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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

Blogpost No 10 October 2023

Blogposts are sometimes like buses … none for ages then two at once! Not wanting to lose momentum for the year I thought it best to write about October for its own sake … while it is still in fact October.

Surely nothing much has happened since the Blogpost No9? Maybe but I’ll write about it anyway.

I last left you, dear reader, with the challenges of getting mum ensconced in her new, full time care home. There were many dramas, some I touched upon but needless to say all is well. All shall be well. Becoming a daughter again instead of full time carer has its own challenges but so far … I’m good.

During the first week mum fell three times. Each time I was made aware of the incidents and that a Doctor had been called in to check nothing serious had happened. However after the second fall I was asked to bring mum to an “urgent” X-Ray scan at Ramsey Cottage Hospital because a deep bruise had appeared on her right elbow and the Doctor wanted to make sure there was nothing untoward going on. So on Friday (I’d only brought her in on Monday) I drove over to the home. Mum was up and dressed but didn’t look particularly at ease. I don’t know if she recognised me but she was fine with my being there. She complained she’d had nothing to eat (not true) so we left with a rice cake (which she chomped on in the car) and a full packet of biscuits - just in case.

Getting her into the car was quite the challenge. I really wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get her there and back without doing some damage myself. Anyway … we got there. And much to my surprise she managed to shuffle, using the Ferrari (her shiny red walker:) into reception. There are times when “jobs-worths” become boulders. I approached the screen and explained someone had requested an emergency X-Ray for mum. “What do you mean by Emergency?” the disdain was dripping. She looked at her screen and said: ”I can see there’s been a request for an, “urgent”, X-Ray but you still have to make an appointment!” They made us leave (we could have waited 2 hours to be squeezed in) as the radiologist was very busy. I totally understand that appointments are made for a reason and that keeping those appointments is what makes things work … but we were told, had been assured, that an appointment had been made. The receptionist could see mum, standing but unsteady and obviously not with it but she had not an ounce of sympathy. As we were leaving she piped up: “Oh wait a minute …” hope raised its beautiful head … “Oh no sorry.” That was it!

I was not impressed. I took mum back, got her sat with a cuppa and one of those biscuits she'd brought out with her. As she came through the door her eyes lit up at seeing one of the other residents: “Oh hello!” "Hello!" No idea if she or the other person actually recognised each other but it made me feel good about her being there. The distraction of other people is a huge boon for someone like mum, who comes more to life when there are others to play to.

I returned with 45 minutes to spare for the acknowledged appointment, only to find mum so fast asleep in a chair, that no one could wake her. The effort of the outing earlier had totally drained her. We cancelled the appointment and another was made for Monday. As it turns out that appointment also had to be cancelled for the same reason - mum was dead-to-the-world fast asleep in a chair in the lounge. She’d apparently slept in a chair all night, refusing to go to bed but had been encouraged to wash, dress and have breakfast before I arrived. At that point, I was told, she’d been upbeat and chatty. She’s had a chest infection which took three different antibiotics to clear but she’s fine now. Which is a relief.

I’ve seen her half a dozen times now, twice with my sister on a Friday and other times on my own. It’s great to just pop in and say hi. I turned up this Monday around 11.45 and sat next to her on a sofa. She opened her eyes and said: “Oh hello I’ve just got here myself”. We sat next to one another. Samson And Delilah with Victor Mature and Larna Turner was on the tv. Not one person was watching it. They were either asleep like mum, or looking out the window or looking at me! You have to chuckle. I just held mum’s hand and kissed her cheek every now and then. I left when she started snoring. As I stood up she opened her eyes: “Where are you off to?” “I just need to go to the shops mum I’ll see you later OK?” “OK”.

We’re now into week four and I actually feel like I’ve just come to after a very long sleep. Sleep is still an issue … any muffled, distant noise in the middle of the night can have Bob and I both wide awake and listening for further signs mum might be up. Ridiculous we know. But it’s a muscle memory response as well as an habitually trained reaction. Most times we can fall back to sleep but there are those occasions (I’m sure you’ve had them yourself) when the shock of waking is too deep to shake off. C’est la vie.

I’ve watched The Wheel Of Time three times! Dad and I loved the books and I know he would have loved the series too. I ignore the blood and gore and focus on the magic. I've watched a few movies and sat with friends whiling away the time happily talking, because I can. It will take a few months yet before I begin to feel like I’ve let go. I put my left hip out last week which made me slow right down. I could have done without the pain but … it worked to bring me into the present and allow myself to relax a little more. I’m all good now - thanks for asking.

A few days ago David Suff sent me a pdf of the first draft of the book: The Children Of The Sea. It’s very exciting to see it come into being. We’ve missed our deadline to release it before Christmas unfortunately but the new year is as good a time as any to aim for. As it stands right now I should be able to support the release with an actual bona fide tour! I need to figure out how to present it all but feel confident I can try some new technology to bring it all to life. If you can think of an Art Centre near you that might be interested … let me know!

The idea that I could actually sing to a room full of music-loving people for more than one night, is almost too much to contemplate. Almost. Watch this space.

Talking of music (yay!) this month I’m sharing, yet another demo, of a song that never saw the light of day. Sweet Rain was written with Rob Laufer in L.A. in 2015 (I think?). He’s such a creative and talented musician songwriter, producer … and all round fabulous human. It was a delight to hang out in his studio and just play around with ideas. I took our noodling sessions back to the Isle of Man with me to tinker with once I was home. We finished these demos off the next time I was in L.A. which used to be a regular and exciting part of our lives - sigh. We wrote 4 songs in all. Hope you enjoy this little offering:

A month ago … just before the decision was made for mum to go into full time care … I had the opportunity to see Brooks Williams play here on the island. I was super excited! We thought it would be a chance to sing a few songs together. We’ve only met in person once, at a festival in Norfolk when I launched myself at him and nearly knocked him off his feet, at the end of his and Boo Hewerdine’s set. He was gracious then and remains gracious. Imagine our shared disappointment when, come the day, it just wasn’t possible for me to go. Mum wasn’t in a good place and I just felt I couldn’t leave her. C’est la vie. Brooks, of course, totally understood but we were both sorry not to be able to make good our shared wish. So … here’s a reminder of a wee collaboration we did in 2020. Such a talented and sweet human. Enjoy:

Thanks as always for dropping by to see how life is for this songstress on the tiny isle. All things considered … I’m doing well. And there are brighter times on the horizon.

Till next time sweet reader … stay well and keep rising above the turbulence.

Much love

Christine x

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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

Better late than never?

For those who didn’t see my apology for the lateness of September’s Blogpost … sorry I’m so late! There are reasons. As you may recall in August Bob and I enjoyed a week of respite when mum went into a lovely Dementia unit for a rest. The whole experience was wonderful for all concerned.

Once home however about a week or ten days after her return, things took a sharp turn for the worse. First of all, that first week back, mum was getting up fully dressed and ready for the day, around 4am. I was able to get her back to bed maybe twice. The alternative approach was to get her snuggled in a blanket with a hot water bottle, in the recliner chair.

Rudely awakened with “HELLO!” bellowed from the bottom of the stairs, was often our first awareness something was afoot! Week two mum changed to a better time frame of between five and seven am for our early morning call. At this time we enjoyed a wonderful ten days of bright, sunny, warm and delightful weather. It was blissful but mum’s legs started to swell up. A first for her.

Then week three brought with it some stressful angry outbursts, mostly directed toward me, coupled with incomprehensible speech. These are peak experiences not constant and so they are manageable despite their stress inducing effects. A couple of times mum thought I was a complete stranger waltzing around her house as if I owned the place - apparently. Once I understood this, it was relatively easy to lower the tension. Distraction is a mighty sword in the battle with Dementia. Once the moment had passed and mum was feeling better, she started telling me about this awful woman who’d just been in the house. “You should have heard the way she shouted at me!” Not the most fun we’ve ever had and yet … hilarious.

Then mum fell out of bed one night. Apart from banging her head as I opened the door (doh!) we were able to get her back to bed calm and comfortable in a few minutes. No damage done. However the following morning as I was preparing to take Sweep for a walk, I noticed her door was open and the lights on so I popped my head round the door to say hi and see what sort of mood she was in. Mum was lying, sprawled on the floor on her left side, surrounded by the bed clothes which she must have made a grab for as she fell - asleep. No idea how long she’d been lying there. She was actually quite cheerful but in some pain and discomfort. Not wanting to make it worse, we called for an ambulance. They arrived within 20 minutes which was a huge relief as we were told it could be up to 90.

Once assessed, the paramedics (who are all awesome) got mum back into bed propped up and ready for breakfast. I think Bob and I were more shaken at this point. These various incidents prompted a phone call to the place mum had respite with. And so the conversation turned to the possibility of… full time care. We’d definitely reached our limits. When you’re no longer able to keep someone safe, the inevitable arrives. With many phone calls and even more form filling (I’m actually allergic to forms - honest!) everything was arranged. The last week leading up to the hand over, so-to-speak, was truly stressful. I think once the decision was made, I let go of whatever it is that helped me keep going. So everything was like sludge and seemed to take forever.

Mum’s comprehension went out the window, her speech became even more garbled and her ability to walk from chair to table, to bedroom/bathroom was failing rapidly. And just a few days before she was due to go into full time care, we thought she’d had a stroke. Another ambulance crew turned up. Bless them! In the 20 minutes or so they attended her, she became more coherent and capable again and so we opted to keep her at home where she could at least get a good night’s sleep. She needed help dressing and walking but miraculously made it through each day. She slept and slept and slept. I honestly thought she was ready to leave the planet.

On the morning of her change of address, she was up, bright eyed and bushy tailed and even making sense, by 7.30am. She spent the next few hours fast asleep in the recliner chair. The first she knew of this massive change to her circumstances was at lunch time. As I handed her lunch over I said: “Oh by the way mum you’ve been chosen to go to this lovely place for a few days for free. You were there recently and they loved your energy so much they think you’re perfect to cheer everybody up! What do you think?” With rice cake, cream cheese, ham and sweet chilli sauce half way to her mouth, she paused. Then tears pricked her eyes. “They chose me?” “Yes!”. I have become adept at lying and I know my mother very well. She needs to be needed. Maybe we all do on some level. Anyway … I felt good about this lie. And so did mum.

We’d set up her room the day before. It is light and airy and overlooking a garden. There are family photos hung on the walls and blue-tacked to the wardrobe doors and a large Amethyst crystal geode and a Buddhas head she loves, along with some of her more recent artwork dotted around and about to make the place feel familiar. She looked a little lost when we first went to her room. But as soon as one of the delightfully smiley staff arrived to offer tea and biscuits in one of the lounges, she was right at home. I needed to fill in and sign more forms (the things we do for love;) and explain the complicated medication regime. When all was completed I was advised to leave without saying goodbye. At this point mum was with other residents watching a George Formby movie … happy as can be. I left.

The waves of relief and disbelief are still rolling over us. They are less dramatic and more gentle in their approach but there none-the-less. We are very clear about the positive outcomes of our decision. My siblings and other family members are happy for us and mum alike. That we managed to cheerfully (for the most part!) Look after mum for the past three and a half years … through all that entailed … is something we feel good about and even grateful for. We have learned so much about ourselves and each other. I found a genuine love for mum I never thought was possible. Miracles abound.

She is still battling some serious physical/mental changes and has fallen several times since being at the home. They are able to care for her in ways we simply can’t anymore. We’re confident in their care and her safety. She’s only been gone a week. I’ve seen her several times as have my sister and brother. It’s a massive shift in responsibility for Bob and I. We’re giving ourselves till the end of the year to unwind before making any big plans but I’m sure you can see how this changes our outlook. Watch this space!

I’ll leave it here for now and be back in a few weeks before the end of October to hopefully give you a more relaxed and creative Blogpost to digest.

I’m looking for some music to share … hang on!

I have numerous demos written with various co-writers many of which never see the light of day. Here is one such co-written with Steve Lima aka Futuro1 ... this is our love song to nature: Nurtured By Nature.

In keeping with the nature theme here's an oldie but goodie taken from Collister&Fix's North&South CD released in 2019 ... it is an appropriately seasonal song:

As always, thank you for dropping by to see how life is at the moment. As you can see it's been full on. But we're still rolling along and enjoying this strange thing we call life.

Till next time, stay well and keep rising above the turbulence

Endless blessings and much love.

Christine x

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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

Pre-Blog apology - September’s on its way honest!

Hello your gorgeous beings of light! I have to apologise about September’s Blogpost as I haven’t written it yet! When I finally get round to it - sometime this week (promise) you’ll find out why! But needless to say there’s a lot been going on.

I will be back with more detail and a proper look back at the month with the usual inclusions, just as soon as I’m able.

Thanks for your patience and understanding … it and you are very much appreciated!

Much love

Christine x

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