In New York

In New York

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A funny old trip

Well, we made it to Dublin and we've been staying in my brother's house since Thursday night. We can't stay at my mother's anymore as it's not suitable for Roch. So a big thank you to Dermot and Emer, because being able to stay here means a lot. Roch feels safe here. It's like a home from home for him. There's even a Nespresso machine...

It really doesn't seem a week since we left London for Holyhead. We broke up the journey and stayed at a Travelodge hotel in Wales last Wednesday night. We had booked a disabled room and they did their best - shame he couldn't use the shower. To use it, you had to step into the bath. Well,that's completely out of the question for Roch. No amount of hand rails will help if a person can't lift their feet up. Happily the disabled cabin on Irish Ferries had a great wet room attached. Shame the cabin itself was so tiny with no turning room for the wheelchair...

The Ireland visit feels different this time round. Roch asked me the other day if I thought his condition had worsened since we came to Dublin. I don't think it has. But somehow being out of his 'comfort zone', has thrown the condition into relief. He seems worse here. The children have noticed and it's not easy for them. It's not like other holidays. Dad can't do things like before and they feel a bit lost.

There was a big family party on Saturday - all Roch's family gathered together to celebrate a 21st birthday and also to celebrate Roch being home again. I think they were shocked when they saw how difficult it is for him to walk now. There has been a change since Christmas, which is when some of them saw him last. But it was a great day, and I know Roch felt the warmth of the love and affection around him. He really felt valued. Many thanks to Paudie and his lovely wife Ger who went to such trouble making sure everything was in place for him, including ramps at the front and back doors.

But it's a funny old trip. Everything is so familiar - it's us who are different. It's hard to keep the sadness at bay. I think it's worse in Ireland. Why is that?

Today, he and his brothers and sisters have set off for Kilkenny, to see the Holy Man (Fr. Roch, Roch's uncle). It was something Roch was very keen to do. Fr. Roch has been very faithful since Roch's diagnosis. They left here a short while ago, two cars in convoy. I hope they have a good day. I know Roch's in good hands.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Never a dull moment.

Last Thursday I attended a Carer's Workshop, organised by Richmond Carers. This time it was First Aid (British Red Cross Qualification). The trainer was excellent. I'd want her there if I needed first aid, let me tell you. I am enormously pleased that I was able to attend and that I passed! Having done it, I now wonder how on earth Tom and Kate survived their childhood as I really only had the faintest idea of what to do in a first aid emergency before last Thursday. Lucky, I guess. Tom is very lucky. I did know it was important to tilt the chin of an unconscious person to keep the airway open - but I only knew it because a paramedic told Roch to do this years ago on the horrific occasion when Tom stopped breathing and Roch rang for an ambulance. We didn't know to do it until we were told. Happy story, Tom recovered. Now I know exactly what to do. It all came back to me as our instructor brought us through the correct procedure and I felt a bit wobbly for a moment.

We practised CPR on some very unlife-like dummies - it's really not as easy as it looks on TV. Casualty has a lot to answer for.

So there we are, settling down for the night and I remark to Roch that I am now equipped to deal with a medical emergency and can confidently carry out CPR if necessary. He's reading and without looking up he says 'Maybe I won't want you to.' Typical. 'Well, be sure and let me know,' I reply. After a pause I ask a serious question -'At the moment you'd want me to, right?'
He thinks for a moment. 'Yeah, I can still get a lot of pleasure from life, and give pleasure too, I hope.' He returns to Ambrose Bierce. 'Yeah, you can go ahead at the moment.'
'Well, let me know if it changes,' I say.
Never a dull moment.

Monday, 4 July 2011

The monkey's reach extends...

For some time now Roch has been trying to reach a decision about work. Fatigue is becoming more of an issue and he feels he is less efficient now - simply reaching for a file, holding a file - the things we do hundreds of times in work without thinking - are becoming impossible for him. There may be answers to the practical problems in the short term and no doubt some of these are coming to your mind as you read this. But the bottom line is that he is losing an important part of his identity. Roch was in complete control of his job - intellectually he is still in control but his body is failing him. It is too tiring, soon he will not be able to get through all the work - already he feels diminished and the thought of having to relinquish this part of his life, this huge part of who he is, is deeply sorrowful for him. There are short term solutions, as I say, and we talked about this last night - but essentially his working life is beginning to draw to a close and there is nothing good about this. It is not fair to be robbed of this so early.
Here is a man who reached an excellence and expertise in his position many would envy, who earned the healthy respect of his professional opponents and inspired the admiration and affection of his co-workers over more than twenty years. Roch there are no words of comfort as you see your professional life slipping away from you - but you will always have that respect and you will always have the admiration and affection of your co-workers and the gratitude of the multitudinous 'punters' you have dealt with over the years (ok some of them won't be so grateful, but you know what I mean). Few can boast such a successful career.