I worry about my blog and posting it on the reading and writing groups because every group has different rules. I try to include something interesting, be it for children’s books or crime fiction, illustrators and artists and then just general chit-chat about anything floating around in my marshmallow brain on any given day.
I wanted to run a three-parter about the difficulties of keeping a relative at home with advanced dementia, the lack of support, and the abundance of judgement. That’s pretty much been our experience.
Granddad came to stay with us for a week on End of Life care when he caught COVID19 way back in March 2019. We were told to gather the relatives because he wouldn’t last three days. Nineteen months later, he was still with us and still on End of Life care. Which left the doc with a big old smudge of egg on his face.
To be fair, it wasn’t the doc’s fault the old man was indestructible. This is a bloke who walked out of his family home for a bike ride and returned eleven years later after travelling around the world on that one bicycle. He visited every continent except Antarctica. Both he and the bike came home intact, and he expected to pick up the life that he’d left over a decade before. He was shot by a gentleman who was out to rob him on an Egyptian mountain. He was run over in India and swore that it was by a terrorist group that wanted to harvest his kidneys. He cycled part of the Great Wall of China. And he had a million stories to tell—while his family got on with life at home.
He wasn’t the easiest man to live with but was one with a heart that wanted to beat to its own rhythm.
Anyway, after nineteen months of coping alone, we had our first visit with the community nurses. They came, they wrote in their note pads, and they left. Another week went by. It hadn’t gone well, and I felt terribly judged.
The following week Granddad didn’t eat. He took Fortisip, but nowhere near the recommended three a day. By the third day, he was just throwing up yellow bile, and the Fortisip was too thick for him to digest. We got a few sips of water down him for the rest of that week, but that was it. He still tried to get out of bed. He was too weak to do it, and he still fell.
We’d been in talks with the doctor. He said the end was nigh, and he prescribed End of Life pain medication for when he became uncomfortable. He wasn’t in pain, and we never needed to use it.
Apart from when he got up and fell, he was peaceful enough.
We waited for the end.
He was off his Resperidrone, an anti-psychotic drug to keep him calm, but he’d gone past the point of medication. We’d had a reasonably quiet week, half a dozen falls, some more skin breaks and bruises—but no broken bones. Granddad was at death’s door, and we didn’t see the final burst of crazy chaos coming.
The weekly nurse visit came around again—and all hell broke loose.
He had slept all morning. He’d been washed, changed, padded and turned. The nurse was supposed to visit at four in the afternoon. She turned up at eleven-thirty. He chose that minute—out of 1,440 minutes that day, he decided that very one to go on a rampage.
My office is upstairs, and as I walked past the bathroom, I heard running water and panicked. I hadn’t heard him get up with the door knocking and the dog barking. She—a new nurse—was standing on the doorstep. The dog was going mad, grandad was probably about to fall, and I had to open the door. I’d checked on him ten minutes earlier. He was conscious—or at least his eyes were open—but he was completely unresponsive. He’d been like that most of the time for three days—since his last dose of medication. He chose that minute to have it all out of his system, and without the anti-psyche to keep him sedated, he went flipping bonkers.
I locked the dog in the living room—The nurse was pregnant and terrified of Teagan. It took a couple of minutes to get the dog out and her in, as if that wasn’t bedlam enough. I told her I didn’t have time to chat because Granddad was up and was probably on the floor in God knows what state by that point.
We walked into the bathroom and couldn’t believe our eyes.
On his deathbed, this tiny, frail old man had lifted the cistern lid—what, a stone and a half?—off the toilet and had dropped it in the bath breaking both bath and toilet lid. Then he’d had a grand old time dismantling the toilet.
The fact that he was stark naked barely registered. A fountain of water was shooting out of the tank, and I swear, without exaggeration, it was hitting the ceiling and raining down on him like a waterfall. He didn’t have the capacity to get out from under the torrent, and he was dancing on the slippery floor like Rumple-bloody-Stiltskin.
There was a huge turd in the middle of the bathroom floor where he was doing the salsa. He was covered in crap from his backside down from releasing it and his feet up from dancing in it. His incontinence pad was shredded and lay like a soggy Winter Wonderland scene in the general mele of madness. And Grandad, who hadn’t uttered a coherent word in days, was swearing like a dockland navvy. This man had never uttered a swear word in his life before dementia. If we was out of the house and heard somebody swearing, he thought nothing of virtually causing a riot by calling them out on it.
There was so much water that the wallpaper was peeling away from the wall in ribbons. We didn’t know it at the time, but it had soaked through into the kitchen and flooded that too. It’s a miracle that the kitchen ceiling didn’t come down under the weight. We had an ominous bubble for a few days—but thankfully, we managed to dry it out.
Everything that was once arranged in the bathroom was in the toilet, along with another turd. The water cistern was filled with bottles of cleaner, a hair dye, a box of latex gloves and his shoe—he must have gone in naked apart from his pad and one shoe.
The toilet itself, with the floating turd, held our toothbrushes and toothpaste, bottles of shampoo, conditioner, handwash, mouthwash, shower gel—and a brass horse and cart weighing about a stone. It was like a new version of Supermarket Sweep. I don’t think I could have got all that in a toilet pan.
The nurse was useless. To be fair, she was pregnant, and I couldn’t let her anywhere near Granddad because he was in a highly agitated and aggressive state. He was literally trying to box with the water fountain and called it some names that his mother certainly didn’t teach him.
Never mind him, my stress levels were at about a hundred and ten out of ten. I asked her if she could turn the water off at the stopcock by the side of the toilet. She was useless and just hovered without even trying to help. I couldn’t leave Granddad. How he hadn’t fallen already was a miracle. He was soaking wet, freezing cold and covered in shit. I couldn’t get him in a warm bath to raise his core temperature because there was a broken toilet lid in the broken bath. My only course was to wash him, dry him, cream him, pad him dress him and get him into bed with all the quilts in the house on top of him—except ours. I couldn’t stand the thought of that.
The nurse, who looked about twelve, just stared in disbelief as the craziness ranked up another notch. Teagan, sick of being ignored, had let herself out of the living room and charged up the stairs to greet her new friend.
Her new friend screamed, ran behind Granddads armchair and burst into tears.
Teagan was far too excited to want to be locked up again and was hell-bent on giving the nurse her favourite toy, Funky Monkey.
Nurse’s response of, ‘Get it away from me. Get it away,’ seemed a little ungrateful, and I’m sure Teagan thought so, too. Okay, so it was a bit chewed and soggy—but she doesn’t give Funky Monkey to just anybody.
Now I had several things to deal with. Granddad was in bed, with his false teeth chattering and had burned himself out. Being a nurse for many years has taught me to triage—yeah, triage this. I had a senile old man, an excited dog that thought it was mad-half-hour, a hysterical nurse and the Armageddon of Niagra falls from my bathroom ceiling to my kitchen floor.
When some kind of immediate order was resumed, the nurse made one comment before legging it out of the door.
‘Well. This isn’t working. Is it?’
‘Yeah, cheers, love. Do call again, won’t you? I’ll bake a cake.’
And while this craziness was going on, work was in overdrive. Best Book Editors is doing well, and productivity is on the up. So let’s do some shout-outs and showcasing.
The lovely Avery Shaw is In the final stages of releasing her excellent children’s book. I’m Not a Copycat; I’m My Own Me. A warm, feel-good story about a little boy finding his place in the world. The pages turn through the POV of this little guy. Parents will melt at this much adorable, while their children just love the story. A BBE Children’s Category Recommended Read.
Jay Bailey’s cartoon project is coming along well. The illustrations from here on in are part of the initial 40 image character build. Illustrator Jay—also Jay, please do wince and feel my pain of making sure the correct message goes to the right Jay—is producing some excellent work. Our other four illustrators have also been busy. Still, we always have the shop sign turned to Open for taking in new commissions for all of our services.
Sean Armstrong has managed something that not many indie authors can do. He has persuaded his local library to take an interest and support him in his work. His book, The Green Girl and the Serum, is doing well. Massive big-up to Charlotte at Stoke-on-Trent Libraries. Not only has she broken into their yearly acquisitions budget to buy copies of his first book, but she’s asked him to keep her informed when future titles are released.
In a world that is supposed to be more aware and accepting, most libraries and bookshops still discriminate against indie authors. This is because of all the authors that put out unedited, overwritten dross. I get it, but not every indie author can be painted that particular colour of rubbish.
What Sean has achieved by getting his books into the local library system is a great accomplishment. Of course, there is a system whereby the library pays you per borrow. You can go the old route of sending the British Library your five copies to be available for every library in the country to order. However, even when available, getting libraries to actually get them is a massive endeavour. Well done, Sean. We applaud you.
If you don’t live in Stoke-on-Trent to nip to the local library to borrow a copy, you can get your book Here. It’s a cracking read and well worth a shot.
Charlotte Perrin is one of our Best Book Editors Recommended Reads for 2021.
Finding Isogonal Ranch: Mysteria’s Story by Charlotte Perrin
There is no messing about with this book. From the first sentence, we jump right into the action. Hurricane Delta is paying her visit. She arrives with destruction as her primary purpose, but that’s only one of Jane’s troubles. We open to the building panic as the hurricane breaks sea defences and the winds are gusting at 100 miles an hour. Jane is living her worst life after years of bullying and beatings at the hands of her drunken and abusive mother and stepfather. When it comes, she doesn’t know that this beating is the last one, and she’s sent out to buy more beer.
She doesn’t mean to leave home—it just happens thanks to the hurricane.
Arthur Forrest is driving. After a family breakdown, he’s bumming around the country, finding work where he can in his search for a place to be. He sees Jane and offers her a lift, and very soon, we find out that Arthur is no ordinary guy.
They met when they were meant to, and so their journey began.
This book is about love and kindness. It’s said that the best way to get to the road to Happiness is by turning right at the end of Sadness Street. By the same token, the warmest kindness is given by those who have suffered. Our heroine wants a better world, and this story takes us on a journey of magic and mystery to find her new home.
It’s an uplifting, warm, feel-good story of do-unto-others wrapped up in realms of fantasy and escapism. The group of two is soon three, and they are drawn to others like them. They realise their potential with every new hurdle thrown in their path as they travel across the country.
Written for young adults, this story is enthralling enough to capture any reader’s imagination and sense of wonder. Loved every word of this and can’t wait to read more from this talented author. One to watch out for.
And Here’s a link to the book, don’t forget to drop Charlotte a review on Amazon and Goodreads when you’ve finished it.
And to finish, I always add our employment section to the end. I figure that anybody that has read the blog deserves a medal—never mind a job.
So, I’m looking for talented editors to come and join us. You don’t have to be professional—as long as you can edit to a professional level and are willing to learn the BBE way. All of our editors work to the same specifications so that our clients’ work is consistent. We will train you and provide you with paid work. Please drop me a line if you’re interested.
It’s been a busy time here—and Christmas is coming. Get your orders in to release your book in time for those pre-Christmas book sales now. Time is running out. Tick-tock,tick-tock.
Katherine Black / Susan (Sooz) Simpson
Founder of Best Book Editors
Katherine has held almost every single job imaginable, from painting gnomes to zookeeper. She spent most of her life in the caring profession and has managed both a nursing home and a care agency. But her passion for the written language always brings her home to novel writing.
Born in Tyne-and-Wear, North-East England, she has settled in the beautiful Lake District, Cumbria, with her partner, two dogs, a cat, an iguana and a python (just don’t ask her which of those six things is her favourite!).
She specialises in content creation and social media outreach, and has been a developmental editor for hundreds of clients. She owns and operates bestbookeditors.com where she helps foundling authors polish their skills. However, after being diagnosed with a dramatic brain condition in 2022, she has had to let 23 staff go, and scale back the business. BBE is still very much open, we are just fewer and can’t take as much work on.
Katherine Black is the author of psychological thriller/detective/fantasy adventure novels.