Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 11 Apr, 2024

Thursday

I visited The Home on my way back from the gym. During the week I had been plagued by agonising knots in my quads, glutes and adductors. I’d be walking along, minding my own business, and one leg or other would just suddenly lock. And then, just as suddenly, all would be fine again. But I’d been fine all day and felt good as I walked into the gym.

A session starts with some work with a hard foam roller, some stretches and a warm-up on the treadmill. During the roller work I always pay attention to the Teardrop – the vastus medialis – as that’s been a problem before. Agony. Same with the IlioTibial Band on the other leg. More agony. So that was half of the program in the bin right there.

Harry, my trainer, is convinced this is stress-related. I’m convinced this is stress-related.

A hastily re-jigged session successfully took my biceps, triceps, pecs and lats to absolute failure and delivered a PB on the bench press. Some rehab work on my legs left them feeling better than they had since, well, since the last session. Even my kneecaps looked like they were sitting at the right angle.

So I was feeling pretty mellow when I got to The Home and it looked like everyone there did too. But when I got to the rear lounge I could hear someone yelling furiously. It sounded like a colossal argument. And the noise was coming from further up the corridor.

When I got to Mum’s room, the door was shut. When I opened it she was screaming and shouting at someone in the room with her. It was really venomous. She saw the door open and stopped mid-flow.

“Uncle Tom?”

“It’s Nick Mum”

“Oh”

She sounded disappointed and carried on shouting at a person who I understood to be the mother of the chap who’d lived next door to us when I was little. She did calm down fairly quickly but the upset clearly lingered because she asked me where the chap was a number of times during the visit.

While she was still shouting, though, I went back to see the staff in the lounge.

“She’s hyperactive today” said Sean, helpfully.

“You’re not bloody kidding! Is that why her door was shut?”

Sean and Al confirmed that Mum had been hyper all day but hadn’t realised her door was shut so hadn’t appreciated how loudly she was shouting. That meant the argument hadn’t been going on long because the checks on well-being are pretty frequent and they would’ve known.

Mum talked and talked as she regained her composure and it was all quite surreal stuff. The one identifiable thread running through it all was the preparation that needed to be done prior to her leaving.

Her grasp of who I was wasn’t consistent. At various points she was convinced I was Uncle Tom. She told me, or him, she didn’t know what she’d do without him. Or me obviously.

Some of the highlights included the following…

“Before we go, go upstairs to the bedroom, OUR room, and get my favourite spoon.”

“Your favourite spoon Mum?”

“Yeah. My FAVOURITE spoon. Go on! Quick! Hurry up!!”

Standard procedure was carried out. Go out into the corridor, count to ten and return to report the task had been satisfactorily completed. There was a lot of that.

At one point she lifted the duvet and showed me all the children under it.

“We need to take all the kids’ things with us.”

“Their stuff’s all packed up already Mum. When I went for your spoon I saw a box with their names on it.”

“Oh good. They’re right little sods though.”

“They might be little sods Mum, but you wouldn’t be without them would you”

“No. I wouldn’t be without them.”

During an episode when she must’ve thought I was Uncle Tom she started complaining.

“I don’t think Nicholas is being fair.”

“Nicholas?”

“Yeah. Nicholas.”

“What’s he done? Or what hasn’t he done. He can be an idle bugger you know”

“He’s a silly bugger. He won’t let me leave this place”

“Well, he must have his reasons”

She wasn’t convinced.

Her thoughts got progressively closer to the date and time of her departure. To start with, her preferred leaving date was Sunday. That became Friday. She finally settled on “Tonight!”

She continued to add to the list of things that needed to go with her. She pointed vaguely across the room. I couldn’t tell what at.

“What about that contraption? Can we take that do you think?”

“What, that!? But it’s huge!”

“I’m taking it”

Eventually, she got to the “Right! Help me up! We’re leaving!” stage.

“We can’t leave Mum. You haven’t had your evening meds yet and there’s so much stuff to go with you I’m going to have to get a van. You need an early night. Get your head down and get some kip so we can start bright and early in the morning”

“Yeah. Alright.”

And with that, she lay down, pulled the duvet up and closed her eyes. I don’t know if she actually went to sleep or not. I didn’t hang around to find out.

This was all very odd and unexpected. This should’ve been the Calm & Lucid day. Absolutely Furious days are very rare. Not knowing it’s me who is with her is very rare. Other People in the room with her this early in the cycle is unusual. That level of impatience this early in the cycle is unusual. Reggie had been saying for ages how long it had been since Mum had been yelling. Back when she was yelling it had been for me, not at someone else in the room with her.

Only much later did I recall, albeit vaguely, Steve saying something about watching out for mood swings and disturbing hallucinations.

Something’s not right.

Bloody hell.

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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