Sunday, April 18, 2010

The week of doom

This week – the second and final of the Easter holidays, was going to be a busy one. I was going to perform - miracles.

I had a long list of useful tasks, the sort I don’t have time to do when working.

It started off well: on Monday I gardened. In fact this wasn’t as much fun as it sounds, because although I weeded one little bed (and got stung by nettles), most of the time I was shifting leaf mould and garden compost around – not ideal for someone with a bad back. But still, it was progress. Then in the evening I had a meeting with the trustees who own my childless, widowed, confused aunt’s sheltered flat. She used to be a missionary doctor and so she has no money to speak of; her church bought the flat for her to live in and trustees are in charge of it. The trouble is that she now has dementia and decisions have to be made. Then I went and spent the night with my mother – I do this three times a week – who told me at length about her various ailments.

On Tuesday I had to go down to my aunt’s flat in the morning because the carer who cooks her dinner for her had phoned up on Monday afternoon to say that there was hardly anything in her fridge or freezer to cook: mainly butter and chocolate. This did indeed turn out to be the case. I had a chat with the warden, who was worried about her, and then I went and did some food shopping for my aunt. In the evening we heard that one of the guinea pigs belonging to Daughter 1 and her husband was ill. This is more serious than it may sound, since SIL – though a lovely young man – is fragile: he suffers from depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. He’s been relatively well since a year past November but was very unwell for two years before that. And he and Daughter 1 are sensitive souls and responsible pet owners who really love their guinea pigs. So they wanted to borrow our car (they don’t have one) to take Pumpkin Pig to the vet college out of town the next day.

On Wednesday they did this while I had a nice day out with friends and did some useful things later. The vet college diagnosed kidney stones and kept Pumpkin Pig in for treatment, warning them of the huge sum (think of an amount you might think excessive and then multiply by at least 10) that this was going to cost. One thing that causes SIL only slightly less stress than his pets being ill is the spending of large sums of money. Then the lady who comes in to give my aunt her evening meal phoned to say that she couldn’t gain entrance to the flat. (We subsequently established that my aunt was just asleep.) Then I went up to my mum’s for the night to hear about her symptoms.

Mr Life was also ill, by the way: he had a bad cold and cough. He got a bit ignored in all this, poor chap.

On Thursday morning, Daughter 2 phoned to say that Brownie Pig was exhibiting the same symptoms. What unbelievable bad luck was this? Then the warden of my aunt’s sheltered flat phoned and said that my aunt had had a fall and had probably broken her hip. I took distraught D1 and SIL out to distant vet college for further diagnosis of kidney stones, in-patient treatment and predictions of vast costs and then went to visit confused aunt in fairly distant hospital. She had indeed broken her hip.

On Friday, I had a friend for coffee and then went and visited my aunt. She was remarkably cheerful. Then I went up to spend the night with my mum and hear about her ailments. This was Daughter 2’s last day of work, she and most of her architect colleagues having been made redundant because no one’s building things at the moment.

On Saturday, I took D1 and SIL back to distant vet hospital to collect the two guinea pigs and see D1 and SIL hand over a sum which would make a nice dent in the national debt. (We gave them half. We remember paying a silly amount of money for Cassie being hospitalised when she was a kitten – only the guinea pigs cost MUCH more. But it was worth it to fend off (we hope) our SIL’s meltdown – quite apart from our lovely D1’s feelings and the question of the piggies’ continued existence.)

Then I drove to Daughter 2’s flat (she has a mortgage to pay now, of course; perfect timing) to lend her the car so that she could drive to a wedding up north.

In the afternoon, Son and his girlfriend came from Glasgow to visit confused aunt in hospital, which was very nice of them. Daughter 1 also went. Son and girlfriend collected my mum and they all stayed for an evening meal, which was also nice. Son had some cat time.

Daughter 2 enjoyed the wedding and delivered the car back this morning. She had a bit of a nap and some cat time. By the afternoon, alas, when my mum and I visited confused aunt, she didn’t remember that Son and girlfriend had visited. Mum and Daughter 2 came to an evening meal tonight but Daughter 1 and SIL were too anxious to be able to leave their (we hope) convalescent patients.

So all this is why my list of useful tasks to be accomplished that week didn’t really get much shorter. Tomorrow I go down to confused aunt’s flat to remove the food I bought her from her fridge because she’s not there to eat it. And then on Tuesday, I’m back to work.

I suppose it’s all part of life’s rich pageant.

I failed to remember while uploading these pictures that one has to do them in reverse order, but...

... it doesn't really matter because I'm only including them to cheer myself up by looking at pictures of Daughter 2, Sirius and Son..

... and this is just a blog, not a PhD dissertation....

... but the D2 photos were taken today...

... and the Son, Sirius and Mum photos were yesterday. Look at Sirius's limp wrists.

He's such a butch cat.

My Mum's looking good for nearly 88, isn't she?

And Son's looking ok for 25.
And it was actually the cats' third birthday, which we forgot about

in all the trauma. But they're looking fine for 3.
I might just have a bath and an early night now. Who knows what joys next week has in store?


  1. Oh I am exhausted just from reading your post. What a week you've had. I do hope the piggies convalesce, your aunt's hip heals, your mother continues to look good for 88 (then 89 and so on) and the kids all prosper and visit you regularly.

    Whew. You need a nap. I think I do too, even though my weekend has been very lazy.

  2. Oh, I too am exhausted! Part of life's rich pageant......

    I think Sirius has the best life at your house...he's not stressed!

    ( do you want a farmer's point of view on taking guinea pigs to the vet? I guess not.)
    Try and breathe deeply and be very might help.

  3. I think I have a farmer's view on guinea pigs as well....

    Still, I certainly understand why it was so important to them. I suppose, if you look at your week another way, it was fortunate that it all happened during the holidays so you had the time to run around after everyone. (Let's just ignore that list of things that you really wanted to get through, shall we?)

  4. As they [whoever THEY are!]say---Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. Or compiling hopeful lists! I think that before you get in that bath you should boil some water. Pour it into a nice crystal glass, add a jigger or two of Irish whiskey, a few whole cloves, honey or sugar to taste and stir it all together. Maybe it needs another schlurp from the whiskey bottle? Or a few more grains of sugar? Carrying said glass, proceed now towards the bathtub, ever so carefully so as not to waste a drop. Set it on the side of the bath, which has been filling up with lovely hot water and scented bubbles. Step into the frothiness and sink down, keeping only your lips above the bubbles, the better to sip with....Maybe you should ask Mr. Life to check on you periodically. We want you to relax, but not so much that you drown.
    I know all about organ recitals. We get one every time we visit my F-I-L, with support from violins and cellos, oboes and cymbals....I try not to giggle. I'll probably burn in a very hot place when the day of reckoning rolls around. I hope next week is utterly boring. Very nice, comforting smiles in those pics by the way....

  5. seems like everything in life happens at once. Never a dull moment!

  6. I'm still laughing over Molly's comments but it sounds like a terrific recipe at the moment! Work should be quite relaxing after this week!

  7. That really does sound like a rotten week. I hope the guinea pigs survive, and I think it was lovely of you and Mr Life to help them out. I do understand the farmer point of view, but a treasured pet is a treasured pet and I have myself spent a couple of thousand saving a pet.

  8. All those dramas are no excuse for forgetting the cat's birthday. Happy Birthday Sirius.
    Love all the photos and please keep us updated on on all the traumas in your life.

  9. Ah, now I remember what a relief it used to be to get back to work!

  10. What a truly exhausting week! Wishing you a spectacularly uneventful next few days.

  11. I need more coffee after reading about your relaxing week, Isabelle. Possibly some chocolate too, and I suggest you SPOIL YOURSELF today.
    You have just written a comprehensive description of Life As We Know It (we being women of our generation!!)Not quite what we planned.
    Thank heavens for blogs.

  12. Oh, Isabelle, I do sympathise. 'Cat who visits us' is running up a debt of vast proportion at the vets with a bladder problem (- it was his third birthday last week too) our daughter has been laid low with a gastric infection and I finally had to contact the out of hours surgery on Saturday when my cough turned into a raging sinus problem. Husband was already on the sick list recuperating from a minor op and not allowed to drive. Can we all have last week again without the dramas? I think we're owed! Definitely a case for a stiff G&T or whatever you fancy - I'd join you but for the antibiotics.
    Take extra care - don't catch Mr Life's cold!

  13. It never rains but it pours. What a week. It is such a worry dealing with aged relatives, and your poor aunt with a broken hip! Not to mention all the other dramas. At least the cats give you fun, love and comfort. Your children all look so nice, and it is lovely to have family support at such times, all rowing in the same direction.

  14. maryanne1:53 pm

    I hope the guinea pigs continue to convalesce well and that their mum and dad can start to relax. I totally understand the anxiety of having an already fragile family member dealing with a stressful event. How wonderful for your daughter that you are so supportive.
    "Life's rich pageant": its colour definitely not beige this week!

  15. your terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week trumped mine by two sick guinea pigs - sometimes life really stinks, huh?

  16. Oh Isabelle! If only you could have another vacation to rest up from your vacation. I'm so sorry to hear about all the trials -- although I'm happily waving madly at Mum -- she's just so darn cute! I hope your aunt and piggies are happily on the mend and that DD2 has good fortune with her job hunt!

  17. Oh Isabelle...sigh...I feel for you. I guess most of us have weeks (even years!) like that, and I'm feeling faintly guilty that my life is smooth sailing at the moment. You've told me I am kind and generous - well, you are doubly so. I'm sure you will be just as much loved and looked after by your kids one day, as you look after your oldies now.

  18. We have our fingers crossed Chez Loth for your aunt and for the piggies (Second Born is particularly concerned re the piggies.) Oh, and your son looks more than ok for 25. Just saying.

  19. Oh dear, what a week! Glad you and everyone else survived!
    What a nice holiday you had in Chester. That's one of the prettiest castles I've seen.
    Hope your weather warms up soon. Ours is still rather chilly too, after being teased with lovely warm weather earlier in the spring.
    The daffs and other spring beauties are putting on a wonderful show!

  20. Wow - what a week. You'll probably get more rest at work. I can see you are definetely the person that keeps the family on track.

  21. Molly's comment gave me a giggle.

    Bless you for looking in on the aunt and helping the guinea pigs. The hip is a bit of a worrying thing. I do hope she'll have it in her to do rehab and get up and about again.

  22. What a busy time you have had. I love the photo of Sirius adoring your son. Your Mum does look great for 88.
    About the Pigs... would a dog or even a cat, not live a longer, and possibly healthier life? How long is a Ginea Pig's life expectancy? Just asking..

  23. Have only just read this. I think you need a little 'me' time. Is that possible, at all?

    Take care of yourself too, it's important.

  24. Oh My goodness, that made me dizzy.

    I don't know how you do it: I am in a muddle enough!
    Your mother does indeed look good or 88, and the others all look good for any age!

  25. Oh dear! What a week! Many hugs-hope it continues to perk up!!