginning of a new year. A new start for me. The next chapter in my life. I always said that looking after mum would just be a natural part of life and afterwards I would move on to what ever comes up. I would do the same again if I had to it was a privilege to look after her. It’s not for everyone I have said that before. It’s not easy.

I thank all the friends and relatives for this year who have played a big part in getting me through the past few months. I couldn’t have got through the past month without them. I would have lost my mind.

Here’s to 2016. What ever it brings.

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the barefoot tree

Still grumpy

Gari Wellingham

UK-based musical theatre geek previously living with a brain tumour!

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