My Dad’s A Goldfish – Diary entry (February 2014)

“Last night he was only up a couple of times and used the commode – no pee on the floor. Tonight, he has been up twice already, peed all over the floor in the bedroom and is terribly confused. He seems to be worrying about something but can’t articulate what it is. He loses his words terribly at night and can’t say what he wants to say. He keeps trying, which is frustrating for us both.

Fourth time up already. He’s like a jack-in-the-box tonight. He went into the study and sat on the chair by my computer (which is where the Step-monster had her computer). My heart sinks when I hear his bed creak. I suppose it’s not as bad as it seems as it’s not yet midnight. If I feel he’s settled by 1am, I think of it as a good night.

He’s had a dram, two herbal sleeping pills (I’m sure they only have a psychological effect so won’t work for the Goldfish, but I’ll try anything), toast and butter – no sweets, no chocolate, no sugar. Here we go again!

He keeps going in the study so I think he is looking for the Step-monster who spent a lot of time in there. It used to be his room – one wall taken up by his books, his desk where he used to work on Clydesdale genealogies for local breeders – then she took over with her computer and television. He’s up again!

I have no idea what to do next. Phone Alzheimer helpline? I don’t know where he is. I think the study again and this time he’s shut the door. Better go.

Nightmare. I don’t think he’ll sleep. His mind is all over the place – or, in his mind, he is somewhere else. Said he was going to sleep in the study until I pointed out there wasn’t a bed in it. We’ve managed ten minutes back in bed – is it possible we’ll get any longer? I’ve tried intercepting him before he gets out of the bedroom but nothing works. I’ve sat with him in the living room, in the kitchen.

Thinking about the support we need, I’d say I need a complete break of around three to four hours a day, especially if I’m ever going to get any writing work done, and a couple of consecutive nights off but what worries me about that is how it will affect the Goldfish having someone else in the house. And would I trust them to be kind to him?

He’s wandering again. I heard the study door squeaking and now he’s in the toilet, door firmly closed. I’m going to wait for a few minutes.

He’d shit himself before he reached the toilet so twenty minutes plus to get him washed and into clean pyjamas and back into bed. His stomach rumbling ominously as I said goodnight for what felt like the hundredth time.”

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16 thoughts on “My Dad’s A Goldfish – Diary entry (February 2014)

  1. Reading your account Mary reminds me of the stories dead-on-their-feet Mums tell me about babies and young children who just cannot sleep/settle. And just as with your Dad, there’s more often than not something going on emotionally, that causes this exhausting physical day after day, hour after hour angst for everyone involved. Easy to see how things could break down altogether, given the huge reserves of energy and patience that are required. You can understand people throwing their hands in the air in a ‘I can’t go on’ moment. . . . . . or two…..or three………..or

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    • Oh, Janette, I so often thought about the similarities to dead-on-their-feet mums! The big difference being, of course, there is the promise babies and toddlers eventually (usually) settle into a reasonable sleep pattern. And yes, I can understand people saying they can’t go on – if they don’t have any help. What I can’t understand is: “I can’t do this any more. No thank you I don’t want anyone to help.”

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      • ‘And yes, I can understand people saying they can’t go on – if they don’t have any help. What I can’t understand is: “I can’t do this any more. No thank you I don’t want anyone to help.”’

        Yes it’s emotionally more advanced to be able to say ‘I find this intolerably hard and I take responsibility for the things I find hard to cope with, and I will therefore accept help with them, particularly since my difficulty is affecting another human being—-my husband no less——–negatively’. It would be so much better if everybody could admit to needing help and seek it! But I know all too well from my job, that people will often do anything rather than admit they need help, and even if they admit to that, seeking it may take a good while longer. I admire greatly people who are prepared to take the brave step of seeking help, and owning up to a difficulty. I smile, as I remember two or three of my hard working country aunts for whom seeking help would have been a terrible admission of failure!!! But no way would they have flown the scene. They would have struggled on in martyr-like silence, sleeves rolled up, facing whatever life threw at them—and it frequently did! One had a husband who suffered terribly with clinical depression and he insisted on keeping the curtains shut all the time in the one room they lived in. She didn’t bother anyone with this, and even on the day he died, she did her work and did the necessary with the body, and only in the afternoon announced the event, adding that she hadn’t bothered anybody with her problems when he was alive so wasn’t going to start now!!
        There’s an expression ‘there’s nowt as queer as folk’. How true!

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    • Oh, Julie, I can assure you, I am no saint. I harbour too many grudges against the step-monster for one thing! Also, I was bitter about giving up my life, especially my writing. to step in when she left. I don’t think saints are supposed to be bitter. I did make sure we accessed home care, though it took longer to put in place than I anticipated and I always the Goldfish’s care package was patched up with sellotape.

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  2. Mary, caring for your Dad as you did, especially during such heart-sinking times, is an amazing testament to love. Even though we think, “He took care of me when I was little, so now I’ll take care of him,” it is not nearly as easy or straight-forward as it sounds. Physically and emotionally, there are vast differences between taking care of someone who weighs 2 stone compared to one who weighs 10, not to mention that one is constantly gaining independence while the other is relentlessly losing it. You did so well by your dad. And as for the Step-Monster, she has certainly qualified for the World’s Worst Karma award.

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    • Thanks Lorrie. I like the idea of presenting the step-monster with the World’s Worst Karma award! Very fitting. You are right about how different it is caring for an infant who will become independent and an adult who will become more like an infant – even without the extra emotional pull of the person being my father.

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  3. Oh, this is so familiar although Bo has never had quite so much agitation as you describe. I’ve had my share of sleepless nights, and count myself so lucky if I only get up a couple of times with him. lfarrelly (above) said it so well. But we caregivers soldier on because, what else is there to do? (Step-monster excepted.)

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    • Hello Nancy. It’s probable Bo is less agitated because he has you beside him, whereas the most significant person in dad’s life had vanished. It must have been so confusing for him and possibly scary to not understand what had happened. As you say, ‘soldier on’.

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