My Dad’s a Goldfish – Tales of Fantasy and Magic

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My friend Julie is using a bit of magic to raise funds for Alzheimer Scotland.

In memory of her father, Graham, who had Lewy Body dementia, Julie Bowmaker has written and published Tales of Fantasy and Magic, a book of nine rhyming stories for children. The book is beautifully illustrated throughout by Langholm-based artist Margaret Walty and has a foreword by Sally Magnusson who said: “Children will love this beautiful – and fun – book.”

There’s Delia Duck, who desperately needs a new hat, Ferdinando, an adventurous camel who learns to swim and a cat called Bonnie who makes her own spaceship along with other characters brought to life by Julie’s wordimg_0001s and Margaret Walty’s glorious illustrations.

Julie remembers how much her father enjoyed his outings in a minibus to the day centre, which prompted her to raise cash for Alzheimer Scotland so that others might benefit. She said: “I always remember him coming home in the minibus looking so pleased and happy. The work Alzheimer Scotland does with their day centres is so important for people with dementia – and their families, who need a break but need to know their loved ones are in good hands.”

She had 500 copies of Tales of Fantasy and Magic printed last year. The books is priced at £5.25, with £3 going to Alzheimer Scotland, the rest retained to pay reprint costs. She has already had to order a second print run and raised £1,500 for the charity.

img_0002She has worked so hard to sell those books. She has not put the book on Amazon because it would take a cut which would complicate the balancing of the books for Julie so she’s been selling them locally at craft fairs, Farmer’s Markets, garden centres and in as many outlets as she can convince to give a bit of shelf space.

The book is available online through a webstore Julie has set up. It’s at http://www.freewebstore.org/tales-of-fantasy-and-magic.

It would make a brilliant Christmas gift for any young children in your life.

My Dad’s a Goldfish – trouble with feet update

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You may remember the problem we had when the NHS decided the Goldfish was no longer eligible for podiatry care: ‘We are NOT a toenail cutting service’.

Then, when one of his toes started bleeding because the nail was being pulled from its bed he was reinstated and received a very swift – next day – appointment.

I take the Goldfish to the health centre, remove his shoes and socks and point out the bloody toe.  I am assured it’s nothing to worry about. The podiatrist will sort it in a jiffy, which he does. Not only does he sort the dislodged nail, he trims all the Goldfish’s toenails.

Before putting his socks back on, I ask about what appears to be pressure sores on the Goldfish’s heels. His feet are examined from every angle. The pressure sores are of much more concern than his toe nails.

As the Goldfish can’t transfer from his wheelchair to the patient’s chair, which is higher, (and there is no hoist) they have to bring a stool to raise his foot to a height the podiatrist can work at. I wish I have my camera with me, though I probably wouldn’t have the nerve to take a photo. Three members of staff are now in attendance and one of them is actually lying on the floor beneath the Goldfish’s foot. The Goldfish looks only mildly discomfited and rather amused by the performance.

The problem has arisen because when the Goldfish sits for long periods of time in his recliner chair with the footrest raised his heels are pressing into it causing the pressure sores. If he sits with his feet flat on the floor the sores may be prevented from worsening but fluid will collect around his ankles.

The podiatrist says someone will do a home visit once a week to work on the sores – so from being considered no longer eligible to have a three-monthly visit to the podiatrist (to cut NHS costs) the Goldfish now requires a far greater input at a much higher cost.

To ease the pressure on his heels we buy him some very fetching slippers. Check out these bad boys!

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Are these not just the bees’ knees? Have to say they were great and the Goldfish rather approved of them.

My Dad’s a Goldfish – the fidget box

cropped-goldfish-87-1254566814ncva1.jpgAs the Goldfish seems to sink further into himself conversation becomes increasingly limited, as, of course, does his ability to engage in the games of snakes and ladders or dominoes which he previously enjoyed.

We find looking at old photos is no longer a useful thing to do. He shows little interest, perhaps because he no longer recognises the people in the photos. I make up scrapbooks containing pictures of animals and birds, which he enjoys looking at sometimes. Companies produce all kinds of resources including reminiscence cards and DVDs of times gone past but they are expensive and the Goldfish seems to have moved beyond such activities.

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A few bits and pieces from the fidget box

 

Almost by accident, I hit on what we came to call the fidget box. Into a shoe-box sized box I put a random selection of miscellaneous objects. They included a small trophy with the legend, ‘World’s Best Grandad’, fastened inside a clear plastic box; a Christmas cake decoration with Santa in his sleigh being pulled by a reindeer; a small block of wood, one side of which had been charred; a tiny brass spirit level; a small mandala; three small juggling balls; a plastic wallet containing  a dozen old black and white postcards of working horses; a golfing tiepin; a glass paperweight with a picture of a peregrine falcon and a bull’s nose ring.

This latter object puzzled us for a while as we could not figure out what it was. The Goldfish shrugged whenever we asked him. Then, one day in one those moments of lucidity he said: “It’s a nose ring for a bull.”

“It’s quite fancy,” I said, indicating the inlaid metal work.

“It’s for when the bull’s in the show ring.”

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World’s best grandad trophy – a bit the worse for being fidgetted with!

The Goldfish had great fun opening the little trophy box, undoing the cord which held the trophy in place and removing the trophy. Then he’d put it back in the box. The fastening disappeared, as did one of the handles but he didn’t seem to mind, or even notice.

One of his favourite pastimes was picking at the leather backing of the paperweight. He finally, after much time and hard work, succeeded in removing it. He could also spend hours with a coaster, attempting to split the picture on the front from the backing.

 

The fidget box did not work its magic every time we

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The fidget box

proffered it to him. Sometimes the Goldfish ignored it. If he did not want to rummage through its contents nothing would persuade him to do so. At other times he would pick up the box and remove the lid himself and be totally content for hours.

Many of the resources and activities for sale are excellent but are more geared to be used when people still have the cognitive ability to recognise artefacts, people and events from the past. I’d recommend a do-it-yourself fidget box.

Role Reversal

I apologise for the long delay from the last post. I’ve been away. I had planned to continue with feet (a follow up to the last post) but I haven’t written it up yet. Next time. For now, here’s a poem written after one of those nights, which seemed endless at the time.

Role reversal
Three a.m. – out of bed again.
Radiator stone cold. We stand
arms linked while I whistle
Red Red Robin, which you
fail to recognise.
I try Colonel Bogey.

Another, about toothbrushes, pink and blue,
who meet by the bathroom door,
elicits a smile. Memory glimmers –
maybe.

It’s a tune you used to whistle
when I was tiny, to make
me wee before bed. Now,
urine bottle held over a willie
no daughter expects to know so well,
I whistle for you
my entire repertoire.

 

 

My Dad’s a Goldfish – trouble with feet

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We suspected for quite some time the day was coming when the Goldfish would no longer be deemed eligible for NHS podiatry services.

We’d heard rumours about the service being stopped. It had already been drastically cut and the Goldfish was only allowed to have his toenails cut once every twelve weeks.  Imagine three months without having your nails cut!  We found a private podiatrist who could come in between NHS appointments – but only once as she was already rushed off her feet (sorry, pun wasn’t intended).

The NHS podiatrist assured me the Goldfish would continue to receive regular (12-weekly) appointments.  When I told her we’d heard support workers were going to be trained to cut clients’ toenails both in residential homes and for people still living in their own homes. “No,” she said, “it can’t happen. It’s a skilled job. All kinds of things can go wrong if it’s not done properly – infections, in-growing toenails.  Podiatrists train for three to four years before they can be registered. You can’t just let anyone do it.”

Turns out they can. In due course a letter arrived saying the Goldfish had been assessed (by whom? When? How?) and was no longer eligible.  Every care agency would, apparently be sending staff on two-day training courses to learn how to cut toenails.  The private podiatrist was appalled.  “Two days?” she repeated when I told her. I trained for four years and I still spend several weeks each year on training courses to keep up to date. Two days!”

None of the Goldfish’s carers were at all keen and either said they hadn’t yet been trained or they did not have time. I can’t say I blamed them. I wouldn’t like to have to do it. Wiping the Goldfish’s behind was one thing – trying to cut his toenails was quite another.

One morning one the Goldfish’s toes was bleeding. The nail had come out of its bed. I phoned the number on the letter and asked how to access the podiatry service. She asked for the Goldfish’s name, address and date of birth and after a short time came back on the line to say he was not eligible. “We don’t run a nail-cutting service, you know.”

I said I understood that and explained about the bloody toe and was told to take the Goldfish to his doctor who would refer him to the podiatrist.  As the Goldfish had an excellent GP he was referred and given an appointment the same day.

We were back in the system.

My Dad’s a Goldfish – Please don’t argue

cropped-goldfish-87-1254566814ncva1.jpgA few weeks ago I re-blogged a post from Kay Bransford’s blog, Dealing with Dementia which listed 20 things we shouldn’t say to someone with dementia. One of the things on the list is not to correct or challenge trivial things; another was not to say ‘remember when’.

Out shopping recently in a department store I noticed a woman – middle-aged – pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair.  She maneuvered the chair to a display of shoes. It was the raised voice which caught my attention more than anything but something alerted me to the fact the elderly woman had dementia. I’d missed the beginning of the conversation but am guessing the elderly woman had questioned the younger.

“You’re in Marks and Spencer’s, mother,” daughter shouts.

“I know where I am,” mother replies, “but what have I bought?”

“You haven’t bought anything. We just got here. Do you want to look at the shoes?”

I realise I’m going to be caught staring and shuffle off a bit, keeping the group – another woman pushing a man in a wheelchair seemed to be accompanying the mother and daughter – in my line of sight.

I’m still close enough to hear the mother tell her daughter she doesn’t want shoes and see her being pushed off in a different direction. I follow at what I hope is a discreet distance.

“I’d like a dressing gown.”

“You don’t need a dressing gown,” replies daughter. “You’ve got one.”

“They have nice ones in here.”

“I told you, you don’t need a dressing gown.” By this time she is pushing the wheelchair through the lingerie department, which carries a large stock of dressing gowns.

“Oh, lovely,” says mum, reaching out towards a long, fleecy one. “Such a pretty colour. And it feels so soft.”

“For goodness sake, mother, you do not need a dressing gown.” By now, the daughter’s voice is not only loud it has acquired that ‘see what I have to put up with?’ tone. She’s still pushing the chair through the lingerie department, her mother’s head swiveling from side to side trying to focus on the dressing gowns through which she is being pushed at what must seem a dizzying speed.

“Oh, wait, stop. I like that one. Let me see.”

Daughter speeds up. The woman pushing the other wheelchair suddenly shouts out to the mum. “You’ve already got a lovely dressing gown. Remember? You bought a new one last week.”

Mum does not remember. Mum is now becoming distressed; tears are not far away. Daughter gives a huge sigh. “Time to get out of here,” she exclaims, yanking the wheelchair round – so they go back the way they came. Yep, right through all the dressing gowns.

I want to talk to this woman. I want to tell her it would be so much better for everyone if she didn’t argue with her mother. Why not agree the dressing gown she likes is lovely? Why not allow her the pleasure of looking at them and deciding which one she likes best? Why can’t you agree with her? Why not find a way to distract her attention? Suggest you come back later to look for the one she likes best.

I want to shout at the woman who asked her if didn’t remember buying a dressing gown last week. Of course, she doesn’t remember. You know she has dementia.  Of course she doesn’t remember buying a dressing gown last week. Did she really buy one or were you just saying that? Were you lying to someone with dementia because you know they would have forgotten?

Of course, being British and trained from nappy-hood (diaper-hood) not to say or do anything which might cause a scene in public, I keep quiet. I’ve made mistakes, too.

 

My Dad’s a Goldfish – Thank you Facebook

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You know how Facebook pops up to remind you of stories you posted in the past? I usually don’t bother with them but this week Wee-sis received a reminder of post from two years ago – the day she introduced the Goldfish to the delights of selfies.

In heselfier original post in August 2014, she wrote: “Dads/ Grandpas/Great Grandpas can get into selfies, too.”

Lots of people responded to Facebook’s reminder and it is so lovely to know he has not been forgotten:  most describe him as having been a lovely man; a gentleman. And he truly was a gentle man.

Wee-sis said this time: “It’s two years since I showed him what a selfie was. You can see by his little smile he thought it was a pretty silly new-fangled idea.

Thank you Facebook.