Mum’s care agency were coming for an inspection. I’d had to re-arrange it because a family member had died unexpectedly in Ireland, and so the lady came along a couple of days after I got back from a very traumatic funeral, the second in four months. We’ve lost a couple of good men who we loved.
I’d not met this person before but she was very pleasant, and asked questions about the level of care. The nub of it was that Mum and I were indeed very satisfied with the two carers who, for the last four or five months, have alternated fortnightly, 24 hour care stints at the house. Although Mum is generally declining in her mobility, she is kept healthy, is well looked after, if a bit over-fed, and not only that, these women are genuinely companionable people and they take her out. She goes to the pub, to the charity shops in the High Street, to Wilkinsons. They talk about their lives to her; they are nice people. Mum’s paranoia is lower than I have known it for years, and that is a huge bonus for someone whose life has been blighted and limited by schizophrenia.
Having ascertained that we were satisfied, the Inspector’s voice dropped, her tone changed. She had to ask if I had given one of the two carers money. Actually we quite often tip, but just before I went to the funeral, I had given that carer a more substantial amount of money. And she had told someone and it had got out in the agency, and I was being told now, that I was not supposed to tip the carers.
And I found myself crying, which was rather embarrassing.
And the reason I was crying was this; after four years of feeling completely responsible not only for my mother’s physical health and safety, but also for her very vulnerable mental health, I felt I could go away after breaking terrible news to her, in complete confidence that her carer would look after her, better than I could, and that I would not come back to a psychotic episode on my return.
I have been through periods of depression during these four years, not only because of Mum’s failing health and psychosis but also due to being alone with the responsibility. My sons, my husband, are so good, but there is another who should have taken at least some of it from my shoulders, and didn’t, and worse. And then Mum has had some truly cruel “carers”, from whom it emerged we had to protect her; she has been under safe-guarding investigations; she had an insufficient care package for a prolonged period, during which time I routinely had to drop whatever I was doing to go around and pick her up off the floor/help her back into bed/ do the necessary, some of it extremely unpleasant, despite the fact a care package was in place. I gave up work, suffered quite acute anxiety at times. I’ve been criticised for writing this blog, when it’s been my only creative outlet, and I have only told the truth in it, but sometimes, for extended periods, I was too depressed to write what was going on. It was relentlessly awful.
So there I was, in tears because I was just so grateful. I knew I was grateful, because I had been lauding both these women to our visitor. But it wasn’t until I was being told off for giving the extra money that it really sank in that the most horrible period in my life was pretty much over.