Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bamix Forever

With myself almost numb from shock, we talked with  the Meals on Wheels lady who organised Arthur's deliveries of a hot lunch 5 days a week. This is more to get people into the house than to ease the load on me, as cooking for Arthur is not a problem, and to ensure if I am out, someone will be checking on him at lunchtime, as this is part of their role too. For $A6.50 a day Arthur will get his lunch delivered from tomorrow.

I bought a new Bamix hand-held blender yesterday. My own one, a secondhand 1970's vintage, stopped after 40 years of service in home kitchens. This Swiss made appliance is worth the extra money, $200 as apposed to about 40-odd  for lesser brands, a Bamix will last 25 years without missing a beat. This thing will probably out-live me. I must leave it to someone in my will.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Finite. All is finite.

Well that was a shocker, no denying it.

The service providers came around today to do an assessment for Arthur's home care. As he is weaker than when he went into hospital, he needs two people to do his personal services so he has to have his hours of care cut in half. He can only have half an hour in the morning and evening with two people to change his pads, wash and make him comfortable. There is no funding for anything more. We either buy in services, which is impossible because I can't work, and we spent a lot of money on stuff for Arthur (his electric wheelchair and other equipment cost thousands.) or I do it all. Arthur was a working class man in his day, and is not a wealthy. It would not take long for our savings to be eaten up with the cost of services these days.

Otherwise I provide most of the services myself, and that is what I will do because we won't have him go into a nursing home, not while I still breathe.

The shock came when Arthur told the social worker he will only live another year. He says he knows what is happening with his body and that is what he knows. I am distraught to hear this in such a concrete way,

I remember him telling me one day, "All good things must come to an end." I was frightened and told him that that day was far off. It was then. He was just starting to lose some of his mobility and independence. I was right, it was far off. The problem is it is not far off any longer. It is now.

I am in shock. I am in grief. I am stunned.

I expected to get him back much as he was before he went into hospital, but I was naively wrong.

I also thought that for the $3,700 every month these agencies get from the government for Arthur's needs, they could come up with more than some equipment and one hour a day for two people to come and change his pad, give him a sponge wash and two showers a week, and a podiatrist once every 8 weeks. If Arthur gets bedsores or anything and he needs nursing, he may get less personal care than that. They don't make any profit. Apparently after administration, reporting (paying all the captains and officers) there is nothing left to pay for many deckhands to swab the decks and hoist the sails, so the ship doesn't sail very far.

I doubt I will be able to work and I really do not know if I can keep studying for my qualifications, but the worst is the complete unmitigated sense of shock and horror at finally voicing my fear, knowing life is finite, that the separation of the five months, when Arthur was always coming home, will one day be final.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A quick cry never hurt anyone.

I've just ducked out of the kitchen for a private moment, which is hilarious if I consider it as anything from zero to a couple of billion people could read this blog post; though I certain the number will be closer to zero than anything else.

I served Arthur the roast beef. He definitely wanted it put through the blender so I did. I also reshaped it with a biscuit cutter to resemble a solid piece of meat, as well as finely chopped cooked beef can do so. I took the half a baked potato and scooped out the middle, mashed it and put it back to it looked like a baked potato. Arthur wanted the broad beans minced too, but I said they were soft and he needs something in its real form on the plate.

I had cooked the rolled beef piece by browning on all sides and putting into a tall baking pot. I threw in half a bottle of good red wine, opened and left over from sometime or other in the last few months, some onions, a tomato, garlic, fresh parsley and a sprig of fresh rosemary (both from my garden) and seasoning. I baked with the lid on until it as done. I took the meat out and pureed the veges and pan juices into a sauce.

I poured the sauce over the meat and decorated it with parsley. After I gave it to him, I got so sad because Arthur has loved his food always and we ate some fantastic meals in our time, both in restaurants and at home. Giving that small meal made me so sad, it has me in very, very silent tears.

Okay, time to let go of that and go get my dinner and eat with Arthur.

Kitchen Scales. Cooking for the elderly challenges creativity, and other stuff,

Yesterday was a long day.

With only minimal services of one hour in the morning to assist with Arthur's care, I am physically tired. At least it  is free exercise. I don't have to pay for weightlifting, walking, or stretching classes and I don't even need to leave home.

Preparing meals is going to be a challenge. The rehabilitation facility (TCP unit) advised me on preparation of Arthur's food and I suppose I was still hoping he could eat his meals chopped finely instead of the pureed stuff he was bored with in their care. For his first meal home, I tried a lamb chop with the meat cut finely and re-arranged back next to the bone so it still  looked like a chop. He got through half of it and some veges but gave up and had a larger dessert. Yesterday I carved chicken off the bone into small pieces. I crumbed and fried them and served them with gravy and mashed potato and other mashed vegetables. Arthur tried hard but finally said it would have to be pureed, He said that he didn't mind it that way, just that in the TCP unit the food got boring. I am sure Arthur was disappointed he couldn't eat my food but just didn't want to upset me. He will keep things to himself to protect me.

Of course I feel like I am a failure. I have been taking a lot of time and care to prepare food that is interesting and that Arthur would like. When I was studying and working full-time, he did all the cooking,, shopping and most of the housework, as he was retired from the workforce. Then our roles reversed when I left the workforce to look after him. Now this one big thing I could do, feed this man and feed him well, seems to be gone, I am looking for the bright side, maybe there will be less washing up?

Yesterday was not good in that the facility was right again, when they said older people sometimes lose continence after a bout of illness and do not regain it. Arrangements have been made and the pads Arthur used to wear for outings in his wheelchair are now a permanent fixture. It seems to be an affront to this proud man's dignity but like a lot of things he appears to be accepting it, How much he really is upset by all this will only come out when he finally confides in me, which he will.

I hesitate to speak of the next thing as it is a difficult subject and not to Arthur's dignity to discuss it, but this blog is intended to be the story of this journey. It is to leave the story of Arthur and me here when it is finished and no real human story is a series of montages. Unlike the movies and television dramas our lives do not move smoothly from scene to scene, there are multiple threads, messy interruptions and inconclusive alleyways. Arthur for the first time lost control of his bowel, after he took a senna-type tablet last night.

I dealt with it, efficiently and pushing a veil of detachment on the process. I can remember thinking, at least there is no problem there, the little brown tablet worked. He was standing up so it was an easy one. For Arthur it was shocking, he was apologetic, embarrassed and in tears. I did not tell him it was nothing, because it wasn't but I said it was okay, it was dealt with and it was over and, 'let's move on'. I didn't have the heart to tell him all I cared about was that everything was working, "Hey, it's great, the drains are clear.'

Arthur keeps apologising for putting him through this. I reassure him and say it is fine, I am happy I am here for him. That is a great joy for me. That gets me to the kernel of my feelings. I am so very glad I am here for him, the thought of him going through this without me here to help distresses me terribly. To have to cope with this without me, to be dependent and alone, to have no-one to call on at night or be without someone looking out for his interests to me would be the greatest tragedy.  I worry now for when my kids get old, who will care for them, for by that time I will be long dead. I hope they have partners who will love and care for them when the time comes.  I am so grateful I am here for him now,

I almost left him a couple of times. I came very close when I was forty years of age, Our differences seemed greater than our connections and I thought about what I wanted out of life and it was not what I had. Arthur was of that very English style of conditional love, that drove me up the wall at times. He could not, on the other hand, understand how I seemed to put up with anything my kids did. "I would never speak to them again until....." he would say.  I would tell him that is not how I did things. But a crisis brings things into sharp relief. Breaking his hip in 1988 and becoming a victim of a home invasion in 1998, brought my feelings for Arthur into focus and I could not bear the thought of him being alone.

I know it will be better when our full services are restored. Just when you are at your lowest, the glories of the service from an outsourced service provider kicks you down one step lower, but that is a topic deserving its own page.

Yesterday was a long day. Today I am doing pot-roast beef and will try pureeing it and st\ill making it look like roast beef, I am not sure how, but we will see.

Today is not going to be a very short one either.