Telling Beautiful Lies


“There is a way of being wrong which is also sometimes necessarily right.” 
~ Edward Abbey

Ah, lovelies, I’m so tired just now.

We’ve been travelling endlessly back and forward between our farm and Brisbane the last two years as one of our elderly family members has become more and more incapacitated. Advancing dementia, mobility issues, deteriorating hearing and sight. We tried to keep her in her home as long as we could by sharing her care among family members, and then one day she went into hospital and the staff told us she couldn’t go home. We needed to find somewhere she could be looked after 24/7. When she went into care it was bittersweet – we cried that we had failed her but it was also such a relief to have that burden of her care lifted from us. It took weeks for her to settle in and then suddenly she was happy again and that new place became home.

Foolishly we thought life would go back to normal a little more. And then she fell.

Since then it has been an endless round of visits to her in the aged home or to be beside her bed on hospital stays where we try to visit daily to ensure that she is eating, and is comfortable and is not frightened or lonely.

Her mind is slipping. She asks us the same few questions over and over. The stories of her youth, once clear and well remembered, are merging into each other. She was a seamstress when she was young. Had loved dancing. Was courted by a young American soldier during the war, but married a local boy who played football with her brothers. We don’t correct her any more when she gets the details wrong. It just upsets her, and us. So we agree with what she says.

Even more than that we actively participate in the space she is in. In recent hospital visits she became distressed, aggressive, distrustful. All she wanted to do was go home. To the home. To her friends, she kept telling us. We could only calm her by telling her she would be released soon. Maybe tomorrow, we would say.

When she was delusional and told us she had been walking around (when she was actually lying in a hospital bed rigged up to countless machines and devices) we asked questions about where she went and what she did. Her mind created elaborate stories to explain what was happening and who these strangers were in her life. In the stories were tiny shreds of truth. We went along with it all if it seemed that it helped her to feel safe and at peace.

When the nurse came on his rounds, the same one who she said had been sent to torture her earlier in the day (she had thrown things at him, and at his fellow nurses, and threatened to call the police if they didn’t leave her alone), I introduced him as my friend – as someone new – and said he was the best and most caring nurse in the hospital. Suddenly she became polite and compliant and sweet with him. Every lie I spoke was worth it. For her and for us all. It broke my heart to see how trusting she was in what I told her. But it helped and she went to sleep calm again and comforted.

Last night she was back in hospital, less than a week after she was last discharged. For a new problem. She was in a lovely emotional space, calm and happy. The conversations we had were lucid and engaged. But she wanted to go home. Not to the nursing home, but her old home. It soothed her when we told her it was all ready for her, that it would be there when she was ready to be discharged. Even her doctor played along. Yes, she could go home soon. He was attentive and patient and repeated himself over and over with kindness and care.

Such beautiful lies. After the doctor left we talked about taking her shopping to buy a new dress or to help me choose one. We talked about Sunday roast lunches at her house and the whole family coming to visit. We talked about her independence when she gets out of the hospital. And none of it is true. And all of it made her smile and helped her settle down and go to sleep.

Such beautiful lies. And we will keep telling them until she goes to her final home, and all the loved ones who are waiting for her. It comforts her, and it comforts us, and that is all that matters.

A Big Few Days…

General Hottie Hospital by Foxy Belle

General Hottie Hospital by Foxy Belle

“It never rains, but it pours.” ~ Old English Proverb

 

Forgive me. This post is late in coming. Or early. Depending on how you look at it.

You see, we had just returned home to the farm to catch our breath when Ben became unwell. Unwell gave way to a difficult night, a worsening of symptoms and a dash to hospital back in the city again. At three o-clock in the morning.

I’ve had four hours sleep in the past two days. So I’m a bit wrecked. Too many family ill and occupying my thoughts and care right now.

Although I did get an awful lot of colouring done while sitting in hospital waiting rooms.

2015-06-12 10.01.51

Ben’s finally home, with a raft of drugs, and under the watchful attention of myself and Nurse Bert. At the first sign of any worsening he’ll be straight back in hospital, so he’d better behave!  Harry, of course, is also glued to Ben’s side, and has not chewed up a single thing. So far…

So I’m giving myself the weekend off, to catch up on some sleep and to look after my family. See you on Monday.

All my love, Nicole <3 xoxo

PS – I had to laugh. When I looked up the General Hottie Hospital images, I found out that the male doll’s name is Ben. He’d love that. Especially this next shot, which of course, bore NO resemblance to his actual hospital stay!

General Hottie Hospital by Foxy Belle

General Hottie Hospital by Foxy Belle

Home, away from Home

dogs

“I don’t care if we have our house, or a cliff ledge, or a cardboard box. Home is wherever we all are, together,”
~ James Patterson

It hasn’t been the same, without Ben at home – while we’ve here, in the city, waiting for him to be well enough to leave hospital.

We’re not used to city life anymore. I’m realising how much time I spend in my garden back at the farm. How much I rely on my vegetable patch and my pots of herbs. How conditioned I am to having access to fresh produce at the roadside stalls and farmers markets. In Brisbane the vegetables I buy are already old. There is nowhere to compost my scraps. No cows waiting at the fence for the tops of the beetroot, or a frilly edge of lettuce or cabbage leaf. It feels quite disconnected.

The dogs have slouched around during the day, sleeping fretfully or standing by the door, gazing out over the street, waiting for Ben to return, waiting for us to all climb into the truck and head back to the farm. They are yearning to get home to the paddocks, to run wild down on the flats, to swim in the river and dams, to have the wind in their hair and the sun on their back. So am I. We’re all so homesick.

bert misery

At night the dogs have been on high alert, keeping me safe from cars going down the street, possums on the roof, pedestrians and neighbourhood cats. Of course, with all of the G20 helicopters roaring around the Brisbane rooftops at all hours of the night, the stimulation level has been insane. All night Harry and Bert tense and bark and worry, protecting me from threat. It’s exhausting for them, after which they mostly sleep during the day. Me? I’m so sleep-deprived I feel like a new mother.

But today Ben is home, and the feeling we all have is relief. To all be together, no matter where we are, is enough.

We need to stay in the city a little longer, close to hospitals while Ben completes his recovery. That’s okay. We’ll nap and catch up on some rest.

It will all be fine. Home is here, in our hearts.

Harry sums it up well for all of us…

We just can’t stop smiling!

smiles