Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 2 Apr, 2024

Tuesday

The Manager greeted me as I was signing in at The Home this afternoon. He tells me that the storm damage above Mum’s original room is now fixed and the room has been redecorated. I knew that because it’s already got a resident in it.

“Is your Mum happy with the room she’s in now or would she like us to move her back to her old room?” he asks.

“Mum? Happy? Well…”

“Haha! OK. Are YOU happy with the room she’s in now?”.

I think she’s as happy as she’s going to be where she is right now and, frankly, I don’t think she knows she’s not in the same room as when she first arrived. When she came back downstairs I’d been telling her that the room looked different because it had been redecorated and the bed was facing the other way. I did that just to reduce the impact of all the upheaval. I actually think this room gives Mum more stimulation from seeing people as they go about their work. She can see the door out to the laundry and there’s a constant stream of people in and out there. I suggested that when (or if!) we get some better weather then Mum’s bed could be turned round to face the window as there will be more activity out in the garden.

“So what do you think the chances are that we could get your Mum out IN the garden?” he asks.

“I’ve been through this with Mum any number of times and she can see the logic as I explain it step by step. If she was to let them get her out of bed it would improve her appetite and her digestion. She’d feel better and get stronger. I dangle the carrot that if she were to get strong enough to get out of bed on her own and get as far as the toilet then we could start thinking about getting her back home. I don’t tell her how unlikely that is though. She agrees with all of that until I actually ask her outright whether she’s going to let them get her out of bed. She either says a flat ‘NOPE!’ or is so keen that I don’t believe she means it. But isn’t it going to be difficult now that she can’t sit up without being propped up?”

They do have, apparently, some super deluxe recliner wheelchairs that were brought in for previous residents. She should be able to cope with one of those. We agreed that I’ll get notice when they’re going to try that so I can free up several hours and then I can sit with her. Because I can absolutely guarantee that she’ll hate every minute.

When I got to Mum I found that she still wasn’t properly awake. This Sleepy phase has lasted longer than normal. She wasn’t totally unresponsive but she wasn’t with it enough to try and speak yet either. I was able to understand that she’d consented to being read to, that she didn’t want a drink, that her shoulders were cold and that her legs were stiff and painful. They would be. She hadn’t moved for three days.

I’d got halfway through a story about the beautiful princess and the assistance she got on her quest from a rare talking blue lobster and Mum was just going back to sleep when her supper arrived.

To be honest, I was on the point of giving up reading anyway. I was fighting a losing battle with the resident next door in Mum’s old room. She was talking non-stop the whole time to the Other People she had in her room with her. Bill Dring’s writing has a beautiful lyrical rhythm to it. It’s clearly written to be read out loud. But I couldn’t compete with 

“You’re dead, and you’re dead, and you’re dead and BOP, BOP, BOP! You’re dead too!” or

“A cup of tea? That’s lovely, thank-you!” with the occasional

“Stop doing that, you dirty old bugger!”

None of the staff question whether I’ll assist with Mum’s meals now. They just leave me to get on with it. Supper consists of a vanilla flavoured fortified smoothie and two Weetabix with cream and sugar. To her credit, she did drink the smoothie. All 200ml of it. But she only managed half of one of the Weetabix before she turned her head away. That took an hour. It might not sound like much but that’s normal for this stage in Mum’s Sleepy/Active cycle.

It felt like like I’d been there for ever but at least the worst and longest visit of the week was over.

Bibliography

The Enchanted Village of Johnshaven

Kindle Edition

by Bill Dring

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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