I don’t get many opportunities to get away overnight. My one and only experience of respite care for Ma was a disaster and scared me off wanting to try it again. The last time I was away overnight was New Year’s Eve when my sister stayed with Ma… this unfortunately also went pear shaped due to Ma’s hidden health problems which came to a crescendo that night.
I love a bargain! I love Op Shops! So, when I saw a deal for a couple of nights at Canberra at a very nice hotel last August, I decided to book it. After all I had 12 months to use it… plenty of time to book my time away… The months went by and Ma’s health didn’t improve and it got to July… I pushed the panic button!! When was I going to get my two nights away??? Aaargh! You think I would have learnt by now not to buy accommodation packages on sale when I can’t guarantee my time away! But, as I said, I do love a bargain, SIGH.
Enter the heroine in the form of my sister! YEAH!!! Then I started to feel sick… I started dreading going away. My stomach was in knots. I started making copious notes on Ma’s care. Everything from her bathing rituals to her tablets, how to handle her ‘moments’, toileting etc etc etc ad nauseam. Even with all my notes, I still forgot stuff. How would my sister cope? Maybe she’d cancel at the last minute etc. etc.
The morning we were due to leave my stomach was one huge knot which got even tighter when Ma started talking about packing up and moving to the other house. My sister wasn’t due for another couple of hours and here I was just wanting to get the ‘heck out of dodge’. Ma then promised me she wouldn’t go anywhere and would wait. Yep, I trusted her. Was it because I was sure she’d be ok or was it because I just wanted to leave?
For the first half hour after we left I text my other sister and aunt asking them to ring Ma to keep her occupied until my sister arrived. It was only after I received their assurances my knot started to loosen. I rang her an hour into our trip and she sounded ok. Maybe everything would be ok after all…
We had a wonderful time over our two days. We had dinner with friends, walked and took in some of the sights, visited the chocolate and cake shops. I even made time for a bubble bath… bliss. In between this I received updates on Ma’s hallucinations, bowel accident, going out and her packing up.
The day I was due home, Ma decided to pack her bedside drawer into a bag ready to take away. I rang her to say we wouldn’t be able to find her if she left and that we had cake and chocolate for her. My knot was back once more.
My sister was awesome and I was grateful beyond belief, just to get away to be me! Within an hour of my sister leaving Ma had a bowel accident and the cat vomited on her bed… Welcome home! The best part came after I did her washing and found the remains of her fish oil tablet in the bottom of the washing machine. Yep, everything now smells fishy! At least she’ll be popular with the cats, SIGH.
- I haven’t done it yet, but I intend to type up Ma’s routine in case anything ever happens to me.
- Learn to let go… ok, so I haven’t really learnt how to do that yet… it doesn’t stop me from giving it as a tip though.
- If you do get the chance for a break, grab it with both hands and make the most of it. Do everything, treat yourself, be kind to yourself. You don’t know when you’ll get another opportunity.