A lot to deal with

December 30, 2008

A lot has happened in the last month and a bit since my last post.

The Mother-In-Law had a stroke. At about the time the last post went up. It was a pretty severe one, and on receiving the call from her husband late in the evening clothes were bunged in a suitcase and we drove the 120 odd miles home.

We’re pretty lucky in that both sets of parents live within about a 5 minute walk of each other, so were able to stay with my family and leave space for the other halfs siblings and their partners. I’ve never really had any major family illness to deal with in my 27 years, and not any deaths either when I think about it – the result of which is that I come pretty much unprepared for dealing with the emotions that come with these situations.

The first visit to the hospital was draining. She was unresponsive, her right side was paralysed, she was being tube fed – and doctors were unable to give any kind of prognosis. The next couple of weeks are a bit of a blur… travelling to the south coast every Friday evening, and back on Sundays. My work gave me one days holiday and insisted the 2nd day should be taken as holiday. My partner on the other hand was allowed 2 weeks working from home to enable him to visit his mother every evening.

She began to mumble at the end of the first week, and was transferred from Southampton to a more local hospital after two and a half weeks. This has reduced our worry levels over the amount of driving the FIL was having to do… 40 minutes each way to Southampton is no good for a 75+ year old chap. Since then she has made some progress. She is managing to string together sentences that are now mostly comprehensible and cohesive, she is able to answer questions, she is sitting up unaided – although needs a lot of help to get in and out of bed. Maybe the biggest step in the first towards the removal of the feeding tube… with 6 teaspoons of thickened coffee 3 times a day. Apparently this will build the muscles required to swallow to their previous strength.

Christmas was an emotional day. Visiting the hospital in the morning, I then set about creating a Christmas dinner in an unfamiliar kitchen. I’d been told everyone would be there by about 2.30, so decided to aim for everything to be ready for 3ish. Many many vegetables had been requested. Not 3 or 4… nor even 6 or 7… 9 (yes you read that correctly) different types of veg. Braised red cabbage, Parsnips, Potatoes, Roasted Onions, Swede, Carrots, Brocolli, Cauliflower, not to forget the obligatory sprouts. Plus the gravy, stuffing, pigs in blankets – and of course the Turkey. I ended up getting a fresh turkey from a colleague whose hubby has a farm… www.badbyturkeys.co.uk. It was crowned, and the legs boned… legs got stuffed with a yummy orange and watercress stuffing and then wrapped in bacon. YUM!

Everyone arrived much earlier than expected, and hovered around the kitchen like a bunch of vultures… every time something came out of the oven one of them would be there, fingers at the ready, waiting to see what delicacies were on offer! Anyways, it was all quite a success… except the brocolli ended up rather overcooked. But then it worked well in boxing days bubble and squeak so no matter.

Dessert was a trio of homemade puds to choose from… Baked Chocolate Cheesecake from the waitrose website, Delias Lemon Meringue Pie (using the sweet pastry recipe from her lemon tart) – also found online, and then lastly, a Christmas Pudding that had been made at the beginning of November (DeliaOnline again!). It was the first time I had made any of these, all were successfull judging by the quantities consumed (all totally devoured by the 27th). 

After lunch the present unwrapping began in earnest. This was our second year with our neice there. She is 2 and a half – and this year was loving the presents. “Is this one mine?” was heard frequently, even if they weren’t she did enjoy helping to unwrap them. Someone gave her a keyboard. This was unwrapped fairly early in the day, and was hidden from sight reasonably quickly! :)

I think I’ve written quite enough for today… more about the Christmas hols soon!

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