I visited my mum and brother again yesterday afternoon. Mum was such good fun as we sang along to YouTube together. I fed our kid his evening meal and he rewarded me with some beautiful smiles.
There is little doubt that mum is bored for long parts of the day. I can’t be much fun parked in the Residents Lounge with the TV constantly on blaring out inappropriate programmes. It wouldn’t take much to brighten up her day: they know what she enjoys.
I’m always puzzled by my brother’s catatonic state and his restlessness as he sits continually shifting his position in his chair. It is possible that his presentation can be explained by risperidone. I was told yesterday that his medication means that ‘he is never any trouble.’ There are strict guidelines on the use of this antipsychotic for the elderly and I sincerely hope they are being applied in my brother’s case!
Mum was sitting in her chair In the Residents Lounge of her Home when I arrived yesterday morning. She smiled when she saw me so I knelt on the floor and held her and stroked her hand. As always the TV was on in the foreground: a cookery programme which some suggest wets the appetite of the viewers. It must be doing it subliminally in mum’s place as her most of her mates had their eyes closed apart from one lady who was knitting.
When Football Focus came on Gary Lineker told us that Big Cyrille would be featured throughout the hour. I’m not sure mum even watched his finest hour as far as we Sky Blue supporters were concerned, so I decided to intervene.
When I asked the owner of the Care Home for assistance to move mum to a quieter spot so that I could play her some of her favourite music she summoned assistance and said: ‘whatever floats your boat’.
Mum was at her best to this one:
She sang, tapped her feet and fluttered her eyelids as we ‘floated our boat’. As carers passed by they said: ‘she loves her music’.
My brother was ready for his lunch when I arrived at his Nursing Home. He scoffed the lot; eagerly taking his lunch from the proffered spoon and would have taken the additional sweet on offer if I had accepted the offer. He smiled occasionally as I gently fed him his meal.
I’m always struck by the contrast between my mum’s Residential Home and my brother’s Nursing Home. There are visiting times where my mum is a ‘no-go areas’: you are not allowed to be around at meal times. Several residents were being fed by their relatives at my brother’s place yesterday and staff were clearly very grateful for their help. I am not aware of any no-go areas in my brother’s Nursing Home!
I wonder if the stark difference between my mum’s and brother’s environment is down to size or the nature of Homes they are in? Mum is in a very small place exclusively for ladies. My brother enjoys the company of men and women residents who live in a much larger Home. It is possible that economies of scale mean that my brother enjoys far more favourable living conditions that my mum. However, from what I have seen person-centred care extends far beyond the welcoming notice boards in our kid’s abode. Visiting times along with rules and regulations are predominant in mum’s place!
I’m leaving Madhyamaka shortly to travel 130 miles to see my Big Fellow and my Dad’s Little Woman. This means that I won’t be at the Ricoh this afternoon to pay tribute to Big Cyrille who sadly passed on Monday. This afternoon I will be paying tribute to two heroes of my own who have supported me throughout my life. They both have dementia.
I intend to make it to Coventry in time to see mum before it is time for lunch in her Cae Home. Then I will move on to spoon feed my brother in his Nursing Home.
Neither my mum or my brother will have any recollection of that proud day for all Coventrians when Big Cyrille lifted the FA Cup. It is also unlikely that they will know who I am when I arrive later this morning. That doesn’t matter as I will never forget who they are and what they mean to me!
As you will see from the photo above grugging – group hugging – is once again firmly established as an ongoing Retreat at Madhyamaka. I encouraged Gen Togden, the Resident Teacher here, to demonstrate the technique after lunch yesterday. Shortly afterwards, in their farewell to Jo (3rd left back row), Working Volunteers demonstrated that they understood the practice.
Grugging is being taken to York tonight. It will be on in various venues as the Volunteers celebrate the forthcoming birthday of one of their number (far right, front row). As an experienced grugger I have been asked to go along to ensure there is no straying from the path!
Togden’s teaching below has great relevance to me this morning as my Retreat draws to a close:
I had a really good day yesterday. Taking Precepts at 7am. was a really helpful start to my day. The teaching on my Retreat continues to be excellent; provoking me to think about how to move my mind in a positive direction.
Every time I come here I benefit from the warmth of my fellow travellers. At 10 ‘o’ clock last night a woman I hardly knew was willingly giving me advice on how to improve this Site. I’m not sure if she will have time before her departure this morning to see the results of her advice.
It is always reassuring to hear that your wife is ‘settled’ during a Respite Break. That was the news when I made telephone contact with Alderlea Care Home last night: a member of staff assured me that she was ‘doing brilliant’. I just hope that Maureen’s thinking has shifted from feeling that she is an ‘invalid’. I would hate her to think that is why her husband has left her in the care of others for a while.
Once day breaks I will be able to eat again, after not having any food since yesterday lunch-time: the one meal you are allowed after taking Precepts. It’s good to have a day when food does not take up so much of your time. Although I won’t be wasting any opportunity to consume my share of the beautiful food that will be available here today! The other thing I will focus on today is to watch my mind and what I say: drawing on the guidance I’m getting on my Retreat.
I have decided not to set up a new page and will post news of my Retreat here:
Yesterday morning Gen Togden the Resident Teacher at Madhyamaka greeted me with ‘welcome back’.
We snatched a brief hug as we went our separate ways: he is teaching on another Retreat. Togden is always willing to hug and introduced me to ‘grugging’ on my last visit: a group hug.
Most of the time there are only two of us on ‘How To Transform Your Life’. Working visitors join us in the evening when they are free from their voluntary duties. As always they are young, enthusiastic and from all over the world.
One of the purposes of a Retreat is to rest and I’m certainly doing that; frequently dropping off when I’m trying to meditate. There are another four teaching sessions today and I’m also going to take Precepts at 7 am. This will be a new experience for me and I’m looking forward to a day of moral discipline and watching my mind. However, I’m sure ‘grugging’ is not out of the question for the initiated!
I eventually let my head rule my heart yesterday morning. Once again our Key Worker kept me on the straight and narrow and eased Maureen into Alderlea Care Home. He remains the only professional who Maureen remembers and trusts! Now I’m on my Buddhist Retreat I am grateful for his wise counsel.
I attended the introduction to my Retreat last night and I’m really looking forward to the next few days. There are four teachings every day and we are encouraged to observe silence until late evening. Madhyamaka is such a peaceful place: its impact on me is always significant.
I hope to find time to set up another page on this Blog so that I can share what I am learning from my Retreat.
Maureen has been incredible over the last three days. Our Little Diamond has worked tirelessly on my daily shopping list of activities. I’m beginning to wonder if she has been using laughing gas as hysterics greet me when I return from my time out.
Maureen’s mood is so positive at the moment. She had a shower and washed her hair this morning with minimal encouragement. Then to cap it all she put on a complete set of underwear for the first time in ages.
Our Key Worker will be here shortly to take Maureen to Alderlea Care Home. She has been at home for a month and it is time for me to have two weeks respite from my caring duties. However, as things are going so well at the moment I’m wondering if a holiday together would be more appropriate. It seems such a shame to put at risk what we achieved in the last few days.
It would be simple for Maureen to accompany me to the Buddhist Centre today and join me visiting family at the end of the week: there’s room for two on all my bookings. It’s really tempting to go for it and leave Alderlea as a fallback position if needed!
Out Little Diamond always plays it cool when she arrives for her carer sit. She is not of the ‘wham bam thank you mam school’: telling Maureen what she is going to do to her as soon as she walks in the door.
I watched her again yesterday as she eased Maureen off the sofa to join her in household duties. If I’d been able to video her in action it would have had an excellent training video for her colleagues to watch.
Yesterday Maureen was eased into:
- A short car journey into Grimsby.
- Changing unsuitable clothing in Tesco.
- Drying up the pots and pans.
- Changing our bedding.
- Preparing vegetables for lunch.
- Volunteering for dusting duties.
On my return from some time out, OLD and Maureen were singing along to YouTube. She’s back again today and I know Maureen is in for another busy few hours.
I’m hoping she can help resolve an early morning underwear crisis: once again nothing fits. As OLD is here for four hours today we might even be able to fit in a trip to Marks and Sparks so Maureen can choose some new undies. Her current method of getting the necessary support up top; with a belt, or trousers almost pulled up to her neck, must be so uncomfortable. This is a no-go area for me when Maureen doesn’t know who I am – particularly if she thinks I’m the guy who troubled her so much in her past!