Sun 21 – Sat 27 December
Mum has been seriously ill
So the big news last week was around mum’s health. I am my mother’s main carer, shared with my brother although he has two children, an acrimonious divorce, and a neurotic dog to deal with as well. My parents split when I was very little and mum’s partner died of a heart attack about ten years ago. Me, mum and my brother all share a genetic problem that we have a tendency for blood clots and so have to take warfarin which needs to be closely monitored via regular checks on the INR level. In the range 2.0-3.0 is good; mine is currently 2.0 so that is OK. Mum had been suffering knee pains as I have reported before. But she has also been getting pains in one of her calf muscles and ankle. Her leg did not seem swollen and hot which is the normal sign of a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) – I thought the pain was muscular.
Christmas Eve morning she was in a lot of pain so she cancelled her hair appointment and went to the GP instead as an emergency. I was working a half day and started to get concerned when I could not reach her at home one then two hours after the GP appointment. Mum does have a mobile but normally keeps it switched off. Eventually she phoned me on the mobile to say she had been sent to A+E where they had found a blood clot in her ankle. I immediately left work and went to the hospital. The good news was that it was decided she could be treated at home with new self-regulating medication to break up the current clot and stop any more happening. She did have very limited mobility and was still in a lot of pain. We got a taxi back and I spent the rest of the day staying in looking after her. A very different Christmas Eve to that I had planned of gym, seeing the mother-in-law, and dossing. Overall, things OK in the end but it was weird and concerning as you should not get clots if you are taking warfarin. However, if this new drug works then I want it as you do not need to have your INR regularly checked.
Christmas Day me and mum were due to meet my partner Dave and his mum (down from Lincolnshire) for lunch at the Union Jack Club. This club for veterans does a Christmas lunch ideal for the mums. However, I was really not sure mum could make it. But by 10am she decided she was going for it. So she hobbled down the stairs of our block and we got a taxi all the way there – £35! (normally we walk for a bit before jumping a cab). We met Dave and his mum and, after sorting out a reservations mix-up, we had a fabulous meal. Afterwards we watched the Queen’s Christmas broadcast in the bar with the drunks at the end of the bar being quite noisy before me and mum got a taxi straight home (£30 this time) whereas normally we would have popped round Dave’s for a bit.
The rest of Christmas Day was spent with mum resting and we watched TV together. Strictly was alright and I thought Doctor Who was really good though the reception of it on Twitter did not seem favourable. We then watched the Christmas edition of Coronation Street which, again, I thought was great. After that I was quite knackered and went to bed; the cumulative effect of a very stressful 36 hour period and plenty of escapist lunchtime drinking. Mum stayed up to watch Downton which she thought was dull so switched over to Eastenders. I got up to use the loo just before the end of the programme and witnessed the truly ridiculous and predictable line ‘He’s your brother!’ doum, doum, doum, doum. On Boxing Day mum went over to my brother’s girlfriend’s place until Saturday so I had 36 hours to myself.
Work and social life
Obviously last week was Christmas and so that affected my work schedule. I was only in all day on Tuesday and a half day on Wednesday. Tuesday was quite busy with people and I used the opportunity to have a big old clean-out of e-mails and paperwork. I chucked out loads of documents dating before 2010 (the historian in me was pained) and transferred newer folders into the cupboard space created. This continued on Wednesday so that the window ledge near me is clear with just two plants on it now – oh and two fans, nowhere else to put them. Wednesday was really quiet and I had to rush away at 12.30 to rescue mum from the hospital.
And inevitably there was a strong social accent to last week being Christmas week. Me and mum saw Dave and his mum at the UJC but then my mum did not see them again before Gloria went back but I managed to catch up with her and Dave on Boxing Day and Saturday. Tuesday after work I caught up with my old pals Tim and Bob and we went to the delicious local Turkish restaurant. Then back to theirs and I introduced them to Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream which they had never tried before! No other major face to face catch ups but lots of shared joy on social media with friends and I have started to book meet-ups for January but lots of people seem to be going away.
Exercise, languages, and digital
Three gym sessions last week – Sunday, Boxing Day, and Saturday. I had planned to go to the gym once my half day in the office was finished on Christmas Eve but, of course, that went out of the window with mum’s emergency. Three all-body workouts – brilliant. No jog-run last week because I do that from Dave’s and he had his mum staying; back to normal next weekend so long as it isn’t pouring down. I also got a training session in with Sara on Monday – half hour spin then kettlebells and core exercises.
Generally I felt pretty chilled last week, I had to keep myself together to cope with looking after mum – the last thing she needed was me on poor form. Some beauty treatments last week including a haircut, dental check up, and INR check. I managed some odds and sods on Duolingo, all about Spanish verbs. And there was the usual failure to get any progress on improving my digital skills beyond playing with my website.
World’s Strongest Man
This is one of my Christmas / New Year guilty pleasures. The Channel 5 programmes are wonderfully old fashioned with big, tattooed, sweating strong men (beards are very fashionable at the moment) – like something from Victorian or Edwardian circuses. Prior to the the heats for the next World Championship on the TV, I caught up with recent episodes from Leeds, Doncaster, Australia, Norway, and Hungary via the internet. Sad to see in the Budapest edition the old-fashioned sexism of pretty blonde women trotting around in bikinis – thankfully everybody else realises what a crass stereotype that is these days.
I have used the Christmas period to catch up on some reading and got through four books with a fifth on the go:
- I finished Russell Brand’s first book ‘My Booky Wook’. He is getting a bad press at the moment but it is a very good autobiography, brutally honest and it does bring home the chaos that sits at the centre of most addicts’ lives.
- Then I moved to some classic gay literature. Joseph Hansen wrote a series of thrillers about Dave Brandstetter, an insurance investigator. They were written in the seventies and positively reek of that era plus are really engaging books. ‘Death Claims’ was the second in the series written in 1973.
- Diana Athill’s ‘Somewhere Towards the End’ is a book I picked up in a charity shop by accident really. It is published by Granta which is an outfit I rate and respect. The book was a short reflection on getting old and rang true in many respects for me both positives and negatives.
- Another book picked up for pennies because it intrigued me was Robert Williams’ ‘How the Trouble Started’. A very contemporary novel about a troubled youth and an infant child’s death. Surprisingly lightweight but thoughtful on the way things get remembered and how the past influences the present.
- And finally, I started on Christopher Fowler’s ‘Psychoville’. He is an author I really like and he has a large catalogue. The latest stuff is around the detectives Arthur Bryant and John May from the Met’s Peculiar Crimes Unit. But I deliberately went back to an earlier book (1995) to get a grip of how his writing has evolved.
No Websites nor Wonkers of the Week – hey, it’s Christmas!