What a weekend!
What a weekend!
It wasn’t the ‘What a weekend’ weekend I wanted it to be. That would have been that joy and delight, a Miniatura weekend, which is what I didn’t have. Instead I had one of those weekends, you possibly get two or three in a lifetime, where everything went wrong at once and the only person to deal with it all was me with a broken wrist.
The wrist, you recall, is a thing of a fortnight’s duration. Yesterday I went to hospital to the fracture clinic for what turned out to be a short horror movie with a very unsatisfactory ending, which won’t be over for four weeks. At least. More of that later. Worse luck.
But it all kicked off on Saturday night. I was just sitting down late at eight (because everything takes longer with a plastered arm) for a spot of dinner when my mother rang. The other half answered and something in her tone prompted him to interrupt my second forkful to speak to her.
‘I feel most peculiar,’ she said, ‘though I might be hungry, I’m three hours late having tea. I’ve set the table for Peter and Raymond and I was expecting them at six at the latest but they haven’t turned up yet and I’m feeling quite faint. What should I do?’
As Peter is my father who died in August and Raymond is her brother, who died 33 years ago, I decided that the appropriate course of action was for her to press her emergency pendant and get help. So she hung up and did that. Two minutes later the phone rang, it was the emergency pendant call centre to tell me my mother had pressed her pendant.
So that was a help.
No the call centre didn’t summon the emergency services.
Did they have a number for them? I asked.
‘What is it?’
Thank you, thank you so much, such a help.
‘Did I want them to notify another key holder’?’ I forbore from suggesting they go back to their important knitting, or squeezing their spots, or whatever else they were whiling the time away with, and hung up. Then I rang some friends who are key holders and live five miles away and they got round there PDQ.
I rang my mother to tell her they were coming. She said that was nice but inconvenient as she was going to be entertaining when the men arrived. She also said she’d found a nice photo of my father right beside her chair and wondered how it got there.
As this was the photo of my father which I took about a year ago (based on probabilities and all that I’d been taking pictures of them individually for about three years) and gave to her in hospital and which has not left her side since and is her favourite possession, I was bit worried by this. But we kept on chatting inconsequentially until the friends arrived.
And then the fun began.
The polite friends were at considerable pains to persuade, politely, my mother to have some medical attention, while she wandered around shaking her head saying, no no, and continuing to lay the table, oyster forks on the outside, obviously, next to the cake fork and the asparagus knife. They phoned me about three times, incredulous at just how fabulously obstreperous my mother could be, which surprised me as they’ve known her for 20 years or so. You’d think they’d have noticed.
I, meanwhile, had spoken to every emergency service in the greater Bristol area and had been phoned by three individual doctors and an assessing call centre at least twice. In the course of this, interspersed with calls from the friends beginning, ‘You’ll never guess what she’s saying now, could you speak to her, do you think?’ I agreed with the nice lady on the ambulance switchboard that the worst thing would be for my mother to go to hospital in an ambulance, lie in a corridor for three hours and be sent home at two in the morning in a taxi. We agreed that what was needed was a doctor at the house to assess my mother.
It took a couple of hours, several doctors and every bit of skill with language I possess to achieve this. The doctor rang; my mother’s breathing was compromised and so eventually her friends ladled her into an ambulance, still worrying about the dinner party and off she went, by which time I had a suitcase in the hall ready to speed off fifty miles first thing in the morning, rather than last thing on a wild and snowy night with all the news channels issuing severe weather warnings and telling you not to travel.
Or so I thought.
In the morning I was up early to ring the hospital and in and out of the bathroom at speed despite the plastic bag on the plastered arm. I got dressed up poshly and sat and waited.
‘Hang on,’ said the other half, ‘I must just visit the bathroom again.’
So I waited.
He came down having removed his shoes and jacket, ‘Can we go in half an hour?’ he asked, ‘I’ve got a bit of a gippy tummy.’
Half an hour later he came down in his socks and shirt looking beige, ‘I’m going back to bed,’ he announced.
Well I’d spoken to the hospital three times and my mother twice, and it looked like she wasn’t going to be sent home on Sunday, so nothing was spoiling.
Which was just as well as the other half was now being sick and having hourly diarrhoea. He kept reappearing in successively less clothing until he was down to his shreddies and grey like a zombie.
So I spent the rest of the afternoon on the phone arranging for another friend to collect my mother on the morrow, for I could not, having an appointment at the fracture clinic in the morning, a toilet to clean again, again, a half dead eye-of-a-needle stuff husband and a son with a scragged cat with a face (the cat, not the son) out here like this.
Oh it was all going terribly well. And worse was to come.
‘Twas a fitful night, ‘twas, in several areas but eventually dawn broke. It does that. It should really give you a clue to the probable course of the day, what with it starting off with a breakage.
A kind friend had offered to take me to the hospital which was much appreciated as there was a general sub-zero feeling about the howling gale.
Well I did all the waiting and the X-rays and the wandering around following the coloured spots on the floor up to the point where the doctor cut the plaster off.
I have two huge hooks sticking out of the back of my hand. I thought when the surgeon said he would drill a little hole in my bones he meant it. These wires are the thickness of coat hanger wire. Thick coat hanger wire, not the thin bronze stuff you get free with dry cleaning. And two huge hooks. You could hang an Abercrombie on one and a fur-lined flying jacket on the other.
I nearly passed out.
Being British I merely engaged the doctor in small talk and helped him peel the sticking plasters off because he had no finger nails to speak of.
I would audition for the part of Captain Hook in the local pantomime, but I’m overqualified by one hook.
Already I’m all withered. I had a very nice forearm. I work out. I constantly use my hands. I had two very nice forearms. Shapely. Graceful. Now it looks as if someone has made a pancake with insufficient flour and hung it off the hooks on the back of my hand. I might be the only woman in history with three bingo wings. If the Captain Hook proposition falls through I could get a job at the airport and be the chap with the paddles that ushers the aeroplanes in. Simply by waving at a friend in the aircraft control tower I could land and park a Boeing 747, a helicopter and a glider, on top of each other, conveniently by the cafe.
The doctor wiped the caked blood off my hand and went to put the wipes in the bin. I flexed my hand and waved my hooks at him, instantly there was a concerned rush by doctors and nurses, all shouting variants of: DON’T DO THAT! So I stopped.
I was plastered much more than before. Elbow to fingertips.
Oh I am fed up.
This morning my mother rang to tell me she’d been on holiday, though the hotel was only so-so. It turns out she had a big infection and had been delirious. At present she thinks she’s lost all her medication but I’d arranged for a repeat prescription to be filled out last week for the lot, which a neighbour will collect tomorrow,
Meanwhile the appearance of my other half reminds me of his father, about half an hour after he passed away. He has managed to get up and is sitting in a chair groaning and burping by turns.
And this huge plaster will be on my arm for a month at least.
So – how was your weekend?
JaneLaverick.com the darkest hour is just before it breaks.