Of course there is more; no triple bingo winged harpies warbled. This is not a TV soap, it’s reality. It goes on happening even when I’m not writing it down. It keeps occurring, unscripted, without permission and I’m sure there is more to come.
After my mother got back from her holiday in the so-so hotel, cleverly leaving all her medication in the bedside cabinet, the neighbour who brought her back thoughtfully arranged, I think, for the doctor to visit her at home.
This was nice especially seeing as she hadn’t been demented, she’d been delirious. The painkillers prescribed by the doctor for her sciatica had handily been reducing her high temperature so the only way you could tell she was ill was by her speaking nonsense. As she has vascular dementia, which is exacerbated by not moving and getting the blood circulating, which of course had been the case for the five weeks or so that she’d had sciatica, she was talking rubbish anyway. Then, of course, you have to consider the fact that talking is my mother’s hobby, oeuvre and raison d’être anyway. When she was planning our wedding, which she did comprehensively without recourse to any form of consultation with me or my husband to be, she phoned my future mother-in-law for a four hour girly chat. In the middle my mother-in-law felt the call of nature, put the phone down, went off to the usual offices, came back and picked up the phone to find my mother had not stopped for breath or even noticed her absence. My mother also arranged our honeymoon, which, as she was getting tired by then, was appalling. I’ll tell you the story of that some other time. We came home early and I consider myself fortunate that my mother didn’t accompany us, to supervise.
When such an individual talks rubbish deliriously rather than professionally, it’s tricky to spot the difference. I’ve already had to assure a number of folk in white coats that she’s just being herself; I can interpret the raised medical eyebrow at fifty paces, now.
So there she was at home with no medication. As you might imagine this improved everything, especially her reasoning over the phone. I phoned the local pharmacy to see if they could put the order out early.
They couldn’t put the order out at all.
The doctor who had visited had changed the prescription but had told them to put everything on hold waiting for test results from the hospital, who still hadn’t noticed a whole packet of drugs sitting in a bedside cabinet.
And there was a Easter coming up, a well known bank holiday, during which nothing official gets done while the workers of the world lie around stuffing their faces with chocolate eggs. Helpfully.
Did I mention that in the middle of this I had worried phone calls from the friends who had taken my mother into hospital? Weighed down with age (because the problem is that when you are old, your friends are quite likely to be knocking on a bit too) and responsibility they rang to insist on the presence of a family member i.e. me, instantly. As I was still 50 miles away with a broken arm, two hooks and a husband who was up to the fourth day of hourly diarrhoea and now with cracking skin which was beginning to bleed spontaneously, this was unlikely. Besides, I was too busy squirting bleach on any surface that he bled on to, evacuated around or sneezed at.
Oh it was all going terribly well.
So I got on the phone. Lord alone knows the steepness of the eventual phone bill. I’m not even thinking about it.
I phoned one pharmacy three times. I phoned another four times. I phoned the doctor twice and then again later. I phoned the people who were delivering the new television to my mother, which my husband and I had been going to install to arrange for installation another day by the delivery firm. I then tried to access care agencies on the Internet but as the site was down found the list I’d printed last September and began ringing. Could anyone visit my mother over the weekend until my husband was either dead (in which case I’d go on the train) or better enough to drive?
‘Yes, of course, oh no, hang on, it’s a bank holiday.’
‘Only for established clients at weekends.’
‘We don’t do weekends for the elderly, we expect them to be with their families.’
‘This office is closed until the third, please ring back then when we will be able to provide a range of services to suit your every need.’
Eventually I found a charity who could do it and would do it and went round to meet my mother forthwith. I rang to tell her to expect them and then rang the next day to see how it went with some trepidation.
I foresaw the awful eventuality of something happening to my mother and me not being able to get to her. I installed one of those pendants the old person wears round their necks last August. It works through the telephone landline. The other possibility we discussed was getting a care agency just to pop by once a week, in the middle of the three days I wasn’t there. We even went so far as to interview one, in December.
The poor girl was dead in the water before she stepped through the door in crocs and bare feet in December. Had it before she handed my mother the leaflet with ‘So, you are a looney getting a bit feeble?’ in primary colours on the front. Dead as a dodo the minute she opened her mouth to announce my mother reminded her of her great grandmother. Demised each and every time she told me how wonderful my mother was. Wiped out by the list of questions asked in a careful infant’s school voice and had it had it had it when she told my mother a bright little voice that she would graciously recommend someone lovely to visit, and might even do it herself.
That little visit nearly four months ago has been the subject of complaint for a good few opening remarks at least twice a week ever since.
Such a joy.
So I was interested to hear my mother’s opinions of the latest offering.
So I rang.
She was engaged.
I rang she was engaged.
I rang, she was engaged.
If you had an ancient, sickly, picky parent who could be only be accessed by telephone, whose emergency pendant is tied to the landline, what would be the most helpful thing to happen?
The phone lines were down because of the unseasonal snow and couldn’t be mended because of the bank holiday during which the telephone engineers would be slumped before their TVs, with the chocolate eggs so necessary to their survival. By the fourth, maybe the fifth,
they might be mended.
I phoned the usual, unhelpful pharmacy, where the locum had assured me they could deliver and the regulars had assured me they couldn’t. I said it was quite OK I had found another pharmacy who could and rang to ask if they would. And for lo! The original pharmacy found they could after all and did (though I only found this out afterwards.)
I rang the care agency who had visited my mother and they reported that all was well she was amenable to them visiting and I engaged them to visit for the next five days until the phones were on. They had arrived at the same time as the worrying old friends, brilliantly and professionally reassured them, shooed them off and got on with finding out what my mother needed.
I then got on the Net and arranged for a giant bouquet of flowers for the opposite neighbour who was ringing me on her mobile to keep me updated.
Do you imagine I then rested? (It’s a wonderful thing, imagination. I’d imagined I might rest my hooks after that.)
I subsequently spent the next two days answering the phone every two hours to the vast pantheon of my mother’s phone friends and family, all by now convinced she was dead at the foot of the stairs and going mouldy, at least. Have you ever tried to sooth a 98 year old, who is worried sick about her little sister who she doesn’t really get on with?
And then when I’d done all that I sent my mother an Easter card I’d made with all the arrangements I’d made written in it. And she got it, yesterday. I know because the genius neighbour took her mobile over to my mother and we spoke.
Hysterically, mysteriously, repeatedly, but we spoke.
As my husband has returned to the land of the living and no one else has been stricken, we’re off down there tomorrow.
My mother wishes for a mobile phone and she wants me to show her how to use it in an emergency.
I have one of them.
I can switch it both on and off again.
On a good day.
JaneLaverick.com, are we having fun yet?