60 years plus five and a half weeks

And what a five and a half weeks it has been!!!!

It could not have been any more different than last year! 12 months of fitness, exercise and challenges followed by enforced idleness đŸ˜¦

It started with me getting the flu bug that’s doing the rounds and that wiped me out for about three weeks. I couldn’t believe it, I never get ill (well not common or garden, ordinary illnesses, I get things like Multiple Sclerosis!!!)

I was just starting to recover from that and then Ray became ill and had to be taken into hospital.

Now my stress levels have gone through the roof which has resulted in the flashing lights in my eyes increasing and the strange balance sensations I’ve had with the MS in the past coming back.

OK, that’s the outline. Now for the detail, if you’re interested read on, if not I suggest you quit now!

I’m not going to say any more about the flu bug, it was what it was, so I’ll fast forward to Sunday 14th April.

Woke up bright and early (5.30 am) and set off to Brighton to watch my friends running the marathon. Thoroughly enjoyed the day with Kirstein and Amelia cheering the runners on.

Got home at about 6.15pm, Ray was in bed so I went to talk to him. I said he didn’t look very well, he sat up and began projectile vomiting brown stuff which I quickly realised was blood (I now know it’s called coffee ground vomiting).

Ray was very dehydrated, drinking gallons of water and vomiting continuously. Very, very frightening for both of us.

He would not agree to my calling an ambulance but did agree to the non emergency number. They were great. The initial person took all the details then put me through to a nurse who said 999 but, as Ray said no, she got a doctor to ring us and Ray agreed to go and see him (I didn’t mention his clinic was in the grounds of the hospital until we were there!).

Off we set in the car, Ray clutching the bucket and continuing to vomit blood. The doctor was great. I explained Ray’s type 1 diabetic, that as far as I knew he hadn’t eaten anything for three days or had his insulin but that he had been drinking. I told him that we’d seen the GP recently who was very concerned about the amount Ray was drinking and had organised blood tests and a liver scan but that the results had not yet come through. The doctor examined Ray, made a phone call then told us the SHO had agreed to take him and that I should take him to A+E.

As we started to go I realised that Ray wasn’t able to manage the walk and got a wheelchair, something he would normally never agree to even though the walk would take a very long time, too bloody independent and stroppy!

We got to A+E where someone glanced at the letter and said we were in the wrong place and that we had to go to the AMU ward. Back outside then round to the ward, no, they were full and everything was diverted to A+E! Back we go. At this point I read the doctor’s notes which had said A+E in the first place!

When we got back to A+E I spoke to somebody who, after some huffing and puffing, told me to park Ray and that I should join the queue to see the first nurse. I did this, running back from time to time to change his bowl. When I saw the nurse she took the doctor’s letter and told me to complete a form and queue to hand it in to the receptionists.

Once I’d done this we were told to wait until a nurse called us.

We’d arrived at the doctors at 8 pm for an 8.30 appointment, at gone 11pm we were still in A+E waiting room, Ray was still vomiting blood (other people understandably moving away from us) and nobody had seen him! I kept going back to the receptionists who were lovely but could do nothing. I saw the first nurse a couple of times who just said we had to wait. I pointed out that he’d been seen by a doctor and that the SHO had agreed to take him but she said that we were now in A+E and had to follow their systems!

Eventually I got very angry. I had been to the receptionist yet again and discovered that there were three people in the queue ahead of us and that the first one had been waiting 57 minutes. If we had not been sent to the wrong places we would have been in front of them! I again went to the first nurse and told her all this, she again told me I had got it wrong but I knew I hadn’t and she finally, grudgingly, agreed to see him. After taking his blood pressure etc he was immediately moved through to the department where we waited in a cubicle with a family with a sick baby until Ray was finally moved into a bed in a room on his own. We were told that he would be staying there as there were no beds available. I left at 3am as I had to sleep and Ray still hadn’t been given the anti sickness medication.

On Monday Ray’s sister rang me in the morning to say that his step father had died, this was not unexpected, and I told her about Ray! They were worried about telling his mum as she was so upset about Syd so I didn’t get to speak to her until Thursday. All very difficult as I wanted to tell her how sorry I was about Syd but I could understand their concerns as well!

Ray spent the day in the room in A+E, he had been given the anti sickness drug which was working but he was not at all well. He was then moved to the AMU ward for assessment. He was on drips to rehydrate him, and drips for insulin and glucose to try and stabilise his blood sugars.

After about 24 hours there he was moved onto ‘his ward where they worked hard to control his diabetes. The nurses on this ward were lovely. They made him feel safe and relaxed and really tried to help both of us. I really wish I could say that about everybody else.

The diabetic specialist nurse rang me to see her on the ward one afternoon. I arrived at 3, she eventually spoke to me at 50 miles an hour for 2 minutes at just before five then rushed off to discharge another patient. I then discovered she was not going to see me and only did so because the nurse insisted.

I kept asking to speak to a doctor and they were never available. There was then talk of discharging him and, when I refused to agree, all of a sudden 2 doctors arrived! The Thursday before Ray was admitted he’d had a liver scan. I’d told the hospital about it and said the GP had written asking to see him about the results. Nobody had even looked at the results, I’m still not happy that everything there is OK!

He has now been moved on to the cardiac day ward while he waits to be discharged.

I’ve now accepted that Ray is an alcoholic. I don’t know if he has, but I have! He told me he’s not going to drink again and to get rid of his wine and beer, which I have, but I’m not convinced ……….

I always knew he drank massively but somehow kidded myself that, because he doesn’t get withdrawal symptoms he wasn’t an alcoholic. It was also easier for me to be in denial.

Two people have recently said to me ‘Well you shouldn’t buy it for him!” Easy for them to say, and something that I would have said prior to living this life, but not so easy to do! PLEASE people, think before you make comments like that. They hurt, they really hurt and my eyes are welling up thinking about it. Try to imagine how you would cope living someone else’s life before you criticise how they do it. You may intend the comment to be supportive, but don’t you think it may be something I’ve thought a thousand times???

I have looked after Ray for 24 years, 25 in November, since he had his stroke. I have done it on my own with no support. Ray rarely sees anybody but me.

He has some contact with our neighbours and with my family who are all great. He sees his mum and Syd at Christmas when I take him to exchange presents (if his sisters are there then he sees them too) and he’ll call out ‘Hello Mummy’ and when I chat to his mother on the phone.

I am very strong and find it hard to admit when I can’t cope (pride and loyalty are terrible things) but I have now done it!

I have met with the alcohol liaison worker and told him everything. He’s explained how difficult it is for people to stop drinking (much harder than smoking) and that there are going to be difficult times ahead but that he can, and will, be able to provide me with support as well as Ray.

This has been hard to write, but I needed to do it.

I had my goals for this year, but now I’ve got a far bigger one to contend with!

I’m due to collect Ray from the hospital tonight, I have to admit that I’m scared of what the future will be like, he’s been drinking very heavily since his teens and now it has to stop! We managed one argument on the ward, I’m sure there will be more to come đŸ˜¦

The district nurses will be coming in to do his injections and blood tests, the re-enablement team will be looking at his washing and dressing, the sofa and toilet seat have been raised and a grab rail put on the bed.

The support teams will come while Ray needs them, that won’t be long as he’ll say he’s fine and all the decisions are ultimately made by him. I know that he’d be better off with a wet room rather than a bath, social services were willing to look at doing it but he said no. The disabled person has the rights, not the carer.

I haven’t done any real training during the last five and a half weeks but I need to get right back into it now. I’m going to need every bit of the mental and physical strength I get from training and I’m certainly going to need the endorphins!!!

19 responses to “60 years plus five and a half weeks”

  1. This must have been very difficult to write, well done for doing it. I do think writing something down helps, even if you don’t find the actual writing therapeutic it helps put things in an order. I’m sorry that everyone in the hospital wasn’t as helpful as they could have been but glad that you met some helpful people who want to help
    and make things easier.

    I agree that things won’t be easy in the next few months but you are tough and hopefully getting back on track with the exercise regimes will give you the space & freedom (even if exercising while having it) you need to recharge & find that inner strength.

    Make sure you look after yourself and once everything’s settling the lights in the eyes & balance issues will improve.

    If you need a chat, a rant, a whatever just call me any time xx

    1. Thanks Linds! X

      The hospital just rang, they’re keeping him in another night!

    2. I was going to like this blog that you done but then I realised there’s nothing much to like about it.. It sounds pretty aweful auntie gillian! Makes me think now if I’ve got any stress it’s not nearly enough to get upset about! Hope your feeling better, my favourite crazy family member!!! Love from Harry x

      1. Lol H. Shit happens and there are others in a worse state than us! Today the sun is out,I’ve just trained with Darryl and I think my arms may drop off from boxing! Those endorphins are doing their job!!!! Having a coffee then to see if he’s coming out!
        Keep enjoying yourself and keep blogging. Love you loads favourite nephew!!!! xxxx

  2. Hi Gilly, I knew things had been tough for you but didn’t realise just how much. I know you are a very independent person, but I am glad that you have found some people who can at least understand and help you through this very difficult time.

    Ray is a very lucky man to have you, but you also need to take care of yourself too.
    And to do things for yourself, like your training.

    You are the strongest most independent person I have known, albeit through a weight loss forum, but it is something I am very proud to say. I have also read all your blogs and just do believe that this is the hardest one you have ever written.

    Denise xxx

    1. Thanks! No point in kidding myself any longer and writing it is my way of facing it!
      Also it may help somebody else in the same position!!!!

  3. What an emotional blog Gill and how very brave of you to write it!
    I have no experience of alcoholism so can offer no personal opinons but I do believe you will come through this next challenge in your life.
    You are one inspirational lady and so very commited to looking after Ray. I do hope his health improves over the coming months and more importantly stays off the alcohol with the support he and you are now going to get.
    With regards to your eyes I am sure that is stress related and will gradually subside again. Fingers crossed the imbalance sensation bogs off where it belongs.

    Sue xxx

  4. Hi Gill

    Wow what a heart felt blog, no wonder you throw yourself into training must be your only ‘me’ time.

    Whilst you are right carers do not have the same rights as the disabled, things have come along as far as that is concerned and they now realise they have to look after the carer as well, otherwise it costs the government and nhs even more. So don’t be afraid to ask for help from either your local adult social care team or through your doctors surgery.

    The reablement team should assess Ray thoroughly and not just take his word for what he can and can’t do they. so if you feel you need a wet room get them on side and they can then help you too.

    I had a friend who was an alcoholic and there was no way her family would not go and get her drink, she would kick off so badly so I fully understand why you buy Ray his alcohol. Things always sound so easy to people who have never experienced a situation.

    Good luck when Ray comes homes and take every bit of help and support they offer.

    Gill xxx

    1. Thanks Gill. Really appreciate this!!!!

  5. Reading this blog post was charged with emotion. Well done for facing it and writing about it. I admire your courage and determination as usual. Facing the issue is your key to move forward and you’re doing everything to be prepared.
    I do hope stress levels go back down very soon (and symptoms that go with it for you) and that Ray being back home, despite the new challenge, helps bringing a bit ‘normality’ (YOUR normality) back. You’re the strongest person I know and you will get through this.
    Aurélie xxx

  6. WOW Gill had no idea things were so bad, chin up girl you will get through this, you are STRONG and AMAZING.
    I know you will do the right things for Ray and it is probably going to be the hardest path you have had to walk, but stay focused, you have over come so many obstacles this is just another to work through.
    Sounds like you have lots of support from friends (and I know you have from family) always remember to use that support, even if it is just a rant or cry.
    Always thinking of you and wishing both lots of luck. xx

  7. Hi gill. Well what can i say, you have certainly been through it but i am sure with your sense of humour and strength you will get there. Yes, you are dead right, so many people are quick to judge when they no f all about what the other person is going through. I suppose it must make them feel better! Dont forget girl we are gonna start together at the bupa london 10k us 60 year olds must stick together, ha ha! Ps still owe you 6 quid! Take care of yourself. X

    1. Stick together? Ha bloody ha! I’ll finish while you complete your second lap, or maybe third!!!!

  8. Hi Gill. Very brave blog. I do have plenty of experience of alcoholism in fact my Mum and 90% of her family had or have it. You are only worried because you are so realistic. it is true you will have some tough times ahead but you will get through it. You’ve never let anything stand in your way. Please know how many people are there for you. I hope we can keep my monthly sessions at club one hundred as the chance to catch up, get our healthy shopping together eg meat and fish etc and have a nice steak and salad somewhere. I’m looking forward to trying some treatments too as long as its not fish eating my feet. In short don’t just plan the hard work, schedule in your diary the restful things. Of course it’s great to get the endorphin rush. I am addicted to that also but make sure you actually block out time and plan the simple things you might enjoy like a walk at sunset or some quiet time to read a book whilst sitting by the sea. It must be hard when you are proud but you have made the decision that you will need to take some help when offered but Ray isn’t anywhere near that and you need to sometimes be reminded as he was the other day that you can’t always be his sun, moon and stars and that he needs to let other people in to be fair to you. All the best to my warrior woman, my inspiration, my motivation and one of my most treasured friends.

    1. Ooh Dawn, that really got to me!!!! Welling eyes time!!!!! Hope to get to B/W on Saturday but if not I will meet you down here! Thank you!!! xxx

  9. Well done, Gill. For this post and for everything you do. You are one of the most inspiring, positive, determined, incredibly strong people I’ve had the pleasure to count among my friends, and I’m sorry to learn what a tough time you’ve been facing. I hope you and Ray get the support you need, and you find the resilience to get through the times to come, and find life a little kinder soon. Lots of love. Xxx

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