Saturday 24 September 2005


Mum keeps pestering me for news of my Sister's family, which I find distasteful. I know she's bored and lonely, but it's as if she's impatient for them to divorce just for the soap-opera drama of it all.

She rang me up a couple of days ago to confirm that her friend's funeral was at 09:40. I said that no, it was at 11:40. Acting on a hunch I then I asked her what day she was planning to go.
"Well, tomorrow of course!".
I had to tell her to write down FOR THE THIRD TIME that the funeral was on the 27th. She was mortified, because she'd just told everyone at the apartments that she was picking out her outfit for the event the next day. I can imagine her turning up and being the only one there, or maybe attending someone else's funeral by mistake without perhaps realising....

One of the aspects of Mum's decline that I find saddest is her growing selfishness. She never visited her friend towards the end, either in her home or in hospital, despite making shopping trips where she parked nearby. I also know she will expect to be the centre of concern and attention at the funeral.

Thursday 1 September 2005


Conversation with Mum this morning prior to my head exploding:

"Anyway, as I was telling you, I went to the doctor yesterday to tell them about my back"
"Your back?"
"You know...I was telling you that I was having pains in my b.. in.. a... I think I told you I was having shooting pains in my head"
"And she told me that I had this back problem but I forgot it's name by the time I got home so I had to ring the surgery to find out what it was and I thought you could look it up on the internet"
"Okay, spell it out slowly, Mum"
"It's S-P-O-N-D-Y-L-O-S-I-N"
"I think you might have written it down wrong, Mum, because there's nothing coming up for that"
"Well, I don't understand that. She was most careful to spell it out for me"
"Have another go reading it out, Mum"
"Mum, you've read it out differently"
"Have I? S-P-O-N-D-I-L-O-S-E-S"
"Mum, you're reading out a different spelling each time!"
"Don't get on at me! I'm really not feeling up to this"
"I'm not getting on at you, I'm trying to help. I'm just pointing out that you've spelt it out in 3 different ways so far. So, is there a "Y" in it?"
"Yes, of course there is! I've read it out 3 times"
"Well, you only read 'Y' the first time and then you said "I" afterwards. What about the last letter: is it 'N' or 'S'?"
"It's 'N'"
"I've got something coming up for 'SPONDYLOSIS' "
"That's it! That's what she said."
"Then why are you telling me that it ends in 'N'?"
"Well, I've got 'S' down here"

So, I look up Spondylosis, which turns out to be something that half of us have at age 50 and 70 percent of us have by 60, etc. It's a toughening up of the cartilage cushions between our spinal vertebrae and the vertebrae responding by growing spurs of bone toward each other to shore up the structure.

"So, the picture's pretty grim, eh?"
"Er, why do you say that, Mum?"
"Well, I was just thinking of my Grandmother. She was pretty stooped over"
"So you weren't actually listening to what I read out then?"
"No, sorry. What was that, dear?"
"Well, it's basically ageing of the spine and nearly all of us get it - it's not that unusual. Do you want to hear the treatment?"
"Oh, yes"
"Well, it says 'rest... exercise..... traction.... painkillers... chiropractic treatment... "
"Oh, we have a Chiropractor in the village!"

Typical of her to pick the most expensive option.

I'm getting increasingly concerned about Mum's inability to spell out words consistently. When I have to help her with banks and utilities, she is NEVER able to give me long numbers reliably and I've had to have her send me documents instead. In lots of ways she's still quite competent, but this weird stumbling point is troubling me. That she can read out a word in 3 different ways without knowing that she's done so disturbs me.