Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Thursday 24th June: 2

They are lowering the Old Man's sedation in order to try and wake him, and to see if he will breathe on his own - without the tube.

He opens his eyes and then they drift closed again.

I talk - and now and then his eyes ping open.

I tell him things. His eyes ping open and widen at some of the things I have to say.

Later I find that he doesn't recall this impressive show of reaction, nor anything that I may have said.

They are moving towards getting the breathing tube out. And hours pass of this slow process of preparation.

He grabs my hand and tries to spell something out onto my palm. I tell him I can't read it. He gets agitated and taps me on the mouth. I tell him to stop it. The physio comes to clear his lungs. His nurse is there. We are around the bed and he grows more agitated. They want to know what's bothering him. Is it the machines? Suddenly he holds up four fingers. I say:

"He has four crowns at the front. His front teeth are crowned."

They understand what he is saying.

" The tube?" they say. "We will be careful. Don't worry. We will be careful of your teeth."

After the tube has come out, they are very pleased with him. The Old Man is awake. The Old Man is breathing on his own. He looks at me and taps his ear. We frown. He mimes a rectangular shape with his hands.

"His radio. He wants his radio." say I.

Everyone is pleased with the process and its result.

Say I: "Tube's out. He can talk. You will regret it. I'm off."

I say Goodbye. I am very relieved. I am very tired.

6 o'clock in the evening. Old friend and I go home.
Wine, talk, Bombay potatoes with spinach.

Thursday 24th June: 1

I ring the Unit around 7am and am told that the Old Man is still sedated with eyes closed. But he did grip a hand when asked. And stuck out his tongue when asked. This is the time when you have to stick out your tongue to prove lack of brain damage.
I am relieved.

We go to the hospital - and we also get lunch before an afternoon visit. Leaving Old Friend reading her fifteenth book in the waiting room (it seems), I go into the Unit to find the Old Man.

On the way in someone says my name.
I turn around and see another friend.

"What are you doing here?" I say.

"My son has just been brought in here. Look. Over there, the other side of the room."

It is incredible.
To find ourselves together like this in this place.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Evening - Wednesday 23rd June: 2

So I go into the Intensive Care Ward to find the Old Man. And he is peaceful now. Sedated and with a breathing tube. Machines blip and beep. Tubes, and monitors. He looks smoothed out.

The problem was fluid around the heart. And they are draining it off. In the Jekyll and Hyde world of hospitals this is explained to me as a possible event after heart surgery. Yet when my path crosses that of the Consultant from Hell, the next day, he tells me that this is an extremely rare event, "one in a hundred" - but that's not much comfort to the "one in a hundred" under your arrogant gaze, Dr Consultant.

Now I feel shocked and tired.
They offer me a room for the night. With the "very poorly" stuff, I don't know what I should do. A doctor tells me I am exhausted and to go home. And I know that's what I want to do.

I leave the Old Man.
Old friend is downstairs, waiting and reading.
Gone 11pm and we leave the hospital and drive home.
We eat beans on toast.

I go to bed at 2pm.

I wake up at 5pm.

I get up.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Evening - Wednesday 23rd June: Intensive Care Unit.

They tell me to stay in the waiting area while they take the Old Man through to the Intensive Care Ward itself.

There are armchairs and sofas. And a fish tank containing three very small fish, and nothing much else.

And there are lots of people in this room. All in varied states of distress and talk and mobile phone fingering. Pacing and changing their groupings. Eating and drinking. All seem to belong to the same family group.

One gets me a small plastic chair and sets it against a wall some distance away. And I sit there for some time.

I think, in fact, for an hour or so.
It is very hot in this room.

At one point, I am asked to go into a small interview room, along with a few other people, so that a member of staff can talk to the large group. There is not enough space for all of them to fit into the "interview" room - so we must go into it instead.

I take my plastic chair and sit in the interview room. But I'm not very interested in the jug of orange squash and the four plastic cups on a tray that I believe must be by way of apology for any inconvenience.

I wonder idly if I have been forgotten. I take out my mobile phone and have a go at fingering it. I lose my nerve for calling anyone.

When I am let out of the Interview Room the large group has gone. I sit there in one of the armchairs. I get the phone out again. Then I ring my friend and ask her to come and get me. I can't do this much longer.

At this point they call me in to see the Old Man.

Later yet - Wednesday 23rd June: the Coronary Care Unit

When I get to the Unit, I am told he is in a room of his own. They say that this is just because this is the only bed available.... but when I see him, I wonder.

It is distressing.
"He is sedated" say they.
"We are giving him oxygen."
"He has a broken rib from the resuscitation."

Then they tell me he is not waking up as he should.
And they start to talk about brain damage.

I am introduced to members of the Intensive Care Team who are examining Old Man and trying to wake him up. They apologise to me for what they have to do. And pinch and poke and shout. Old Man groans and carries on being unconscious. He is reacting some, they say - but not enough.

Believe me - I am becoming bewildered.
They have these euphemisms, politenesses, cups of tea.
One doctor orders me to talk to Old Man - because "he knows your voice."
He also takes blood from the Old Man's arm and then gets me to press on the wadding in order to stop the bleeding.

And I think - "This is bizarre."
Euphemise one moment, then get me to join in with the "hands on" process another?

A different doctor rescues me from my cotton-wool-pressing duty.

Truth is. At this point, I dislike both the pussyfoot language and the "invitation" to join in.

Things are becoming increasingly unreal for me.

They tell me that because he is not waking up they will move him to Intensive Care.

Where they can "manage unconsciousness" better.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Later - Wednesday 23rd June

So then a nurse comes to me and asks who I want to see.
I tell her "The Old Man" and she takes me into the office.

All the time they use the euphemism "collapse". So I imagine Old Man falling down next to the hospital bed. But then they say he has no pulse. And I think - they mean "cardiac arrest". Why don't they say so? Good Nurse comes back and reports on what is happening. She tells me the Old Man has been kick-started and is back with a beating heart. Nurses are very keen to get me a cup of tea.

Later a doctor comes in and tells me Old Man is "very, very, poorly". Another euphemism. Why are they using euphemisms all the time? Collapse... Very poorly.....
But he adds, with bluntness: "If he had been at home he would have died".

Yeah. We kind of thought he wasn't well but it was hard to get anybody interested.

Later, a sympathetic nurse tells me "Just dial 999. Ambulance men are paramedics. Forget about trying to get a doctor...."
But I am very thankful to the Dutch doctor who finally came to see him at home.

Can't remember your name. But thankyou, lady.

In a while, they start to talk about a room that is available for a family member to stay the night. I explain that I need to tell a friend what is happening.
They get someone to show me the way back to main entrance where old friend is waiting and reading. I tell her what happened.
And tell her to go home because this is just going on and on.
Yes I will ring for her to fetch me when I need to come home.
Yes any time, light or dark.

Then I go back. In order to follow the Old Man's Progress to the Coronary Care Unit.

Rough Times for the Old Man: Wednesday 23rd June

In the morning I ring up to find out how he is. Surprisingly, I do not speak to anyone medical. Immediately, I am passed over to Old Man himself.

He says he thinks he will be having some tests. I say I will come and see him in the afternoon. After they have done them.

And so old friend and I drive in later. Me with a carton of strawberries. I'm off to find out What's What.

When I get to the ward that I left him in - they send me on to another.

And when I get to that one - everyone is very busy and rushing around.
So I look on the board to find where the Old Man's bed is, so that I can go to see him.

There he is.
Old Man - C4.

And then I hear them shouting as they rush about:
"It's C4.... C4...."

And then I know that the Old Man is the emergency.

In which Nursey gets her Come-Uppance and Stretches her Tether

Tuesday 22nd June

This was serious.
This was no joke.

Because the Old Man began to feel very ill. Very ill indeed. And he tells Nursey he MUST see a doctor.

After getting through the resistance of GP's receptionist (as usual) a doctor comes. And she is good and she is thorough and she tells Old Man she's not happy and wants him to go in to hospital. And she rings back to say that she has got him a bed in the Main Hospital. But then he can't get to the car. And they send an ambulance.

And Old Friend and I follow on behind.

It is early evening and I wait while he is settled in to the admissions ward. A junior doctor examines him. Thinks there is congestion in a lung. He sticks a tube in Old Man's arm and takes some blood. The same story as with the last two checks that could be wangled out of the Doctors': rapid heart rate, low blood pressure.

I watch him being settled in, and return home with the Old Friend.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

In which Nursey almost Reaches the End of her Tether

Yesterday -

In which the Old Man talked for hours about the operas he had attended - and got very emotional.

In which the Old Man talked of just about anything - and got very emotional.

In which Nursey went with Old Friend to Penzance and bought the Old Man a Green Linen shirt to go with his Orange Linen Jacket (see the Linen Jacket Post).

In which the Old Man got too emotional to take the Green Shirt out of its bag.

In which the Doctor rang and told the Old Man to keep his Fairy Tale feet (see Cinderella Post) well above his hips. And Old Friend offered her ceiling-hung clothes-drying rack as ultimate answer to "ankle upward" position.

In which Old Man explained to Nursey how she was failing to attend to detail.

In which Old Friend encouraged Nursey to share another bottle of wine.

In which Nursey could have swung for the Old Man by the end of the day.

Time Out

Sometimes you just have to take time out.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Happy Solstice: In Which Everything is Summer

What is it with this beautiful weather?

Yesterday my friend and I went to the beach. We took our shoes off and paddled. It was cold water. And the shingle was sharp. Much "Ow! Ow-ing" as two Grey Dolls hopped and staggered to a dry patch - sat down - mopped feet and put shoes on again.

Families were picnicking and sun-bathing. Games were being played and holes dug. The sea was blue - as it should be. The Island Mount was splendid as usual - with a line of people waiting for the ferry to take them along the flooded causeway to the Mount.

Sun, sea, and .... well I don't surf.

In my teenage-hood. In West Cornwall - I was aware that surfin' wuz happenin'. And this was surfin' before black suits and fancy boards. Nevertheless there were, of course, the Surfin' Boys.

And us girls who sat on the bus home from school and batted our eyelashes, and wriggled, wiggled, and giggled.

But I knew - deep down - the Doll would not be looked upon with favour by the Surfin' Boys.

We's talkin' early 1960s here. Vidal Sassoon, Twiggy and Mary Quant. Slim and curvy girls with long straight hair was what was appreciated by the Surfin' Boys - or Sporty Girls with good looks.

Me? The Doll was built like a pony - and had curly, frizzy hair.
No way. No How. Was I to be noticed as I wriggled with the others.

Never mind. Eventually 1967 happened.
Dylan happened.
Hendrix happened.

And I could screech with vengeful laughter as I returned home from my first year at art college "au naturel". And everybody's jaw dropped. My hair was seen in a new and prestigious light. My frizzy beehive of curls were finally and most unpredictably - "Cool".

"How do I get my hair to look like yours?" Say they.
"Suffer an outcast's life for several years" Think I. "You Rotters. Suffer."

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Strawberries for Tea

And yesterday - strawberries were eaten for pudding alongside dark chocolate biscuits and shiraz wine. And very delicious it was too.

Even the Old Man took a chocolate biscuit with his strawberries. With much suspicion and caution. But eventually several were eaten.

Dug up the Doll's first potatoes - boiled, buttered and minted. Broad beans from the garden too.

This was good.

Lots of talk with old friend. Have you read this? Have you listened to that? What happened to so-and-so? And remember when....?

The Old Man is gaining bits of strength and clarity. But not happy with the Fairy Tale feet - still too big for the magic slippers.
He is nevertheless starting to Talk for England.

I may have to sedate him soon.

For my sake.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Nursey Awaits a Companion

Still beautiful days. The garden is a jungle.

Been trying to straighten up the spare bedroom. Waiting for an old friend who is driving down from London to give succour and support.

Forgot to tell Farmer Jones that the Old Man's chillies are setting fruit. Of course.
Not only setting. The first fruit is a good three inches long. Hot Thai.

The Old Man did want me to tell him. So proud of "his" chillies. Aah. The spirit of competition lives.

I roll my eyes as I think of the patient moving in and out of the sunlounge of the pots and pots of plants. Of the watering. Of the greenfly ridding.
By whom - this last couple of weeks?

But The Old Man looks and sounds stronger today. And in fact has peered at the notes for one of his new drugs - through my borrowed glasses - and managed to read that the drug can effect eyesight.

The Old Man had been feeling increasingly wobbly too.
Then he spotted that the drug can affect balance as well.

A look of determination came over the Old Man's newly gap-toothed face. A steely glance behind my reading glasses perched on his nose.

Methinks he is warming up the spit and vinegar.
Methinks he will be having a "chat" with the doctors.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Damsel fly

It has been beautiful weather. Hot. Big poppies in the garden. Strawberries in the hanging planters in the yard starting to turn red. Looking forward to a salad of grilled halloumi and strawberries. Sweet and salty. Good for hot days.

Earlier this week a damsel fly came into the sun lounge and settled on a chilli plant. (What else?)

The damsel fly was a beautiful red one. And its eyes were red too. I picked up the plant and started for the door. The damsel fly lifted off the plant and drifted out into the garden.

For my niece. 1959-2010

In memory of my first niece.
Who died yesterday. Peace after a long illness.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

In which Nursey has to Admit ....

.....that she now feels a bit tired.

Still. A doctor did come to see the Old Man today. So that was good.

I think.

Least this doctor pointed out that it was not long since major surgery. And was patient in explaining the different drugs.

Cos the Old Man looks and sounds half asleep a fair bit of the time at the moment. Feet still too big to fit in those fairy tale slippers.

Got a call in the evening from a friend who is due to drive down from London for a few days at the end of the week. This is to provide company and support and a car!!

I look forward to that. And so does the Old Man.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

In which Nursey Starts to Get Fed Up

OK. The novelty is wearing off now.

Basically no-one appeared yesterday to check the Old Man out. The Blood nurse doesn't come with a blood pressure thingy so she couldn't do it.

I went into the nearest town by bus - to get some shopping.

At the last shop - they asked after the Old Man. He's a devil, ain't he? They all ask after him.
Looking pointedly at the packet of chocolate biscuits in my basket - they say:

"Fancies a little treat, does he?"
"No." say I, "Nursey fancies a little treat. Them's for me."

Shopping went well, except for a longer than usual wait for the bus. I was anxious not to miss it and so was quarter hour early. And the bus was a quarter hour late. Add to that the algorithms of the timetable which alters bus times according to whether it is a school day or not: a tasty little trick that had quite a few holiday makers puzzled. And I stood there for nearly an hour - while me butter softened and took on new forms in me basket.

Got home to find the doctor had rung but the Old Man was not athletic enough to get to the phone in time. There's a surprise. The lengthy message was to the effect that he should make an appointment to come in to the surgery to have an ECG done by one of the nurses - and see if he could get an appointment with the doctor immediately afterwards.

Old Man looks at me and say: "No."

I quite agree. He's less than a fortnight after heart surgery; a week being home; and can barely stumble around the back garden.

So we ring again this morning. Ask for the blood test results which we normally get same day the blood is taken because it effects the number of rat poison pills he has to take, and ask again for a doctor's visit.

The receptionist rings back later with the results and says she's booked the doctor to visit tomorrow. We shall see.

Old Man still has puffy feet and legs - no-one has done anything other than take blood since Friday- And Nursey's getting IRRITABLE! Not to mention the Patient, who groans and shouts in his sleep when he takes a siesta.

As you can see. Nursey don't need to go to sleep to groan and shout. She can do it fully awake.

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Surgeon checks in

Well. Not exactly the surgeon.

But to our surprise we got a call from the Hospital where the Old Man had his surgery - to check how things were going. And they left a contact number if he needed to speak to someone. So that's good.

Blood nurse came to puncture him again. Think someone is supposed to take his blood pressure sometime?

Sunday, 13 June 2010

In which Nursey Considers Food and Feeding: Part 2

Ah well....

In the course of a querulous conversation, one of the Old Man's front crowns just fell out. (Teeth - not tiaras.) The legacy, I suppose, of operational pipes and paraphernalia!

He seems to think that he can get to the dentist to have it fixed.
Never mind that he currently manages one wobbly circuit round the back garden a day.
And that the dentist's surgery is up several flights of stairs.
Six weeks before he can drive.
And four weeks before he can ride on a bus.
So he's gonna get this tooth stuck back in his mouth when?

OK. Never mind what sort of food he has to have. Let's just puree it, and squirt it into his mouth with a garden syringe.

But he did look pleased with himself.
Smiling at me with a gap-tooth grin that was worthy of a "Mad Magazine" cover.

What next.

In which Nursey Considers Food and Feeding

And apparently the Old Man came home with instructions to be fed a "high protein diet" for a while.
Huh. So the dry biscuit and vegetable water I usually restrict him too, won't do.

And this is where the Grey Doll admits to being one of those most currently unfashionable of beings - a Vegetarian. Not only that. In my shady past I was, for some time, that most extreme of faddists - a Vegan. (Well I wasn't up to the Yin-Yang calculations of Macrobiotics. And didn't think it was necessary to go to the extremes of Fruitarianism.)

Time was when being vegetarian was fashionable, and taken up by some faddists until it proved inconvenient or no longer cool. These days, however, I feel a cultural schizoid thing going on.

(By the way - just as I am cheerfully informed by some how they hate the term "Blog"; may I now take time out to say how much I hate the term "Veggie" - with all it's accompanying images of jolly walks, knitted hats, and earnestness . Veggies who eat their veggies - Oo-er, Yuk. But I digress.)

OK. I was with the Cultural Schizoid stuff ....

On the one hand, during the comparatively recent wallowing waves of a New Labour government, I began to think that vegans may get their phones tapped - and be sailing close to the extremist- sniffing wind.

"Kind of related to climate-change protest and animal rights stuff, innit? And isn't that.... you know....Extreme?"

On the other hand - any well informed Sunday Supplement reader will know that the grooviest eating "du jour" is meat, meat, meat ... and a little "quaint" fish like herring. Or if you can't be bothered with that then some thinly sliced, raw, blue-fin tuna. And when it comes to meat, it's not just any meat, you understand? But the most obscure bits of offal that you can possibly dream up.

Do not get me wrong. If you eat meat, I think you should indeed eat every little bit you can. Tongues, cheeks, ears, tails, intestines, lights, livers, kidneys, and various sumptuous glands.

No. I remember my 50s-60s childhood. And my Mum cooking oxtail, tripe (for Dad only - eeeeeugh!), tongue, pigs' trotters even. Yes and I have been known to cook heart! And liver and kidney was just everyday food.

But my point is - that these perfectly nutritious foods appear now to be the provenance of high-end restaurants only. I bet you can't go in a supermarket and buy ox tail these days. I'm not sure if you can get it from most high street butchers. So the irony is that these cheap foods of previous generations - can now only be accessed by those affluent enough to dine out. You eat meat and don't have much money? Get back to the mass-produced burgers and sausages you so richly deserve. Everything else, after all, has to go to the pet food industry presumably - together with the odd horse and pony.

The final spur to my turning vegetarian was my extreme dislike of the mass industrialisation of the meat industry - both rearing and production. I didn't want to be part of a consumer chain that degraded the animals, their bodies, and our food in the name of "efficiency". And all so's an overweight kid could toss their "between meal snack" of a burger and bun in the gutter when the effort of stuffing just half of it into their faces got too much.

Whoops. Got a bit hot under the collar there.

But good bread, lentils, rice and local vegetables don't cost that much.

Ask any peasant in a third world country.... though come to think of it.... because all the land has to be used for soya and maize to feed the cattle.... or glass-house flowers and mange-tout for Western Supermarkets. Or palm oil for just about everything....

Oh well. Let them eat air. They're a long way away and it's probably their own fault.

"Pass us the sweetbreads, Roddy."

Saturday, 12 June 2010

In which Nursey and The Old Man listen to Fado

Now.... continuing with the musical theme.

The Doll's niece sent the Old Man a present. By way of "Thinking of you and get well" kind of thing. Niecy said she had picked it up in Lisbon. (Ooooh!) And it is a CD of Fado music.

She said she didn't know if we knew the music. But because of the Blessed Charlie Gillett, I knew I had heard some fado music. Charlie Gillett played Mariza pretty often. But I thought I'd listen to some more, as well as the CD, so I requested "fado radio" from (see my post)

Now, I like the fado. But I suppose I would call it a kind of mood music.

But then - (the Doll stops to think) - is all music - "mood" music? I mean, I know I pick what I listen to according to my mood. You follow me?

Anyway, nice little segue coming up. The first tune that turned up on's Fado Radio was a number by Madredeus. And the group Madredeus was featured in a film I bought on DVD recently - which is "Lisbon Story" by Wim Wenders. And I watched the film and enjoyed it - being a bit of a Wenders fan.

So everything's gone quite Portuguese, really.

OK, OK. For those who wish to have more news of the Old Man. He has been punctured by the travelling phlebotomist. (That is to say - had a "home call" blood test.) And the GP came to call as well. So we's both relieved that he is on someone's books locally after being sent home from a hospital in another county. He's still very tired. The house still looks like a secondhand furniture store. And people are very kind.

Edit: Try clicking the words Lisbon Story above - to see a clip of the film which includes Madredeus sing Fado. And continuing the Portuguese theme - aint it great that the painter Paula Rego has been made a Dame.

Friday, 11 June 2010

A little bit of opera

But I tell you what. Maybe it's the high drama of the recent situation, but the old place is ringing with opera.

The Old Man is lapping it up and the CD collection is turned over for all the opera that can be fancied.

'Cept I can't fancy Wagner. Sorry. No. The Old Man thinks it's very fine and stirring und Sturm und Drang und wonderful. I just groan and cover my ears:
"Not again. This bloomin' theme is coming round the mountain again. Never sing it once, when you can sing it three times in a row, that's old Richard's motto."

I have only ever walked out of two operas. If I remember rightly.

One was Rossini's "Count d'Ory". (It was boring and the production stank.) And the other was Wagner's "Die Meistersingers." Which I left because I was falling asleep. You know that tortured feeling of nodding off and waking yourself with a lurch? Because you know ... you really know... that you just mustn't fall asleep here.... you just mustn't fall asleep..... asleep....and..... snore...or ..... something......

Me? I am a late convert to opera I will admit. I always used to think, in my rash youth, that opera was ludicrous and "So false, darling". But I was fortunate in that the first opera I was persuaded to go and see was Mozart's "The Magic Flute". Which was splendidly unreal. Particularly when the Queen of the Night come flapping in on the back of some kind of Big Bird in the production that I saw. I think. So I enjoyed meself immensely.

But then I got took to see Puccini's "La Boheme". And that set me back a little. Stereotypical robust and strapping lady supposedly dying of consumption and bellowing out her final aria.

Anyway - have just blubbed me way through the final act of the same - on telly- BBC4 - with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón. You can see that I've got used to the notion of opera now.

Nursey puts her feet up

One is tired.

Have you noticed - if you've had to do it yerself - that people looking after rather ill people behave like Mums when it comes to feeding themselves?
I mean - finishing off what's on the invalid's plate etc.

Lunch for convalescent: Salad, ham, bread - eaten at table wiv mat and cutlery and everything.

Lunch for Nursey: last night's leftover broccoli, and cold mashed potato - eaten standing up in kitchen and straight out of pudding bowl.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Nursey's Bedtime Stories: Cinderella

Are we sitting comfortably?

Then Nursey will begin.

Once upon a time in the deep South West of the country there lived an Old Man. Let's just call him Cinders.

Now this Old Man he sat by his hearth and tended his chillies and baked his bread and read his newspapers.

One day this Old Man was feeling bad and the MedicalFairy saw him and say: "You shall go to the Party. But not before I have taken a little piece of your heart."

And Old Man Cinders say: "But I want you to leave my heart alone!"

And the MedicalFairy say: "Nonsense. Come with me and all will be well."

So the Old Man Cinders travelled into the East. And after the MedicalFairy had taken a little piece of his heart, he came home again - very surprised.

But in the process of having his heart taken to pieces - his feet grew.. and grew.

So the hunt began to find the slipper that would fit his foot.
High and low, in pouring rain, Nursey hunted. But his feet were so rare that only one pair could be found that would be the right size.

Nursey ran home with the precious pair and Cinders sat with his foot out to receive the magic slipper.

Dammee! Still don't fit.

And the moral is: "Partying till midnight and giving bits of your heart away gets you puffy ankles but probably still don't get you a Prince Charming".

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Nursey's Bedtime Stories

Remember I told you that the Old Man was like the Princess in the Princess and the Pea?

Well - so now....
We're talkin' Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

You see - when you've had the kind of op that the Old Man's had - you come out of hospital with (not to put too fine a point on it) your breastbone wired up.

(All together now: "Eeeyugh!")

So this means getting up out of a chair is not simple. Cos you mustn't press down with your arms to push yourself out of the chair. You got to rock and roll, cross your heart, lean forward, and push up with those leg muscles. And the Old Man doesn't have much leg muscle.

So the most important thing at the moment is .... the choosing of chairs.

First I remove his customary low slung Ikea, and replace with an upholstered, sit-up straight, armchair.

"Too low still. Not enough back support."

Take that away. Replace with a high backed kind of dining chair with arms.

"Mmmmn. Quite nice. No. It's too hard. I want to stretch out, I want to put my legs up."

Move over to the sofa - and blissful comfort. Followed by....

"Help! I can't get up out of this."

Put a slightly higher stool next to the sofa to see if he can transit via the stool.

"No. Not gonna make it. Hang on - hook your hand through mine here and on the count of three. One, two, three.... No that's not it. Wait.. Put your hands on my shoulders and pull as I.... ugh.... OK . I'm up..."

Trouble is he has to sit down again to recover.
But not on the sofa. Never on the sofa again.

The room now looks like a secondhand furniture store. Which, come to think of it, it basically is. There are chairs in front of chairs and stools of various heights scattered in counterpoint.
You cannot move for chairs here. And each one has been sampled.

Where is there a Baby Bear when you need one? His chair would be "just right". It says so in the Story.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Medical matters: On Duty

Nursey on duty.

Styling: courtesy of Photo-Girl of Bath.

Medical matters: The return

So the Old Man is home. Brought back through streaming rain early yesterday evening. Arrive home about 7pm.

We'm still sittin' here with eyes poppin' in shock.

As they say: "Been there. Done That."

Old Man is transformed into Carbon Fibre Man.

More later cos I have to play Nursey.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Medical trip: Day 7 - Ventinglater

So I ring up late morning as they asked.
Nurse say: "Doctors have seen him, but the Physios have to check him out as well. Ring back in an hour's time."

I do that.

Someone else say: "Yes... he feels confident that he can do the stairs but the Physios have to check that with him."

I say: "When will that be?"

"Late afternoon, I think about 4..."

"Whoa, whoa. I can't commit the friend who's collecting him to start the 2 hour drive that time of day?"

"Just a minute.....
.......Well, yes he feels confident he can do the stairs. So I expect if you start out soon - by the time you get here he should be ready. That's if his drugs come by then of course.."

Deep breath.

"So where do we pick him up from? We had a piece of paper about the Discharge Lounge. Where is that?"

"Oh we closed the Discharge Lounge. You'll have to pick him up from the ward. If you just take your time getting back down to the Main Entrance. Have someone to carry his bags and stuff. Well ..... I suppose you'd better pick up a wheelchair when you come in to the Main Entrance...."

"And parking? Where can we park then - to pick him up?"

"Oh just park in the car park."

"Erm. It's impossible to park near the entrance.... we've been using the new one that's quite a stretch away.........."
And so on.

Let me repeat to all youse who read this. I have no problems with the Old Man's hospital and medical treatment. I am very grateful for the medical care he has received gratis. At least we don't live in a country full of freedom and the national way, and therefore have protect our individual liberty by selling our home to pay for his treatment.

But why do we have these useless bits of information that cause us to plan and make arrangements that don't mean anything at the end of the day? Operation dates, length of expected stay - even a non-existent pick-up point that doesn't exist anymore.

OK. I am thankful really. I am just .... stressed.

Just time for a cuppa - then wait to hit the road.

Medical trip: Day 7 - waiting

So I rang up the nurse early yesterday evening like she said. But the answer on whether The Old Man comes home today or not is still unknown.

Now I have to wait til middayish after Doctors' Rounds - to find out the verdict.

If they say YES - then it's all hands on deck for a 2 hour drive to get him.

If they say NO - then it's back to the phone to see who can do it tomorrow.

And yes, Little Grey Doll did manage a couple of hours out with Big Sis. Not least to sprint to local Farm Shop where milk and apples and oranges where got in for Old Man's return. Not to mention some of Farmer Jones' first broad bean crop for the Old Man. He do like a broad bean.

So - Farmer Jones. Have you found Dan Hick's site yet? If not - there it is - in Greydoll's "links" to the right there. Yes, I remember "Moody Richard". It reminded me of a long-standing not quite boyfriend I had, who came complete with the Dan Hicks de rigeur Moustachio. This, during those funky 1970s, was such an object of desire for me. Richard was not his name, but Moody he was. Which probably accounts for the "not quite" thing.

The song was on "Striking it Rich", the first Dan Hicks album that I bought. And then The Old Man turned up Dan Hicks' return to the recording world - "Beatin' the Heat", released in 2000. Happy Listening!

PS. For those of you who don't know the revered Dan Hicks you can Wikipedia him here.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Medical trip: Day 6 - surprise, surprise

So I managed to get through to the Marie Celeste this morning. And they seem to have done an overnight conversion to Speedboat Championships.

Nurse transformed with frightening speed from "He's doin really well. Didn't sleep too well last night..."
to - "So he may come home tomorrow."

Obviously puzzled by the stunned silence at my end. "Is that a problem?"

"Well - we live in West Cornwall, and I don't drive - so I've got to organise someone to come and get him..."

"Well it IS Day 5." (After the op itself she means.)

"Yes - but we were told 5 days for repair and 7 days if it's a replacement." (Yes folks, all this has been about mitral valve replacement surgery.)

"Well, he's doing really well and as I say we won't know for sure until the results of his bloods come back."

"So when can I ring back and find out if he's being discharged or not?"

"That won't be till late afternoon at least."

Still stunned silence.

"But don't worry - if you really can't organise someone to pick him up, we can sort that out.... And it could be Tuesday. That would be Day 6. As I say it all depends on the results..... All right?"

I sat in the kitchen a bit stunned. Was gonna go out with Big Sis for a couple of hours today.

Then I went and collected the still damp bed linen from the sun lounge, put it on the hi-dry - and switched it on. Better make the bed, then.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Medical trip: Day 5

In which The Old Man's ward turns into the Marie Celeste.

Old Man's Old Man rang me to say he'd tried ringing the ward 4 times, but there was either no answer or a recorded message.

So later - I tried too. No answer.

The Old Man is bobbing about the ocean on a deserted ship. Sails are flapping and ropes are creaking. The occasional bedside trolley rolls from one side of the ward to another.

But people - there are none.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Medical trip: Day 4 - later

Phew. A long hot drive. At one point - mutual cries of "Oh. No!" As Big Sis and I topped a hill with the traffic slowing and saw the glittering, stacked up cars, caravans and whatever stretching down this hill and up the next ... and the next. Give up now?

With perseverance and a peanut butter and apple sandwich we eventually crept past a police accident sign - and everything speeded up. On our way again.

Got to the Hospital. Tried the ward The Old Man was being moved to. Not there yet. Back to High Dependency - different visiting hours but they let us in.

There was the Old Man. Sleeping and beeping.

Woke him up. And he gradually got the hang of talking again. And then we got to spend a goodly chunk of our visit time - escorting his bed and friendly nurses down to the ward we started out on.

Still, seen him in place. Handed over the bag of fruit and chocolate. And the newspaper. And passed on good wishes. And listened to nurse type banter. He sounded much stronger by the time we left. They say he is doing good.

Back home for about 6.30.

One is tired. Not to mention how tired Big Sis (who did the driving) must feel.

Not to mention how tired The Old Man must feel.

Good night.

Medical trip: Day 4

Just rang the hospital. Sweet nurse in the High Depency Unit who is in charge of The Old Man said he was "looking very good". I couldn't help the involuntary twitch of me eyebrow. Maybe he should get her to sign a piece of paper to that effect.

Anyway, they reckon to be moving him to one of the normal cardiac surgery wards today.

Meanwhile me and Big Sis will be driving up to see him for an hour or something.

I've packed a paper bag with fruit and a bar of his favrit organic dark choclate. Will he have the strength to break the bar, I think to meself?

People are asking after him and wishing him well.
Old "Spit & Vinegar" leaves an impression.

Got to go. Still got greenfly to scrape off the chillies.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Medical trip: Day 3

Rang the hospital this morning.
They said the Old Man was out of bed and sitting up in a chair - "under protest".

Under Protest?
Huh. They don't know yet the meaning of the word, is what I am thinking. Not as far as the Old Man is concerned.

We got a well wish card just before he went into hospital from someone who knows him well. Hoping to see him again soon - "full of spit & vinegar". Fine turn of phrase I thought.

Another friend said that the Old Man's first message to The Doll being "Water the chillies" sounded very him. They hoped that I hadn't expected something more romantic.
More romantic and I would have been admitted into hospital myself.
No. No.

I was always fond of the songwriting of Randy Newman. And had a particular fondness for "You Can Leave Your Hat On ". A lovesong that requested the love object took off their coat, their shoes, stand on this chair…that’s right.......Yes.. yes.. shake 'em....
"You give me a reason to live, you give me a reason to live" the writer sings.

In the Old Man's case, slowly revolving on that chair would be a large healthy chilli plant, strung with luscious red fruits...

"Shake 'em. Shake'em.... You give me a reason to live. Yes, Yes."

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Medical trip: Day 2 - later, later

Old Man out of surgery around 2pm. Leaking a bit more than they would like. But eventually they decided OK to wake him. His first message to me was:

"Water the chillies."

Man, he do love those chillies.

Medical trip: Day 2 - later

Done my chores.
Iced the greenfly on the Old Man's chillie plants.
Hung washing out.
Fed birds.
Inhaled deeply and rang hospital.
Old Man in surgery as I write.

Medical trip: Arrival

The phrase that causes your heart to sink cropped up again as The Old Man and I arrived on the heart surgery ward yesterday.

"You are not on the list."

However, 2 hours later - after yet another blood test - he was sitting next to a bed waiting to be settled in.
I had to leave then - to rejoin the kind friends who had driven us up to the Hospital and who were going to take me back home. And I got home about 6 pm.

I chatted in a relaxed manner with a neighbour - got inside the house - and blubbed.

Then I ate the cheese sandwich.

It feels odd without The Old Man. I feel sentimental.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Medical trips: Into the wide blue yonder

We're ready to go. Sort of.

I've made myself an emergency cheese sandwich. I don't know what for. Maybe I have to throw it at someone.

Feel very strange.

But not as strange as The Old Man feels.