November 7, 2015

Good news? Remind me what that is again?


Peter had a second stroke on the 7th of September.

I’ve got that far writing you a catch-up blog, and stalled, several times over the last two months*. Life-changing events of the negative sort perhaps often have that effect:  This is what’s happened. Noooooo. And your mind goes blank again.  As mine keeps doing.**

He was in hospital for not quite a fortnight*** and then went straight into a care home which is where he still is and where I wearily and dejectedly hope he stays. We’ll call it Rivendell:  that’s the sort of name care homes have, and its real one is almost as silly.†  He’s still Peter and he can still open one eye where he’s snoozing on his bed and put you right about a Shakespeare/Bible/Kipling/Housman/Hardy quote without fully waking up, but he is terrifyingly frail. Terrifyingly. Through Admetus’ kindness we’ve inherited Alcestis’ folding, fits-in-the-boot-of-your-car wheelchair, three-wheelie walker thing†† and flashy red-leather disabled badge holder.  We use all of them regularly.

This was not the plan. But the plan went south twelve years ago when Peter and I left the old house back in Warm Upford, because he was beginning to feel his age.  Plans change.  I don’t really know what the plan is now.  Get through today.  Get through tomorrow.  Get through next week. . . . †††

As you can imagine morale is not high. And there’s a lot of sheer business detail that someone has to attend to.  The brunt of it falls on me of course but all four of Peter’s kids are pitching in enormously.  This isn’t helping my staring into the endless dark at 3 am but it does mean that my mental and physical leaky-sieve qualities are not a disaster.  It also means that the three relatively local kids take him for proper outings.  He’s in Rivendell because it has by far the best reputation in the area, but it’s pretty much at the stretch of my ME-oppressed daily commuting distance.  I can take him to tea in Mauncester‡ and we’ve reinstated our lovely weekly library visits which involve books AND tea than which it does not get better‡‡ but that’s about it.  But Peter is presently having a comprehensive tour of all the local hot spots we never got around to visiting because we live here, compliments his indefatigable children.

My life is on hold‡‡‡; no bell ringing, no voice lessons, no Sams, no Street Pastors, no . . . whatever I used to do.  Some of it with Peter.  I may be forgetting.§  Except for Peter.  I remember Peter.§§

Ask me about my life in, oh, say six months.  Although I’ll try not to leave it that long before I post again.

* * *

* And started this one a week ago. It originally said ‘almost two months’.

** I suppose I could try blaming the ME. It does have its uses.  I’d rather not have it as a scapegoat and dustbin but as long as I do have it I might as well make it work for its keep.

*** And was about ready to steal a cardboard box and live on the street to get out. This seems to me a healthy, sensible attitude toward being in hospital.  If you need it you have to lump it but it’s not a fun time for anyone.  AND. THE.  FOOD.  Dear frelling subgod of food. You’d think that with a lot of sick people under your roof you would be deeply concerned with getting the best possible nutrition into them, wouldn’t you?  Instead so far as I can tell hospitals go to Central Nutritional Casting and order someone who can fill out a balance sheet and lives on Snickers bars.  And our local hospital, at whose table Peter has failed to feast on occasions previously, is far from the worst in this regard.^

^ Very slightly in their defense—very very slightly—he was on soft food for about the first week which limited the initial range.  But, you know, after that?  Um, say, SALAD?  What would that be again?  Something with mayo and macaroni perhaps?  A serving of broccoli consists of one finger-sized floret cooked just short of disintegration point.  If they could harness the precision skill needed for this feat they could probably send that settlement party to Mars.+  How do they expect anyone to get WELL on this stuff?  It’s not like they need to fill beds.  They need to unfill beds.

+ We liked THE MARTIAN. Just by the way.  Our local cinema had a refit just in time to make Peter comfortable in the admirable new sofas at the back.  I will, however, indulge in a rant about disabled access some other time.

† Or maybe sillier.

†† I think these are dead cool. There are a gazillion different styles—Admetus says Alcestis really enjoyed trolling catalogues and the internet for precisely the right make and model.  But they’re all like a kind of souped-up shopping trolley.  This one has a basket, a bag and a tray.^  And brakes, for when you’ve got your shopping trolley a trifle overloaded with all the fresh stuff you’ve been MISSING while you’ve been in hospital^^ and there’s a slope.  I realise it wouldn’t be cost effective but I wish ordinary shopping trolleys had brakes.  My most memorable wheeled and brakeless moment was probably one afternoon chasing a trolley full of champagne^^^ down a long car park toward Wolfgang and flinging myself sideways against the handlebar to get the thing to turn in at the appropriate bay.^^^^

^ Pav would fit in the basket. I don’t suppose she’d stay there.

^^ Lettuce doesn’t weigh much but almost everything else does. And even lettuce weighs a surprising amount when it’s on its own core and isn’t just loose leaves.

^^^ Well. Cheap fizz.  On sale.

^^^^ That experience may be the source of one of Wolfgang’s dents. But it’s a small, delicate, charming dent.  And none of the bottles of fizz exploded.

††† I am so not thinking about Christmas. We’re going to a lavish high tea^ at one of these country house nobody-ever-lived-like-this fantasy places for my birthday with several of the family.^^  If this is fun we may do it again for Peter’s birthday.  Peter, as you may imagine, is not feeling enthusiastic about birthday celebrations.

^ It makes me a little cranky that now that gluten-free has become a fashion accessory almost everyone curls their lip when you ask about availability. On the other hand for those of us who discovered years before it became cutting edge style that gluten-free is a very good idea when we’re under stress it’s nice that there now is availability.  What it is to be ahead of the frelling curve.  Like the ME:  as I’ve snarled here many times before, I’d had it eight years or so before the NHS decided it existed.  Thanks.  Now get away from me with those drugs.

^^ If I can convince someone else to do the Rivendell-tea-Rivendell drive I will have a glass of champagne. At Rivendell I can hit the cranberry juice and sober up before I have to drive home.

‡ Bright spots include finding a fabulous new tea shop with good tea and gluten-free.^

^ Although . . . guaranteed weight-loss diet? Go vegetarian+ a month or six weeks before your husband has a second stroke, while you’re still learning what you can and can’t eat and of what you can what does and does not taste good or sit well in your stomach++, and if you’re dairy free also (yes) most of your new options are lower-cal than your old, and you may absent-mindedly find yourself with a plate of something you don’t eat any more and then can’t be bothered replacing it with anything, because who feels like eating when your husband has just had a stroke?

+ It’s a long story. Tell you some other time.#

# It’s game-bird season and I’m feeling a little wistful. Also.  Christmas without turkey.  Golly.

++ Which in my case is possessed by demons so this is always an interesting gauntlet to renegotiate. <mixed metaphor alert>  If you had a gut like mine you too would indulge in mixed metaphors when attempting to describe it.  Not too graphically.

‡‡ Yes, okay, champagne. But not when I’m driving.

‡‡‡ Barring the hellmob of course. They’re all yo, we want our hurtles, we want our food,^ we want our hanging out, we want our lying in heaps together.  They are of course aware that Something is Wrong—if for no other reason than that the majority of our hanging-out time no longer occurs at Third House—but critters are admirably single-minded and this does provide valuable grounding when you’re pretty much off your face.  Also the advantages of warm fur during the 3 am bleak-staring phases cannot be overstated.

One of Rivendell’s not-so-minor advantages is that they’re critter-friendly. There are a lot of dogs that visit, now including the hellhounds.^^  There are a couple of bull terrier fanciers however who are waiting for me to have a good moment to bring the hellterror in.  She takes more advance planning and my advance-planning function is a little unreliable at the moment.

^ All right, the hellterror wants her food.  But I think the hellhounds would miss the lively and interesting interactions with the hellgoddess if she didn’t regularly produce food for them to despise.

^^ I’m so used to the staff liking dogs that when the hellhounds rushed one of the carers who came to check on Peter the other night it didn’t occur to me that she would do anything but greet them in the manner to which they have become accustomed and the poor woman had palpitations. Oops.

§ My poor garden. . . . ^

^ I suppose I should say ‘my poor floors’ and ‘my poor dusty and grimy shelves’ and ‘my poor heaps of unsorted gubbins in all the corners and against all the walls’ but housework has never been a major centre to my existence. Although it’s true that when the gubbins start extruding long tentacles and chasing you from room to room, um . . .

§§ Story writing? No. Which may also be why I feel so, I don’t know, hollow?


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