• Kay

A sad but sensible decision


After a bright and early start, the young members of the household are up and prepared for Mickey’s arrival at 8am (not easy for Meave!). I spend some time doing little jobs outside before getting dad up. First, I collected my last 12 zinnias from the polytunnel to add to the companion planting around the leeks. Whilst in this section of the vegetable garden I realise that my white passion flowers … that grow over one of the arches are swinging about a bit too freely. I fetch the old swimming pool ladder so I can reach to tie them in. I then dead head all of the dahlias and I am just coming in to see to dad when the phone rings.

It is one of the Occupational Therapist from Hillingdon hospital to discuss Jean’s impending discharge. I start by explaining that since the conversation with an OT last week I am reaching the conclusion that I will not be able to manage her care at home myself. I tearfully express my fears about frequent visits from multiple carers, because of the risk of Covid infection to dad and Patrick. I also tell her that dad’s needs are increasing and one of the problems with having him and Jean together, both with dementia, is she asks him to do things for her that then put him at risk because he is so frail. The OT reassures me by explaining that after multidisciplinary meetings, they have reached the same conclusion. Jean can only tolerate sitting in a chair for half hour periods and therefore needs moving between bed and chair every half hour and it takes two to three people to move her. The hospital is now recommending a placement in a nursing home which due to the Covid situation should happen quite quickly. She tells me that doctors will call me and they will keep me updated.

I am literally crying with relief after the phone call because although the last few weeks have been wonderful respite, only having to care for one elderly person, I have been worried the entire time about how I would cope when Jean returned. The whole situation is very sad and one of the saddest things has been that although Jean has spent four and a half months with us, she never really knew where she was. She just about recognised dad, but she thought she was in a very nice care-home and that the girls and I were carers, which was quite disheartening. All I can do now is pray for some relief and comfort for Jean and send her our love. Feeling rather drained, I go out to the front field to continue where I left off yesterday. There is still one small section of bed to weed and then I bring round plants from the cold frame that I intend to plant in the newly cleared areas. I have eight Munstead lavenders, 18 white cosmos and 13 Verbascum ‘Snowy Spires’, but before I get going properly, I receive another phone call from Hillingdon hospital, this time from a doctor. This doctor has been very kind at keeping me informed about Jean’s progress, I think this is the fourth time I’ve spoken to her. We talk about what has already been discussed with the OT and she agrees with their assessment saying even if Jean was sent home with the biggest care package available she thought it would still be too much to cope with and Jean would quickly end up back in hospital. I was very upset again but she reassured me that Jean was comfortable and it was in her best interests to go to a nursing home.

When I go back outside I randomly decided to lie on the trampoline, partly because I felt completely exhausted but also to foil Minxy the cat who was sneakily sitting underneath the trampoline hoping to catch a bird! After a short while I attempt to climb off the trampoline, not very successfully. I stumble and fall backwards on the grass and bang the back of my head and squash my toe! I am a very clumsy person, I slipped over completely in the mud pushing a wheel barrow only a few days ago and coated my entire back and legs with mud! I’ve broken toes enough times to recognise that I’m pretty sure I’ve broken my fourth toe. I hobble off initially intending to ignore it, but realising it is rather painful to walk. Luckily I’m not short of medical supplies after acting as Jean’s nurse for so long, so I tape my forth toe to my middle toe which is very effective and then slowly plant in my patient waiting plants. When they are safely in the ground I decide to call it a day and go in and put my feet up it has been a long and traumatic day and probably sitting on my bed is the safest place for me!

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