Tag Archives: Daddy

The things you didn’t see

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The things you didn’t see

Dear husband,

First of all, high fives on surviving the last couple of months without killing each other! We have successfully kept a small human happy and healthy, and remained relatively sane and content ourselves. Good work, us.

I know it’s been hard, returning to work and leaving us cooing and giggling and warm in our bed. To come home and see the small, but important changes in our little lady. To start to think about first words, first steps and know that these things could happen while you’re in the office. But here’s what you didn’t see…

That first day you left for work? I cried. Not because I couldn’t cope. Not because our daughter was being anything but an angel. But because our newborn bubble had burst and our daughter was already taking those first tentative steps towards growing up. Life was slowly but surely returning to normal. I would miss you by my side for those minute by minute decisions (does she really need changing again? Does that sound like a hungry cry?) and I’d miss your easy, chilled out wit and your warm hugs to get me through the harder weekday moments. Weekends were going to become so much more precious.

You didn’t see me smiling in the middle of the night as our little one fell asleep in my arms and snored, matching the cadence of your snore exactly. I swear my heart actually swelled just watching and listening to you both, and realising that quietly but irrevocably, our little family puzzle had already expanded to fit her beautiful little piece.

You didn’t see me staring at her as she stretched and yawned (and normally, farted) waking from her nap, and welling up because she looked so much like you trying to wake yourself up in the morning.

You didn’t see me clock-watching as it approached 6.15pm and I knew you were on your way to the front door. Again, not because I wanted to hand her over like a ticking time bomb but because when you step in the door, our family feels whole again. Between 5pm and 6pm I’m genuinely excited – it’s the same feeling I used to get at 5pm on a Friday afternoon, knowing that ‘our time’ could begin.

Mainly, you didn’t see how much you mean to me and to our daughter. How our relationship has changed but for the better, since having her. How grateful I am to have such an awesome partner (not a sidekick, not a ‘helper’, but a partner) in this adventure. And finally, how excited I get thinking about all the things you’re going to show her and teach her, as you carry on being the greatest dad she could wish for.

We love you,

Me and Miss R xxx

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Things my dad has taught me

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Things my dad has taught me

So I’ve talked in the past about what we’ve learned along the way since my dad’s accident. But recently I’ve realised how much my dad himself has taught (and continues to teach) me. I thought I’d share a few of them, because after a bad meeting, or a traffic jam, or a family argument; it can feel like the end of the world but my dad has changed the way I look at life.

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff

The amount of times I’ve visited my dad after a busy and stressful day, only to walk out an hour later calm and smiling and wondering what my problem was. The things that were driving me to distraction suddenly didn’t seem important when faced with his daily struggles to even remember when to eat, or to turn the lights on when it gets dark.

  1. Keep laughing

From the moment he got his speech back, my dad has continued to be silly. I’ve said before that he’s always been silly – and one of my biggest fears was that he’d lose this sense of fun. Thankfully it’s remained, and has been the source of a series of Facebook posts like the following:

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  1. Be compassionate

My dad has every reason to be a grumpy, selfish, inconsiderate old bugger. But he’s the opposite. He notices when I’m tired. Asks what’s up if I’m quiet. Tells me to send love/congratulations/best wishes (insert greeting here) to various family members when I tell him their news. He asks how my mum is, my sister, my brother, his friends and listens when I give him updates about them. He reminds me to look outside my bubble. No matter how hard things are, it’s not OK to forget about other people.

  1. Be honest

Due to his condition, my dad doesn’t have as many inhibitions anymore. That means that sometimes, what’s in his head comes out of his mouth. Often, he realises as soon as it’s been vocalised that it was inappropriate or rude, but not before. Now, I know that it’s socially polite to frame your criticism constructively, to smile and hold the door for someone even if they do shove past you without a backwards glance; or to sit out a boring conversation in order to avoid offence. I’m not suggesting we all start spewing out exactly what’s on our minds all the time – it would be chaos and we’d cause hurt.

However, wouldn’t it be great if we could just take a leaf out of my dad’s book – just to now and then stand up when someone is only talking about themselves and walk off without a word?! To tell someone they’re being loud and it’s bothering you.

  1. Forgive

OK, so maybe in his case it’s more often than not that he doesn’t remember, rather than that he forgives. But my dad doesn’t hold grudges. And when I do have to tell him off, or I snap because frankly, I’m human and sometimes my patience wears thin; he forgives me instantly. He’s the one who apologises – he gives me a hug – reaches over to touch my arm to get my attention and says he loves me. Nothing matters enough to overshadow our precious time together. I wish I could be more like him and remember what really matters in our brief time on this planet with the people we love.

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Procuring a placement for AC aka finding a home for my Dad

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Procuring a placement for AC aka finding a home for my Dad

Yep that’s right ladies and gents, I’m back on my dad again. Switch off now if you’re not interested. Hopefully you are though, because he’s awesome.

So his discharge date should have been 8 May from neuro rehab, where he’s flourished – he can now eat, walk and have conversations with very little support. We’re incredibly grateful to all of the staff at West Kent Neuro Rehab Unit (The Knole Centre) in Sevenoaks. Personally, if it was appropriate, I’d hug them all, all of the time.

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However, they’ve done all they can for a man with substantial long term and permanent brain damage, so it’s time to free up the bed for someone else’s dad, mum or significant other. That was the plan anyway. Sadly, the social care system has failed my dad in meeting this aim. And so, three months past discharge date, my dad is still in rehab, where he’s understandably bored, fed up and increasingly agitated (the daily phone calls to me and my siblings have restarted).

So three months ago we met with his case manager from the local social care team. He was a great guy, who’d taken the time prior to the meeting (with us and the team at the Knole Centre) to sit with my dad and better understand his needs and capacity for various daily tasks. He explained from the off that he was an interim but that as soon as the incumbent returned from long-term sick, she’d simply pick up his notes and the case would progress seamlessly. He was wrong.

The incumbent didn’t return – obviously we don’t blame her for that and I wish her well. Instead we were placed with a new care manager, who insisted she start the process from scratch again. We took a deep breath but decided that we weren’t that far down the road, so agreed a first meeting. Despite a very clear request that it take place on a date (I gave her a list) that one of the family could attend, she booked it on a day none of us could make it. Not a good start.

My mum (superhero extraordinaire) cleared her morning and squeezed in time to attend. It did not go well. The case manager made sweeping statements about my dad’s capacity (if you understand the Mental Capacity Act, you’ll know how wrong this is), despite having never met him. She was also rude, discourteous and refused to listen to members of my dad’s current rehab team.

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Nonetheless, we took it on the chin and concentrated on my dad. Eventually, a couple of weeks later, we received a list of three homes which ‘Purchasing’ (she regularly refers to this mystical team and to monies, and very rarely to my dad as an individual, human being) had approved for him. She also forwarded some kind of tender document, which made my dad sound like a waste disposal contract.

We hurriedly booked in a  Sunday when me, my siblings and my dad could all attend to visit the three homes. They were all dementia-focussed with an average age of 80 but since we didn’t understand the system, we naively assumed they had been deemed appropriate for his needs, and picked the one Daddy seemed happiest with, and that we felt was the most caring, understanding, clean, and supportive. They assessed him the following week, and gave me a call to explain that they were really unsure about taking my dad, who has significant social and engagement needs which simply wouldn’t be met in a home for older people with progressive dementias.

And so back to the drawing board. Where we argued, (over and over and over) that a dementia-focussed home simply wasn’t for Daddy. We were supported by a report from his current team, who agreed that he needed non-dementia-focussed residential care with regular social interaction.

To speed the process up, I researched local homes myself and sent them back to the case manager. None fit the bill, two because they’re ‘out of area’ (South East London instead of North Kent) – and there’s me thinking we lived in a country proud of its integrated, joined-up and patient centred approach. What a silly sausage.

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Eventually we and my dad’s consultant suggested a place in Ashford, It’s specifically for people with long term neurological conditions or damage as the effect of an acquired brain injury. It offers further rehabilitation if appropriate, interaction, activities and trips. We all had our reservations as its location would mean fewer family visits in the week, but hopefully the engagement programme would outweigh those….Nope, it doesn’t fit within ‘Purchasing’s’ funding bracket for ‘AC’. In fact, could we top it up by £700 a week? Errrrm, no.

And so, we’re hoping it’s third time lucky. We were given yet another list (this time only two homes) and local to my dad’s home town. One was a nursing care home, and therefore completely inappropriate. One was a dementia-focussed centre. However, a very kind care manager at one of these inappropriate homes suggested a local residential home. So we dropped in unannounced, at teatime, on a Friday night. Despite our bad timing, the manager on duty was kind, introduced herself to my dad, and answered our (well-practiced) questions. The age range of patients was still older but she noted that they have 2 or 3 gentlemen in my dad’s age bracket. The building was beautiful. Every patient we met was smiling, the staff all said hello. The rooms were clean. The grounds were gorgeous. It was local. My dad said he liked it best because “I felt comfortable in there, love”.

I don’t know what will happen next, and I’ve become too battle-weary to get my hopes up. Next week we’ll send off a request for funding for this home. They’ve definitely got a room that’s available for social care funding, and fits within my dad’s ‘price bracket’ (he’s worth about £440 per week, in case you wondered). To us though, he’s priceless and while I’m sorry he’s holding up a specialist rehab bed while we do battle with social services; I’m also not letting him budge until we find a place where he’s happy.

He’s not a contract, he’s not a number, and he’s not just some ‘thick’ brain damaged patient. He’s our Daddy and he has social care needs, yes; but more importantly he has a personality, a sense of humour, a huge heart, and a right to live in a friendly, fun, caring and supportive environment.

We won’t rest (literally in most of our cases) until we see him settled somewhere, waving goodbye after we visit, with a huge smile on his face. And after that, we’ll write a reeeeeeeeeally comprehensive complaint…

My dad’s cooler than your dad

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My dad’s cooler than your dad

So it’s Father’s Day, which means millions of insta-filtered images of Daddies and their not so little ones all over your Facebook feed (no judgement here – I’m the queen of the sentimental social media post).

fathers-dayGiven the year my family has had, I appreciate my blog has been already been pretty father-focussed. Nevertheless, I need to let you know something very important.

My dad is cooler than your dad.

I’m sure yours is lovely. I’m sure his hugs are warm, his jokes embarrassing and his taste in 70s rock music hilarious. But mine wins. He’s weird and funny and thoughtful and has a heart the size of the universe. He wears his pants on his head during video calls and pretends he can’t hear me when I put his hearing aids in. He’s useless with remembering dates but knows the names of every pet he’s come into contact with. He has the most enormous blue eyes you’ve ever seen and hardly any teeth. We’ve had exactly one argument in my whole life and it was over a boy who wasn’t good enough for me (Daddy was right). I’ve been to Cyprus, Corsica, Los Angeles, York, Orlando, France, Butlins and Dymchurch with him. Before the accident, since the accident and every day until I’m old and grey I’ll thank my lucky stars for him. Here’s why:

1) He went to the very first Isle of Wight Festival during his kaftan-and-long-hair-phase, with no worldly belongings and jumped the fence to get in and watch Jimi Hendrix.

2) He once poured a whole bowl of popcorn over my cousin’s head during a sleepover. No reason. He just thought it would be funny.

3) Even after his accident, and despite the fact I’m a 30 year old woman, he still tells my husband and mum to take care of me when we leave after visiting.

4) When he was a baby, my Granny left him in his pram outside a shop (it was the olden days….aka the 50s). A gypsy woman stopped by and told my Granny that my dad was beautiful and had “eyes like poached eggs”. Granny was always weirdly proud of this story, rest her soul.

5) He went to a posh boarding school and features on a hard-to-find recording of Alleluia with the choir.

6) Once he went to New York in the winter and took only boat shoes and no socks. Suffice to say he had to winter-fy himself when he arrived to 2 feet of snow.

7) His middle names are Miles and Wade…and he hates them.

8) He rarely calls people by their actual names. I’m Bomps, my brother is Diddy, my sister is Tam-Tam and one of my school friends when I was about 13 was always Furry Feet, due to a pair of fuzzy shoes she owned.

9) When my sister was a baby he’d grab her wellies, take her outside and go puddle jumping.

10) He is genuinely my very best friend in the world. Even now he gives me insightful advice, the best hugs, makes me cry with laughter and is always there when I need him.

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So to summarise…my dad is totally cooler than your dad. We win.