My lockdown story

3 August 2020

 

Pictured: Mary in her 50s graduating with a degree in History from The Open University; Mary on her 84th birthday.

 

My lockdown story is maybe slightly unusual as I have actually found it to be a period of healing, both for myself, my father and my sister.

2019 was a rollercoaster year for us. My mum, Mary, fell and fractured her pelvis in April last year and from then on, entered a period of crisis, going from one fall to the next, including a broken hip and internal bleeding.

We thought we had lost her on at least two occasions. My sister and I spent time in the intensive care waiting room at Raigmore wondering how to break the news to our 86 year old father.

Throughout this process, mum became a shadow of her former self. She had periods of awareness but a lot of time, she was confused, frightened and paranoid. This was incredibly difficult to watch, especially since it was happening at such a fast rate and dealing with crisis after crisis meant that none of us had time to process or mentally deal with what was happening.

In the midst of this, mum and dad celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. We had a small family gathering and a card from the Queen, little knowing at that stage what was ahead of us…

The light at the end of the tunnel has been Lynemore! Initially, making the decision for mum to enter care was horrendous but we could see that dad couldn’t continue as they were. His health was deteriorating too.

Mum went into to Lynemore on 27th January 2020. We had very little notice so very quickly put a few personal things into her room, but we needn’t have worried. She loved her blue room with the view to the garden and hills at the back. The butterfly bed linen matched what she had at home.

The staff went out of their way to help to settle her in and relatively speaking, she settled quite quickly. We were able to celebrate her 84th birthday with a cake in the dining room. I last saw mum in March. I visited her on the day before total lockdown. We had a great wee laugh and chat but I felt uneasy as I walked away, at that stage not really realising what was ahead of all of us, including the staff!

I’m not going to lie, initially I felt a bit of relief. I literally could do nothing. Fortunately from our experience of Lynemore up until then, I knew that mum was safe and content “in her bubble” and I am glad she doesn’t really know what’s going on outside. We are very much aware that the staff have become her family and if we could pick replacements for ourselves, it would be the staff at Lynemore!

They have given me the confidence to relax a bit and allow them to care on my behalf whilst we helped dad to recover. I cannot speak highly enough of how they go over and above the call of duty whilst maintaining a happy and professional atmosphere which has allowed mum to relax and enjoy her time there. I have not yet seen mum on an outside visit. She doesn’t like to go outside, not helped by a fear of spiders, insects, wind, rain, heat and cold! We have therefore made the decision to wait until the next phase to minimise any distress to her and indeed ourselves.

We have learnt how precious life can be and particularly quality of life. We have learnt to trust others to care on our behalf. We have met the most fantastic teams both in the hospitals, the social care system and in Lynemore itself. The learning curve has been steep but having had the lockdown period to reflect and rest, I can now clearly have the confidence to know that we did the right thing by mum. Dad has even said that he knows she is in the right place. He calls the staff “his angels” and he’s right! They are!

Postscript: Since writing this and with some quick thinking on the part of the Lynemore staff, I have finally been able to meet up with mum again, outside in the beautiful garden on Friday afternoon. The 4-5 month time gap just fell away in an instant!

Mel Fitzhugh