Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 26 Mar, 2024

Tuesday

An early start today. Lesley has to take her dad back to the hospital again. This time it’s to get the results of his biopsy. It’s not quite definite yet but it’s looking very much like he’s got Desmoplastic Mesothelioma. Having read a little about it I can understand why they think they need a bit more time to be confident about the diagnosis. The hisopathology can look like another disease. But he’s being well looked after – the team responsible for palliative care at home are already in place and plenty of information has been provided about the disease and where to go to get help with compensation claims. Even if he’d wanted treatment (he doesn’t) he was told he’s not fit enough to be able to endure any of them and they may provide little benefit anyway.

What with the drive to collect him, the drive to Oxford, a lengthy and distressing consult, a request to stop at a garden centre where they do a big fry-up that he enjoys on the way home, more admin back at his house and a call to her sister who is half a dozen time zones away with an update, Lesley is utterly drained. It’s taken all day.

On top of all that, there’s constant Information Censorship to manage. He seems quite content for his neighbours and the people who have a lot of contact with him locally to know about the seriousness of his situation but he’s adamant that his family back up north shouldn’t be told. Actually, it’s only one particular relative he’s worried about because she’ll kick up a big fuss and will bother him all the time. It means that none of the others can be told because if one knows, they all will.

I’m not sure I’m in total agreement with pandering to this instruction. Lesley’s already going through a period of maximum stress so even a little bit extra has a huge impact. It means she has to be extra careful talking to any of them and will make her feel like she has to outright lie to them when they ask how he is. The effect is that she’s avoiding talking to any of them just at the point when she could do with their support the most. And she knows she’s just storing up a massive row when they do, inevitably, find out and she incurs their wrath when they find out they’ve been kept in the dark. All because this relative is such a pain in the bloody arse and he can’t cope with her.

In the meantime, The Dog and I have had a great day. The weather was glorious and because it was just the two of us she got to choose the walk. Unsurprisingly, we went down the bridle way to the river, along the riverside path to the nature reserve, cut through the field where the rabbits are and come home down the lanes. It’s more than 12,000 steps of sunshine, sniffs, mud and some wildlife to chase. It’s fantastic therapy. Having to give 100% concentration to making sure she doesn’t get tangled up in the long line, keeping her from rolling in or eating anything unsavoury and avoiding sudden encounters with another dog she might not like the look of is like 2+ hours of intense mindfulness.

But she’s as good as gold the entire time, enjoys a large lunch and sleeps for five hours solid.

I don’t get to The Home until just before the end of the day shift. Half the shift are in the coffee lounge eating. Reggie greets me and instead of asking how I am or telling me how Mum’s been he asks how Lesley is.

“Your Mum’s stopped yelling for you during the day completely now” he says. The rest of the team agree

“And this morning I was telling her about my friend Nick and she said that he does come in sometimes to see her” he adds.

“Hmm,” I say, “I do wonder sometimes whether she knows who I am some days. Especially when she talks to me about Nick coming to see her. But then one of the Other People in the room with her is called Nick too”

As I pass through The Home I say hello to Eleanor but she doesn’t recognise me, I check in with Juliette to make sure I’d done the form right and to reassure her that I hadn’t rummaged around on her desk as Al had found it for me. Then I prepare myself for being greeted by Audrey. I decide to get in first with the dispensing of advice.

“I’d cancel your plans for going out tonight if I were you. It’s absolutely lashing down with rain out there now”

“Oh dear. Well you can always hang around here if you want” she replies

When I do get to Mum, I find her sound asleep. Totally unresponsive as expected. There is a row of untouched drinks on her table so she’s been gone for a while.

We’ve begun another cycle.

 

Author’s Note

My Mum is in a nursing home in a small village in the Thames Valley. The photo is not of the home. I used an AI image generator to give the reader some idea of the home she’s in.

All, some or maybe even none (you’ll never know!) of the names have been changed to protect privacy and hide real identities. If you think you recognise someone then let me know and I’ll edit the post or remove it entirely

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