Saturday, May 7, 2011

So Frail.

I am truly sadly shocked at Arthur's condition. He is home, he came back on Wednesday. He slept two nights in the hospital bed in the lounge room. The day and night brought cold so I bought an electric blanket to put over him. Arthur took a sleeping tablet on both nights but it didn't help much. It was strange for us to be sleeping in different rooms.

My middle son, the only one of my children who helps me (the others live in other cities), came today and lifted Arthur into our bed and propped him up on pillows. He looked a lot happier. I made him some soft food (egg custard) and crushed his pills for him to swallow, and he had sweet tea to drink.

Arthur is sleeping a lot. He shows little interest in television, or what is going on in the wider world and that scares me. He did watch some of the news last night, though, but no programs.  Normally by Friday he has mapped out his weekend football viewing choices and set up the recording schedule on Foxtel IQ. I hope this is just tiredness from the move home. I fed him his food and passed him his drinks, and made him comfortable. He has me and the dogs for company and I hope he picks up soon.

The AXXXX co-ordinator and OT came out with the first service visit and assessed him. He is at maximum service level now anyway. The nurse came came today because Arthur had a dressing from the nursing home, on his bottom. She found a small skin break and applied a fresh dressing.

While the respite worker was here I went back to the nursing home to get Arthur's gear. At Arthur's suggestion I bought a bowl and filled it with fruit for David, his room-mate. David was younger, still mobile, and they were good together. They talked but respected each other's need for privacy. When Arthur was leaving, David gave Arthur a little Buddha statue and also a little clock and tried to give him his watch, until the staff stepped in. I bought David a little dog statue. They have each something that is important to the other. David wished us luck. He said he would not be leaving the home until he was dead. He said he was in another one before, but this one was nicer. David doesn't smoke, is very friendly and respectful. He has family who visit, and he talks of his mother, and what she was wearing when she died. David has a clear understanding of death and seems to accept it as a reality.

Arthur is sleeping now, without a sleeping tablet. He is next to me, with the dogs all around, under the wool quilt. I have my computer next to the bed and I can type in the warmth. I am more relaxed with him here, and for a little while I can pretend nothing has changed, just for a minute. As my memories fill in the present moment, they lure me into thinking tomorrow the sun will come, and Arthur will wake me with the sounds of vegetables being prepared for the evening's meal, the scent of the grapefruit he has squeezed and the aroma of coffee with toast. I remember those Sundays when Arthur would make me breakfast in bed, as I was getting up early for work every weekday.  Or maybe I will think it is a Saturday morning in the local soccer season, in the 1990's and we are going to get up early to pack the car to go to the soccer club (where Arthur was the Team Manager for over 25 years) for the day. 

But it will not be. We will wake to morning of the 7th of May, 2011, when the only thing we share is pure love, and pain.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Arthur came home today, by ambulance. We had a problem getting him in through the tight angles of the doorways and in the end, we put him in the hospital bed in the lounge-room. We couldn't get him into the big bed.

The first thing he asked for was a cup of hot sweet tea, and the first comment he made was, "This won't be for too long, I know it."

The dogs were all over him, and Chelsea was straight under his blankets. I took photos. His room-mate, David, gave him a little Buddha as a present and I am going to make sure David gets a copy of the photos of Arthur with the dogs. It just goes to show that you are never too old to make someone else happy.

Less than 24 hours to Arthur's Homecoming.

Arthur is anxious, I am anxious. We both do not know how I am going to get on caring for him at home.

I think now Arthur has an appreciation of how hard it will be for me to do alone what a team of people do for him in the nursing home. We both fear I will fail. I do not know if I can do it but I can only try.

I am surprised at how much I am stressed by Arthur coming home tomorrow. Am I reluctant to take up the load again? Maybe I have become used to someone else doing it all and me just being the visitor, bringing the special treats and taking the dogs to visit.

Depressive feelings have caused inertia and everything is not done yet. I have to travel to the other side of the city tomorrow to buy a second-hand manual patient-lifter. I can't afford an electric one that I would really like. Arthur will get back about 3pm so I have to be here by then. I need to mentally prepare myself and reorient back into the carer role. I wonder when I will be able to walk the dogs on the beach again? I wonder if I can get enough respite to do that? Three hours a week is really only enough for shopping and appointments.

I want Arthur to be safe and comfortable in his own home. Why cannot there be enough services to do that? It is almost as if they want him to be in a nursing home. He does not have to be, he just needs two personal care visits a day and some weekly respite.

On Anzac Day, 25th of April, I took Arthur's suit coat with his war medal sewn on, in to him and we watched the march, televised on TV, together. A couple of weeks ago, I tried to get Arthur to agree go to the Anzac Day March in his motorized wheelchair, but he wouldn't countenance it.

I went in to watch the Royal Wedding with him on 29 April but he wanted to watch the English Premier League match on the laptop, so I joined the residents the TV room until his match was over, then we watched the carriages going back to Buckingham Palace together.

I take the dogs every time and the other residents very much like them. Maria, who always drops hints about chocolate, looks for the dogs every time and Arthur's room mate, David, who likes Buddha statues, loves to pat them. I wish I could take the dogs for a visit occasionally but I suppose that will never eventuate, but I do want to print some photos of the dogs and Arthur and give them to Maria and David.

I must put that task on my list too.