22nd March 2020
Today, we are hopefully reactivating the Blog…. I have been writing my diary over the past months, but I have been lacking a computer scribe to put it online. Now we have decided to get organised again as it might serve as a distraction in these difficult days.
First off, I will do a quick recap. of the past few months which, even without the more recent problems with Coronavirus, have been quite eventful. Last November, my Dad, who is 87, was suddenly taken very ill and was taken into hospital with a severe infection. This was a few days before Patrick went into hospital for his ankle replacement operation which left him incapacitated for some time afterwards. During the two weeks that Dad was in hospital, we were contacted by the hospital in Dorset where my Aunt ( Dad’s Sister, who is 89) had been for the previous few months, to say that she was not well enough to return to her own home, even with an increased care package as was originally intended, but that she would have to go into full-time care in a Nursing Home. We knew my Aunt would not be happy with this option so I decided to try and organise for her to come and live with us and her brother and I would try to care for both of them. This involved moving her to a temporary respite care place at a local Nursing Home whilst we set things up. She lasted only three days at the Nursing Home and ended up back in Hillingdon Hospital. We had two further failed attempts to bring her home to us, before and after Christmas – she became too ill to stay on both occasions and was taken back into the hospital each time.
Finally, third time lucky and a successful discharge was achieved on January 16th with proper palliative care put in place with a plan to keep my Aunt at home and out of hospital if at all possible until the end of her life, which was her preferred choice. I am now a full-time carer for both my Dad and Aunt, which although time consuming and very tiring, works much better than having our life governed by visiting carers. I have still been working and continuing with my gardening which I am determined not to give up.
And then Coronavirus hit the world. Well, I thank God every day that we had been able to bring both my Dad and Aunt home from hospital to us before the Virus struck. They are now quite ideally placed as they are in a separate annex at our home and now my decision to take on their care myself does not seem so crazy. However, it is all still very worrying because my Aunt’s health issues are mainly respiratory related. However, she also has severe Dementia and this together with my Dad’s severe confusion caused by a yet unexplained infection, are proving useful when trying to protect them from the outside world and the current Pandemic. Luckily, they are somewhat oblivious to it all!
We were exposed to the potential horror of the Virus at the beginning of its arrival into this country. Aideen is a student at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London – probably the first educational establishment to close- and it was her lecturer who contracted Covid-19. She then had to go into self-isolation and was tested for the virus, luckily she turned out to be negative, but had to remain at home for 14 days. This experience did prepare us as a family- all 8 of us could have ended up in quarantine, now everything has ground to a halt. Meave and Diane are working from home, Aideen is in the final year of her degree and is continuing to work and practise at home. James is off work, Patrick continues to work mainly from home, but has some work on site where it is essential that he practises social distancing as he has respiratory problems and I have had to cancel all of my teaching and music school and all playing work has stopped! We have also cancelled all public garden openings for the foreseeable future. However, possibly the only positive thing about this horrible virus is the directive to stay at home does mean we now have some time to do big jobs on the garden that would have been previously impossible whilst organising regular public visits. Therefore, we decided to hire our favourite digger driver Martin and a small dumper truck for the weekend, it is possible for a driver of a digger to remain 2 metres away! On the Saturday they are used to move last years huge compost heap to the new compost enclosure in the orchard. Then a pile of earth is spread around the orchard and finally Martin fills the potholes in the track approaching the house. On Sunday, whilst we still have the dumper truck, we use it to move broken pieces of sandstone, stored in the orchard (left over from the kitchen garden paths) to outside the garage. The dumper is in use all day ferrying heavy things around the place and it will have saved hours of manual labour by the time it returns tomorrow. Patrick continues constructing the growing shelves in the mushroom house and Diane starts pointing the path between the mushroom house and the fruit-cage.
Earlier in the day the girls and I go to church to help Martin the vicar, produce a live Mother’s Day service to stream to the congregation as normal services have stopped. Aideen, Debbie and I play our instruments, whilst Diane and Meave sing. As usual everything that Martin has to say is brilliant and very helpful and I recommend his service to everyone. When we get home, we make a short video to put on Church Gardens Instagram to show as many pretty flowers as possible as a celebration to Mother’s Day. When this is done, I change back into my gardening clothes- the girls made me dress a bit more respectably for the video! I start work outside by taking most of the trays of seeds out of the propagators because most of the seeds have emerged. I arrange these on the bench and water everything- the polytunnel is very crowded at the moment. I then start planting my selection of ground cover perennials into the front of the stepped raised beds on the vine mount. I then realise I have made a tactical error! I have been nagging Patrick to fix up the support wires on the vine mount so I can get on with planting the ground cover plants that I have been nurturing for some months. Assuming that adding the plants prior to this job would make it more difficult. (the beds are also full of 2000 daffodil and tulip bulbs which are beginning to flower). I have realised adding the plants would have made little difference to Patrick, but the wires now make it very tricky for me to plant the plants, especially as I’m not particularly small! I do the best I can and plant about 100 plants by the end of the day.
It has been a positive day, and everyone has done something. I think keeping busy at this time will be a good idea and the fresh air and sunshine will be a tonic for all of us.