Sunday, January 10, 2016
Step Together Two Together
The postie made it to the farm, so I took that as A Sign that I could escape for long enough to buy the Saturday newspapers and some essential groceries. There was just one area of flooding between us and civilisation and I drove very slowly through it without incident.
FL had eaten breakfast: a melange of tinned rice pudding, blueberries and chopped pear with a dash of cinnamon. He slept through lunchtime, but I am used to that now.
However, when he woke at around 6pm he was confused and incoherent. He wanted to go to the toilet but couldn't get out of his chair.
I eventually managed to tuck his chin over my shoulder to lift him and we shuffled towards the bathroom. However, he was falling asleep as we "danced". I had to concentrate really hard to keep him upright while negotiating doors and light switches.
He detests the raised plastic toilet seat with handles which the Occupational Therapist provided, but I knew that I would never get him up again if he didn't have the rails to lean on.
I left him there for a while to ponder.
But he was asleep again almost as soon as he sat down.
I visited him a few times to try to keep his mind on the job at hand, but he couldn't even pee.
After about half an hour, I decided the risk of hypothermia in our frosty bathroom was too high, and persuaded him to return to his chair. I am still not sure how we made it there in one piece.
I cooked dinner, but could not wake him to eat.
I tried again at "pill time" but he couldn't open his eyes and was muttering incoherently.
By 10pm I was getting desperate. I managed to rouse him enough to take most of his pills. I didn't attempt the bone-strengtheners as there are four of them and they felt like a bit of a luxury when he was struggling to swallow his morphine.
I made his hot water bottle and thought we could repeat the 6pm shuffle through to the bedroom.
I tucked my arms under his, with his chin on my shoulder and slowly stood up. He was trying to help me, but his legs just kept giving way. We were almost upright, when he lurched back down towards his chair, but he was too far from the edge and he and the cushions slid unceremoniously onto the floor in a heap, taking the telephone, his radio and a glass of water with him on the way down.
It was a relatively soft landing due to the cushions.
He had his eyes shut, but was still conscious, if confused.
I covered him with a blanket and tidied the debris.
Then I tried to summon help.
We have neighbours, but we are not on particularly good terms with any of them. I was considering trying the middle ones, who are the most human, when I remembered that there were no cars outside. They had all taken the opportunity to get out while the roads were clear: the nearest set is pregnant, the middle set work shifts, and the furthest away one is not to be spoken of.
So NHS 24 it was.
It took forever to get through, and then another forever for the operator to find FL on the system. It would appear that the "new" GP is not yet fully functioning despite taking over FL's practice in October. The operator eventually managed to identify FL as a "palliative patient" and said she would try to contact Marie Curie for assistance.
This was good news - I thought it might mean FL would actually get some proper support if we were referred to Marie Curie!
However, it was the local district nurse service that rang back. They were quite reluctant to come out - did we not have friends or family? Were we really completely alone?!
It took them almost an hour to find us. I had explained the need to ignore the Road Closed sign, but the nurse was not impressed that this meant she had to drive through some shallow water to reach us. I had assumed they would have a "proper" car, if their job involved driving through Aberdeenshire in winter in the dead of night, but it was no better than mine (a small hatchback).
One of the two nurses was also phobic about dogs, so Hero had to be shut in the study for the duration of the visit.
However, they came. They were very efficient in waking FL and lifting him back onto his chair.
They didn't perform any medical checks other than to ask him if he was alright. He had his eyes shut again by this point and did not answer.
They quizzed me about the whereabouts of his "blue book" (he doesn't have one - should he?) and did not seem to believe that we did not have "carers" or a zimmer frame or a wheelchair or indeed any of the other things I have been campaigning for since before Christmas.
And then they started to put their coats on to leave...
No, stop, please, can you help me get him to bed?!
They seemed quite surprised by my request... even though it was midnight and I had explained that this was how he came to land on the floor in the first place!
So they each took and arm and escorted him to the bathroom. I said he had not managed a pee since the morning and they agreed that was not good. But he still failed to perform. Their mobile phones had not stopped ringing since they arrived and it was clear that he was not the only elderly patient to fall that night. So after a short pause it was agreed he would just have to go to bed without passing water.
I cannot imagine what they thought of our bedroom, which was still in its post-flooding state, with furniture pushed against the walls and curtains looped up on the windowsills to keep dry. But it was no time to be houseproud.
Trousers off, legs up, woolly hat on. Night night Mr Mac.
And off they went.
Today has been ok so far. He managed a scarily dark pee into a bucket before he got up, and had a couple of spoons of rice for breakfast.
We discussed the events of the night before and he agreed with me that we can't go on like this.
He was still awake when I came back from walking the dog, but fell asleep at about 11am and is still spark out now (6pm).
I have been knitting.
I just have to hope that I can get some sense out of someone tomorrow.