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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Family Times

"Family is not an important thing. It's everything."
Michael J. Fox

Things have been a little crazy lately where my family are concerned. There's been more going on than usual. Again I was supposed to write about it all as it happened, but one thing or another kept me from having the time. So I apologise for fitting this all into one entry.

Can't believe how far back this is now, but on the 5th of July my older sister came home to visit for a week. Jann lives in London with her boyfriend Jay, and therefore we don't get to see her often. She comes home about twice a year. Usually she comes home for the Twelfth (a Protestant celebration held on the 12th of July every year) and around Christmas time. It's kinda weird only seeing her every 6 or so months, but at the same time we're somewhat used to it now. She went off to University in England when I was sixteen and after she went travelling in New Zealand. Still, nothing beats having her home.

On the morning of the 5th Eva and I got up early as we were supposed to go pick her up with our dad at the airport. However his golf game ran over, so she ended up getting the train and we walked up to meet her. There was extra excitement this time as she was meeting our new puppies for the first time. We brought them along to meet her.

About to leave to meet Jann.
Edwin was excited to meet his auntie for the first time! 

Jann absolutely loved Edwin and Berty, and the feeling was mostly mutual. Edwin is grand with people he doesn't know, but Berty doesn't like strangers too much. He did his best though. After we chilled for a while, we headed round to see my granny, granda, auntie Karen and my uncle Brian. Our granny has Alzheimers and so it was a little hard for Jann seeing the change in her. Still, my granny isn't at the stage where she doesn't know us so she was very happy to see Jann. The Alzheimers has mostly affected her memory, but her personality has changed also. She has less inhibitions and she'll basically say or do whatever comes to mind. So she can be quite a hoot and has mostly been in good spirits despite everything. It was a fun visit. 

That night Jann, Eva and I all headed out to our favourite bar The Goats Toe. It's basically the only bar we go to. Though it's a little in the bad books right now as they've done a complete overhaul to their beer garden and got a cool little camper van in it and such, but the beer garden is up a flight of stairs and therefore isn't wheelchair accessible. They've also put a baby changing table in the disabled bathroom, so there's very little room to maneuver my wheelchair. It wouldn't be so bad if it was a fold down from the wall changing table, but it's a freakin' two tier wooden one from IKEA. But I digress, we had an awesome night. Though our sister fun night kind of got high-jacked when Jann met an old friend from school and he basically stuck to us all night. It wouldn't have been a problem, but we kind of wanted to just spend time together. Plus it was awkward because he kept telling us how Jann was the love of his life and the one that got away. Awkward, not only because Jann has a boyfriend but also because he had a girlfriend. He was very drunk and probably only half serious, but either way he text Jann in the morning to apologise. Even so, it was a great night and I was sad when it ended. Oh, a random guy at the start of the night came up to me, told me I was the prettiest girl in the bar, kissed my cheek and then left. Later on I think two other guys also offered to buy me drinks. I could do without the compliments and cheek kisses (unless you're really hot, then by all means) and I mean I try and be nice and remember their hearts are in the right place. But personal space is also a thing. If you wouldn't do that to an able-bodied girl, then don't do it to me because I'm in a wheelchair. It's just patronising. That being said, I should maybe take up some guys on their offers of free drinks. I could save some money! Anyway, this is a pic my sisters and urm... whatever his name was.

On Sunday we went for coffee with our aunt Karen at Starbucks. It was a pretty good day. We had coffee and then we had a look around the shops. Naturally I bought some stuff I didn't need, mostly for the puppies. I've been awful with my money lately. I really need to start saving for our eventual move. When we came home the first bad thing happened. When my aunt was taking the ramp down for me to get out of my van it hadn't been locked in properly and it fell on to her foot. At first we thought it was broken. She could barely walk. I felt so terrible. Everyone hates my van as it is, so I was sure there would be another reason to add to the list. She had to sit and ice it for a while before she was able to walk. It felt like the worst thing in the world at the time, like the whole day had just been ruined right at the end. Luckily it wasn't broken and it was only bruised. The ramp is hella heavy, so it really could have been a lot worse. 

On Monday we had a rest day and just stayed in the house, watching television and such. I can't remember if it was on Monday or Tuesday, but the second bad thing happened one of those days. My granda was taken into hospital. He's had an ongoing chest infection and his hospital stays have been more frequent recently. As terrible as it sounds the biggest worry when my granda goes into hospital is my granny. She can barely walk anymore, and basically relies on my granda for everything. Not to mention the fact she gets very confused with her Alzheimers. If she's on her own she can't remember why and starts to fret. And although she can barely walk, she's able to a little and so there's the danger of her trying to cook or even trying to go find my granda. So whilst we worry for my granda when he's in hospital, most of our focus ends up on what's going to happen to my granny. For a long time now we've been saying she needs carers, but our family are reluctant to force her into anything even though she's not really capable of making decisions anymore. So there was nothing in place. On Tuesday Jann was going to go and sit with her during the day because for some reason 'people' thought she'd be fine by herself for a few hours. I'm not going to get into all that because I could rant about it all day, but there you go. My sisters and I had planned to go to Belfast, but we were prepared to call it off for granny to having someone with her. However my mum said she would go. Jann and my mum had always had a tense relationship, but I think Jann had a new found respect after seeing how good my mum was with our granny (her mother in law). When my mum went round my granny was very upset and confused. I don't know what she'd have done without my mum that day. 

We felt slightly guilty about gallivanting off to Belfast and leaving my mum, but we had to concentrate on the fact we were on borrowed time and that Jann's boyfriend would be arriving on the Thursday and she'd be leaving on the Sunday. In Belfast we spent some time looking around the shops, and we also went to a really nice Chinese restaurant for dim sum. I'd never had it before... it was a new experience. I'm not really great with new foods and I'm quite picky, but it was fun to try. I even used chopsticks! We ordered so much we had to bring half of it home. But yeah, I could tell it was a good Chinese restaurant by how many Chinese people were dining in it. All in all we had a really great day. It was very relaxing and fun.

A wonderful dining experience in Belfast.

Wednesday kind of sucked. Jann agreed to go around to stay with my granny, so we missed out on spending time with her. It was technically our last day as the next day her boyfriend Jay was coming and she wouldn't be staying at our house anymore. Even so, we realised why it was important for her to stay with granny and I think granny really appreciated it. Jann worked as a care assistant in a care home for old people and she now works in a hospital in a ward for people with brain injuries so she's well equipped to know how to handle my granny and her problems. It was probably good to have that time with granny too. 

Eva and I just chilled all day. We took Edwin and Bertie out into the garden for the first time to play. It's been hard getting them out because it's been difficult finding harnesses to feet them, and they could escape our garden. I'm hoping next month to get someone to chicken wire around the garden, but until then they can't go out too much. It was a nice day, so we took them out on their leads. They enjoyed sniffing around and exploring. I also took the opportunity to see what it would be like having Edwin on a lead while I was in my electric wheelchair. I haven't had him around my electric wheelchair too much as I was afraid of running over him, but it wasn't too bad. So yeah, we had a nice time outside. I put this little video together on my phone.

We were only actually outside for an hour, but I ended up getting really badly sunburned. I always do around this time of year. It's almost a tradition. That night we just chilled as far as I can remember. Watched some television. Jann was super tired after spending all day at granny's and I felt like a burnt crisp, so I wasn't up for doing much. 

Thursday was an exciting day. I was meeting Jann's boyfriend for the first time after almost a year of them being together. He was also meeting our parents for the first time, and Eva for the second time as she met him at Halloween. All I can say is I really hope they get married. He's really lovely and very fun. I'm always super nervous when I meet someone for the first time, but he's really easy to be around. He brought us two big bars of chocolate to share and a tin of Oreos... though he informed us it had been three bars of chocolate, but he'd eaten a bar on the plane. He also loved our puppies. It's kinda funny, because he's a big cockney dude. And most big guys don't like little dogs because they have this silly idea that it some how makes them seem less manly, but he loved them. That kind of sealed the deal when it came to being happy for him to join our family. But yeah, Jann had told us he's like a big kid and she wasn't wrong. In a good way though. 

After we met him on Thursday he and Jann headed out and Eva and I went for a walk around the coast. It was such a lovely day. We've had quite a good summer, good relative to living in Northern Ireland. I made a little video for that day too! 

That evening we went to Little Wing with Jann and Jay, and Jay bought us dinner. It was a really fun time, even if I didn't really eat any of my food. I felt guilty about that. On Friday the 11th of July we all went to the farm. The Ark Farm is probably one of my favourite places on earth. I've written a blog entry about it before when I went for my birthday. It was as fun as ever. Jay really enjoyed it. He particularly loved feeding the goats. He said the black and white ones reminded him of his dog and kept calling them Milo goats. We never bought so much feed as we did that day. I ended up giving him my cup a bunch of times. That evening Jay and Jann headed out for dinner and then later on we went to drive around the bonfires. For those of you that don't know, on the 11th of July ever year we kick of the Twelfth celebrations with bonfires. We just drive around them because with all the drunk people and stuff it can be a little scary. I think Jay appreciated staying in the car. He'd never been to the Twelfth before and wasn't used to it all. 

So, by this time my granda was out of hospital and then on the 12th morning I heard my dad on the phone sounding worried. I thought my granda was maybe sick or my granny, but it turned out my uncle had been taken into hospital. He was ranting and acting crazy, like he had taken something. My auntie asked my dad to bring her to the hospital, so he was there for a while. This was around 8:30am. The first parade was in town at 10am and the other was at noon. We weren't sure if we were going to get to go, but luckily we were. It turned out my uncle had an infection. Crazy how infections can make you. The Twelfth was a great day, and I think Jay enjoyed it somewhat. I mean he'd never been to one before, so he didn't really 'get' it. But he enjoyed it as much as any outsider would. Plus he enjoyed the food at the field. We got hotdogs and Dinky Donuts. The Twelfth is one of my favourite times of year. I've just always loved it since I was a kid. It gets bad press because the history of Northern Ireland and the fact tensions can rise more than usual around that time of year, I wish we could all just enjoy our culture and history without fighting. But humans will be humans. 

Saturday night was hard. Originally Jann and Jay were supposed to stay in our town and were planning to pop in to say bye before they left on Sunday. However they ended up staying at a hotel a little further out, so we had to say bye on Saturday instead. As hard and sad as it was for us to say goodbye to Jann, the hear sad part was her goodbye with our 16 year old dog Gracie. Gracie has gone down hill a lot in the last few months and Jann was really taken aback when she seen her when she arrived. So saying goodbye to her felt like she was saying goodbye for the last time. It was just really really sad. It was also hard for Jann that she didn't get to say goodbye to our grand parents. She had hoped to introduce them to Jay, but because my granda hadn't felt well and such he didn't want a stranger in the house. So Jann couldn't go round. 

We had a great week with Jann and it was fun meeting Jay. It wasn't a smooth week considering my granda being taken into hospital and trying to find care for my granny, but between us sisters it's one of the best we had. We managed a whole week without bickering! As close as we are, I think that's a first. 

Fast forward a week, our bad family luck struck again. We got a phone call on Saturday from our dad to say by granny had been taken into hospital. He'd fallen off the edge of the bed and eventually we found out she'd broken her hip. That is the last thing you want to hear has happened to your 85 year old granny. Her Alzheimers made it all even worse because she was very confused and upset. She didn't want my granda to leave her in the hospital and couldn't remember why she was there. Luckily since first being admitted she has calmed down some, but she does need an operation and that is the scary part. She still can't remember why she's there most of the time, so that says a lot of how well pain medication works. She can't even tell she's got a broken hip! Though she does complain that her sciatica is sore., still she wants to sign herself out of the hospital and go home. She's not fit for her operation yet because her blood is too thin, so they're just doing what they can to get her ready. We have no idea how long that will take or how long she'll be in the hospital after. There's kind of two sides to this though. On one hand we've been saying for a long time my granny needs professional care, and while she's in hospital she's getting that care and they will also be able to decide whether home is the best place or if she needs to be put into care. On one had that is a good thing, but on the other it's horrible she's going to be forced into it this way. It's also hard on my granda as he just wants her home, I think it's only sinking in now how serious everything is. 

So yeah, that's where we are now. We don't know when her operation will be or what will come after. After the super emotional goodbye we had with Jann, she's decided to come home and visit granny since she didn't get to say goodbye. She's coming home for a couple of days this weekend. I'll be glad to see her again, even if it's only a week later. What a week it has been. You can see why I haven't had time to write the last little while. I have a couple of other things I wanted to include, but I think this is long enough. I'll include them in the next entry. 

Until next time!

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