Sooooo, MIL has been in the care home for just over a week now – we had heard early on that she’d been “restless” and “wanting to go home” from early on, and had (predictably) not taken well to the fact she couldn’t come and go (one hundred times a day) as she pleased. So far, so expected.

We had no option but to go round on Friday evening to retrieve her keys for a flat clearance / industrial clean job on her assisted living place that was scheduled for the next morning (wanted to cut off any possibility of return as soon as possible – as remote a possibility as that seems).

We had hoped to pick up the keys, drop off another suitcase and run – but no such luck, as she was passing by and homed straight in…

I won’t forget the look on her face when we arrived in a hurry – utter joy and relief, as if she’d thought for some reason that we were never going to see us again. And of course, she straight away assumed that we’d come to take her home…

She was in a terrible state – all over the place, head in hands, shaking, tears, and unable to express herself coherently – just saying saying it’s “a dreadful place” and “it’s all gone wrong” and (repeatedly) “are we taking her home now…?”. She still thinks she is playing bowls (canned years ago), and doesn’t actually know where home is when you ask her – only that she’s “in a wrong place” and would rather be with “you and wotsit” (no chance!). Pacing, fretting, anxious, agitated, and a word I’ve never used in relation to her before – tortured. Truly tortured, tormented, in absolute anguish.

Accursed awareness.

She clearly needs to be there – of that there is no doubt, but she is at the moment clearly the least far along person in the home in many ways, and the only one seemingly not content to just sit placidly in a chair and stare vacantly at the TV. It’s so cruel that this is a woman who has zero short-term memory, drinks shampoo, boils cornflakes, eats cat food sandwiches, flushes pants down the toilet, and who left to her own devices would quickly run out of food or poison herself with moldy fridge items or chemical fluid within days… And yet, she has the awareness to understand – at least in part – where she is at the moment, and that she is trapped there for the foreseeable.

I can only hope that it was our presence that generated that level of agitation – though apparently she has been like this to a lesser or greater extent for most of the last week.

Come Monday, I’ll be pushing to get her on whatever drugs are necessary to get her to a calmer and happier place. I know it’s very, very early days, and far too soon for her to have realistically settled in as yet – but, even so, I’d still rather she was a zonked out zombie than the cowering wreck she is right now…

As horrible as it was to see her like that, the strange thing is that OH and I have both somehow managed to compartmentalise since. In fact, we’ve had one of our better weekends of late – as if we’re feeling more ourselves again after all the trauma of late, and the clouds are finally beginning to part.

I now I feel bad for not feeling bad. Or at least not bad enough.

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Well, at least someone’s relaxed!

Welcome to our newly acquired step-cat (previous light of MIL’s life), who will hopefully get used to his new mummy and daddy soon….

(He will be getting a proper diet and nutrition going forward though – how MIL has manged to get him to that size while feeding him cornflakes, coffee granules and peas I’ll never know…)

He is still getting used to us at this stage, bless him, and is wandering about and mewing a lot. Apparently, he was so scared leaving the flat on the way over yesterday, he weed himself in the car (my lovely new car, ah well…) – poor thing. He’s barely spent a day in his life away from MIL (and he’s 9 now), and literally not one day out of the assisted living flat in the last 18 months (MIL would absolutely freak if he even looked in the direction of the door there…).

Now I am his mummy, and need to make up for the last two years of “loving neglect” he’s been subjected to, for the sake of MIL’s happiness – how could we have done otherwise at the time…??

As for me, I have never possessed anything larger than a hamster in my life! I’ve never managed to keep a basil plant alive for over three days, and have even been known to kill cacti (despite my best efforts, I hasten to add…). I’ll be hitting the pet shop and googling how to be a responsible cat owner tomorrow – though he must be fairly resilient already, if MIL hasn’t somehow managed to kill him yet!

Bless him – he is our little silver lining to this whole horrible, god-awful situation. I only hope he comes to love me as I’ve loved him from a kitten, from afar all these years…



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What a headfuck of a fucking week…

  • One last minute sucker punch last Wednesday with eleventh care home move cancellation, and mutual plunge into subsequent despair.
  • Then weekend at work pulling off big important project – have only had one day off in the last fortnight, and even that was spent visiting multiple care homes.
  • Three separate crying episodes at work (two of which went mercifully unnoticed).
  • One emergency raw sewage situation (due to MIL repeatedly flushing her pants down the toilet) leading to evacuation of both MIL’s and her poor downstairs neighbour’s flats.
  • Same night, OH and MIL at the local Premier Inn due to aforementioned plumbing crisis, and move to second-choice care home brought rapidly forward as a result.
  • MIL is moved into said care home by OH the next morning, while I am obliged to go to work (have very understanding manager – but am already covering for two other people as it is).
  • Same evening, I am again obliged to go to an important Industry Awards events – an honour to attend and an event I’d been seriously looking forward to (though no, I wasn’t nominated for any myself – and certainly didn’t win any!), but the timing literally couldn’t be worse…

It was really, really hard to put my professional networking hat on (a terrifying enough task as it is at the best of times!) knowing I’d left OH alone on such a key evening, and also to be “spoiled” with wine, food and entertained by famous comedians, all the while thinking how MIL was doing at the same time….  I had to do what I had to do for work, of course, and actually managed to salvage a semi-good time in the process – but it all felt somehow obscence… I also stayed overnight at the hotel given the location, so a second night spent away from OH at one of his lowest times…

As for now, I’ve just got home to see OH now for the first time since Wednesday morning, and also to collapse into a physical and emotional heap on the floor for the next two days now that running on adrenaline is no longer immediately required…. There is MIL’s cat here too – more on which in a bit!

MIL survived her first night at the home, and is sleeping, eating, drinking fine apparently – she’s having her aggressive moments, but “no concerns” on their part, all “expected behaviour at this stage”. They also said when she is jolly she is “very jolly” – which is really positive to hear. Or, at least, it could be a lot worse.

In the meantime, OH and I are both feeling numb and “shell shocked” – the last 48 hours have been so manic, it’s almost like they haven’t happened at all – especially as I’ve been non-stop day and (most of last!) night at work as well, so I’ve literally had no time to process it all as yet. I haven’t slept properly in about a fortnight, which – combined with yesterday’s night out – is leading me to feel very woolly headed right about now.

I’m about to book a spa weekend in for the end of the month, now we don’t have to be on hand constantly fire fighting, so we can hopefully decompress a bit and reconnect with each other at last. As someone pointed out to me the other day, this will be the first time in our married life that we haven’t had to act as direct caregivers in some capacity….

Fuck me. What a roller coaster it’s been, reading back. If I don’t make it to heaven off the back of all this shit, I never fucking will…

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Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand….. she’s in.

A bit of fluster at first, but she was then jollied along by staff, and was about to get hair done by visiting hairdresser when OH left.

Feel strangely numb.

Poor MIL. I know it’s 10000% necessary, but so sad her life has now come to this….

On a related note, as of this evening we will be cat owners. I hope MIL for her sake forgets about him soon.

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Shit hits the fan (again…)

There has been drama.

This afternoon, House Manager called us to say that the poor woman living below MIL had been forced out of her flat due to raw sewage backing out of her toilet – most likely to a blockage stemming from the flat above. MIL has form for putting things down the toilet that she shouldn’t, and when OH later went round a pile of poo stained pants we’d noticed in the bath (and hadn’t brought ourselves to move yet) had halved – not hard to put 2 + 2 together there…

HM was struggling to get MIL not to flush the loo or use taps in the meantime (as she couldn’t understand or remember not to for more than a few seconds – even with signs up), which kept making yet more sewage come up below.

Several frantic phone calls followed – between me and OH, me and HM, OH and care home, me and Mental Health team etc. Left work early and cried all the way from office to Liverpool Street – to the obvious disgust of multiple London commuters.

Upshot is that OH is getting her now, taking her for dinner, and then to a local hotel where he will stay the night in next room – so no danger of further loo flushing on her part and plumber can finally get to work. In the morning, she is going into the second, much more afforadable LA home we saw and were “okay-ish” with at the weekend (sorry – should have done an interim update in that regard). We had pushed for today given the circumstances, but they had another resident moving in already and can only “process” one a day.

Thank God (as timing would have it) that the funding for that home was approved today (which we only found out after the whole plumbing issue – oh the relief) – so no possibility of eleventh hour back out this time… She’s going in and she’s staying in this time….

I can’t tell you the relief I feel – but also the guilt on behalf of the poor woman below, who has had to go into temporary accommodation while the plumber finally gets to work. She is elderly herself, and I hate that our family drama has impacted on another innocent party – all because we, or the powers-that-be, or both didn’t act soon enough. Flowers and apology cards are in order there, clearly.

Tomorrow though, this stage of this whole horrible journey will be over.

Thank God. Thank God. Thank God. Thank God. Oh God thank you. I have no words.

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Got word at 5.30pm last fucking night that someone high up the chain has pulled the plug on tomorrow’s move for some ill explained financial reason that even the girl explaining it didn’t seem to understand. All public sector offices were shut, so nothing we could do at the time.

OH is on it now.

In the meantime, devastated is not the word.

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Countdown begins…

So Thursday is “D-day”, when we move MIL to the care home of our choice (the nicest by far we’ve found).

Unfortunately I can’t get the day off work, so I won’t be there to witness the fallout (if any), though will be on hand in the evening to help OH recover.

The plan as it stands is for OH to take a full day’s leave, and in the morning go round with the suitcase I packed at the weekend (which included a number of teddies, trinkets, bowling trophies etc) and set out all nicely, so the room when introduced looks more homely and familiar.

Before introducing her to the room though. he will in the afternoon again take her for lunch in their restaurant bit, which I’ve been in and is really nice, and feed her a three course meal and glass of wine again -which last week she was oohing and ahhing about no end. She was shown the garden and patios afterwards as well, and thought they were lovely too.

Amazingly, she understood it was a care home, and that they were there to see it for her sake. She asked sensible questions, like who would pay (“the council Mum”) and whether she’d have a TV in her room – and seemed quite happy with it all.

That’s not to say to say shit won’t still hit the fan on D-day! The home is confident she will settle soon, on the basis of the assessment – but I’m still worried that if afraid or stressed for any reason she might get nasty at some point, particularly when she realises she can’t go outside beyond the garden… Hopefully they can get their appointed GP to drug her up to avoid any such episodes.

On a lighter note, got this in an email from our lovely care coordinator on the Mental Health team:

I would like to commend you in your caring, supportive approach with your mothers care. My work has been made easier with the support from you both. I would like to thank you both for being such an amazing family to MIL, and a pleasure to work with“.

There you go! Not quite so evil then as my posts and poems at times come across!

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Passing the test…

Amazingly, we have an assessment at our care home of choice tomorrow, with a view to moving MIL in on Monday!!!! Finances approved by SS and everything (at least for a temporary stay – will worry about the rest later, once she’s through the door).

All subject to said assessment, however. Could anyone please advise as to what care home assessments typically involve, or what questions tend to be asked…?

I.e. what would MIL have to do in order to fucking fuckity inadvertently blow it – and with it her best chance for a decent standard of living till she dies?

For info – it’s a really nice home, with a bar / restaurant / hairdressers etc. OH will be taking her out for lunch there, which should hopefully soften her up for questioning by the ‘nice lady who runs the hotel’ and wonders if she’d like a stay one day…

I’m more nervous than before all of my school / university / driving exams put together right now!


To those that have been following the last several years / months / weeks / days:

Dear Mr and Miss Merlot,

Apologies for the late response, in regards to your emails yesterday.

I can reassure you that we had a very lengthy discussion about [MIL] in our clinical meeting today.

As both myself and [colleague] agree [MIL] requires 24 hour residential care – in fact due to the high risks, this will be fast tracked. The multi-disciplinary team even considered urgent mental health assessment to be admitted onto the ward. However, this may been more distressing for [MIL].

I am now doing an urgent referral for chairs action, and a financial assessment for temporary placement. This means I am trying my best today, to complete all the paper work, and hopefully find her care home, to be placed. In this situation, she will be safe, and a care home will be supported by myself with a care plan identified how best to support her.

I am now starting all the paper work, we just finished our morning clinical meeting and will keep you both updated.

I hope this is reassuring,


[Lady from Mental Health team]

Silently hyperventilating at my desk.

Can’t take this in.

What a volte-face, after the last six months of complete and utter SS intransigence!

Are they really saying that they were considering sectioning her with that “ward” comment…?!?!? Then things really must be bad (I’ve long since lost my perspective on what is normal these days…).

The MH team have truly been great – they finally got the referral (after us being in the “system” for six loooong months prior to that) two weeks ago, then straight away picked this up and just ran with it.

I get the distinct impression the NHS are annoyed at SS for not getting them involved with MIL’s case sooner, before we had all gone way past the point of no return in this regard.

Certainly the turn-around from SS ignoring us / not returning calls / hoping we’d just go away to MH team talking about immediate admittance and imminent transition into 24/7 care.

Not quite sure what this will mean for next steps / timelines, etc – hopefully will find out soon.

I really, really cannot take this in.

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Progress (and a wee bit of racism)

So we had the psychiatric assessment with the Mental Health team yesterday, which was a breath of fresh air – two ladies who clearly “got it”, listened, proposed alternatives to 24/7 care but agreed that none were really viable, and we’d gone past the point of no return in that regard. They stayed a good two hours listening to us air our concerns (i.e. moan!) and responding sensibly, which we were not expecting. Most impressed!

We did go up to see MIL, who predictably responded with indignation – and overt racism to the one lovely lady in a hijab (*shame and mortification*), who if she was upset at it at all, didn’t let it show… MIL a closet Islamophobe – who knew…???

It seems we’re all on the same page now as to what happens next – they will make a referral to the non-complex panel, which will then make a referral to the complex panel, which will then make yet another referral to the financial panel, and then hopefully we’re there.

That’s if none of the above said panels decides something else needs to be tried / done / another box ticked (which they invariably will – particularly at financial stage, I would guess), in which case it all goes back to the beginning again…

Still, a step forward in the right direction at the very least…