Life Lessons

They say don’t curse the darkness, but just light a candle,
And that life can’t throw at you more than you can handle,
They say it’s through hardship that character’s earned,
What life lessons through dementia have I really learned?

I’ve learned I can keep my gob shut in the face of abuse,
Learned compassionate communication conflict to diffuse,
Learned humility in the face of others’ much worse struggles,
I’ve learned it’s not easy both work and caring to juggle!

I’ve learned that I’m not quite the good person I thought,
That I don’t always think or act as a decent person ought,
I’ve learned I don’t want to pick up all of dementia’s slack,
I’ve learned I need a life outside of mum-in-law back…

I’ve learned there’s such thing as compassion fatigue,
I’ve learned you can’t always give what someone might need,
I’ve learned that you have to put your own self first,
I’ve learned that all of the diseases, dementia’s the worst…

I’ve learned a new appreciation of all the little things,
Such as husband’s and my wine, TV and sofa nights in,
With no mum-in-law in sight – just my husband and me,
This – I have learned – is my true sanctuary…

So yes, when one’s confronted by failing mental health,
You do learn some lessons about life and your own self,
So not like I’ve learned nothing – that I hope I am showing,
But wonder are any of these worth the trouble of knowing…??

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Mother-in-law’s mask is ever more starting to slip,
Remaining sanity more and more losing its grip,
The monster inside now ever more starting to show,
The darkess now emerging that was hidden below…

Yesterday mum-in-law threw carer out of the house,
The dementia demon within her all fully aroused,
I wasn’t there at the time, but can picture the scene,
Mother-in-law’s face all distorted, ugly and mean…

And what heinous act was it that first awoke the beast?
What provoked this venom inside her to be so unleashed?
Simply that the carer dared assist her in taking out the bins,
(Same ones that this time last month had those maggots in…)

From sweet little old lady to as if she’s possessed,
God knows when she’s like this what to do for the best,
Or how she’ll react to the carer upon her next visit,
Accept the help that she needs or just roundly resist it?

The mask has slipped before – but just to husband and me,
So this is yet another sad milestone that we now see,
For now an “outsider” is for the first time in the know,
Of the evil that lurks in mum-in-law deep down below…

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DVLA Logic

It’s hard to pass your driving test,
For me it’s such a chore,
Three-point turns and clutch control,
Crossroads, roundabouts and more…

And then there’s all the theory stuff,
Stopping distances, road signs,
Speed limits, the rules of the road,
And all the different kinds of lines…

So many hoops I have to jump through,
To prove my driving ability,
But the DVLA doesn’t seem to care,
If after test, you lose capacity…

Their bureaucratic indifference,
Really makes me want to cry,
For when dealing with dementia,
This is the logic they apply:

When a medical report’s received,
They write direct to the patient,
Expect them to fill out and return,
An insightful own self-assessment…

If said patient thinks that they are fine,
Well, that’s alright then – case closed!
Just as well then that mum-in-law,
Gets all confused by forms like those…

And then they send a questionnaire,
Direct to the sufferer’s GP,
Ask the patient to nag the doctor,
If they don’t respond immediately…

In that letter they inform the patient,
That their case cannot proceed,
Without this response from the doctor,
That apparently they need.

Well, that’s a great inventive,
If you think your driving’s still okay!
Simply ignore all of the letters,
And it will all just go away!!!!

They won’t speak to carers directly,
Without mother-in-law on the line,
But how are we supposed to do that??
Lines are closed out of working times…

Oh, DVLA – do you still not get,
She has dementia – no insight?!?!
Can’t even understand your letters,
Let alone act on them – alright…?!?!?

Is she the first person with dementia,
Of which the DVLA have ever heard??
Because your processes to deal with it,
Are all just patently absurd….

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Turning a corner – casting off the old fetters,
Things seem to be slowly for me getting better,
Making a conscious effort to get myself out there,
Do something other than the usual mum-in-law care!

Turning a corner – girlie night on tonight!
Dinner at the Waldorf, yah dahling – that’s right!
I’ve joined several clubs lately on,
So can meet new London Ladies – not just husband’s mum…

Turning a corner – no-one said it would be easy!
Before all such events I feel utterly queasy,
I’m so long out of practice from the old social loop,
But so far I’ve survived when among a brand-new group…

Turning a corner – it’s very long overdue,
Been to see Doc Brown in London, Evita soon too,
Ice skating at Somerset House too come December,
Not done so much fun stuff since – well, can’t remember!

Turning a corner – it’s what I’ve been needing,
This time next month I’ll be doing a reading,
At King’s College Chapel like you see on TV,
At Carols From Kings, Christmas Eve, BBC!!

Turning a corner – planning our next holiday,
Planning on camping in Tuscany too come next May,
Something to look forward to for husband and me,
Can just see us drinking wine soon in sunny Italy!!

Turning a corner – intensive driving course next week,
To give my battery a jump start here too, so to speak,
Must just bite the bullet and next week face my fear,
Aiming to pass my test by the end of this year…

Turning a corner to mental and physical health,
Just feeling generally happier now in myself,
Not lost any more weight, although I’ve not gained,
Trying to make healthy changes so I don’t feel so drained…

Turning a corner – away from my mother-in-law,
Turning back to the old self I once was before,
Turning a corner – away from darkness to light,
Turning towards a future I hope will still be bright…

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Commuting Instructions

Inspired by the man-boy who spent all train journey today on his mobile phone debating with his mate the various merits of sending a picture of his cock to a woman he barely knew…

If you – like me – commute each and every day,
Whether by bus, train, or tube (the subway),
Your faith in humanity may have now started to wane,
Let’s all follow the below to save on commuting pain…

First thing – don’t make us Londoners any more later,
Stand on the RIGHT side of the escalator,
By which I mean “right hand” but also “correct”,
Please do not block the way by standing on the left!

If your Oyster card doesn’t work, don’t keep just trying,
Go see the station staff – you are causing a line!
And if you failed to top up, don’t blame it on them,
I’ve seen this type of staff abuse time and again…

Don’t travel in rush hour when in a large tourist group,
Packing out overfull carriages at just one fell swoop,
First thing in morning, don’t shriek as loud as you do,
Argentinians, Brazilians – I am looking at you…

And please do not dawdle – it’s not on to walk slow,
Londoners have places that we all need to go,
So get off your phone please and pick up the pace,
We are all rats here, so just get into the race!!

When more passengers get on, please just give a smile,
And make room by moving further on down the aisle,
And by the same token, if the train’s full – it’s full!
Don’t delay us all by trying the doors open to pull…

And here another point I can’t emphasise more,
For fuck’s sake do NOT lean against the tube doors!
You’ll piss off the driver and the passengers too,
Because when you do this, the train cannot move!!!!

And yet another thing that I can’t stress enough,
If a pregnant lady gets on – well, for you that’s just tough,
Just give up your seat – it’s the right thing to do!
The same goes for the old and the handicapped too…

Teenagers especially – please listen when I say,
Great you’ve got those new ‘Beat’ headphones by Dr Dre,
But the rest of us don’t all share your musical taste,
Don’t want to hear your bass blaring all over the place!

And while on the subject of unwarranted noise,
Nobody else much likes the sound of your voice,
A very quick phone call’s permitted – yes, that is alright,
But no-one cares what you’re eating for dinner tonight…

If you’ve brought kids on the tube, then I do sympathise,
Well, at least I do until one of them cries,
And you just do nothing except chat to your mate,
Unaware that their screaming is now starting to grate…

Don’t eat smelly food and definitely do NOT speak,
To strangers with whom you uninvited eye contact seek,
Best use deodorant when your armpits are in someone’s face,
Remember that we are in “public” and not “private “space!

Now, I know public transport’s not just mine to dictate,
But if we could all do just that, it would be really great,
Can’t prevent signals failures, overcrowding, delays,
But we’d all at least have a more bearable time on the way…

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Don’t curse the dark, light a candle – as wise people say,
But I can’t find the matches or a lighter today,
My fuses have blown out – I don’t know how to mend,
Can’t envisage a time when this darkness will end…

When God closes a door, he opens a window somewhere,
But I’m trapped in a basement – no windows down there,
Just a trapdoor that is well and truly screwed down,
No escape out of these dark depths from here to be found…

The Chinese symbol for “crisis” is same as “opportunity”,
But I don’t speak Mandarin and I’m down on my knees,
Entree also means the starter or the main of a meal,
Such word games won’t get me very far here, I feel…

At the end of the tunnel, you are said to find light,
But sometimes you just journey on into the night,
On a road into nowhere that won’t seem to end,
And just further on down into darkness descends…

They say from rock bottom, the only way’s up,
But sometimes you just stay down there – totally stuck,
I’m not trying to offend – I don’t mean to be rude,
But is anyone ever helped by these mere platitudes….?

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Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time there was a young girl,
Full of life, wanderlust – not a care in the world,
Working hard, partying hard, as younger folks often do,
Who built a great life for herself abroad too…

Once upon a time there was a handsome older man,
Whose life wasn’t going exactly to plan,
Took himself off to Prague intent on a new start,
Little knowing that there he was to lose his heart…

Once upon a time there was a little old lady,
Whose memory was growing a little more shady,
Who just put it down to increasing old age,
For at seventy plus, who does not reach that stage?

Once upon a time there was a sick disease,
Encroaching on people’s minds by increasing degrees,
That was heartless, relentless, unspeakably cruel,
Never happy till the lives of his victims he ruled…

Once upon a time all of the above did collide,
Alzheimer’s mum, son, daughter-in-law did blind side,
Life was changed in an instant – would never be the same,
Each embarked on a long road of sorrow, anger and pain.

Once upon a time – now nigh on four years later,
Dementia has to all three grown into an evil dictator,
Life just revolves around its increasing demands,
Each of us rendered slaves to its constant commands…

Once upon a time – and it can’t be long now,
Alzheimer’s will destroy us – all we three – somehow,
For in it’s ruinous quest, it just cannot fail,
The looming unhappy ending of this sad fairy tale…

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The sun’s starting to set now – the nights are drawing in,
Both up there in the sky and inside you – within,
Each at that unsettling point between day, between night,
Your mind – as the day – fading into twilight…

Winter’s approaching – I feel it in the air,
The cold wind carries on it a sense of despair,
From summer’s bright colours into deadening gray,
Somehow I always picture your mind too this way…

Darkness is setting in now – I’m feeling afraid,
As I walk home alone – disconcerted and dismayed,
Perhaps you too feel this all too familiar unease,
For as evening encroaches, so too does your disease…

Winter follows summer, as the night follows day,
The seasons will always keep turning, come whatever may,
Sundowning follows that same inevitable pattern as well,
But soon your sun won’t rise up from this Alzheimer’s hell…

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Fuck Off!!!!!!!!

Who are you to question me…?
You don’t see what I can see!
Who are you to say what I feel…?
You, who don’t know our ordeal!

Who are you to say I’m not fit to care..?
I don’t know how you even dare!
Who are you to say I’ve no compassion?
Yes, I care too – after a fashion…

I do as much as I can do,
No one said I had to like it too!
Or even that I should like her,
Bitching is just how I endure!

Ask mum-in-law if she thinks as you?
She’ll tell you that it isn’t true,
(Well, true on the “inside” – to be fair,
But she’s still completely unaware…)

Walk a mile inside my shoes,
See if you retain that same worldview!
If you judge me the same as you do now,
Please be my guest (you stupid cow!!)!

Or better yet, please just fuck off,
Of do-gooders I’ve had quite enough,
Until your life’s the same as ours,
Stick your judgements up your arse!!!

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Dear representative of the DVLA,
I have written you all once already today,
Many times before that too – it’s been an ordeal,
But I fear so much for mum-in-law behind the wheel…

Dear representative of the DVLA,
I’ve spoken to her doctor’s already today,
Am unsure if they’ve received her medical questionnaire,
It’s been over a year – want to pull out my hair!!!

Dear representative of the DVLA,
I know “data protection” is a part of your day,
But you won’t talk to us without talking to her,
And that’s not going to happen – of that please be sure.

Dear representative of the DVLA,
If we ourselves tried to take her car keys away,
We’d be on very shaky legal ground there,
And as a result, she would refuse our ongoing care.

Dear representative of the DVLA,
If you were driving on mum-in-law’s local roadway,
Would you not also feel just a tad unsettled,
At her driving a ton of fast-moving lethal metal??

Dear representative of the DVLA,
Four years long I’ve seen mother-in-law’s mind decay,
Please trust me when I say that she’s no longer fit,
Could you live with the guilt if a small child she hit?

Dear representative of the DVLA,
Do you have a grandma or a mother, let’s say,
And if she had dementia, Alzheimers et al,
Would you want to hit this bureaucratic brick wall?

Oh, representative of the DVLA!!
Please won’t you act without further delay…??
All I ask is that you your own process follow,
PLEASE contact her GP – the details below:

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