It’s a beautiful sunny Bank Holiday Monday. The good news is that Roch has gone to watch the football at Brentford – and I am so pleased for him! He hasn’t brought the new wheelchair, although it has been returned to us and they say they have fixed it. We are not entirely convinced, and felt that it was too risky to rely on it for Brentford today. He has gone in ‘old reliable’, which they have left with us for the present. The bad news is I feel pretty shit today so although I now have some precious time to myself – I have no interest in doing anything or going anywhere. I do have to do some grocery shopping, however, so first, I drive to Tesco.
Before I leave, I make a list. I am good at lists. Half way there, I realise that I have left my list behind, but I figure I can remember most of the stuff, so I drive on, somewhat distracted by the maniac who appears to be rally driving behind me. However, as I take my turn for Tesco, he races off somewhere else, much to my relief. It is then, as I park the car in the Tesco car park that I realise I have left my wallet and purse behind. No worries, I think, although my heart sinks at the thought of having to drive home and back again, but back home I go. Having retrieved my list, wallet and purse, I set off once more. This more or less sets the scene for the rest of the afternoon. In Tesco I drift around the aisles in a mental fog but aided by my list (I would never have been able to make a decision without it) I finally arrive at the checkout and manage to behave like a normal person, even remembering my pin number and smiling in a friendly way at the young man who serves me. Somehow it all seems so boring and pointless. But I’m pleased with the bunch of white roses, which I buy for the bedroom, to replace the wilting stems presently adorning the sideboard.
Home again, I tear a bottle of mineral water from its plastic packaging and drink thirstily. I need to put the perishables in the ‘fridge but as I cast an eye over the shelves I remember guiltily that a number of items are past their best and need to be chucked. Trying not to think about the wastefulness, I duly remove the bad food and replace with the fresh stuff. By now I am hot and bothered and anxious to use my free time for ‘myself’, so I hurry upstairs and select a sun top (a bit revealing but no-one will see me, at the same time I notice a stain on my trouser leg – dammit! – so I change into different trousers – why I think I have to do this, is beyond me). Flip flops replace my ‘good’ sandals. I should use this time to paint my toes, really, I think. Pink nail varnish beckons. On my way out of the bedroom I hesitate – should I put on a wash? I glance at the pile of clothes on top of my laundry basket. I suppose I should. Grabbing the clothes plus my mineral water (I am already clutching my nail varnish plus base coat) I hurry downstairs and fill the machine. Now, ME time. It’s a sun trap out there, so I spray some sun protection on (brand new from Tesco) and I’m just about to go outside to the garden when…I spot my roses. Oh no, I can’t leave them there, have to organise them. But now I’m in a hurry so I randomly start choosing stems, cutting them and sticking them in my lovely vase. I stand back and realise that although the blooms are gorgeous I have pretty much made an arse of the arrangement. This figures but I can’t be bothered to give them more attention. The roses go into the bedroom. Great, now all I have to do is sit down in the sun and do my nails. I settle myself on one of our rickety garden chairs and prepare to enjoy my ‘me’ time. Base coat on, I close my eyes and try to relax. But there’s too much going on in my head.
We’ve had a bit of a setback of late. Over the past few months, Roch’s shoulder muscles have wasted considerably and this has led to new problems. It’s uncomfortable for him to lie on his side, especially his right side, and some mornings his right shoulder has been painful. We were advised by the physio to try some gentle exercises – lubricate the joint, so to speak. I must say I haven’t been great at remembering to do this. It’s only been when Roch has complained of the pain/discomfort that I’ve remembered, and each time, after exercise, the shoulder has improved. Last Thursday his shoulder was giving him problems and so we did some exercising. The physio was due to visit that day and so I suggested that he mention it to her, just to make sure we were exercising it properly. It was one of my work days and when I got home, Roch told me that his shoulder was so painful, he couldn’t use it at all. She had done some work on it, although he said it hadn’t hurt at the time. Perhaps it was a coincidence and would have happened anyway, but I couldn’t help feeling cross. I was cross with myself, too. I can’t help wondering if I had been more consistent with exercising that shoulder, would it have reacted so badly when she worked on it?
It hurt so much that he couldn’t put any weight on it, which meant he couldn’t use his rollator at all or help himself up using his right arm, so having a piss by himself, which he can sometimes manage, was out of the question – even eating was a problem. We adapted quickly and once more, the hoist has come into its own. Thank goodness we had had the bed moved, as I can position the hoist perfectly in the bedroom now, and lower him onto the bed/raise him up, as required. The Lenor bottle must be used at present all the time. Not having the use of his shoulder and arm has made him more dependent. I look at him and see how physically diminished he has become. Today I find it hard to be optimistic.
Tom has helped out on a number of occasions, using the hoist and helping his father to piss into a bottle. I wasn’t sure about asking him to do this but they have managed it between them with a mixture of humour and mutual respect. It can’t have been easy for either of them.
I guess last night didn’t help either – I am so hopeless when my sleep is disturbed, and last night Roch needed the toilet at 3.00am. It must be hard to have to wake your partner from a deep sleep to ask them for help. How rotten not to be able to just get up and go off to the bathroom yourself? With the bad shoulder, he could never attempt it, so I duly stumbled round with the hoist to bring him out but whenever I have to get up at night (and it’s not often) I find it harder to face what lies ahead.
Roch went to the doctor on Friday and she prescribed strong anti-inflammatory medication, together with tablets to protect the stomach. His shoulder is improving and today he used the rollator again. But as I sit in the sunshine, painting my toes a frivolous pink, I cannot fully relax. I just can’t do it. I feel anxious, depressed and tired. The sunshine is lovely, our garden is, as always a haven of greenery and birdsong but I know that what I really need to do is sit down at my laptop and blog. And so, sitting at our kitchen table with a cup of rooibos tea and that same bottle of mineral water, I start to type.