Last week a missed blog. This week a late one.
But it’s difficult to hold the pen steady when the road is a bumpy one. And that’s how life continues to feel at present.
My dad’s dementia is getting worse. He has been assessed as having substantial needs and requiring long term nursing care, but the solution – for various reasons – is still proving elusive.
Trying to come to terms with the thought of dad being in a care home has been hard enough. Not helped by the practicalities of finding one that’s suitable.
Pope Francis was in the news recently, for having said that putting people in care homes is abandoning them to potentially suffer “neglect, fear and loneliness.”
I learnt of his comments when scanning through Facebook entries on my phone last week, whilst sitting in beautiful sunshine in the lovely town of Pollensa, in Mallorca.
A link from the dementia research charity BRACE appeared on my newsfeed to this moving article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-29644976 – written by BBC presenter Fiona Phillips, about the pain and anguish she faced in placing first her mother, then her father in care, after they were both diagnosed with dementia.
It had taken me four days into the holiday to stop almost constantly thinking about dad, never mind the nightmare dreams I’ve been having at night.
Reading the article suddenly catapulted me back into the pain of decisions faced at home, some guilt for the pleasure I was enjoying at that moment – when I knew my mum was still in 24/7 caring mode.
Pleasure and pain in equal extreme measure in that one moment.
On Sunday I ran the Eden Project Marathon in Cornwall. My 44th, as part of my fundraising challenge for BRACE.
It was the most glorious autumn day, warm sunshine, a light breeze. The scenery was stunning, winding lanes with relics of the area’s mining history, slate roof cottages, the beautiful Luxulyan Valley, a towering stone viaduct, open rolling moorland, the sea glistening on the distant coastline.
It was a glad to be alive, fresh air moment to celebrate. But at the same time, my legs were shouting back at me, complaining miserably at the pounding they were taking mile after hilly mile.
Pleasure and pain in equal measure.
Today – after week’s of searching, countless telephone calls, a number of home visits – I got the phone call that confirmed dad has been accepted into respite nursing care.
It’s a call I’ve been both hoping for and dreading.
But I do know, with absolute certainty that we are not abandoning dad and that he will not be neglected. Instead, he will be cared for around the clock, looked after in a safe, understanding, protective environment. I hope sincerely that he will not be lonely or afraid, but this journey is one he must now make himself.
It’s precisely because we do care about him, that we’re seeking this help.
The very understanding mental health therapist who’s been overseeing his care for several months, explained to me that like a parent leaving a child at the school door for the first time, you have to leave a loved one with dementia to make their own way too.
I’ve been comforted by this thought and Pat’s added comment: “Knowing the kind of man Bernard is and how he’s lived his life, I’m sure he will adjust and find his own way of coping.”
Also, everyone involved in dad’s care is agreed that it’s now time that he gets the expert help he needs. Time for us to begin to let go.
I would normally be running tomorrow – a pleasing Friday morning get together with friends from my local running club.
Instead, I will be driving dad to his new home – a painful sad moment.
Life is not a series of unending positives – or a one dimension steady level.
It’s a mix – pleasure and pain.
I do hope the road becomes less bumpy for a bit now though.