Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Yesterday's hospital visit was very tough, despite the comforting and sensible presence of a dear friend. My poor husband, bad-tempered throughout life, has always been able to impose his will in a crisis by upping the bad temper to the top level. This time, no, and the result is distressing for all of us, himself of course included.

A care provider came to assess him while we were there yesterday. They could start functioning in the middle of next week. The NHS may be able to provide a “bridge”, the excellent ward nurse said. My husband was listening to all of this but doesn't seem to grasp that we're on his side and trying as hard as we can to get him out.

Alexander is coming over to visit again today, and I think I will stay away. It will be fully as stressful as going, and I'll pay for it tomorrow,

“Care” at its best will only be five or six hours out of the 24. I'm not much looking forward to the rest of my life. I don't mind changing sheets in the middle of the night. It's the bad temper I dread We shall see.

Somewhere, I feel, in Jane Austen, is the notion that women in that sensible century considered the temper of a man they thought of marrying, much as they might consider that of a horse they were thinking of buying. Not a bad idea. But I can't refer you to the passage.


I am progressing happily with the Tokyo shawl, much helped by my own struggles to help the one of you who wrote to me. I think, if anybody else is currently involved, that the thing is to have the markers separate out the 50-stitch section which has a YO at one end and a k2tog – or k2togtbl – at the other, and leave the 20-stitch stretch in between with no excitement. I had been thinking of it differently – k20, k2tog, k48, yo... No, it's all too confusing.

Old Maiden Aunt is clearly working flat out to dye yarn for Kate Davies' wonderful new Fantoosh shawl. This might have been anticipated, I feel. I'll keep watching. I'm hoping for something in the greeny-grey spectrum but red-ish wouldn't be despised.

I've been spending a certain amount of time with Craftsy recently. I've recently watched Gudrun Johnston's class on the hap shawl all the way through. I don't think I exactly learned anything, but I was greatly attracted by the notion of doing something simple, properly.

I was struck by the fact that in the lessons she was dropping-and-throwing much as I do. Surely she doesn't do that at home in Shetland. Presumably the Craftsy people decided that the proper Shetland way of knitting would be too blazingly fast for us mortals. This is probably the moment when I should watch Hazel Tindall's DVD, bought some time ago.

I am tempted to go on to Nancy Bush's class on Estonian lace. I regard bobbles as against my religion, and regard nupps in the same category. I can do them, well enough, it's just that – no. But Bush of course is something of a world expert in Estonian lace, and Estonian lace means nupps.

I think I'll go ahead.


  1. Anonymous10:25 AM

    I am so so sorry to hear of your husband's ills, and of the horrible impact on your own life.

    I know there will be resistance,but I wonder if some medication could be helpful in soothing your husband's temper, at least to the point that you are not compelled to stay away. Both your lives would be so much more pleasant if he could face the coming difficulties more calmly.

    Many hugs, Jean.

    Beverly in NJ

  2. I agree about the bobbles and nupps. When I see them I just think, "Why?"

  3. Anonymous12:18 PM

    Mood medication - a great idea. I have hesitated to comment, but you know, it is time for the curmudgeon to realize he needs the help he is driving away! Hugs to you!

    1. Anonymous6:37 PM

      You've got it exactly right! Courage, Jean.

      Elaine in NYC

  4. Anonymous12:34 PM

    I was surprised that my godmother was given an antidepressant when she was in hospice care. It helped settle and calm her in unfamiliar circumstances. She was a strong-willed force of nature, although usually polite as you would expect from a Southern lady. But the drugs helped. It was the smallest dose. It might be something to consider, for your husband’s sake and for yours.
    Take care,

  5. My husband has a very bad temper when he is hungry, but I can usually disregard what he says under those circumstances. I think Jane Austen was smart to consider that.

    My father recently underwent a hospital stay complicated and extended by an urinary tract infection. It was as hard on my mom as on him, so I know what you are going through. Please take care of yourself.

  6. Echoing others here. Seems good advice to seek mood assistance. This movement to another level of life is upsetting for both of you. But you as the main caregiver need to make this as stress less as possible. Am sure his doctors would understand about assistance in mood elevation. Sending lots of energy and prayers.

  7. Everyone feels so helpless and frightened in these situations. I'm so sorry you are going through this. I'm with you 100% on bobbles.

  8. Ellen1:24 PM

    This is not unfammiliar territory to me, and I would echo other's suggestions about medication. But you need to also become clear with yourself about your limitations, and he needs to understand that there are limits to what you can endure, and perhaps the alternative would be a care home.

  9. Anonymous2:01 PM

    SO glad that knitting exists as an alternate (albeit temporary) focus for you in these difficult days. Jane Austen - I can't think of a particular passage either, but it seems in line with her general thrust. It may be somewhere in Sense and Sensibility, which includes an almost unfailingly crotchety husband and a wife whose blithe and airy misinterpretations of it are perhaps willed.
    - Beth in Ontario

  10. Your poor husband finds himself in quite a pickle, doesn't he? "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" sounds well and good on paper, but it is not a recipe for peace, or for comfort. Others writing here have already made good suggestions. Hospice and palliative care services know a lot about how to help people with these types of comfort issues. Too bad so many people are allergic to the word "hospice".

    I'm glad for you that you have your knitting, and what sounds like a level-headed group of kids.

    Nupps are bobbles that went to finishing school and have learned grace and manners. They don't stick out of the fabric nearly as much and tend to flow with the pattern, rather than disrupt it.

  11. For guidance, I'm tempted to suggest you fall back on your mutual faith.
    Prayers for you and your husband Jean.

  12. Anonymous2:43 PM

    It seems we can no longer rely on the good old NHS to provide care in our old age. This is due largely to changes in government policy with greater emphasis on allowing people to remain independent in their homes and on commissioning what is required as opposed to directly providing what is required. There is no such thing any more as a 'sick' note, what we have instead is a 'fit' note and social security benefits previously described as 'incapacity' or 'disability' are being replaced by 'personal independence' and 'employment support'. This is part of an attempt to change the benefits culture and to reduce the reliance on the state as provider. The point I am coming to is that in your case, as in so many others, it is no longer a choice between NHS or private but an expectation that people will access the appropriate financial benefits to enable them to fund care in the home. So, without wishing to be intrusive, it is the case that you should check out that you are aware of the financial support which is available to you in order to fund the 'private' care you now need, this being the modern-day equivalent to what we came to expect of the NHS in the past. Some of the national charities for older people will be able to assist with this and information is available on their websites. I think it is often the case that people are simply unaware of this change in emphasis to 'independence' until they have to face a particular crisis.

  13. Just adding my support and good wishes. Take care of yourself in all this.

  14. The only nupps I have ever considered worth it are in the lily of the valley shawl. I am also opposed to bobbles in every way.

    Wishing you and your family the very best and hoping there is an elegant solution to be found.

  15. Anonymous5:14 PM

    Dear Jean,
    I am praying for all of you. Anger in age so often comes from great fear, but as you know even knowing the cause doesn't make it easier to cope with.
    I add my voice for considering an antidepressant at least as a temporary measure. It made coping with fear or change just enough easier for my parents that we could manage.
    Good luck and and love to you both from all your internet friends

    debbie near seattle

  16. Anonymous6:14 PM

    Sending you all the best. My father, a very forceful personality, had become fearsome in his temper as his health declines. My mother bears the brunt. Talk to his doctor - it is as much a symptom of his mental health as other things are a sign of his physical health. Tale care of yourself in all this, too.


  17. Jan in California6:47 PM

    I've been down this road before, and I strongly urge anti-depressants for the BOTH of you. It's very difficult to accept a situation where, ultimately, it won't get better and you can't do anything to change the course of it. It's exhausting and grievous to have to finally accept that anything you do will ultimately be a stopgap. Anti-depressants and as much help as you can get will make things somewhat more bearable.
    The comment above re. a care home reminds me of the story of a woman who'd had to put her husband into one. She said that she wished she'd done it sooner, as once she was no longer the primary caregiver she could focus on just loving him again, and vice versa. He could vent his spleen on the hired caregivers and, as she said, they got their loving relationship back. Food for thought.

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  19. I have a naturally hair-trigger temper. I have had to learn to control it. Your husband will have to do the same. Its not fair for you to be under such stress when you are trying to help him and care for him. Can you tell him "If you dont stop, I will leave the room" or similar? Sending love to you both. I always read your blog.

  20. =Tamar8:34 PM

    Just a data point: antidepressants vary. If one doesn't work, or leads to other issues, another may be perfect.

  21. Anonymous9:22 PM

    I forgot to say before that I am pro-bobbles but anti-nupps.

    B in NJ

  22. If you're going to cope with the "bad temper" you need to make sure that there is somewhere that your husband can go for a respite break when things get too much for you. Does your husband have a Social Worker and have you had a Carers Assessment? The system has a duty of care towards spouses in your position. Age UK will help fill in the forms for Attendance Allowance for your husband which will be useful if you are putting together a private care package. If you're changing sheets at night then he qualifies for the higher level. Thank goodness for your family and supportive friends.

  23. I have a friend whose husband with a foul temper wouldn't take antidepressants, so she started taking them for herself. She said it made her not care as much about his temper.

  24. Just a thought. You are both Roman Catholics. Is ther any place for a priest in mitigating this sorry situation?