Sunshine and Rain (and a touch of snow)

It’s been a full-on week, and one that I really thought might break me. When you spend the majority of the day, every day, dealing with someone else’s business and never seem to get to the end of it and no time even to check in with yourself, it’s just exhausting. Your brain starts to shut down, dreams forgotten and plans on hold. You feel you have no life. And it’s true. When things hit like this all at once, you have no life – you just have to shut down your ego, you are there to serve.

Especially on weeks like these. As well as the TV and the NHS penalty notice, there has also been a problem with Nick’s benefit payment failing to arrive in his bank account this week, and a warning from his utilities provider that his gas consumption is unprecedently high and they are going to suspend his account. Oh, and his CEA card is about to expire and they need a set of evidence. Lots of emails, lots of phone calls. Nick sits flailing while I try to explain to him what I'm doing.

He has been to the dentist and he's had a haircut. And we’ve seen the neurological specialist too. 
Who was concerned about the severity of Nick’s chorea; he’s on pretty much the highest doses he can be of the Sulpiride and Olanzapine and he’s still unable to keep still, head nodding, arms jerking and legs kicking out like a mule. The specialist decided to try a different medication and has prescribed Tetrabenzine – not instead of, but in addition to all the other tablets he’s taking.
Naturally it’s not just a simple dosage but a trial run of half a tablet a day for two weeks and then gradually scaling up to a larger dose. Nick gets his current meds in a blister pack, compartmentalised for morning, noon and evening meds for each day of the week. This will be separate, administered three times a day by Nick’s carers alongside the tablets in the pack.
I’ve printed out instructions for the carers very clearly and just have to hold my nerve and pray that they can cope with this new development because some of them still can’t seem to read a label on a dish saying “Please give Nick this pasta for lunch”.

There’s a slight risk that the Tetrabenzine will cause a low mood, and actually this is already a big risk with Huntington’s as inevitably it goes hand in hand with a low mood. To put it mildly.
Nick has been taking anti-depressants for the last ten years, since before he was diagnosed, but since moving to Sheffield he has consistently said that he feels happy and loved, and rarely feels down – which is terribly moving to hear, thinking how much his health has deteriorated in that time and how many reasons he could have to feel bad. So we think it’s worth a whirl.
How will we know if it is affecting his mood?” I asked.
Oh, you’ll know all right” was the answer. So we’ll watch and wait.

It’s all been an uphill struggle though, exacerbated by the fact that Nick has not had his TV or radio all week and has been sitting, slumped, staring at the wall when we’re not there to chat or take him out. I’ve spent hours on the phone trying to sort out the various technical, financial and bureacratic issues, on hold listening to Vivaldi, Beethoven and easy listening jazz until my ears are ringing. 
On Wednesday I managed to get the TV to come on but could only get one channel  - of all things, Parliament Live. It was the night of the big Brexit vote of confidence / no confidence in the Prime Minister. She'd scraped through and most people had left the building, so there wasn’t much to see. The red seats were empty, just four or five stragglers slumped on the benches in a similar attitude of apathetic despair to Nick, or maybe just dozing. 
Oh blimey, you won’t want to watch this, Nick!
Yes” he said, “I do!”
So for the last three days he’s been sitting watching the Parliament channel instead of his usual diet of Netflix, radio 6 music and the Archers, and it seems to have kept him – well, if not entertained exactly, then occupied. He probably knows more about Brexit now than any living person, except that his short term memory is so bad that he won’t remember any of it.

It's been such a bad week in terms of Nick's movement deterioration, speech slurring, spillages and general loss of understanding that despite last week's lovely birthday, for the first time I have really wondered how much longer he can live on his own. 
But. As the week ends, I decided to have one more go at the television, spent an hour on the help line and, with the help of two patient and skilled virtual technicians, have finally and fixed the software glitch and paired yet another new remote control too. Yessss!! What a triumph. 

I’ve spoken to a proper human being at the DWP who says that Nick’s full benefits will be reinstated next week with a rebate going back to November, and although the NHS business service are intransigent about charging for a prescription that we still can’t trace, they say we don’t have to pay the fine and his exemption certificate is on its way and will cover any future problems.

And this - just when I was feeling most desperate, a dear friend got in touch out of the blue and offered to help with the costs of a new TV. I can’t begin to say how kind that was. 
Not just the thought of a practical solution. It felt like a miracle just to have someone reach out at the point when I felt most alone and unable to put one foot in front of the other or see straight.
We’ll probably struggle on with this one now it’s working again, but I’m feeling braver all the time about asking for help and accepting it.
I’m beginning to think that no-one could do all this without going half crazy, there’s nothing to be ashamed of if sometimes I can’t cope, and that mostly I am doing a good job.
Meanwhile Nick is in Netflix heaven, it’s the weekend, and if just for a short hiatus, I can breathe easier again.