Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 12 Apr, 2024

Friday

Went to The Home at about 9am. Mum’s not-rightness had been playing on my mind.

The Manager was with Gina in her office.

“You’re bright and early this morning Nick!”

“Well, I’m certainly ‘early’. I’m not so sure about ‘bright’.”

The Manager asked how I was coping so I must’ve looked like I wasn’t. I handed them my phone and let them read what I wrote about Mum yesterday while I got myself signed in.

Among the comments they made was the news that the doors to the rooms are sound-sensitive. I’d forgotten that. They’re fire-resistant and the catches are supposed to release and allow the doors to close when the fire alarms go off. But the catches will release in response to any really loud noise. That gave a good indication as to how loudly Mum had been yelling.

Gina also said that Mum had been alright when she visited her early yesterday morning.

“But now you’ve read about what I saw yesterday, do you think she might have a UTI?”.

They certainly thought it was possible and they could do a preliminary test in-house.

I carried on through to the Nurses’ office. It looked like Reggie was in the hot seat for the day. I told him what had been going on.

“I’ll just go see if Mum’s still weird and I’ll be right back” I said.

“Hello Mum! How are you doing?”

“Alright”

I took her hand. I had a distinct feeling she didn’t know who I was.

“It’s Nick”

“IS IT!? Did you bring {indistinct} with you?”

“No, it’s just me at the moment. I just wanted to see how you are. I’ll be back later.”

“Oh, alright then. Warm your hands up next time!”

I reported back to Reggie and he told me he’d get one of the team to fit a Newcastle Pad.

Nothing more I could do. I had to leave them to it.

I returned later to be told that they hadn’t been able to collect enough urine to test. The plan was to call an out-of-hours doctor if Mum started to deteriorate or to wait until Monday when the GP surgery opened. I trust them to make the right call. I also learned that Mum had had a lengthy episode of screaming and crying during the afternoon.

I couldn’t hear any shouting on the way to Mum’s room and assumed she was alright.

“Hello Mum! It’s Nick”

“I thought as much”

“You’ve kicked your duvet off. Shall I get your bed all straightened out?”

“No. I’m alright”

I ignored her and did it anyway The was a lot of “Oh, Blimey!” but she did say she was more comfortable afterwards.

“Can I have a cup of tea?… Say YES”

“Yep, I’ll get you one.”

“Get four!”

I headed back to the lounge.

“Could Iris please have a cup of tea? She’s asked for four but we’ll start with one for now.”

“Are they for all her friends?”

Everyone was aware of the Other People that Mum has with her now. It used to be that she would only acknowledge they were there when I was with her. It was such an exclusive experience that I used to think that they were coming in with me. I prefer to think that she’s so used to the staff that she doesn’t need to hide them now, not that these hallucinations were getting a lot worse.

I let Terri make the tea. She knows how to make it the way Mum likes it. The temperature is all important. Just hot enough to be drinkable. Definitely not so hot that someone with poor coordination is going to take too big a sip of something that will scald them.

Even though Mum talked non-stop I managed to get her to drink the entire cup. I even returned the empty cup to Terri in triumph. I thanked her again. She immediately recorded the fluid consumption on her hand-held device.

Mum’s conversation was as surreal as expected. She was all over the place. The Other People weren’t like the usual ones. Other People are normally children but they’re always benign. She likes them and they make her laugh sometimes. This batch didn’t seem to be as nice. At one point, she looked at someone who was standing behind me.

“You’d better watch out for her. She’ll try and hit you.”

“Really!? She hasn’t tried to hit you has she Mum!?”

“No.” she said, in very much a “And I’ll give her what for if she does!” tone.

She spoke at length about Mrs Banks. I’ve never heard of a Mrs Banks and I couldn’t understand the answer when I asked Mum who she was.

Similarly, someone called Ann had been to see her earlier and from the tone I was expected to know who that was.

I didn’t.

I managed to pick up that something unfortunate had happened to Ann judging by the tone she used. I tried to stay in the conversation by empathising.

“That sounds awful Mum. What a shame.”

“Yeah. Poor little bitch”

Some time later she spoke to Ann as if she was sitting next to her. She talked to Ann a lot.

The conversation with Ann was halted abruptly.

“That’s my son over there!”.

Had she lost track of who I was or did she mean my brother? Neither. The name she gave was one of her grandsons.

The conversation carried on as before. No discernible thread. No talk of going home. I had a pang of self-doubt. Was I doing any good listening to the ramblings of a woman suffering the effects of an infection or was I just collecting odd anecdotes so I had something to write about? Either way, she wasn’t actually talking to me much any more and I decided that I’d had enough.

“Lesley’s sent me a message saying that the dog has rolled in something foul and stinky and that it’s my job to go home and give it a bath. I’ll do that now and I’ll see you tomorrow”

“You won’t you know! You’ve got to come back here later!”

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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