Life With Elderly Parents.

I was listening to some podcasts recently about the perimenopause and menopause. It was so interesting and relatable but one woman`s comment really hit the nail on the head. She referred to the menopausal years as the “Frantic Forties and Fifties”, where life just goes insane on so many levels whilst we face the onslaught of hormones going bonkers all at once causing a myriad of symptoms!

What she was referring to is a time in our lives when some of us really don`t feel that great (some do I know, and sail through to the final menopause stage) and are wanting time to deal with and process all these new, sometimes scary symptoms yet we may have so much else going on that we can`t or maternally put others first. It may be teens or marriage problems but one that really resonated with me, especially in the last month with my own experiences and listening to friends of a similar age, is that of the worry of elderly parents. It really is a double whammy.

And here`s why it resonated…..

My parents live in the UK and I, as you know, am here in Australia. When we emigrated back in 2004, they seemed so young in their mid-sixties. We didn`t even give the future a thought. Them coming to visit every year was always going to happen, and it did, every Christmas for fourteen years. Last Christmas was the last however as the journey has just got too hard and they are now 80 and my Dad has a multitude of health issues. This has brought a huge amount of feelings to the surface. I find myself thinking about them constantly. What will happen to them? Will they get a terminal illness? Will it be sudden? When will it happen? Who will be there? Well certainly not me!

Guilt is beginning to set in. Were we selfish to emigrate? My brother is dealing with everything and has even moved back to the village they live in. Hospital appointments, operation after care, the frustration it brings my parents and dropping in on them every day to check they are ok. I do know if I were to up sticks and go home for these final years, it would probably really upset them. It has crossed my mind but then I don`t want them to be upset or feel a burden. Which of course they are not. But it doesn`t stop the guilt I have and the toll it is taking on my brother. I sometimes hear it in his voice. I talk about it openly to him and he says not to think like that, but I do. I wonder if others feel the same and ask themselves if they made the right choice back in the days when life was simple and their parents were healthy as they boarded that plane to a new life. I think they probably do.

Two friends called me this month with news on their elderly parents. One call left me in a panic that I to could face a similar call to the one she received and the other left me feeling that guilt again. Both friends were in their own kind of grief.

The first call was from a friend who did the opposite to me and emigrated from Australia to the UK. It was a Saturday morning and she received a call to say that her Mum had suddenly passed away. Completely out of the blue, no warning signs. By the Monday she was here with her family to farewell her Mum. I dread this call. I may not receive it, an illness may take me home prior, but I could and maybe twice. This really bought it home to me. My passport and that of my daughters is always up to date. It`s not as if we can get in the car and drive to where we need to be. It`s a 24-hour flight !! Why did we go so far again? Selfishly it was so good to see my friend but so bitter sweet.

The second was from my crazy, gorgeous friend here who I can say absolutely anything to and she me. We laugh, we cry, we listen, we tell each other to shut up (or worse !) , we share hot flush stories and she calls me her “comfortable pair of old slippers” I love that. We are both from the UK but live here. She was full of anger, frustration and sadness that day. A year ago, she was loving life to the max, kids had left home, and they had bought a smaller house near the city. Think cafes, bars, restaurants, theatre. She had dreamed of this time. But then her Mum began to deteriorate and was eventually taken into a home and her dad is lost without her. She goes from work, to the home, makes sure her Dad has company, food, shopping etc. “I feel like I`ve got two toddlers” she wailed. It had been a bad week. I listened, I soothed but I knew she was feeling what many do, including my own brother. Yet I am too far away to share the appointments, the checking and the sadness of watching them age. I am a once a week Skype chat now, no more visits from them, no idea when I shall next get home to the UK and the elephant is always in the (Skype) room of when we shall see each other again. Because we dont know.

So, I am left pondering what to do. Perhaps there is nothing I can do but keep up the contact as much as possible from the other side of the world…..it`s a difficult one ☹

Promise to be cheerier next time

PP xx

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What Are You Going To Blog About Today?

I thought this , as a newbie, opened up my eyes to the benefits of WordPress, I love it 🙂

Fractured Faith Blog

It has come to my attention (well I do investigate for a living after all) that I follow a lot of fantastic bloggers. I try to keep up with as many of them as I can and, where possible, offer encouragement and support. I can’t do that with them all, though, as otherwise I would never be off WordPress but even if it means just liking a post, I do it. Just to let people know that I care and appreciate their written efforts. It’s the least I can do given the tremendous support we receive on a daily basis.

The flip side of that is that a lot of bloggers don’t blog or, if they do, it is very infrequently. You see it all the time. The ‘Sorry I haven’t blogged in ages but I’ve been soooooo busy/life got in the way/haven’t had anything to say’ type introductions. Delete…

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Couples and Statistics.

Over the last few weeks I have heard at least two snippets on the tv or radio on how many times the average couple has sex. The one that caught my attention was that on average a married couple has sex five times a month. If I remember correctly (perimenopausal brain fog still not lifted!) it wasn’t age specific but more in relation to how busy, tired and how many dependents were thrown into the equation. I wasn’t really listening beyond the number 5, and not in a day or a week but a MONTH! “Woooo hoooo” I thought and couldn’t wait to tell my husband! We were hitting target! What a relief! The pressure is off, and I knew he would feel the same, probably even better, if that were possible in my ecstatic moment. By the way I am convinced men stress over these stats more than women do or is that just a ruse to get us at it more! “So and so says they do IT every night” etc etc.“Really?”reply,actually thinking “Do they bollocks! Excuse my French 

But then my reaction got me thinking, especially in these perimenopausal years I am in now when I do feel less like having sex for a multitude of reasons, that why am I so pressured by statistics and what society says is a “normal” amount of times in a month, and the answer to a happy marriage?Why do I feel such a “wooohooo” moment just because we made the stats? In fact last month we might have even beat it by a few times Even more “wooohooo`s”

Then I realised that sex and statistics have been around for years and from the time we hit the age of first having sex, we are bombarded with percentages and times…

  • when we first had sex
  • how many had it under age
  • how many partners we had if any before marriage
  • percentage of brides who were virgins (try before you buy I say!)
  • how many times we had sex when we had a newborn baby
  • how many times we have sex in our 40s, 50s. 60`s and so on ….

We try and find fix it strategies so that we don’t fall behind the average number that we should be hitting. “Date Night” comes to mind. Don’t get me wrong I think it’s a great idea to take time out for ourselves from the hum drum of everyday life and those around us that take our attention, but sometimes it’s just not practical. Not only that, I can be faced with, and I hope I am not alone here, no excitement but that dawning moment of dread when waking up on the morning of “Date Night” and my libido has disappeared and shows no sign of returning by that night ! Cue ideas of candles, sexy lingerie and maybe even oysters! No? Maybe a bottle of red? Maybe two?  The pressure is on!

Joking aside, perhaps we should just be happy being together and not put how many times we are getting “jiggy with it” as the main indicator to how happy our marriage is. When all the stars align there is nothing better than getting intimate with each other, but if they don’t for a few weeks we don`t need to be stressing about hitting that magic number a month. Perhaps it will be 0 but next month it might be 20! (Ok bit farfetched that one but you get the idea!)

So, move over pressuring statistic gatherers, we’ll have as much or as little sex as we like !

Until the next time

PP xx

 

A Perimenopausal Brain Fog Week.

When I used to say to my husband. “What are you thinking?” and he would reply “Nothing” and I would exclaim, “You can`t just think nothing !!”. Well now I know you can with brain fog setting in in recent years.

It seems to be linked to a fall in progesterone and the sleep deprivation caused by insomnia. I usually describe it as my head feeling like there is a huge ball of cotton wool inside and little else.

But what does it really feel like? So many symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause we can physically see. Hot flushes, night sweats (ok it might be a bit dark for that one, but we can feel it!!), menstrual irregularities, dry skin etc. But trying to describe brain fog to someone else is like “trying to plait fog” (literally!) but I shall give it a go….

  • I can`t focus on any one task at a time. I find myself standing in the kitchen surrounded by things to do and not being able to choose where to begin. I put on a podcast or the radio and it seems to snap me out of it. Perhaps it`s listening to and focusing on something else rather than trying to work out why my mind won`t work that helps?
  • I feel floaty and light headed both sitting down and walking about.
  • I can`t concentrate on writing for long periods of time, which is why I haven’t blogged this week. I find myself flitting from one thing to another. The thoughts in my head wont fall onto the key pad like they usually do.
  • They say anxiety can cause brain fog, but for me it is the other way around. I start to feel anxious when my mind feels blank and unable to function as it once did. I am such a list maker, organised tidy person,I still make lists and then forget to look at them. So, when I am stood looking aimlessly at what to do, I feel anxiety rise in me. Because the feeling is so alien to how I used to be maybe?
  • Bit dramatic, I know but I have worried I might have ADHD. My husband has ADHD and I watch him feeling like this an awful lot so he is quite understanding .“Do you think it`s catching?” I asked once in a moment of insanity. He rolled his eyes and so he should have!
  • I also worry I have early onset dementia. Is this what it feels like I wonder as I am rooting around in the under stairs cupboard with the flashlight of my phone to see what I am doing and my husband appears behind me and says, “Why don`t you put the light on?” A classic brain fog moment.
  • I forget names.Names of people. movies, songs, places. I put the timer on for anything that I cook in case I get distracted. I am always reminded of my mum’s friend who went to the theatre and had just sat down when she turned to her husband and said “John! I`ve left the eggs on the boil”. Can you imagine the panic? The house did not burn down but the smell was there for weeks. And they missed the show!

It isn`t all bad. There will be times like after I have edited this and done all my jobs (with mini speaker in tow) that I shall make a cup of tea and sit in a wonderful fuzzy world of my own, without a care in the world. On my morning walks, all is well in the world, just me, my dog, the outdoors and that piece of cotton wool preventing any interruptions. Catching up with friends for coffee is always a giggle as we in turn forget names. places and utter “what was he called?”, “what was I saying?”, or “can you read the menu, I can`t find my glasses”. And so, it goes on with us laughing in between at how hopelessly we are. It`s quite bonding in a way.

As I can`t see it and none of us knows how another really feels inside it is difficult to know I am not going a little bit bonkers. I swing between rising panic and being blissfully unaware depending on what needs doing. And I definitely prefer the latter feeling.

Until next time

A Foggy PP xx